Re: [Cz-L] names for 'others'

From: <>
Date: Fri, 11 Jul 2008 13:00:59 -0400 (EDT)

When I traveled to Japan in 1982 I remember a couple of times little
children in small villages pointed at me, yelling, "gaijin" which is the re=
Japanese word for foreigner, perhaps equivalent in some ways to goyim. Lite=
'gai' means outside in Japanese and 'jin' means person.
To be called an 'outside person,' even by small children, maybe especially =
by small children, did not give me a warm feeling. So I wonder what it migh=
have been like in Czernowitz for others to hear, from time to time, as we =
might overhear, the names we Jews had for them, especially when we know how=
bad it was / is for us to hear ourselves called by certain names.
My sense from hearing my parents talk is that they had friends that were =
Christian and Greek Orthodox, including close friends, but not many. Some =
very helpful to my parents in wartime. My sense from remembering my parents=
talking is that Czernowitz was not a melting pot but rather a tribal commu=
in a tribal kind of world (though I don't think they would have liked to h=
me say it quite that way), where name, religion and lineage were always
closely attended to.
My parents brought that to America with them, as perhaps it was inevitable =
that they would. It was for a long time hard for me to reconcile, growing u=
p in
 the 50's and 60's in New York City, learning the ethos of freedom and
equality and 'melting pots' in school. It was even harder for me to reconc=
ile with
my mother's teaching me as a child that all people were equal.
Of course in some ways my parents surpassed it all when they went to
Germany, to Stadttheater Fürth, about seven years ago to the opening of a=
  play my
mother was involved in, related to Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger. It seems to me=
by that point in their lives they were capable of being very different,
evidenced in their thinking very fondly about the German people they met d=
their stay there. My mother said something along the lines of, "Those were=
the people that did terrible things to us."

Eytan Fichman

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Received on 2008-07-11 17:00:59

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