Vices we love: From my mouth to Yael's ears

Saturday, May 27, 2006

From my mouth to Yael's ears

This is not a Jewish blog.
I mean, I am Jewish (in case you didn't know), but there is so much more to me. Outcast. Exile. Tourettes. Lusting. Teaching. Reading. Dancing badly. Being rejected by unseemly women. Never even approaching said women. Swimming. Hiking. Traveling. PCP. Porn. The list just goes on. Also, to make it narrowly focused would inevitably mean excluding people who did not understand/care about these things and I am not keen on exclusion.

But Yael asked in a comment how I feel about what is said to be the attempt at a Jewish revival in Poland. When I came to Krakow on the second day that I was in Poland, I was overwhelmed by two things- the sheer number of Jewish artifacts- paintings of famous Rabbis, pictures of Torah scrolls etc- and the conspicious lack of any Jews whatsoever. In my current town, Gliwice, which used to have 9000 Jews out of a population of 18,000 I am pretty sure that I am one out of 200,000.

My students know every last little thing about me, including my background, and yes that does include granny's ride on the little engine that could. My job is to teach them to communicate spontenously in English and this inevitably involves subjects both good and bad. Just like life. They have never said or done anything anti-Semitic and I do not expect them to. I get along on the strength of my oft-mentioned boozy midget charm, Jew or not.
I also make it a point not to say or imply anything that may make them feel guilty. I do this because I remember the night in the Quebec hostel where, after copious amounts of Warka, an Austrian lad asked where I was from.

"Hungary but I live in New York."
"What about your family?"
"What about them?"
"They Hungarian too?"
"Yes."
"Do they live in America?"
"Some do. Some stayed in Hungary and some are in Israel."
"Israel....you Jewish?"
"Yes." (You're catching on kid.)
"Oh I'm sorry."
"Huh?"
"About the war."

Now, this kid was twenty-two, twenty-three tops. He had nothing to be sorry about. His sole responsibility, which, if he is reading this he should copy down and paste in the band of his Yankees hat is:

DO NOT FUCK UP.

That's it. He can't help his grandfather's time, but he can sure help his.

So I take care not to blame or even imply blame. Although I will admit that if I see elderly Polish men and women, I sometimes wonder. Who are they? What happened to them? What did they do? But still. I'm here to function in the community and I can't do that with a ton of baggage. Which is why I'll never live in Germany.

But a Jewish revival? Let's not get carried away here. Jews are part of Polish history and people understand that. But as far as actual living breathing Jews doing Jewy things like davening and kvetching 24/7? Nah....you can't revive something that has been made extinct. Half of the 6 million Jews who died in the camps were Polish. Those Polish Jews were joined by Polish Catholics, resisters, the disabled, Roma and political enemies like communists so there was plenty of misery to go around. Still, 3 million is 90% or so of the pre-war Jewish population. There is just no way to replace a loss like that. There just isn't.

2 Comments:

Blogger peemil said...

Beautifully crafted.

Intelligently worded.

Interesting read.

No fucking comments though.

People are cunts.

8:33 AM  
Blogger asiatown77 said...

I wrote it mostly for me.

3:09 PM  

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