Letters to the Editor | Opinion

Letter to the Editor: A Jewish Heart

Several years ago, a coworker who knew I was a Christian, told me that I was more Jewish than she was.

Coming from a “sabra” (native born Israeli), sealed the deal for me and I’ve never looked back.

Since then, I have told some that I am a Christian, but I have a Jewish heart.

But I didn’t just wake up one day with a Jewish heart.

Instead, I would trace it back to two things that happened around the same time that started my curiosity and love for this people.

I was around 10 years old, not older than 11 when my little heart started beating for this peculiar people…

It was around this age, that I took it upon myself to be like some of the adults at my grandpa’s church, and read the entire Bible in a year.

It was called the BREAD program and stood for Bible Reading Enhances Any Day.

B.R.E.A.D. eaters were given a pamphlet with a schedule to follow with little boxes to check off for every day of scheduled Bible reading you completed.

I was already a geek at this age, and the checking off of boxes every day for completed reading assignments, appealed to me.

Today at the age of 50, I still remember the moment while reading my Bible, somewhere in the Old Testament about the Hebrew children, when I wondered who these people were, and what made them so special that God handpicked them?

Ever have thoughts like this around the age of 10/11 while reading the Old Testament?

I was determined to pay close attention every time I came across God and his Hebrew children during my Bible reading to get some answers to my questions.

It so happened during this time, I saw the movie, The Hiding Place, about the Ten Boom family who lived in the Netherlands and were heavily involved with the resistance during World War ll in Europe.

Being so young, I couldn’t fully understand the Holocaust, but I understood that it had to do with God’s chosen people.

And so, a little seed of wanting to know more, wanting to understand more, was planted.

Throughout my life, I have watered this seed and I’ve watched it grow into something special.

Reading and studying about the Holocaust became a passion.

I’m reminded of the time I took a college course about it, and I was so disappointed at my teacher’s lack of emotion while she taught.

I had the audacity to think that I could have taught the class better.

And there was a time when all I wanted to do in the world was teach about the Holocaust in a college setting until I found out how much college I would need to be able to do just that.

As much as I believe in education, I never wanted to do more than a bachelor’s.

When I found out from the student advisor over the Judaic Studies program at the University of Arizona that I wouldn’t be able to do anything with just a Judaic Studies Bachelor of Arts, I was crestfallen.

Of course, I found this out after taking four semesters of Hebrew for my foreign language, but that was my fault.

My Hebrew class was the hardest class I ever took but to this day, it’s one of the things I have done in my life that I am the proudest of.

I never did finish the Judaic Studies program at the U of A.

At the time, it seemed to me to be a waste of money if I couldn’t do anything with said degree by itself because that’s all the degree I wanted to do.

At some point in my life, I got a job working the front desk at the Jewish Community Center in Tucson, Arizona because I wanted to be in a Jewish environment although of course, the JCC opened its doors to everyone.

I worked with and met wonderful people while working there.

I met rabbis, Holocaust survivors, and I saw children dressed up for Purim.

I too knew the story of Esther and this group of children parading throughout the building, was testament to continued survival.

When I walked away from the front desk at the JCC for the last time, I made sure to take my name tag home with me because the Star of David next to my name meant everything to me.

In 2019, I faced my adult fear of flying and got back on a plane again in Tucson and headed to New York City with my sister, Priscilla and her daughter, Aiden.,

It took a special exhibition about Auschwitz to get me back on one.

It took two planes to get to New York and two planes to get back to Tucson and I would say, I sat there terrified around 95% of the time.

During the flights, I kept my complete Jewish Bible on my lap. It was a gift from my parents, years prior.

It’s written mostly in English, but all names have been translated to Hebrew where possible (not all names translate), along with a sprinkling of other Hebrew words.

And I would remind God of his promise to Abraham found in the book of Genesis chapter 12 verse 3.

” And I will bless them that bless thee… “

It was this scripture that helped me stay sane during these four flights.

Lord, I would tell him, the only thing I have to lay at your feet is I have blessed your people by loving them, respecting them, and wanting to know them, their history and culture. Now you have to bless me back by bringing me home safely.

Dear Reader,

If you haven’t noticed already, I am writing a love letter to Israel and to all the Jewish people throughout this world…

My heart aches for Israel. My spirit groans with sadness and disbelief.

But because I know you Israel, I know you will prevail.

You always will because God is on your side.

I found this out about you when I was first getting to know you, when around the age of ten, I opened my Bible and I started to read its pages.

Shema Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad – Deuteronomy 6:4

Missy Salcido Wead was born in Tucson. She has been married to the same guy for 27 years and they currently live in Red Rock with their rescue dog, Brady. She enjoys writing and earlier this year started a blog, knickerbockerstreet.com.