If your mother is Jewish, it is you

Not in with some and not out with others


Read on one side

Has at least one of your parents studied? Even worse was that you kept digging into my deepest wound: "What? You don't know your father? You really don't know anything about him?" "Yes, his name is Moshe, he is a doctor and lives in Israel." So many laughed at the name Moshe that I didn't like to mention it anymore. I often heard: "A Jew? Well, then it is also clear where you got such hair from! You Jews all have curls!" I didn't talk much about my father, but secretly glorified him as a desert prince who would one day appear and save me. Hannes Wader and Dota sing in a duet on the Kal├ęko album: You were just a few years late and I couldn't wait that long. All the flowers that I sown to greet you have now withered in my garden. Day after day, year after year, I looked for you, but you were on endless journeys.

In mid-May, a t-shirt with the "Jewish star" appeared in the online shop of the Leipzig company Spreadshirt. It says "Unvaccinated". A motive that I had previously noticed with conspiracy ideologues on Facebook who described themselves as corona opponents and everyone else as sleeping sheep. At around the same time, stickers showing the virologist Christian Drosten next to Josef Mengele spread. "Trust me, I am a doctor"was written underneath.

Are you influenced by Jews? The journalist Mirna Funk describes herself as a Jewish father and speaks in interviews about how difficult it is when one's own identity is constantly being defined by others. That some would see her as Jewish and others would not. According to the rules of Halacha, it is not. Funk says that she "realized that it was a problem worldwide to be a father Jew. In Israel this affects half a million people (...). The dilemma will still be with me as a father Jew for a lifetime, unless it is not I'm converting Orthodox, but I'm not interested. I don't have to be recognized by anyone who doesn't take salt from a menstruating woman. "

A friend once said, just for fun: "You can't be Jewish, that's only possible through your mother." "I never said that!" I replied. "I'm an atheist." "Nope, that doesn't work either: Once you have received the Holy Sacrament of Baptism, the Catholics won't let you out, your exit won't help you either, sorry!" So I couldn't get in with some and couldn't get out with the others, regardless of whether I wanted one of them or not.

Do you have a high school diploma? When I was 21 years old, I met my father. Tell me, where were you when it was still spring in the country, when happiness was still at the gates? When the days of light and the nights so clear, say where were you when I was twenty ago?, sing Dota and Hannes Wader. I had my high school diploma and a two-year-old son. And, according to my mother, he was very similar to his grandfather. I was embarrassed by the photo of my father that she had given me years earlier. If only because he was wearing swimming trunks. With a butt in the corner of his mouth, he looked grimly at the camera. Surprisingly, one phone call to international information was enough to find him. On my 18th birthday, the youth welfare office had revealed to me that, firstly, they had to force him to take a paternity test and, secondly, had looked for him in vain for years in order to collect child support. Still, I clung longingly to the vision that we would be happily united.

Give me your little hand So now you are not alone. Child, you shouldn't be lonely, Dota sings with Alin Coen. "This is Rebecca, I think I'm your daughter," I whispered into the phone. He didn't look surprised at all. "Rebecca!" He called. "I always knew that one day you would be in touch." Then he invited me to Israel. Our first meeting was terrible. When I saw him at the airport, my only thought was: Please everyone else, just not that one! Because already over the heads of the travelers pouring into the hall I saw that he wasn't just badly hit in the swimming trunks photo. He really looked so bitter and grouchy. "You are to blame that my whole life turned out to be shit!" Was one of the first sentences he said to me. "Because of you I had to give up my good work in Germany! What your mother did was stealing seeds! Nothing connects us but a drop of seeds!" My longing fell silent, my sorrow is gone. I understood that my father still held a grudge against my mother, that my parents had both made up versions of what went on around my conception in which one or the other had been wrong, and that the truth was probably somewhere in between lay. If you come, I long for a thousand things, the abyss between you and me grows, I feel the old wanderlust ring in me, but when you are gone, it's your place. We couldn't find a connection. We did not succeed in wrestling a relationship from being a stranger.

Do you have a migration background? My grandfathers were both joiners. One was called Matthias, the other Leon. One was German, the other Pole. When I was about nine years old, I caught the term displaced persons on. I didn't understand what it really meant, I thought: "That's me! A person in the wrong place!" Wherever I go, I go to nowhere. The suitcases full of longing, the hands full of trinkets.

My younger son once confessed to me that he would not tell his friends that his grandpa was Israeli. He'd rather say that grandpa came from Poland, like his father. At home we like to joke that my older son is only a quarter of a Pole, but the younger one is three-quarters of a Pole. Are you influenced by jewish? So my sons learned early, just like me, that there were very specific reactions to the information that my father was Jewish. I remember the echo all too well because it has hardly changed to this day. Either you were concerned or you said: "You're only telling this to make yourself interesting." Many looked at me for anti-Semitic stereotypes or what was thought to be Israeli. Most of them assigned my curls to my father's religion or said: "You don't look as racy as the Israelis, you are much too pale!" When I replied that my father's family originally came from Poland, people would yell at me: "Yes, what now? Are you half Israeli or half Polish?" Children teased: "My parents say your father's people killed Jesus." I often heard: "If you were half-Jewish you would definitely have been gassed." And again and again I was asked to take a position on Israeli politics.

Apart from the fact that this confrontation made me totally uncomfortable as a child, it was strange to be broken down into something that had so little to do with my everyday life. I didn't know any more about Judaism than there was to report in the small sandstone building of the village school and later in the hideous concrete box of the grammar school. This included singing the canon Shalom Chaverim and the song The Rebbe Elimelech. I can already say that from early childhood on I identified with Judaism in a way. But my identification only related to what was taught in history lessons in the FRG in the 1980s and 1990s. And that was limited to the Holocaust. Don't look for anything, there is nothing to find, nothing to fathom, settle for yourself. My mother couldn't tell me anything about how my father lived his religion. However, she read loads of reports from Holocaust survivors. Today I assume that she is interested in Auschwitz and the other concentration camps and ghettos: It was reading that she read so obsessively because she primarily identified with suffering. I do not deny her that she was and is really affected, and above all she is not alone with this "victim identification". It is a typical confrontation with the German past. For some, the projection becomes pathological.