Friday, February 01, 2002

Unruly Child Tosses Her Hair

That’s how I would describe the trees outside this morning. The wind has become fierce since I arrived at work. The lights flicker every so often, threatening to shut off momentarily before the generator kicks in. I’d rather be home today. Alas, I’m here where I’m guaranteed electricity and a parking spot where my car should not be damaged by falling branches, wires or other wind-prone objects. I hear the suburbs of Buffalo got a walloping of ice yesterday. Power lines down in many areas. It rained all night in Jamestown. Makes me glad I live on a hill.

The Old Religion

I insisted on staying up until nearly 2 A.M. in order to finish reading The Ghost of Hannah Mendes. I tried to find parallels to my own life and heritage in it. I wasn’t overly successful. It’s a great read though. It reinforced my need to go abroad to find out more about my roots. The trouble is I have no idea where to start. Part of me says I should start simple and track my roots backwards, starting from the most recent residues of my heritage. It’s the main reason I want to visit Nova Scotia. That’s the first outpost in a way. It only fits my dad’s mother’s side of the family, but it’s a place. That journey would end up in Great Britain. If I followed my mother’s side, I would end up in Poland ultimately and almost immediately.

The other subject in the book dealt with Judaism and the acceptance (or lack thereof) of that religion in the lives of two of the characters. I grew up in a town and city that has a large Jewish population. It was one of the few places I knew of where the first day of school might be delayed because it fell at the same time as Rosh Hashana. Even so, I believe only a few people in my class were Jewish. I can think of two automatically, but I’m sure there were more. Not that those details matter in the full picture.

My mom first told me about the Holocaust when I was in middle school. I had the Diary of Anne Frank, but it took me awhile to finally get through it. Once I did, I tried to get my hand on every book in the library about the Holocaust. As if reading more and seeing those horrible pictures would make it more real in my mind. I never doubted it happened. I just couldn’t understand the inhumanity and was trying to find an explanation for it. Through my teens and even early 20’s I occasionally dreamt I was about to be executed by the Nazis. My readings had left an impression you could say. I also reached out and read fiction/non-fictional stories about those who survived and about those who came over to America. The Chosen by Chaim Potok was a long read. It certainly made me more aware of other aspects of being a Jew other than the persistent persecution through history. It was in that book that I became aware of the actual religion. I had forgotten about that for a bit until I read The Ghost of Hannah Mendes last night. There’s still that curiosity about the religion. I’m not sure where that will take me. I doubt it has any connections to my heritage, but I do wonder.

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