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Post WW2 Jewish-American Culture Experiences


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Guest ncm2169

In the wake of the Obama "race speech" yesterday, I am struck by the lasting effects of the Jewish-American experience in this country, post WW2. There was recently an excellent PBS production on this phenomenon, which pointed out that there are still religious scars on our wishful pristine cultural landscape.

 

Why not have here a conversation about that? I suspect that there are many people who post here who have had their own inter-cultural experiences.

 

For myself, I grew up in a Christian household on the edge of a neighborhood in the Twin Cities which was heavily populated in the late 1940's by Jewish-Americans. One of my earliest memories of a childhood friend was at age 5 when I met a neighbor boy who was Jewish. We became fast friends and we learned one helluva lot about each others' cultures. I learned about how his grandparents made soap from scratch (learned from the agony/necessity of the European holocaust), and he learned about the joys of eating bacon at my house (without his parents' knowledge - LOL).

 

I also learned about concentration camps from his grandfather who showed me the number tattoo on his forearm from his concentration camp - the same grandfather who made me an utterly delicious chocolate torte. Interestingly enough, to this day I recall the visual of the tattoo clearer than the taste of the cake.

 

Although we are now miles apart, we remain friends today, and I deeply cherish the relationship. It was the defining moment of my childhood and taught me a serious lesson about the value of understanding and appreciating different cultures in which, although we were/are both native born Americans, we come to the American Experience from different perspectives.

 

Does anyone else here care to post about this fabulous phenomenon? (Jackie Mason jokes are welcome, even if they're ... well, you have to have liked Jackie Mason - LOL). There's also a now famous Alan King routine about two Jewish guys who retired to Miami by collecting insurance proceeds - that joke would these days be considered utterly politically incorrect, so I'll pass.

 

 

 

 

 

:*

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Man oh man did this post bring back fond memories of my childhood. I grew up in an ethnically mixed neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles during the late 1940’s and 1950’s. As a five or six year old most of our neighbors seemed old to me. In reality they were probably only in their fifties or sixties. On one side of us lived Mr. & Mrs. Garcia and on the other side lived Mr. & Mrs. Nakashima. The neighbors across the street, Mr. and Mrs. Levy, were also older. As a child I toddled from house to house where I was always over fed by my three wonderful surrogate grandmothers. To this day I like to say, only partly in jest, that during those early childhood years I learned to eat tacos, blitzes and raw fish with chopsticks. I celebrated Cinco de Mayo with the Garcia’s, Children’s Day with the Nakashima’s and Seder Dinner with the Levy’s. On the block in which I lived there was also an Armenian and a Chinese family.

 

In those days most women did not work outside the home. My mother was a wonderful cook and she was constantly exchanging food with neighbors. My father built a large patio in our backyard which included a built in barbecue. My parents loved to have family, friends and neighbors over. During the summer we usually sat down to Sunday dinner at picnic tables all over the backyard with thirty or more people. All the women brought side dishes and my father would barbecue a turkey or a pork loin. We kids played our heats out, the men argued politics and played cards while the women gossiped and exchanged recipes in the kitchen.

 

Damn those were wonderfully times and I hadn’t realized, in years, just how much I miss them. Thank you so very much for a post that brought back so many wonderful memories.

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RE: Post WW2 Jewish-American Culture Experience

 

When Derek was 18, he had never known any Jews, so he was totally unprepared for what was about to hit him. He didn't know that 17 year-old Jewish boys are used to getting what they want, and once I set my sights on him, he didn't have a chance of getting away. The rest is history. And my parents are very protective of him; he's the good goy son they never had. :)

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RE: Post WW2 Jewish-American Culture Experience

 

Every Jewish family needs a token goy! If nothing else, they need someone to turn up the thermostat when the room gets chilly on a Saturday night! ;-)

 

I find the culture fascinating, partly because there are SO many levels of compliance, all based on individual beliefs.

 

For some, the grill may not be Kosher but it's OK if you cook the Kosher meat on aluminum foil. For some, even the foil isn't acceptable.

 

The endless varieties just fascinate me.

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RE: Post WW2 Jewish-American Culture Experience

 

>Every Jewish family needs a token goy! If nothing else, they

>need someone to turn up the thermostat when the room gets

>chilly on a Saturday night! ;-)

 

I'm not sure what you mean. All of the Jews I know are just as wasteful with their energy consumption as everyone else. :p

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RE: Post WW2 Jewish-American Culture Experience

 

Oops! FRIDAY night! Sorry.

 

I've certainly known some jews who won't touch the thermostat on the sabbath but will hint ENDLESSLY to get the token goy in the room to do it.

 

Something tells me your token goy gets other hints. ;-)

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RE: Post WW2 Jewish-American Culture Experience

 

>I've certainly known some jews who won't touch the thermostat

>on the sabbath but will hint ENDLESSLY to get the token goy in

>the room to do it.

 

Ah...OK, I get it now. Although, the only Jews I've ever known were completely non-religious and I have no idea what the sabbath actually is (but I knew some kids in school who, like, fuckin' loved Black Sabbath, man). My family only observed certain New York Jewish customs...like Chinese food on New Year's Eve and Easter candy on Passover. :p

 

>Something tells me your token goy gets other hints. ;-)

 

Well, he can be a bit clueless. The direct approach works best ("Derek, drop your pants and stick it in"). }(

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RE: American Culture Experiences

 

I've heard stories about the outright racism my Irish great-grandfather faced when he emigrated, but it's hard for me to imagine anti-Irish racism today that's not entirely in jest.

 

Which got me wondering: how much anti-semitism is left and do people believe it is likely to eventually fade away to a similar extent?

 

Tangentially related at best; my childhood experience of race involved moving to the rural deep south where my stepfather's family seemed to have no embarrassment about using the n-word in everyday conversation. There were times I felt I was the only one for miles around who felt there was something wrong with that. I'm thankful almost every day my mother moved north after 3-4 years of that.

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Guest ncm2169

RE: American Culture Experiences

 

James, I have a 30-something female friend from college who and her husband are both 30-something 2nd generation Irish-Americans. She is very clear in her delineation of Irish-American social classes, i.e., Brick House Irish (the "favored" class), Lace Curtain Irish, (the "Middle Class"), and Shanty Irish (the "Lower Class"). Although we've been friends for years, her Irish "classification" has always driven me nuts, in part because she is sooooo shallow that she measures her "classification" in terms of whether they purchase/use stem crystal by Waterford (never mind that most Waterford Crystal today is made either in Poland or The Czech Republic).

 

So, yes, the short answer to your question is, Yes, Irish-American prejudice still exists in this country today. Disgusting but true. x(

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RE: American Culture Experiences

 

The subtle shades of national prejudice still exist everywhere. I know third generation Czech-Americans who didn't want their son to marry a third generation Slovak-American because it would (in their minds) lower the family socially.

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RE: American Culture Experiences

 

These are both cases of (somewhat) recent immigrants applying prejudices to themselves.

 

But outright discrimination, even separation (by others) into a 'sub'class like Irish-American, are either of you saying that still exists in a harmful way?

 

I guess my belief is that people who others would define as white have generally stopped (fairly recently, 3-4 generations) being treated as lesser based on origin in Ireland, Italy, etc... Am I naive in thinking so? Does it perhaps persist more in a place like New York where areas have historically been separated into these original nationalities?

 

And if anybody agrees, would they say the same thing is also happening to anti-semitism?

 

And is it progress or just the usual shifting of the us vs. them boundaries on immigration so that "the threat" can be clearly defined as Latinos, Indians, Pakistanis, etc...? 6 or so months ago this might not have occurred to me, but I've recently lost friends by speaking out against the bile and vitriol against the current batch of immigrants (which usually starts with an email that takes 2 seconds to prove is a lie on Snopes.com)...

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