This is the twenty-eighth issue of Voices From the Past. My goal for each issue is to publish some highlights of one of my historical stories as well as an update on my activities. Please feel free to forward this e-newsletter to anyone you think might be interested.
About 150,000 years ago, my people, like most people, started out in East Africa. So some of my ancestors were African, like Jackie Robinson and Ella Fitzgerald and my friend Fay.
Thousands of years later, my people immigrated to Asia, where the countries Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran are. Iím not sure if my ancestors were in this area before or after Islam was created. In either case, some of my ancestors (or their relatives who remained in that area) were Muslim, like Mohammed the Prophet and Malala (the teen from Pakistan who received the Nobel Peace Prize) and my friend Mussarat.
Thousands of years later, my people immigrated to Eastern Europe. Around half of all Jews from that area trace their lineage back to one of four women. My DNA shows that I am descended from three of those four women. So some of my ancestors were Jewish, like Albert Einstein and George Gershwin and my friend Carl.
Thousands of years later, my people immigrated to Western Europe, to the places I knew about Ė Germany, Ireland and Scotland. I know some of these ancestors were Christian. Finally, a hundred and fifty years ago, my people immigrated to America.
Where am I from?
My ancestors came from four continents: Africa, Asia, Europe and North America. My ancestors were Muslim, Jewish and Christian.
I found that absolutely astonishing - my ancestors were Muslim, Jewish and Christian. It was so astonishing that I initially didnít tell anyone about it Ė I needed time to absorb these revelations. Since I started learning about storytelling 20 years ago, I've been drawn to Jewish stories. Through my experiences at the Interfaith Story Circle, I had come to admire greatly Muslims. Now I know and am proud have Muslim and Jewish and Christian ancestry.
Iíve continued to think a lot about this, and Iíve come to two conclusions.
First, I donít think my lineage is that unusual. I bet that if you had your DNA analyzed, youíd also discover that your ancestors came from several continents and several religious traditions.
Second, I have come to believe that: I am the world. You are the world. We are the world.
Hereís one of the Children at the Well alums, Adah Hetko, telling ďElijah and the Poor Manís Wish."
At graduation from Oberlin, Adah received the Barrows Medal for Interfaith Leadership. She then received a two year Tanenbaum Fellowship in Inter-Religious Practice at Vassar College.
If youíd like to help other students become leaders for peace and understanding,
please donate to this fundraiser so the book about Children at the Well will be published and available to many communities.
We really need your help. Thanks so much in advance.
Thanks for reading this issue. Iíll be sending you some more story highlights in a few months.