Too Late by Yair Arieli, Israel

Yair Arieli
Ruth Blumert receiving the Prime Minister’s prize for writers from PM Yitzhak Rabin, 1994

Too late. Two words describing a tragedy.

Ruth Blumert was an Israeli writer and poet. In 1993, she received the prime ministers prize for writers from Yitzhak Rabin.

She was also my grandmother.

Ruth Blumert for me is a sign of relentlessness. She is a symbol of determination and knowledge. From her I learned how to never compromise and to never give up.

Ruth was born to an orthodox Jewish family in Haifa, but a lot of her childhood was spent at her grandmother’s in Safed. Her father was a teacher and a rabbi, and her mother was a descendent to a family of Jewish rabbis and scholars.

Despite what religious society has designated for woman at that time, she always loved learning. After she graduated high school, she went on to study at university and received a B.A. in microbiology. Then she met my grandfather, a student in the Technion. Together they moved to New York for a couple of years where they had four kids.

Moving to America made my grandmother realize her future wasn’t in science but in education and writing. There she decided to master in English literature – switching her academic field. In America she started writing and teaching in Jewish schools.

That is also when she got sick. That’s how I knew her.

Her sickness escorted her for the rest of her life. My fragile ‘savta’, I miss you so much.

Her knowledge in this world was just indescribable. Growing up with her around was so inspiring yet so intimidating. She knew EVERYTHING. If I had questions about philosophy, psychology, history, geography, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, English literature, Jewish literature or anything else she was the first address, always reading a book – to her deathbed.

This is where I want to mention what she symbolizes for me and what I think people should learn from her. I want to speak of the power in a ‘silent war’. I won’t bore you with all the details but I think women don’t have equal opportunities as men do these days. I don’t mean in what society offers, I mean we are building barriers in our minds, women should do this or that. I think in some societies men are more encouraged to fulfil their full potential while women who tend to think outside the box are considered weird.

My grandmother never asked for permission from anyone. She never raised her voice or protested in any sort of way. She just always kept on thinking how can she give and achieve the most. I think this is very unique, especially coming from her orthodox background, but looking through recent statistics in academic facility’s I think a lot of us have a lesson to learn.

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