Sunday, November 06, 2011

Crybaby for a Homecoming

Once in a while I watch FAMILY JEWELS, the Gene Simmons/Shannon Tweed reality TV show that brings cameras into their daily lives.

I enjoy watching the interaction, conversations and kibbitzing between the family members, and perceive intelligence runs fairly strong in the Simmons/Tweed household.

Yes, I know that Gene and Shannon finally married this season ("Gene, what took you so long to put the ring on her finger!?"), but the episode that has moved me, time and time again -- and I do mean "time and time again" -- is the episode, "Blood is Thicker than Hummus", when Gene, Shannon and son Nick visited Israel. The plotting Shannon (and production team) takes Gene back to Israel, the country of his birth -- which he left as a very young child -- where, at a ceremony in Haifa, he receives the Haifa medal, simply for being born there and becoming successful in his life, thus bringing pride to his birth city. Under Shannon's guidance and leadership, he visits his childhood home, goes back to the cafe where his mother worked, back to Rambam Hospital in Haifa to see his birth record from 1949...but most importantly, to meet his half brother and three half sisters, from whom he learns more about his father. A father whom Gene feels rejected him and his mother when Gene was seven years old...and as a result, whom Gene rejected in turn...not wanting to see his father again. Yet he provided for his father and his father's financial needs over the years.

How poignant when Gene opens his mouth to speak Hebrew at the awards ceremony. "Ha-shem sheli Chaim Witz"...My name is Chaim Witz. My tears began to shed...

How poignant when Gene visited his childhood home, at first not recalling anything, but then visual memories rushing back to him. My tears began to shed...

How extremely moving  the reunion between brother and brother and brother and sisters...and extended family. The words exchanged, the photos and slide shows all so poignant. More tears...

How tremendous the scene when Gene is brought to the cemetery to his late father's gravesite. Personal words written by Gene's late father are directed to Gene, and it moves him, and the viewer, tremendously.
Alone at the grave, Gene breaks down more and apologizes to his father for never making the effort to see him, while at the same time, defending his own position in life with his children. He is not his father, he is not his father...

I have seen this episode at least 4 or 5 times. Each time I've watched it, a repeat show tonight no exception, I've sat there with my eyes welling up, my throat clogging and tears rolling down my cheeks.

No doubt much has been edited out of the episode in order to make it one hour long, but what's left in the episode speaks volumes.

I like Gene Simmons, but I like Chaim Witz even more. His Israeli homecoming was a means for him to truly come home...and find his roots...and the branches that have sprouted from those roots.

He might've said Shalom (Hello) when he entered Israel, he might've said Shalom (Goodbye) when he left Israel, but more importantly, there is a newfound Shalom (Peace) in his life to carry him forwards.

Here's lookin' at you, Chaim Witz... ("sniff, sniff")