Re: [Cz-L] czernowitz-l digest: October 22, 2014

From: Sylvia de Swaan <>
Date: Sat, 25 Oct 2014 08:40:02 -0400
To: Shelley <>
Reply-To: Sylvia de Swaan <>

Hi Shelley - I just want to repost here two notes I wrote last night
that went only to you - this is information that I've sent to the
list previously or was posted by Christian Herrmann and Shula Klinger-
but not sure why no information appears about me by my name on the
list - I might not have known the right protocol......but it shows how
easy it is to stereotype people based on faulty information

Thanks Shelley
I may not have explained myself clearly - of course everyone who knows
me knows that I'm Jewish - plus it's been published in the newspaper
and catalogs, because quite often I'm interviewed in the context of my
photographic work, especially my "Return" project which deals with the
fact that I was born in CZ, a survivor of the Holocaust etc - but what
I meant to say, following up on Cora's post is that in some ways I
felt more comfortable being Jewish in Czernowitz, where I was for the
third time last summer, spent seven weeks there, living ordinary daily
life and having contact with all kinds of people, and through the
Jewish museum teaching a photo workshop and accompanying two student
groups to nearby villages to interview people in their 90s about the
memories of their former Jewish neighbors ...and these people
acknowledged the hatred that had been whipped up against Jews at that
particular time....because xenophobia has to do with a particular
climate and a moment in history.....anyway this is a complex subject
...and ones identity is also complex and layered - if I were Christian
or Buddhist or whatever, I also wouldn't necessarily feel the need to
make a public announcement about it.

Hi Shelley

I was born on August 17, 1941 on Turcesca Street, my father Simon
Neuman, my mother Etka Strum Neuman, I have an older sister Paula
Neuman Gris - like all Czernowitzers my first language was German. My
father was conscripted by the Soviets when my mother was pregnant with
me - my mother, sister & I were deported to Transnistria when I was
six months old. My father never came back, killed somewhere in Russia,
lost were my mother's two sisters and a brothe- & I grew with just my
mother, sister and maternal grandparents as family ....we immigrated
to the US in 1951

I send you a couple of links about my photo project that contain
aspects of my history

thanks Shelley

On Fri, Oct 24, 2014 at 8:11 PM, Shelley <> wrote:
> It is not uncommon to remember the fears of our parents or our
> childhood fears. But we must go forward without shame or fear. My
> mother moved to a part of Florida that was not predominantly Jewish.
> So, around the holidays, she asked the local supermarket chain,
> Publics, if they could order certain foods for the holidays. She
> never hid her religion even when she and my father joined the
> (Christian) Polish Club. My parents would dance and eat there and the
> priest who attended loved to talk to my mother about all kinds of
> things. Everyone was nice to her because she was a nice person. We
> must not live in fear. Not today. I wear a Jewish star wherever I
> go. At work, it was assumed that I wasn't Jewish because I don't have
> a stereotypical Jewish face and my last name is Mitchell. I always
> corrected anyone who said I wasn't Jewish. I always had a Menorah in
> the Window at Home and near my desk at work. The fact that there was
> more Christmas decorations at work didn't bother me at all. I enjoyed
> trimming my Christian friends' trees. They had Christmas; we had
> Chanukah. We both exchanged gifts. Sylvia, you said you never
> experienced anti-Semitism. But you are afraid to be known as a Jew.
> Be strong. There are ways to approach people who just have not
> experienced us. There are still people who never met a Jew. It's how
> you approach them that will determine how they react to you. Let them
> see you as both an individual and a Jew. It's been many years since
> anyone looked for the horns on our heads. I apologize if it sounds
> like I'm lecturing you. I'm just trying to be encouraging and
> positive. I hope you will take this in the right light.
> Shelley

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Received on 2014-10-25 10:56:14

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