Opinion: Why I, an Israeli Jew Who Lost Family in Auschwitz, Assimilated

http://www.haaretz.com had this article to offer paying subscribers..however since i was not a paying subscriber i decided to use the provacative title to trigger thoughts about the topic since i was after all, an Israeli jew who lost family in Auschwitz but more to financial feuds , if truth be told, with all due respect to my maternal grandmother’s siblings and their children murdered by the Nazi death machine after racist torture and abuse, forced to flee what was their  european home for centuries, i realise i am not the only one who assimilated though i might be unique in being largely not in agreement to assimilate consciously , i tried to avoid  assimilation but those subconscious forces somehow came to control my decision making , and since my fellow secular jews proved  too difficult , i found myself assimilated , but in contrast to the writer of the article published in Haaretz , my late parents’  newspaper, read daily by me , before it became an online not free paper, i actually never felt too happy assimilated and fought against the mechanism . I did not want to belong to a club who would have me, easily, the Swiss made it easy not to assimilate, perhaps if i was in a fuzzy friendly community of Christians practicing lots of love and kindness, i would have fallen in the trap easily, who knows for sure ?

As an Israeli jew who had married AND divorced from an inter faith marriage, this article was especially interesting to me however..wp-image-1146683644jpg.jpg

In order to read more of this provocative article i would have, in sharp contrast to the right wing and mainstream media, to pay or purchase a subscription, in this way haaretz ensures itself financially; you want to go left? liberal ? then pay for it, in more ways than one..

As a person who feels best in liberal but tolerant ambiance, with a stress on tolerance, i feel this article is the one i will be wishing i could have read in order to react, but i refuse to pay for this media and in particularly to an article that seems to me in bad taste…being jewish is not DNA , it is not something one should keep because of the Nazis , in my opinion, but dragging the Nazis into the argument of jewish identity does a huge disservice to Jews , if this is how we are defined , as a people who choose to keep our identity in order to defy racists, this is a poor choice indeed and i do believe Jewish culture and even religion has a lot more going for it then to be chosen as a lesser of evils..

I just had an interesting conversation with a young ethnically Moslem Albanian at my  telecommunication office about assimilation, most Kosov Albanian women, he had claimed, choose not to marry outside the ethnic group, the reason being is that being part of a strongly connected ethnic group serves as a safety net, if anything goes wrong, there is the extended family and /or community to help which is an important factor when living amongst Europeans who are not so tolerant to other  minority ethnic groups , there is strength not only in numbers but in community . I fully agreed with this choice, and i do believe this is way people want to be in Israel, they want to remain within their ethnic group not as a minority of mostly Christian people, and as a liberal jew , unless you live in Israel , you have very difficult time belonging to a group , there are the secular Israeli jews who tend to assimilate and even see it as a sign of pride that they can belong to a group, something of the trauma of the Nazi era when they were not allowed to marry with christian Europeans, but in essence when a secular jew decides to marry outside his or her ethnic group, they are lost and their children lose the safety net ethnic groups living in exile have, this is something our Moslem cousins know only too well and therefore most  choose not to marry Christian Europeans, not because of religious reasons only but because there is strength in the group, in the clan, in the tribe. 

There is therefore no logic in assimilating in order to improve one’s social status, it only makes it worse for the children who assimilate and therefore lose the minority ethnic group which in the case of jews means losing a lot of important attributes; unique character and frankly sense of humour and other aspects of the tribe that have served both as a defense mechanism and both as a source of joy.

In other words, marrying outside the tribe, is not only a moral question but also a question of what sort of identity one wants to have for future generations. 

There is a tendency to feel shame at being jewish because it means having to hear a lot of negative comments by racists, the UN condemns our country, we are not beloved despite the long list of contribution to world knowledge and spirituality , arts, and science. Why ? because nobody likes a wise guy, no one likes the geeks and the ones who raise their hands in class, and those who like to have discussions with the teacher while  most of the the class wants to go out and play , this is what a non jewish American told me when i had asked his opinion why jews are not well liked. 

Stereotypes are stereotypes; not all jews like to read, not all jews like to study or are intelligent, and not all jews have a sense of humour and not all jews have a sense of pride because there is too much ignorance about what a jewish identity means, which is the essence of the problem, identity and whether one wished to shed it, without having explored it enough. 

To have a Jewish identity can mean many things to different people but for me the problem with assimilation is that it is too often by a person who failed to explore the depth of what being jewish means, beyond religious definitions, but as a culture , as a people with a unique history and point of view. 

As i light my menorah , i feel for people like Nathalie Portman, who used to make us proud, she said she always wanted to have a christmas tree but i am with Phoebe from “friends” who mourns the loss of lives of young green trees, and i had never felt any envy of those who had decorated trees ..i married a non jews but i think for mostly financial reasons, the Dutch family never had a christmas tree, they found it wasteful, not because trees are living creatures whose lives are cut too quickly senselessly but because christmas trees cost money ..i can not generalise all Dutch people but that was never a point of contention between us, the lack of food, the lack of humour and the lack of tolerance for other people who do not fit in their  cold European values of intolerance was a breaking point for me personally. 

There could be an ideal situation where a person who is secular jewish falls in love with a christian person but without going into the Nazi propaganda and racist laws forbidding marriage between a jew and a christian and without brining up jewish guilt , the main argument against intermarriage is the loss of the safety net of a community, and the strength of a ethnic identity which is why so few Moslems marry outside the faith except when the women convert to Islam, the Moslems know the strength of a strong community and value it far more than the average secular jew, and here there are lots of lessons to be learned from the Moslem cousins, community can be strength, it can also serve as a barrier for individual growth but it is what children and women need, except when radical religion comes into play , in which case the community safety net can serve as a spider’s net endangering individuality. 

As i light my menorah i find strength in my clearly defined ethnic identity, which gets more complicated for my children, but having chosen a people for  a tendency for nonconformity , i predict that even without having read Anne Frank’s diary, the nonconformity tendency will lead us towards the promised land, where hopefully freedom of choice will remain, without having to pay for it extra. 

Here is a random  reader’s reaction to the article i could not read but whose headline caught my attention particularly these days:

Ezra HaSofer 8 Hours Ago
You only reference extremes
You only reference vitriolic statements by those against assimilation. However the mainstream Jewish view is simply that as a minority ethnic group, marriage by Jews to non-Jews on a large scale shrinks the size of the worldwide Jewish community. Therefore assimilation is not some heroic act against racism, but merely adding to the shrinking of the unique ethnic community that is Jewry. This is nothing unique to Jews. Many minority ethnic and religious groups face this problem, particularly those in Western countries. And they all have the right to assert themselves against the homogenizing influence of the majority cultures.
read more: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.761494

I add my voice to this logical argument, most  wants to keep their unique character, whether eskimos in Alaska or Jews in Israel, except those who feel shame and who misunderstand what an identity means and what strength lies in being true to your self and your roots. 

in an ironic way,  many of those who choose to escape their ethnic identity, find themselves missing it one day when they find confusion when being  asked by their children  “who am i ?” 

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About seagullsea

a seagull flying over the great ocean of life observing.
This entry was posted in a letter to the stars, adaptation, European eyes, eyewitness news, family life, films critique, holidays, hope, jewish survival, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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