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"They called me Germish"

Friday, 20 April, 2012 - 4:24 pm

As we were about to arrive home back from Shul last Shabbat, with the children and our guests, we realized that a young man and woman were gazing at us as we passed through. Then the young lady turned to her friend and said “just ask".

The man gathered his courage. "I was wondering why you are wearing that hat and long coat?"

"We are Jews" I explained. "Today is Shabbat and the last day of Passover, as Chassidic Jews - we have special garments which we wear in honour of the festivity. In fact I am a Rabbi here in Victoria, and my brother-in-law who is visiting, is a Rabbi in Philadelphia".

"Oh, I see, you are Rabbis. I thought you may be Jews, but I have Jewish friends, I've never seen them wearing anything out of the ordinary... so thank you for explaining..."

 The woman looked at the man, winked at him, as if to say "go for it" and just as we were about to continue walking - he turned back to me and said "I also have some Jewish blood in me..."

"How is that?" I asked. "Oh, my great grandmother survived the holocaust, she was in a concentration camp. She immigrated to Canada in the middle of the war; married a German, and lived in Nanaimo, where my grandmother was born. Growing up, I knew I had some Jewish blood in me. In fact, in school they used to call me "Germish" laughing on my combined origin, they used to tell me some other nasty things, but I won't repeat them"...

"How is she your great grandmother?" I asked. "She is my mother's mother's mother" he answered. "Then you are 100% Jewish!" I said with excitement, explaining to Aaron that according to Jewish law if the mother is Jewish the child is fully Jewish, and "if your maternal grandmother had a Jewish mother that makes you as Jewish as can be".

"Your great grandmother may have been an only survivor from her family, yet if you will learn of your heritage - you may be saving a lineage of Jews of thousands of years that was almost extinguished", I added . Aaron looked attentive.

I hope to soon report to you of Aaron's reconnection; after all, this is the story of our generation - the miracle of the revival of Judaism, just seventy years after the idea of a flourishing Jewish life was unimaginable.

Comments on: "They called me Germish"

Fiona wrote...

Another wonderful story! Today, a friend of mine told me that he is researching his biological family (he was adopted), and has discovered records in Poland going back to the 1500s. He said that there is a Jewish connection. Now he is going to see if it's from his maternal or paternal line.

Who knows...we may have a couple more men for the minyan one day :-)

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