Thursday, February 4, 2016

Gee whiz, am I an Eastern European jew?

So I am the child of 2 first generation Americans of Irish and Puerto Rican descent, raised catholic. I have identified that way my whole life. And just yesterday I had an interesting thought. Three of my grandparents came by boat to this country, but my mother’s father was born here. He wasn’t just Irish, like her mom, but a mix English, Irish, German, what else. I have never entered those elements into my equation. I always knew about it but the story has always been written Irish/Puerto Rican- neat and tidy- dark and light, like a gorgeous Roy DeCarava photo- like a version of West Side Story, exactly like that since my folks both grew up on the working class upper west side.

Anyway, when I was discussing my strange attraction to eastern europa yesterday, someone mentioned that I looked a bit Eastern European. I have always been attracted to people from that part of the world, boy friends, and girl friends, and even strangers whose accents I liked. I spent a short amount of time in eastern Gemany and the former republics of Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia while on tour and the cities were so authentic, not westernized at the time (not anymore probably), which is such a remarkable thing to get to experience. I love the feel of the land there, the quality of the sky and the oldness of the buildings. I feel the history and the devastation in the grey monolithicness. I even like the hideous old toilets, like a stall with a hole in the ground. I desire to travel to India and Viet Nam and the glamorous cities of Europe but I would love to find time to go back to the eastern countries and visit the concentration camps, I have always wanted to walk around that part of history. Something there pulls at me.

Anyway, my great grandmother was part German (fuzzy history) with the last name Biser, or Byzer (I am writing on the fly, as I do every night, and it is too late to call a relative to research, so …). Anyway, I wonder if I am also Jewish? Did she leave Germany to avoid persecution? Where were her ancestors from? I will have to do my research, but it would make sense...and mess up my neat duality.

How strange, seconds after posting this, I just read that Roy DeCarava passed away today. I mentioned him because his beautiful black and white contrasty photos just came into my mind from no where, out of the blue...hmmmm

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