Who Does Not Want to be Perfect?

Perfectionism as a personality trait may have many causes, but only Jews have their tribal history as justification. Rather than power, our neurotic aspiration is towards a semblance of perfection so that we will be endured, accepted, loved. Not by God, but my our neighbors. I myself am helpless against it. Hatred of the Jews had been growing in German soil for long centuries before I came to be, a weed among weeds. Hitler came to power in 1933, when I was barely two, so it is not stretching the truth to say that I grew up knowing that Jews...

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A Good Death

When my mother died several months ago, I was aware of both sadness and a selfish concern over the inevitability of my own death. As I watched her slip away towards the end of a long dying, I saw not my mother, but a corpse struggling to breathe. When at last she lay in morphine-induced sleep, she was fragile and thin, bones I never knew she had protruding sharply from her chest, framing her chin. Her chest heaved slightly with the effort to bring air into her lungs. I saw no other motion. She lay quiet, her body still, her hands finally...

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Book Review: A Morning Star

A Morning Star by Andre Schwarz-Bart Recently I read, and then bought so that I can reread and reread, a book that’s been calling out to me: A Morning Star, written by the French novelist, Andre Schwarz-Bart, and posthumously finished and published by his wife Simone, also a novelist. The first novel that he wrote, and finished on his own in 1959, was the prize-winning The Last of the Just, a masterpiece of Holocaust literature in which a moving and mystical account of one family’s tribulations is written in the framework of an...

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Kristallnacht Wiedermal

Friends ask when I write, Again? Again, the Holocaust? Aren’t you ever done with that? I guess not, I say. It’s with me, like a jagged scar that doesn’t heal but stings and aches, forever.   Novembers specially open up the scabs, images of Kristallnacht rising to freeze my heart – black-shirted, black-hearted SS men trampling our poor belongings, — vivid as ever, frightful as ever.   Forget it, yes. That’s what they say. Even my mother urged it. Forget. Why not? We suffered no harm, running off with our...

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Questions Without Answers

I thought I was done thinking about it all, but then I came across an article on the Internet about Minsk that made me remember my maternal grandparents again. And wonder. It took a good chunk of the twentieth century to teach my grandparents how small the world is. Their own ancestors had wandered from Iberia towards Germany after the Inquisition and had stopped wandering when they found a safe base in Hamburg. They never considered wandering again. Certainly not as far as Minsk, which, in the early 1930′s when the Josephis considered...

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Being Something

I thought I was familiar with the degradations that even short hospital visits can inflict, so, when my doctor recently ordered a stress test for me at the hospital lab, I walked in with a certain devil-may-care attitude that was meant to pass for medical sophistication and answered, over and over, the usual questions about my age, address, marital status, medical history, insurance history, my mother’s medical history, my father’s medical history, and the nature of the symptoms I was presenting for analysis, most of which information was...

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