Confessions Of A Jewish Shiksa...Dancing On Hitler's Grave!
It was 1969 inOttawa, Canada. Both my parents were Jewish, but they
raised us Catholic. Yeah, but they weren’t very convincing -
BERNIE: Liesel, hurry up! Vus machst du? Ver gonna be late for choich!
LIESEL: Ach Bernie, don’t rush me! You’re giving me shpilkes!
FRANNIE: They looked and sounded about as Catholic as kreplach! At
Christmas, my father Bernie, who was from Vienna, tried his best to
impersonate Santa Claus right – he ended up sounding more like Sigmund
Freud! Instead of saying “Ho,Ho,Ho Merry Christmas” he’d say “Oy,Oy,Oy
do you have problems!” And my proudly Jewish mother, who was born in
Germany, never wanted to do the Catholic shtick – and so sometimes she’d
get a little passive aggressive about her wishes. Here’s a typical family
meal. My father’s about to take his very first sip of holiday eggnog;
PAPA: Feh! Liesel vad did you put in the eggnog? It tastes farkukta!
LIESEL: Uch, Bernie it’s delicious. Jah. I spiked it with Manischevitz!
FRANNIE: Now next to where my father sits, is my sister Mary.
Mary sneaks food from the table when she doesn’t think we’re looking, and
hides it in her room. The food she leaves on her plate she makes into artistic
sculpture, just like the pile she’s making right now – and she always has a
cold or allergies and she’s permanently congested. But Momma gets fed up
MOMMA: Mary, vat are you doing to my lovely potato latkes?
PAPA: Liesel, potato pancakes! Mary stop playing with your food! Mary!
FRANNIE: But Mary is just staring at the crucifix hanging on the wall.
MARY: Sorry, Papa, but I have a great idea for a
sculpture! Okay, since Jesus would definitely have been
in the desert sun for so long he woulda been sunburned,
to make the sculpture realistic, I’m gonna carve it outta
orange cheddar cheese and sell the statues and raise
money for the church and call them ‘Cheeses For Jesus’!
PAPA: Mary no more making sculpture out of food! You have
no idea what it’s like to really go hungry, no idea…und speaking of hungry,
Liesel, I am sure you will out-do them at the upcoming Christmas church
bake sale jah, but, - sweetheart may I suggest, make something y’know
Christmas-y to appeal to everyone there. What about those gingerbread
men the gentiles are so crazy about?
MOMMA: Ach vus, Bernie! I vorn you, if you force me to make those,
those goyisha Christmas cookies, my gingerbread men would have to be
PAPA: Liesel, who do you think you are talking like that? Phyllis Diller?
MOMMA: Bernie, the point is, we so need to give the children some of our
traditions. Besides this pretending all the time is too much pressure for me,
Bernie. Yesterday I had coffee with Sister Mary Therese at the convent. But
vell, it vuzn’t just coffee! She vanted to know where I vuz from und zen
what my religion was called when I lived in Germany und so on und I
dunno, she gave me shpilkes…I got nervous…
PAPA: Liesel, did you tell her we were Jewish!
MOMMA: Nein, Bernie, nein. Of course not! I told her we were goyem.
MOMMA: Vell Bernie, what do you want from me, it’s too much pressure!
FRANNIE: Then Mary had a nervous sneezing attack;
PAPA: Vad did you call me Mary? A - JEW?
MARY: What Papa? No, I just sneezed. I mean, what do you
PAPA: Liesel, we have to protect the children.
MOMMA: Bernie, we aren’t protecting the children by
crippling ourselves! We were not chosen to turn our backs
on our own people – we were chosen to be good examples!
Y’know nobody is standing over you forcing you to be Catholic like they did
to the Spanish people, you know, during the Inquisition! The 1400’s are
over Bernie! It’s 1969 people don’t care if you’re a Jew, or a Catholic or a, a
PAPA: The Catholics! Jah, Liesel. They did indeed elect a Catholic
president. Kennedy. Such a good man. Jah. And then – somebody shot
him…such a good man…und look at Israel, the Homeland, where practically
every day bombs rip arms and legs off the so-called chosen ones! …
MOMMA: My God, if only we’d had Israel to go to. My mother and my
father and your parents, and everybody…might still be alive! No, Bernie, we
can’t keep playing this game of make-believe. God is not pleased with us,
and besides, this little charade won’t keep us safe. We were not spared the
gas chambers to adopt Hitler’s religion!. For gods sake, we are alive! We
should be dancing…we should be dancing on Hitler’s grave! I so wish you
had pushed harder to set up a practice in CrownHeights so we could be
closer to my brother. His community has sechel…and besides I like
Americans, they say what they mean! Canadians are…I don’t know…just
over-the-top polite. Why do they apologize all the time, Bernie? Yesterday, I
went grocery shopping at the A&P und bumped a woman with my shopping
cart und she apologized to me. I said no, I bumped you first, I apologize.
She said you're right, I’m sorry. I’m telling you Bernie, those Canadians
have too much maple syrup in their tuchases!
BERNIE: Liesel, Canadians may be a little overly polite now and then, but
at least when you say thank you they say your welcome, whereas when you
say thank you to most Americans they don’t say your welcome, they say
“No problem!” Vell if it’s no problem, then just say “your welcome!”
LIESEL: Jah, well Bernie, manners aren’t everything… don’t forget, some
of those terribly well-mannered Viennese didn't do us any favors when they
were politely rounding us up!
PAPA: My love, my dear friend Anna wrote me this week. Anna Freud said
it herself. She said, we mustn’t allow ourselves to get lost in our dark
dreams. Now please, sweetheart, let’s get some sleep.
MOMMA: Ach, Bernie, I’ll get enough sleep when I’m dead! Bernie, New
York is a melting pot and could be such a fun place to live…remember, we
used to stay so late at The Carnegie Deli, we’d be the last to leave and then
we’d go out dancing?!
PAPA: Oy vay! Liesel, Liesel, Liesel I have to perform cataract surgery in
the morning, und sweetheart, I don’t want to slip up and give my patient a
third eye! Oych Liesel, you bit my lip!
MOMMA: C’mon Bernie, don’t ruin the mood. C’mon Bernie, lighten up!
BERNIE: Liesel, it’s three o’clock in the morning! Liesel, don’t pout! Okay,
look, I do a funny dance too. Oy vay…Liesel! Mm-mm-mm!