Sunday, July 26, 2009

AH SHANDEH

When I was growing up in Windsor, my parents had a lot of expressions they used when trying to emphasize a point. For example, when my Dad handed me my first set of car keys, he said, 'These keys are like a gun and can kill just as easily.'

That was it! I never went over the speed limit...I never drank and drove ( I don't drink so that one was easy)...I never...I never...

But the biggie was this one from Bubbie Channah A'H. No matter what we did or what we wore or what we said this one loomed over our heads...'Ah Shandeh fahr die goyim!' A shame in front of the gentiles. What gentiles? Our neighbours? The people in school? ALL GOYIM. THE ENTIRE WORLD OF GOYIM...STRANGERS...NOT JEWS.

OY!

I understood where my parents were coming from. And, funnily enough, all my Jewish friends heard their parents say the very same thing. We had to be careful not to shame ourselves in front of strangers.

When Kennedy was killed...ohmygod!!! then, thank God it wasn't a Jew!
When Martin Luther King was killed...ohmygod!!! then, thank God it wasn't a Jew!

Why? Because over the centuries we learned that any spark could cause a riot or pogrom to burst into flames and then came Hitler...yimach sh'mo...may his name be erased forever. Then for sure we learned how to walk close to the buildings and try not to cast a shaddow.

Now, whether this feeling is valid or not doesn't make any difference. Every Jew watches out for ah shandeh fahr die goyim.

And now we have New Jersey! Are they out of their minds? What the hell is that all about? Mayors and Rabbis and important people and New Jersey and Israel and kidneys? Old Rabbis with long beards being hauled away? Rabbis in handcuffs? Are they out of their minds.?!?

Not bad enough we have to live with Madoff now we have the Rabbis? Didn't their mothers warn them about ah shandeh fahr die goyim?

I understand hatred. I live with it every day. Hatred is easy. It is in your face. You can't make a mistake. You know who your enemy is and you learn how to protect yourself.

But anti-Semitism is sneaky. It isn't in your face. You can make a mistake and since you don't know who your enemy is you don't know how to protect yourself.

I experienced two occasions of anti-Semitism in Windsor and didn't stick around for the third. The first was when I was a teen and we were all out canvassing for World Child's Day. A young mother and her little child came up to me where I was standing on Oulette Avenue and came close to my face before she said, 'I don't support anything JEWISH!'

Jewish? World Child's Day? If I remember correctly it was part of a major program from the U.N. We didn't say World Jewish Children's Day....that, thank God, we always took care of privately by ourselves.

The second was even more interesting. Tenth grade. Walkerville High School. We were all gathered in the hall in front of our next class waiting for the bell and Mary Ann turned to me and smiling asked, 'Why do you Jews kill babies to make your bread for Passover?'

WHAT?

The hallway went deadly silent. Thank God, I had heard about the dead babies and blood and matzahs before so I wasn't struck dumb on the spot.

I replied something like are you out of your mind and who told you that stupid thing and why would you even believe something as dumb as that anyway?

The interesting thing was suddenly the football team gathered around me and when the bell rang they walked me into class.

Now you have to realize that that was almost forty years ago. Some things you never forget.

Want to know the best part of the Mary Ann story? Her full name is Mary Ann Martin and she is Paul Martin Sr.'s daughter and Paul Martin Jr.'s sister. And Paul Martin Jr. was Prime Minister of Canada!!! Wonder what other lovly things he learned in that house???

So now the Emperor is Naked. There we are all exposed in front of the world. And I think it is a collective shame. Am I my brother's keeper? I guess I am because I feel sick about this.

I wonder how long it will take before we hear the word Shylock? But, then again, maybe I am just over-reacting.

Bubbie Channah A'H had one more expression that was her litmus paper...'Is it good or bad for the Jews?'

Ma...I think this one is very bad for the Jews. Sorry Ma. Oy!

Shavuah tov...a sweet new week.

Have a great day...stay safe...and thanks for dropping in.

3 Comments:

At 5:06 PM, OpenID andewallscametumblindown said...

I learned that lesson at school, where the actions of a few affected the way we were all treated, even though we constituted a third of the whole school. Apparently, there are some who don't know or don't care. ~Miriam

 
At 6:21 AM, Blogger Val said...

I shrugged when I heard about this craziness... politicians? yeah, of course. but RABBI's????!! Wait a minute. Now you're making MY people look bad. jeesh.
what were they thinking? obviously of only themselves. They should be ashamed of themselves.

 
At 6:28 AM, Blogger marallyn ben moshe said...

thank you miriam and val...and the dozens of people who wrote to me via email...

 

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