Page 124 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

Basic HTML Version

to save herself and her daughter is to deny her past, to get out of
her Jewishness. Emily Brinberg remembers her study of Jewish
Another pogrom, the diaspora, an exile, a genocide attempt, and on the bul­
letin board in the tiny room where we all sat crammed together in the base­
ment hung Life magazine photographs o f the liberation o f Auschwitz and
Dachau. . . . Weep for centuries o f pain, none o f them your choosing. . . the
Cossacks, the Turks, the Romans, the Germans, the Gentiles come and pulver­
ize you and yours while your men with long shawls kiss the hem o f God’s
thoughts (pp. 57-58).
She envies people who seem to belong naturally to their culture:
Middle Americans, Gold-Star mothers, descendants of an early pi­
oneer woman “making a new country. . . spreading the civilization.
. . . I was jealous . . . a wandering Jewess, covering the globe, be­
longing only peripherally to one culture or another, a grandmoth­
er who collected china knowing alien boots could and would smash
it to bits a week, century later” (pp. 77-72). Thus plagued, “Why
be proud of being the victim? The roasted goat doesn’t taste good
to himself.. . . ” She develops her own version of the Final Solution:
I planned an escape—a painless genocide, a pleasure-filled life that would
guarantee the future, would hold no terrors or persecutions. Marry out—each
little Jewish girl has as obligation to marry out, and then, and only then the
children might be safe and the terrible tale o fJewish history would be done (pp.
In her most recent novel,
Torch Song
(1977), Anne Roiphe car­
ries theory into practice—her heroine, Marjorie Weiss, does in­
deed marry out. She is irrationally fascinated by, chases, and finally
contrives to marry Jim Morrison, a psychotic poet who carries her
off to Munich. There she begins to feel the stirrings of awareness
of what being a Jew in a world occupied by Nazis is like, but her