Lillian Rosengarten, author of Survival and Conscience: From the Shadows of Nazi Germany to the Jewish Boat for Gaza, is a clinical social worker and psychoanalyst. She is a poet, writer, mother, grandmother, and progressive human rights activist.
Her writings have been published on Mondoweiss.net and elsewhere.
Lillian practices meditation and has traveled broadly, pursuing her interest in Buddhism and other ways of understanding the world.
Excerpt from the prologue to Survival and Conscience
A question runs through this book and asks how two major events of my life, two seemingly diametrically opposed experiences, have influenced one another to shape my opposition to Zionism. This is the story I wish to tell.
In 1936, my parents, Fritz and Lilli Lebrecht, found a way to leave their beloved Germany to flee the Nazis. Brownshirts had already started to terrorize the lives of Jews, including my parents. It was difficult for my father, who had left months earlier for New York, to leave my mother and I behind in order to obtain a visa that would allow us to emigrate. German Jewish refugees who attempted to flee the Nazi racial laws were not freely given permission to enter the United States for, in the 1930s, there was a strict quota system. One had to face America’s formidable system of immigration laws. Applicants required an American sponsor willing to sign an affidavit of financial support promising the immigrant would not become a public charge and was of good health. In addition, one was required to have a job waiting as well as a place to live. This my father accomplished, and he rescued my mother and their eighteen-month-old toddler: myself. If he had not succeeded, my mother and I could not have survived.
More than seventy years later, in September 2010, I took another equally momentous sea voyage. I was one of seven Jewish passengers who, along with two journalists, set sail across the Mediterranean on a tiny catamaran. We were headed for the shores of Gaza in an attempt to break the siege and express solidarity as Jews against the suffering of Palestinians. The feeling as we sailed across the Mediterranean was one of joyful expectation. I did not imagine that Israeli warships would storm our vessel and that armed commandos would drag us to Ashdod prison to cruelly abort our mission of solidarity and hope. I could not imagine I would be deported from Israel and told I could not return for ten years.