My affinity for the Cherokee nation is no secret. The striking similarities between the Jews and the Cherokees, in addition to several deep friendships I made with Cherokee Indians, led to the five-part series known as "The Trail of Tears". Since then, I've developed many more contacts with Cherokee descendants.
Yesterday, I received a moving letter from Ulisi Unegv Wohali (Cherokee for Grandmother White Eagle), a highly respected elder of the Cherokees, who has honored me with the Cherokee name of Wa ya Udo, which means "wolf brother". It's an amazing name, because phonetically, it's very similar to Hayehudi, Hebrew for "the Jew". Here's what she writes:
Osyio Rabbi Wa ya Udo [Peace to you Rabbi Wolf Brother - LB]
It is my honor, as a Tsa la giyi [Cherokee - LB] Ulisi [elder - LB] to give you the name that the Great Being has told me to give you. You are a brother - no doubt and you have the best understanding of "peace" or Shalom of any in this land. However, you are also a teacher and a pathfinder for the uneducated. Your loyalty to G-d's word shows the world why only the Jews could be trusted to pass down the word of G-d without changing as much as one letter.
This is why you should be called Wa ya Udo or Wolf Brother. Wolves have been long regarded by Native Americans as teachers or pathfinders. Wolves are fiercely loyal to their mates, and have a strong sense of family while maintaining individualism. The Wolf has come to be associated with ancient teachings. Wolves are probably the most misunderstood of the wild animals. Tales of cold bloodedness abound, in spite of the their friendly, social and intelligent traits. They are truly free spirits even though their packs are highly organized. They seem to go out of their way to avoid a fight. Traditionally, someone with Wolf Medicine has a strong sense of self, and communicates well through subtle changes in voice inflection and body movements.They often find new solutions to problems while providing stability and support that one normally associates with a family structure. In short, a Wolf is a loyal Brother that teaches, leads and makes a path where others do not have the courage to go.
I hope you find this pleasing and may the G-d's word always be a lamp unto your feet and light unto your path!
Ulisi Unegv Wohali
Thank you, Grandmother White Eagle, from the bottom of my heart. May The Almighty wipe the tears from Cherokee eyes, and return them happily to their lofty roots. Osyio, Wa ya Udo (Peace, Wolf Brother)