Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

Front Matter

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

read more

Preface

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. ix-xii

The idea of bashert (that events are preordained) is a much beloved one in Jewish tradition; many see it as an imaginative, intuitive force that brings together people and the projects they most desire. It was bashert that Miriam Ben-Yoseph, originally from Romania, and Deborah Nodler Rosen, whose grandparents emigrated from Romania,...

read more

Acknowledgments

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. xiii-xvii

Edith Altman, “When We Are Born We Are Given a Golden Tent and All of Life Is the Folding and Setting Up of the Tent,” previously published in Edith Altman: Retrospective (Altenburg, Germany: Lindenau-Museum, 2003), pp. 112–117. Reprinted by permission of the author. Miriam Ben-Yoseph, “The Kitchen,” published in an earlier version ...

read more

Introduction

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 1-7

The longing for home is as ancient as exile from Eden and as contemporary as the dilemma of finding home in Havana, Shanghai, or Jerusalem. History and the Holocaust have intensified the struggle of Jewish women everywhere to redefine the idea of home. The selections in this anthology reflect a variety of historical, cultural, political, ...

Part I. Displacement and Exile

read more

1. IsraIsland

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 9-16

I was never taught how to track Jews. Ever since my birth under the Roaring Water you showed me, Father Raven, the signs all around. Pay attention to how the ferns are broken, girl, a white-tailed deer made its way to drink. A sprig of leaves suddenly fell onto your head, the sign of a hawk that ...

read more

2. A Home Called Exile

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 17-20

“Now that is a True Life Story,” said my grandmother—who tended to speak in capital letters—“about a little girl just like you.” I never believed it was about a little girl just like me. (I believed it was about a little girl just like her. Although she never said so.) Nor would she tell me what had happened to the little girl, to her family, to her home. ...

read more

3. The Kitchen

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 21-24

If you come to my house in Evanston, sooner or later you will spend time in my favorite room in the house, my kitchen, the room that means home to me. Still, when I think about a kitchen, it is my first kitchen that comes to mind, the kitchen of my childhood in Sighisoara, my hometown in Romania. ...

read more

4. Mirka and I: (excerpt from an autobiographical novel, The Edge of the Field)

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 25-34

“Mother?” “Yes.” “What happened when the Germans came to Grojec?” “When they came to Grojec, we escaped to Lida. I told you this.” “What happened when they came to Lida? When you used to embroider shirts?” Sitting on the bed, sewing shiny X’s into penciled leaves and flowers and humming . . . waiting for him to come home. ...

read more

5. Independence Park: A Fiction

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 35-42

The Arab in Independence Park says I am a mistrustful woman. He knows this by the way I clench my fist, wrap my arms around my stomach, and look everywhere but into his eyes. I did not invite him to share this park bench with me nor did I tell him that last week I buried my mother near the Mt. of Olives. I do not tell him it is the ...

read more

6. Burning in Cuba

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 43-56

When I am 50 years old I go to Cuba for the first time. A special visa is required to cross the border. Only an official license will let me in. At Museo de Bellas Artes I start in the Contemporary Art section. A woman painted dark brown seated on a hard wooden chair holding her infant daughter is the first painting I stand in front of. I read ...

read more

7. Homeland Security

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 57-79

Cleaning out my family home, we find photographs, most of them unmarked, of the dead and no one to tell us the names of the dough-boys crouched next to our grandmother and her friends, she in long, dark, banana curls, the thin silk kerchief given until the boys came home, the unnamed boys. My mother might know but she passed ...

read more

8. A Letter to My Grandmother on Coming Home from Europe

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 61-80

My grandmother came to America from eastern Europe in 1911, when she was not quite thirteen. Her father had been murdered in a pogrom in front of her, her mother, and her brothers and sisters. My grandmother had been too liberally educated; her mother was afraid the mob would turn on her next, and so she sent her eldest ...

read more

9. Marked by Carnival

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 67-80

For how many years have I been trying to understand what keeps me afl oat in my not quite flawless, not quite painless, not quite cloudless existence here? I think—its unconcealed, brutal, murderous carnivalesque nature. The interchanging of faces, appearances, and masks; the topsy-turvy, inside-out sense of existence; the twisted situations, ...

10. Homesick

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 81-82

read more

11. Memories of My Chinese Home

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 83-88

My parents and I had survived almost three years in a ghetto in Shanghai, China. We had been forced to move, by a set date, into a section of Shanghai called Hongkew. This neighborhood was a far cry from the rather posh international settlement of the city; it was in a poor, outlying area, populated by lower-class tradesmen and ...

Part II. Place and Memory

12. To Return to One’s Homeland

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 91-94

13. Snow Unites Jerusalem

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 95-96

read more

14. From Cairo to Chicago

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 97-100

When the first Temple was destroyed in 586 BCE, Jews in exile established a community in Babylonia. After forty years many Jews returned to Israel. Others remained in Bazra, which became a thriving community with its own synagogues and yeshivot, a place where Jews could observe the Sabbath and celebrate Jewish holidays. ...

15. Bella, 1908

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 101-104

read more

16. Sisters

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 105-112

“I’d like to tell you about my life because . . . ” I check my sister’s face for fear of losing her before I begin. We sit across from each other in the back of a seedy café-tabac, on the frost-bit town square of a Parisian suburb. The corners of her small mouth move up imperceptibly, a sketch of a smile à la Mona Lisa only I can see because, ...

17. Jewish Oil Brat

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 113-114

18. Shalom Bayit

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 115-116

read more

19. All But My Life

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 117-118

When in September 1946, the wheels of the plane bringing Kurt, my husband, and me from Paris and London touched American soil, he tightened his arms around me and said simply, “You have come home.” It has been home, better than I ever dreamed it would be. I love this country as only one who has been homeless for so long ...

20. Kentucky Fried Chicken

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 119-124

read more

21. America

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 125-130

I came to America on April 24, 1990, to New York City. The Saturday after I arrived, a heat wave ignited the City. I pulled on a T-shirt and walked from my apartment on the Upper East Side all the way to the bottom of Manhattan. The streets were ablaze, with markets and street vendors, and every person in America ...

22. East

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 131-132

read more

23. The Mah-Jongg Set

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 133-136

I am eight. My mother is beautiful. Mah-Jongg is my life—the place where my belonging to myself begins. I belong to a house, a sturdy red brick house in Philadelphia. I belong to two parents devoted to their (still) only child. And, because I belong to my parents, I belong to Judaism—to all those wise and righteous biblical heroes ...

read more

24. A Jewish Romanian in Oxford

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 137-150

For so long I wished to see Oxford, the home of science and beauty. In just a few hours I have traveled a great distance from my home in Cluj, Romania. I flew from Cluj to Budapest and then to London, and from there took the bus to Oxford. As I arrive at the bus station in Oxford, I find the city colorful ...

25. In the Margin

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 151-152

26. To the Smell of Sea and Pickle

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 153-154

27. Isibaya (The Home)

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 155-158

Part III. Language and Creativity

read more

28. Yiddishland

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 161-168

A soft rain was falling as a white-haired woman slowly made her way to the microphone in the courtyard of Vilnius University. “Tayere talmidim!” she began. “Dear students!” I leaned forward to catch her words through the pattering of drops on my umbrella. The old woman was a member of the tiny, aging Jewish community in the ...

29. Silence

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 169-170

read more

30. The Girl in the Balcony

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 171-174

The scene takes place on a balcony. As if it were a scene from a classical play. A mother is talking to her daughter. It is a cool afternoon in the Condesa borough of Mexico City. The year is 1942, in the middle of the Second World War. The child is listening carefully; she is only six years old but she can tell that something important ...

read more

31. The Music and Language of Home

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 175-180

Jews have rarely found a place to call home for extended periods and my family migrated from continent to continent for a very long time. In 1939, my thirteen-year-old mother traveled from Poland to Russia with her widowed father, a man who, in more recent times, would have been called a “hippie.” That same year my father fled ...

32. Here

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 181-182

33. Posit

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 183-184

34. Morning Exercise

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 185-186

35. Renaissance

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 187-188

36. Line of Defense

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 189-190

Part IV. Family and Tradition

37. I, May I Find Home—after Yehuda Amichai

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 193-194

read more

38. The Dina Letters

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 195-200

Dear Dina, long dead great-aunt I never met, in my imagination you’re riding the Blue Train above the rooftops of Belarus. I think they just called it Russia back then. You’re riding over snowfields, that like everything else are tinged blue, even the miasmal fumes from the Pripet Marshes. ...

read more

39. My Indian Bene Israel Home

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 201-206

When I was a child in India, my father was employed by the British, prior to independence, and was required to move from time to time. It wasn’t until 1942 that we finally settled in Pune and my large family could establish roots. I had six brothers and four sisters, and it was up to my mother to establish a core around which family ...

40. In Your Letter

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 207-208

read more

41. If Only I’d Been Born a Kosher Chicken

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 209-220

The problem with my mother’s dying is not so much that she died, but that she died without telling me how to make a chicken. If I could make a chicken, the way my mother did, I could have her with me always or so I imagine. In my fantasy, whenever I want to talk to my mother, I go to the kosher butcher or buy Empire frozen ...

42. My Mother’s Roots

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 221-224

read more

43. My Iranian Sukkah

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 225-234

Every year after Yom Kippur, my husband Norman and I try to bring together the pieces of our sukkah, our temporary home for a week, a reminder of our frailty as Jews. Every year we wonder where we had last stored the metal frame, the bamboo roof, and the decorations. Every year we wonder about the weather. Will we ...

read more

44. Home for Thanksgiving

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 235-238

My great uncle, “the quadruplets” came to visit over Thanksgiving. With his olive skin and thick accent, my uncle seems to be a citizen of many countries and at the same time a man without a home. This is especially evident in his name, or rather his four names: Manucher, Menasheh, Robert (pronounced with a French accent), and Bobby. ...

read more

45. At Home in Shabbat

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 239-242

I am a descendant of the tribe of Levi, whose members, unlike those of the other tribes of Israel, were not allotted a parcel of the Holy Land as an inheritance. Instead, they were instructed by Moses and Aaron to elevate themselves above the limits of the corporeal world, to become vehicles of blessing for the nation of Israel. It is for this ...

read more

46. Learning the Language

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 243-252

On that first day, we have no words. We make silent choices of chairs; the dark curly haired man heads straight for the window, the tiny Asian woman prefers the seat near the door. I want the center, and, because I’m the first to arrive, I can have it. I’ve come early to take a placement exam which I’ve left almost blank. What I do ...

read more

47. When We Are Born We Are Given a Golden Tent and All of Life Is the Folding and Setting Up of the Tent

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 253-256

The recent death of my father pushed me to return to the place where he was made a victim, an experience that characterized his self-image for the remainder of his life. After much frustration I secured a visa to the DDR. My journey was to take the form of a perfect triangle between Altenburg, ...

Notes on Contributors: (Authors and Translators)

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 257-270