In June 2017 I embarked on a personal journey following a family story that I knew from my childhood:
How my grandfather, as a 4-year-old boy, crossed the Alps with his family during the war in an attempt to escape the Germans.
While preparing for my personal journey, we discovered that our family story is connected to about a thousand other stories of Jewish refugees who chose to leave without any prior preparation to cross the Alps in the hope of reaching a safe area from their enemies.
As part of my personal journey, I chose to follow in the footsteps of my grandfather and his family from Saint-Martin-Vésubie in France to Entracque in Italy, a total of 35 km. When I arrived at the mountain pass known as the Col de Fenestre, I was suddenly presented with the spectacular view of the Italian side. At that moment I was filled with a tremendous feeling of freedom and hope. Perhaps a little similar to what some of the Jews who passed there before me felt when Italy was revealed to them – the place where they hoped the war would be behind them…
Within a few months of that uplifting moment, I had the privilege of experiencing in the exact same place, a moment that I will cherish in my heart forever.
I had the privilege of standing there on the summit next to my grandfather, who climbed there again with great effort 74 years later – this time with high-quality shoes suitable for the terrain and with a home and a country to return to at the end of the journey.
We stood there, in the clouds, in the heart of the mist.
And words of blessing in an ancient language, which was renewed in its homeland, shook the mountains and gushed a spring of gratitude from my heart, from that moment to eternity.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֱלֹקֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִיעָנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה
Barukh attah adonai eloheinu melekh ha-olam, she-heḥeyanu v’kiy’manu v’higi’anu la-z’man hazeh.
Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the world, for letting us live and stand and reach this time.
Raphael Tishkoff Ebrani
Raphael, married to Ayla and father of Brit Ori, lives in Israel in the Jerusalem mountains. Since 2017, Raphael has participated several times in the Marche de la Mémoire, alongside his grandfather, Avraham Schonbrunn, who made the journey from France to Italy as a child with his family in 1943. Raphael is a director of one of the ‘Kol Ami’ Jewish Peoplehood Leadership academies (“Mechina”), for Jewish young men and women from Israel and around the world. Since 2011, he has been working for the renewal of the tradition of the Hebrew pilgrimage to Jerusalem, most recently in collaboration with the ‘The Way to Jerusalem’ project. Raphael is a member of the AME43 board.