I'm a little slow today. I just switched to Sanka. So...have a heart?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Did you know...

Did you know that Lesley Gore, who sang "It's My Party," "Judy's Turn to Cry" and "You Don't Own Me"...

Is a Lesbian?!

Who knew!?

Now yw do!

I wonder what it was like...

Sixty years after the end of WWII, the first Rabbis were just ordained in Germany.

That's unfathomable to me.

Often, I wonder what the World would be like if six million of us hadn't been carted off to freeze, waste away, and be shot or gassed in the middle of an icy Polish winter.

I wonder what advances the World would have seen in medicine and technology and academia. Would cancer exist if not for the Holocaust?

My family is pretty lucky - we were all here before that happened. I have a second cousin who escaped from Berlin on Kristallnacht, but he's the only member of my family that was anywhere near Nazi Germany. Besides him, the most recent arrivals of my family, Zirel, Solomon, and Gutte Koopermann came over to reunite themselves with Yakov, (who was making a pittance as a ragman) on the Philadelphia (pictured above) on July 10, 1904, after being bounced back to Southampton once before on June 27, 1904, because Great-Uncle Solly had the headlice...

I wonder what it was like in Jewish Europe before the War. When there were actually six million of us. I'm not sure whether there are six million Jews alive today. I wonder what it was like to live in a place where we spoke three languages fluently (Yiddish, Hebrew and the Native tongue of wherever we lived...) and I wonder what it was like having a culture that seamlessly flowed alongside the the history of Germany or Czechoslovakia or Poland or the rest of the countries we populated.

I wonder what it was like to take a neighborhood synagogue that had been in constant use for five hundred or more years...for granted -- to bury your dead in a cemetary that was five hundred years old. In the Ghetto in Prague, I went to ancient synagogues, and the Old Jewish Cemetery... and it was astonishing to be able to touch something that was five hundred years old and Jewish.

What was it like to exist in an insular community - essentially a Jewish world...? And how is it possible that that world was in full bloom eighty years ago, and only exists today in grainy footage and black-and-white pictures? And how was an entire language spoken by six million people...eradicated? What would it have been like to walk down a street that would have been swimming with the smells of onions and schmaltz and pipe smoke and horseshit, and hear the gutteral oiliness of Yiddish spoken all around?

Even though my religion is, what, five thousand years old...? I don't have anything in my family that's JEWISH that's more than 100 years old. It's like we left it all in the Old Country, where it was melted down and bulldozed over and set aflame and bombed out. There's a disconnect - then and now.

And I imagine, for most of us, the oldest heirloom we have might date back to the 1880s...in the form of a Kiddush cup, or a moldy Steamer Trunk that was carted from Odessa or Minsk, over the Atlantic to Ellis Island. Or maybe it's a picture of family left behind, with an illegible inscription in cursive Yiddish on the back - unsmiling, almond-eyed, pale faced people, standing in snow before a dark husky wooden building. Did we live there once?

And I guess it's astonishing to me that a thousand years of life and culture that had once flourished in Germany could be erased in seven years, and take over sixty years to begin to grow back. How many of us have German and Slavic last names... virtually all of us originated from the German motherland... and how is it that only now are we repopulating the land that nurtured such a rich and nuanced history and culture...

And what would it be like there today, if nothing had ever happened... ?

Dear Ann Richards

Dear Ann Richards:

I'm sorry you died. I always really liked you.

What is it with people I really like DYING this month!?