Jewish Book: Saving Myself, a Los Angeles Childhood
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A Los Angeles Childhood – Jour 8 - Musee d’art et d’Histoire du Judaisme – The Jews in Orientalism Part 2
Tuesday, 26 June 2012 20:49

The posters for COME TO PALESTINE in 1929 were promotions that particularly caught my interest. I realize that had I been alive during that time, I would have been drawn to that concept of having my own land, one that couldn’t be taken away from me. Throughout history there were periods in different countries where Jews were forbidden to own land.

In this building which houses the Jewish Museum, known as Hotel de St. Aignan in 1939, where information was gathered from census records, the gathering of names, Les Habitants de l’hotel de St. Aignan 1939. Names like Jeanne Bernet, Michael Rothsten.

Most meaningful to me was again the same as when I first visited the museum.

It was the marking of names on the outside wall of the hotel, Christain Botensky, first surnames, birthplace and professions of the inhabitants.

1939, soul remaining traces from some before the war. 1936 national census records, tax records register from 1930, and internment camp records. 120 Jews named. July 16, 1942, 12 died in the camps. Many were unaccounted for.

I remember the Deportation memorial behind and below Notre Dame in a park, walking down the steps to go into the darkness save thousands of points of lights each a dead Parisian. The description when I got to the bottom that included in the cement stairs and wall were bones from the camps. The only thing to now see is the dates in red in harsh numbers like the gashes of blood of the dead. My poem called Marais speaks to this monument. It appears below.

I have more feeling than words. It is like trying to place on paper what seems to be in my DNA. And each year it doesn’t get easier. Again I hear a voice inside of me. It could have been me.

Marais

What is this that whispers to me on a still day in Marais? I detest Paris for this smallest part of her frayed like a prayer shawl, crushed together and seized.

My mother yells don't go to Marais.  There are bombs at Deli Goldenberg. I go anyway.

I'm Russian, Jewish, from the Crimea. I worry about gathering from my grandparents, this part of me I can't understand.

Goldenberg: the rabbi, the grocer with working cat; prowling downstairs, sleeping up just like grandpa. After Schachrit, he writes prayers for Sabbath, Bar Mitzvah and weddings.

Stoic and solid Queens of France freeze encircling gardens, sixteenth century vestige, markers, icons.

Yet just blocks away not even fifty years of rains coming down can efface blood, where screams are herded into streets toward boxcars of slaughter.

Marais, I will capture what I crave and exorcise camps, dragging of bodies, burning of dreams.

Give me back more than those names written on walls, memorial of rows in a mosque hidden behind Notre Dame.

I catch a sign: Goldenberg in neon; Goldenberg in paint. I soothe that voice echoing, my mother telling the past, a gypsy playing all her cards.

Thank you for allowing me to share these thoughts with you and for reading Not Just A Jewish Book Blog.