Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Yeke’s Tale (but not in iambic pentameter):
by Schvach Yid

I have a cousin , early to mid twenties, who’s the daughter of my first cousin – my generational peer – who in turn is the daughter of my father’s brother. I don’t know if my 20 something cuz is considered my first cousin, or my second cousin, or my first cousin once removed, or something else – I haven’t bothered to consult a geneology lexicon to find out. I don’t care about the label. I haven’t see her in at least 10 years; I think she was 14 years old at the time. She and her mother – my generational peer first cousin – visited us back then. On that occasion my father behaved abhorrently toward her, so much so that I felt guilty and ashamed (he reduced her to tears), and apologetic to the extent that a few years later, when she was in the upper reaches of her adolescence, I sent her a Tanach. My 20 something cousin’s father is Black (sorry, I just don’t care for ‘African American’) and Christian. Her mother, my generational peer cousin, is Jewish and White. Her mother, my tante, like my mother, is Viennese, and like my mother escaped from the tyrannical rampages of that Austrian-turned-German lunatic with the genital-telling mustache whose name I will not convey, may the memory of him be as a wad of used toilet paper. Anyway, her father is a successful, well-to-do (from what I’ve been told he pulls in beaucoup bucks!) industrial artist who works for one of the large aerospace corporations. But my 20 something year old cousin was raised by her mother, my generational peer first cousin, and is the granddaughter of my tante from Vienna, who's also Jewish. Also in the picture were my paternal grandmother – German – and her other son, my uncle - my father’s brother - the maternal grandfather of my 20 something cousin (both German Jewish immigrants). In other words, my 20 something cousin is Jewish (courtesy of her matrilineal descent). And she’s Black. So? So this. According to intra-family communications, ie. phone conversations in which I did not participate, my 20 something cousin is living with a guy, and for some time, who quite frankly reminds her of her dad. He’s Black and Christian. But my 20 something cousin was raised Jewish (exclusively secular) and, you guessed it, Yekish. German this and German that, and Jewish, Jewish, Jewish, but in true Freudian fashion she found a guy just like dear old dad, and appropriately too I might add, since her maternal grandmother, my tante, is Viennese, as was Sigmund. So far, so cool, but after years of togetherness, her Freudian-generated significant other wants to marry and start a family. She’s not so sure, I’ve been told. I bet it’s a culture clash – hers. She probably wants this, and she probably wants that. Good luck! What to do? How should I know, I’m a social recluse, and proud of it. The point is my 20 something second generation American Yekish cousin is a sign of the times. I’m proud of her, and except for the dozen or so rings that pierce the greater helix of her left ear, she adds physical beauty and grace to our family (she was raised taking ballet lessons, and the last I saw of her it showed in her posture and gait), and she’s the only third generation Jewish descendent of my paternal grandparents, ie., her children will be born Jewish. I hope she remains Jewish and raises her children in our family tradition. I know she wants to, and that’s her dilemma.


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