Former MK, mother and grandmother, maverick and Zionist, Geula Cohen, has passed away at the age of 94. Geula was a feminist in the truest, truest sense of what a feminist should be, She was a lot of things to a lot of people – and she has a special place in my life…a little one that I would be surprised if she remembered even 5 minutes after our short conversation.
It was in a bathroom in NY after she’d spoken to students at Columbia University. As one of the organizers of the event, I’d escorted her around and went with her to the bathroom.
And then, Geula asked me a question…whatever it was…and I asked her if I could ask her a question, Basically, here was a woman a bit older than my mother (11 years older) and somehow in those moments, I must have seen her in some maternal way. So, I told her about my problem. Really, compared to war and national survival, mine was a relatively a silly one, but not silly for a young woman torn between two loves.
Here she was, a woman, the ultimate Zionist but still, she was a mother and a woman. Somehow, I guess I thought she would understand.
There’s a boy I love. I dream of marrying him.
But, there’s a land I love. I dream of living there. Always, my dream, not his.
What should I do? Really, there in the bathroom, I asked her. No, I couldn’t believe I’d asked her. How embarrassing! Never had I planned to ask anyone that question, never mind an Israeli, a Member of the Knesset. And in a bathroom of all places, OMG.
“Choose the boy,” she said to me. “Choose love.”
Instantly, my eyes welled with tears. Truthfully, no matter which she had told me to choose, I would have cried for the second. I couldn’t imagine life without both…either alone. It seemed to that young woman, one without the other would be agony. Ultimately, I was willing to choose the boy but he knew that my heart would break without the land…and in the end, I got both and live here in the land I love with the man I love (and the children and grandchildren that have come into our lives since).