Wednesday, October 2, 2013
South African Jewish Writings
"You must have been an elegant woman," commented the stranger at the bus stop. "I used to dress women, advise them on clothing." I do take trouble to match and complement colors, so I appreciated the compliment. I wear hats to avoid skin cancer in glaring San Diego, but I always did like hats. The speaker had an easy, casual, tasteful style herself. This was Tessa Schlesinger, a free lance writer and blogger who has ebooks and paperbacks on Amazon.com. She suggested I look her up on Google, which led to reading an article and buying her publication of articles by her father, on being a Jewish journalist in Hitler's Germany, and then South Africa. Among other publications, Mr. Schlesinger wrote for JTA, Jewish Telegraph Agency, whose website I consult at least once a week now. It's a period of perennial interest to me. As a teenager I had a dear friend who searched Europe after World War II for 200 relatives, and found none. No records. In my extended family by marriage, hurt silence prevails on the loss of relatives during those killing times. I have always known people with numbers tattooed on their forearms. In my native New York City I often worked for and with Jewish people of every range of education and economic status. Now at First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego, I strive for justice and spiritual development among folks of Jewish, Christian, and Buddhist background. Some of us are theists, many agnostic, humanist, Earth Centered and yet more varied and unique. We find something in a spiritual community that reflects our real lives in a pluralistic, ever rediscovering society. We seek to go beyond tolerance to compassionate living in the belief that everyone and everything is connected. Well, I hadn't given much thought to Jews in South Africa until now. So I just read a long review in Goodreads of "The Lion Seeker," by Kenneth Bonert. Inspired by his interest in his own family's roots, the novel follows a Jewish family from Lithuania to South Africa between two world wars, through the changes wrought in the second generation. Based on the way Bonert expresses himself in the interview, I'm expecting a well written story.