A number of years ago, my father was interviewed for the Jewish Migrant Oral History Project. Thankfully, I have a copy of the interview, and I will be publishing excerpts from it in his memory.
Interviewer: What was your barmitzvah like?
Dad: Naturally I had to have a cold so it was a blessing because I haven’t got a voice. I croaked my way through it. I had a reasonable teacher, the Chazan of the synagogue.
Interviewer: What did it mean to you, that barmitzvah, that special day, particularly given that you and your father weren’t hugely religious?
Dad: In reality my appreciation of it was, it just meant more obligations. I didn’t really appreciate what my parents had gone through to let me have a barmitzvah the way I did, and to follow it to the letter. It’s only when you become a parent you realize just you know what parents go through, and they kept me on the straight and narrow.
My father was religious in his own way. He actually was known as being a bit strange to people who decided to drift or wanted to be considered atheist out of convenience or people who criticized the Jewish religion – me being one of them – and used to lay down the law. He said if you criticize the Jewish religion it is a sure sign of your lack of knowledge. Criticize something that you know about, don’t criticize something you just don’t like. And he had a reputation that people better steer clear of him if they’re going to be anti-Jewish.
My father was also a man’s man. In 1946 our air-raid shelter had to be filled in, it was in the practice. Across the road there was a truck driver and he offered a load of sand for £5. When he delivered the sand and he said, “That will be £10,” my father said, “You said £5.” Now the truck driver was a really tall, strong truck driver. He said “You bloody Jew,” and my father went into him. He ended up in hospital.
About the AuthorAn Australian immigrant to Israel, Aussie Dave has been blogging since early 2003.
Filed Under: My Charmed Life