Friday, September 22, 2006

So it's nearly yomtov and I'm going to shut down my PC in a minute. Frankly, it really needs a break.

I've had a lot of (lovely) correspondence recently about my increased desire to use/speak Yiddish. Except I can't speak - obviously - I can just litter my conversation with snippets and do joke-punchlines. It's all very third/fourth generation.

I was thinking about how his happened. I mean, I grew up surrounded by Yiddish and yiddishisms, but I know the exact moment when it became important to me. Here. I had this really English job (don't even ask how they managed to hire me with my Jewish hair, entrepreneurial (er, some say pushy) ways and not-that-low-key dress sense), and it was all glorious twelfth and oak-panelled shooting and people with country homes and cut-glass accents. People who, if they called people darling, it wasn't with a K.

The whole experience really heightened my otherness. They were not my people. Thy were nice people, sure. Some of them I'm still friends with and it was a while ago. But the context heightened the difference, and it made me want to go back and get the words from my childhood, speak the language of my people. Like a friend said to me last week, acknowledging his limited Yiddish knowledge (though it's better than mine, I suspect, not that I'm competitive), that he felt like those missing words are a tear in the fabric of his narrative.

So some say that I think everything's about community. And it might be true. But knowing the nuanced language of my people, knowing where they came from, how the spoke, it's part of my history, and it's part of me.

Did I mention that I'm thinking of going to Romania/Moldova next year?

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