Monday, August 06, 2012

the spirit is stronger than our bodies

jack fertig, a wonderful man who passed away around 9:30 pm last night, had a spirit unlike any other i have ever met. i met jack when i was still a young kid, wandering through the shadows of life, and i immediately looked up to him because he had this life that seemed to be bigger than life itself.

we had a special bond-- even though we grew up on two ends of the world, in different generations, and in different cultures-- because i think we had the same type of outlook on the quality of human life. i never met an american white, male, young (he was only forty something when i met him)… who could be so unprivileged in his way of thinking. and i always, always, felt grateful to have had such a person in my life because it allowed to never be racist towards white people. i always knew jack, and it always prevented me from going with the “majority” voice in my circles pointing to the young, male, white… being responsible for all that was wrong in my new country of the united states.

jack, who was jewish, was very much anti-zionist; i, a muslim, had always been pro-jewish.  that was before he converted to islam.  and i could have always discounted his anti-israeli ideas as a man critical of his own culture, as i was.  and it was the same for him. we were equal right there, and i think this gave us a particular bond and respect for one another :) 

but, when he converted to islam, things have shifted to his end :) now, he was part of my culture, too. however, jack still understood my aversion to anti-israeli politics (which always reminded me of anti-jewish hatred i experienced as a young child in somalia, a country that had virtually no connection to judaism and had no understanding of the jewish people outside of the insane hatred perpetuated by the brothers of jews in the arab world). 

and i respected him even more.

despite our differences, jack and i remained close friends. there hasn't been a week when i didn’t talk to him. and he had always made me laugh. never had i talked to him or visited him when he didn’t make me laugh. and he made me laugh even in the most unexpected times. like when i talked to him on the day my mother died, a day i never would have imagined to laugh. or when he made me laugh this past friday, when i last talked to him, even though he was really weak.

that’s the jack i will always remember, the jack who had a spirit much larger than his physical reality, and i look forward to a lasting and eternal friendship on another reality.