By Eve Glover
I am a writer, and during the height of the pandemic, some of the lifestyle magazines I contributed to and was looking forward to writing for lost all of their advertising money and are sadly no longer being published. I started focusing my attention instead on newspapers that were still onboarding writers, like The Jerusalem Post and The Jewish Press. To escape the fear and stress surrounding Covid, I delved into writing more than ever; it was not just work, but it became my escape into the lives and adventures of other people’s stories. I found myself connecting with my Jewish roots and history in a way that I never had before, and the experience has been life-changing. I am so grateful to have met such extraordinary and brilliant people, many of whom I felt an immediate kinship with.
From my living room couch, I felt like I got a front row seat to a movie about the lives of some of the most fascinating people I could ever have imagined. There was excitement and intrigue – I interviewed a former Mossad agent who disguised herself as a scuba diving instructor at a hotel while she helped smuggle 8,000 Ethiopian Jews into Israel at night. I also wrote about a woman who married one of the most powerful men in the Mossad, but didn’t know it at first because he had to keep his profession a secret, even from her. She wound up going undercover, assuming a non-Jewish identity and living with him in a Muslim country for years as he helped to stop an arms deal there.
I learned about the Holocaust directly from child survivors. Before I interviewed them, I was scared; I didn’t want to get upset or depressed, because the news was too upsetting to begin with. Once I spoke with them, I couldn’t believe how uplifting and full of life they were. I will never not be astounded at the resiliency of the human spirit.
I had the opportunity to interview the wonderful Rabbis at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, who put their hearts and souls into educating people about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism. They described trips they took to meet with kings in the UAE, Bahrain and other Arab countries to establish more peaceful relations with Israel, including one where a king and Arab diplomats in attendance stood for “Hatikvah,” Israel’s national anthem, after signing a declaration on religious tolerance.
I interviewed a legendary human rights attorney who is as fierce as he is kind. He has changed laws that have affected millions of people. He has been jailed, sued and has risked his life and career fighting for freedom of speech and the rights of others. He put me in touch with another lawyer, a client of his, who is under house arrest and awaiting going to prison for refusing to turn over his laptop and cellphone, the contents of which contained confidential information about innocent people he defended whose lives were destroyed by an oil spill in Ecuador that never had to happen, but did, because of extreme selfishness and greed.
Most recently, I interviewed a photographer who created an extraordinary book documenting his travels to Israel to meet with a violin maker who restores violins from the Holocaust so they could play again. I once again was reminded of the endurance and strength of the human spirit – and how it can rise up out of any circumstance. No matter how many more Covid variants and lockdowns we face, that’s something this pandemic can never take away – that inner spirit and strength that lives inside all of us.
By Eve Glover