Son, you can't go around painting yourself black, you hear?" "Why not, Papa?" "Because they'll take you away." "Why?" "Because you shouldn't want to be like black people or Jewish people or anyone who is... not us." "Who are Jewish people?" "You know my oldest customer, Mr. Kaufmann? Where we bought your shoes?" "Yes." "Well, he's Jewish." "I didn't know that. Do you have to pay to be Jewish? Do you need a license?"... "... you've got beautiful blond hair and big safe blue eyes. You should be happy with that; is that clear?
Culture Day is a vital symbol of the centrality of Jewish life in Europe. It normalizes Jewish ritual and culture for the world we live in and helps show that we are both Jewish and European - and that the two sit perfectly comfortably, side by side.
The marriage of a Jewish son is a bittersweet prospect. There is relief, always, that he has navigated the tantalizing and plentiful assemblies of non-Jewish women to whom the children of the Diaspora are inevitably exposed: from the moment he enters secondary school there is the constant anxiety that a blue-eyed Christina or Mary will lure him away from the tribe. Jewish men are widely known to be uxorious in all the most advantageous ways. And so each mother fears that, whether he be short and myopic, boorish or stupid or prone to discuss his lactose intolerance with strangers, whether he be blessed with a beard rising almost to meet his hairline, he is still within the danger zone. Somewhere out there is a shiksa with designs on her son. Jewish men make good husbands. It is the Jewish woman's blessing as a wife, and her curse as a mother.
I think it can be tremendously refreshing if a creator of literature has something on his mind other than the history of literature so far. Literature should not disappear up its own asshole, so to speak.
[T]he hyphenation question is, and always has been and will be, different for English immigrants. One can be an Italian-American, a Greek-American, an Irish-American and so forth. (Jews for some reason prefer the words the other way around, as in 'American Jewish Congress' or 'American Jewish Committee.') And any of those groups can and does have a 'national day' parade on Fifth Avenue in New York. But there is no such thing as an 'English-American' let alone a 'British-American, ' and one can only boggle at the idea of what, if we did exist, our national day parade on Fifth Avenue might look like. One can, though, be an Englishman in America. There is a culture, even a literature, possibly a language, and certainly a diplomatic and military relationship, that can accurately be termed 'Anglo-American.' But something in the very landscape and mapping of America, with seven eastern seaboard states named for English monarchs or aristocrats and countless hamlets and cities replicated from counties and shires across the Atlantic, that makes hyphenation redundant. Hyphenation-if one may be blunt-is for latecomers.
Human beings don't necessarily exist inside of (or correspond to) the neat racial, gendered or national boxes into which we often unthinkingly place them. It's a mistake to ask literature to reinforce such structures. Literature tends to crack them. Literature is where we free ourselves.
Being Jewish did not compromise the humanitarian and universalist ideals of my close relatives who, having experienced persecution close hand, were more concerned with bringing about peace, justice and equality in the world than in trying to cut out a niche where they could continue an insular - Jewish - fantasy.
Shimmel: 'NEVER TRUST THE GOYIM. They are just like these other weird dangerous people, Messianic Jews! How dare Jews become 'Christian-like', Messianic? We should cherem (ban) them from every aspect of Jewish life. And we must strip them of every Jewish privilege!