This week, I've been reading The Muralist by B. A. Shapiro, a 2015 novel about a 21st-century woman searching for what happened to her grandfather's missing sister in the early 1940's. They are Jewish, they are from France, and Danielle's relatives had been trying to get out of Europe. The book follows both Danielle and Alizée, her grandfather's sister, and I've just read about each of them in France this morning.
On my birthday two days ago, a new resident came over to my table at dinner time to ask about the Hebrew letters on the back of her new black tee-shirt. Having learned the Hebrew alphabet, I said with my Jewish friends, "Shalom ― it says Shalom, which means peace."
My friend Miriam, who had not eaten with us, had come to wish me happy birthday as we sat and talked around our very-talkative table after the meal. When I went back upstairs, I found a birthday card from Miriam in the box beside my door. Inside with the card was that bronze Shalom gift I'm holding in the top photo. Shalom, again! Tee-shirt and gift. Wow! But I was puzzled about those symbols around the words שָׁלוֹם and Shalom. So I asked Miriam and learned they represent the twelve tribes, the twelve sons of Jacob. Although no one knows for sure these days, judging by her birth name, she thinks she may be of the tribe of Naphtali, represented by a doe, a female deer.
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