Dr. Pollack handed her x-rays over to Alicia who placed them on the light wall. Eva could see that he was a somewhat religious Jew, despite lack of head covering. It was the way he didn’t look at her, and that timbre of speech- quick, deliberate, profoundly questioning within a very rigid framework. The assumptions cannot be shaken, but after that any idea intrigued. He was exactly the kind of person that Eva did not trust.
There were, after all, good Jews and bad Jews. It had always been that way. Roy Cohn was bad, Ethel Rosenberg was good. Henry Kissinger and Ed Koch were bad. Noam Chomsky and Amy Goodman were good. Hannah Ahrendt? Excellent. Ariel Sharon? Terrible. This would always be. Unions were good and landlords were bad, Groucho was good. Lenny Bruce, good. Philip Roth started out good but ended up self-absorbed and crotchety. Jews who believed in a Zionist destiny and biblical right to the land of Israel? Bad. Jews who hoped that a multi-cultural, Socialist Jewish state could avert inevitable future Holocausts? Well…hard to picture. Walter Benjamin? Great. Eva loved him. Emma Goldman? Superb. Andrew Goodman, the murdered freedom rider? A forgotten hero. The Jewish Defense League, The Lubbuvitchers, the neoconservatives who opposed affirmative action? All horrible.
On some level it boiled down to religion, didn’t it? Did fundamentalists of any stripe have anything good to add really? It was a delusion after all. A hallucination to see oneself as God’s chosen. A crackpot wish with terrible consequences. And now this guy, this religious one, had her fate in his hands.
Thirty years before, when most photographs were as black and white as the TV, an Israeli cousin had come to visit them in New York. What kind of Jew was this? He wasn’t religious and he didn’t care about the poor. Was there a third option? This guy wore gold chains and an open shirt and looked like an Italian. He went to singles bars. His main interest was agriculture. He was a racist. A racist.
“The religious? They’re worse than the Arabs,” he said at his first New York dinner table, a place where no racist word had ever been uttered. “The Arabs, you kill them like flies, but the religious have twelve children. Hey, lets turn on the game.”
He watched hockey. Hockey! The emblematic goyishe activity. Hit each other with sticks? Jews couldn’t even follow the rules.
Young Eva was shocked. Who talks about other people like that? She’d never seen such a thing. It was wrong. Arabs were not flies. She was outraged. Now she was against the religious, and against the Israelis. But even with those restrictions, she wasn’t at all alone.
Today, though, sitting in the examination room, everything was different. Her opinions were all nostalgic. There was no more family. None of the standards of the former family had any authority now. There was only this religious doctor and she was at his mercy. The Secular Liberal no longer existed. Israel was a nightmare. She had no family. And here was this Dr Pollack, not only religious, but also a male breast doctor.
“OK, lie down.”
Sephardic Literature: The Real Hidden Legacy
plus Jordan Elgrably on the Sephardic Intellectual
Guilt and Groundedness
David: The Original Drama King
After sepia photographs
A War in Postcards
Alon K. Raab
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