Re: letter to zoli

From: ef (
Date: Fri May 11 2001 - 13:15:34 PDT

>so my mother says, tell them you are jewish, like, my father's mother
>was jewish, doesn't that count? no mum, sorry lah. anyway, a lot of
>those parents were like e's i think - they had got out in the nick of
>time and not all of their families either, so they may still have
>felt a little on the alien side. my friends though, all born in oz,
>seemed oblivious except to stretch their eyes when telling tales of
>how orthodox aunties wouldn't show their arms and had to boil even
>their saucepans before passover.

well... first of all, my experience with my ah, jewness is not al all
what you describe. my parents did not, as you say, get out in the
nick of time... my mother survived auschwitz, my father a camp at the
front... my father's survival is what prompted my first trip to
romania, do you remember? i went to find the guy who saved him. in
fact i would not exist at all were they to have gotten out... my
father was married and had a kid but they were both killed. as well
as his parents, brothers, and all of my mother's family. fuck... i
don't wanna talk about this again, i think i have in the past and i
do hate people who are ah, howshouldiputit, overly attached to their

secondly, re culture. oddly, i have no so called jewish culture...
few hungarian jews do. the hungarian jews were, and still are, very
assimilated. i know no jewish language, only hungarian. the customs
of which you speak were not in evidence at our home as whatever my
parents religiousities were before the war were lost in consequence.
they ceased to make any sense. my mothers family upheld certain
traditions but she lost her faith in gods and such bigtime. she
would, however, light a candle on fridays, but as she said, it was
only in their memory. and she would try to fast on that holiday when
you are supposed to pray for the dead.... but then she'd say, i think
i have starved enough in my life and then she'd eat something.

my father did go to the synagogue every saturday... it was odd, he
had some sort of faith in a benevolent god. i never could fathom it
but thought it kinda sweet, nevertheless. according to him, i passed
my highschool exams cause he prayed.

economically, i guess we could have been classified as well, poor. in
hungary, my father was a truckdriver... i have a picture of him with
a prize, he is proudly standing beside a truck with his name painted
on it, he had gotten first prize for a scrapmetal drive. i love that

from 1956 to 1961 we were refugees, ekeing out survival in several
countries. and then, montreal. where my father sold zippers from his
car to little tailorshops. the little tailors were
french/italian/greek and other sundry nationalitie, and they all
loved my father, papa fischer they called him. though he never
learned any other language than hungarian, he enthusiastically spoke
with hands and feet, great fun for them... they liked him so much
they would invite him to family weddings. after he died, my mother
would still be getting phonecalls asking for papa. then she'd tell
them and they would be very sad.

myself, i became, or perhaps always was, well, odd. of no discernible
culture other than that sort of hybrid, inescapable hungarianness -
which i only realized after going to hungary as an adult and
realizing that i felt weirdly at home, though not a home in which i'd
care to live - blended into the inescapable hybrid mixture of all the
cultures of all the countries i had lived in.

i too knew the kinda jewish kids you mention in highschool, that is,
they were around, but i had nothing in common with them. after
highschool i went to a french artschool, i did learn french
-languages are easy for me, having learned so many - but i had
nothing in common with them either. i did overhear one girl saying to
another, les maudit juifs. damned jews. of course, she had no idea
about me, i guess i just don't look the part. silly people hear
"hungarian", see a darkhaired person and think "gypsy". the result of
many bad movies with bad restaurant music in them, i suspect. so they
thought me that, instead of "jew". but i still remember that so it
must have hurt me. and i did get out of quebec, even though i kinda
like quebecois culture. but i hate the xenophobia that is all too
evident in quebec, i am way too sensitive to it i guess.

one thing i need to say is that i don't ascribe to the "culture of
victim" that is so prevalent in people who have historically endured
persecution. i understand it, but i do not accept it. i want nothing
to do with those people. a victim i ain't. i am a fighter for what i
believe, that is, that all people are equally prey to their own
natures. we're all a buncha shits. it takes will to do better.
something like that, i may have said all this better before.

as far as racism, lexie... i know i confound racism at times with
xenophobia. but fuck... it is much the same. the effect, the affect,
is the same. perhaps we need a new word to encompass both.

i do what i can for the gypsies because, you see, i know what it's
like. to be them. i am not them yet i am them. i know what it feels
like, when that kid gets spat on, i know what it's like. he says
nothing, keeps playing with the broken plastic horse, but then his
eyes dart. and i know what it feels like.


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