The particularities of being Jewish(ish) in Paris
…including the famous L'As du Fallafel, whose pita sandwiches are as delicious as the waiters are handsome (they must hire based on looks).
LOL!!! Well Hannah, you are the proof that handsome waiters draw customers!!
Beautiful piece, Hannah. I’m reading Paul’s Baer de Perignon’s book The Vanished Collection (I can’t remember what it’s original French title is) which grapples with some of these questions.
“…even an écrivain public (public writer), a service that has existed in Paris for hundreds of years, from the days when most of the population was illiterate.”
My mother was French and so I am French…and I am so proud of my motherland for having the empathy and community to provide the écrivain public.
“I’m delighted to hear that the first Pen Friend sponsors — those who have opted to become paying subscribers – have received the painted postcards I’ve sent to them.”
Hannah, I am a paid subscriber who had the bad-timing to subscribe for $50 through Substack right before you added the current subscriber payment, which is about $70, as I recall. I mean, I’d like to get a postcard but I’m kind of stuck because I’d like to contribute $20 or so to meet the current subscriber payment, because your Pen-Friend newsletter is so worth it. Especially this one...
Hannah, “A group of Nazis surrounded an elderly Berlin Jew and demanded of him, ‘Tell us, Jew, who caused the war?’
The little Jew was no fool. ‘The Jews,’ he said, then added, ‘and the bicycle riders.’
The Nazis were puzzled. ‘Why the bicycle riders?’
‘Why the Jews?’ answered the little old man.”
It is quite a coincidence, with the topic that you chose for this week, that my girl-cousin, who was born 1 week after me in August, 1953, is MAGA…and she sends me all kinds of MAGA crap and conspiracy theories…today I replied to her email…this is the actual reply:
"You and I being born not even 10 years after the war, that the insanity and the horror that occurred among the German people in the 1930's has remained top-of-mind for our entire lives...it has with me...ever since I can remember...the German people were a stolid, logical people and yet they morphed into barbarians, scapegoating Jews, gypsies, immigrants and "the other"
"I always thought that exact thing could happen here at any time...I see it in ex-friends, neighbors, co-workers and relatives...look no further than the marchers at Charlottesville, WACO, Oklahoma City, the Bundy standoff, the WALL that was never built, January 6th...
And you have the example of neighbor/relative turned against neighbor/relative in 1930's Germany..."
"You should watch this outtake from the movie, "Judgement at Nuremberg," about 100 times....and substitute the name of our leader from 2016 to 2020 for the name of the German leader from 1930's Germany...if you think that the MAGA movement would not fill the boxcars with scapegoats, Blacks, Jews, LGBTQ, Muslims and immigrants, including the children of immigrants, you are kidding yourself...I don't care what you believe...I'm not trying to convince you of anything...no one was able to convince anyone of anything back in 1930's Germany...but I know one thing, I will stand up for all "the others" out there and you should too. https://youtu.be/xGfHkdR3tXs ...."
Beautiful and sombre peice today Darling Hannah,
As I say most weeks, your work is thought provoking and brings your feelings and observations so vividly to life.
There are parts of Paris which remain full of that eerie " war Feeling" I know that Kate has sensed it too. I think because such wicked events happened really not very long ago and as always in war, evil deeds and shocking human behaviour affected the very young and vulnerable.
My own feeling has always been to let people worship whom ever they chose and respect and indeed Joy often comes from learning and living with different faiths and cultures.
I would not feel qualified at all to comment on the deep ancestral connection to the holocaust that all Jewish people must have. There can be very few families who did not have a tragic story to tell about their relatives during that awful time.
As to not feeling comfortable writing about being part jewish... Auncontrare as the French say... celebrate darling!
There is so much love and joy , people like yourself and other wonderful young people willing to help modern day opressed and " othered" from which ever country has turned on them.
Philosphy on the state of mankinds unending practice of cruelty only brings me around in the end to the simple word by John lennon, our capacity for tolerance, fair play, kindness and grace toward each other is here right in hands
This was great. I'd trade subscriptions with you