I grew up in a place where my first name was nothing more than a word on my identification card. Where the Holocaust was something that didn’t belong to me. Where my story had no place. All because of my ethnicity.
By Adi Sadaka
Ever since I was a young girl and through my years growing up in Kiryat Tiv’on, I found myself trying my best to conceal my last name. In the small town where I lived in Israel’s north, the heartland of Ashkenazi identity, I felt, without even understanding what I was feeling at the time, that it was better simply not to admit that I was Mizrahi.
The first step in this process was to try not to say my last name out loud. Sometimes this worked. But my last name was almost always revealed, and regardless of where I went, everyone just called me “Sadaka.”
My first name became nothing more than a word on my ID card.
In high school, my brother’s older friends – he was also called “Sadaka” – called me “Little Sadaka.” Even after I left Tiv’on, went to the Garin (a pre-army year course), was drafted into the army and moved to Tel Aviv, people insisted on calling me by my last name. And I’ve heard it in all of its forms: Sadakush, Sedek, Sidkit, Sudoku.
My first name, Adi, is used only by my family members and maybe two or three friends.
My classmates who grew up with me in Tiv’on will be very upset with me if they hear me claim that even in our small town there is discrimination based on ethnicity. They will surely say that I am searching for racism in places where it does not exist, and that no one in actually Tiv’on cares where you come from. But when you talk about where you are going, well, that’s where you can see the difference.
Tiv’on is clearly divided into two areas. On the lefthand side of Tiv’on Junction there is Kiryat Amal. Kiryat Amal includes the most Zionist streets in town: Alexander Zaïd, Moshe Sharett, Yigal Alon, Yitzhak Rabin and Hannah Senesh. People whose reputation precedes them.
On the righthand side of the junction, one sees the old Kiryat Tiv’on and the relatively new neighborhood of Ramat Tiv’on. These neighborhoods are named after flowers and plants.