Blogpost # 434, “Savors of the Past,” contained some nostalgic observations of the savory cuisine, and its singular redolence, of the 1940’s Brooklyn, Ashkenazic, immigrants. In it, we declared that such post, constituted the final installment in the multi-installment, series, dedicated to that specific ethnicity. Fortunately, a scholarly follower of this blogpost, himself, also a first generation American, noted, that we had omitted to comment on the reaction of such people, to the historic occasion of the Allied defeat of the Axis Powers, and the consequent end of World War 2, in 1945. We are profoundly grateful for this useful and necessary, critique, and dedicate this writing to the fulfillment of such omission.
Those old enough to remember, as well as students of that odious period, know, that the United States, Great Britain, France, Russia, and some smaller Nations, the “Allies,” were engaged in brutal and existential warfare, with the “Axis Powers,” principally, Germany, Japan and Italy. The Axis Enemies, in the course of their psychopathic desire for world domination, killed millions of peaceful inhabitants in both hemispheres. The principle dedication, and major interest, of Germany, in this terrible war, the complete obliteration of the Jewish people, resulted in the murder of more than one-half of all Jews then resident in Europe. The historic accounts of the program to eliminate the Jews, place the extent of their homicide, in death camps and elswhere, in excess of six million, justifying the appalling title, “the Holocaust.”
Americans celebrated the Armistice with great joy and a sense of existential relief, not the least of which, was our Nation’s population of Jewish Americans, specifically inclusive, of our chosen and described, immigrant population (escapees, from historic repression, pogroms and the genocidal war conducted by Adolph Hitler). The defeat of Hitler, and the Axis, was, no doubt, gratefully perceived by them, as one more instance of the uncountable, historic divine deliverances.
This fortuitous survival, was,however, the mutual survival of all democratic nations, populated by Jew and Gentile, alike. Existential fear of survival, relief, and then, gratitude, quickly came to be realized and understood (by our immigrant population), to be events, not celebrated this time alone, by the vulnerable Jewish ethnos, but inclusively, by all Americans.
We will venture the considered opinion, that this epochal circumstance, and such unprecedented realization, was happily perceived, by many, as constituting, a long awaited determination, that the “Wandering Jew,” after so many centuries of hostile exodus, had found a home. The 1940’s Brooklyn immigrants, of which we write, and other like communities, saw a future, as accepted members of, and participants in, this most recently adopted Country, The United States of America.
The entire free world celebrated the glorious victory of the Allies, and the end of the War, joyous celebrations erupted all over America; Times Square was inundated with people, New Orleans took on the atmosphere and look of a Mardi Gras, but to our understanding, the modest, private celebration of our subject immigrants, and thousands like them, were as replete with tears, as with celebratory exuberance. Since the 4th Century, the age of Constantine and the Holy Roman Empire, Hebrews were universally vulnerable to prosecution, everywhere, as “foreigners,” “outsiders,” “heretics,” or worse, and suffered from brutal prosecution, murder, privation and homelessness. The Brooklyn immigrants, of whom we have written, had, understandably, continued,in the 20th Century, internally, to maintain the persona of victims of official and private prosecution. Their emigration to America was an attempt to, at long last, secure a normal and peaceful life; yet, a timeless history of prosecution, as “outsiders,” manifested visibly that they are, eternally, a vulnerable population with no safe harbor; thus, their unfortunate, and timeless designation as “The Wandering Jew.”
As observed in earlier writings, based on their history, many of the subject immigrants had continued to suffer their lifelong and persistent, feelings of insecurity, in the land of America. We have stated that this sense of historic vulnerability, which, in relation to the Great War, was visibly, shared, with others, and then, happily eliminated, in 1945, evinced an epiphany for them. This time, they, in common with others, are celebrating, mutually, the end of a shared suffering, ineluctably, leading to a uniquely comforting, and previously unknown, sense of acceptance, by those others.
The residents of the neighborhood, surrounding the few blocks of houses, in which our immigrants resided, announced, that they are convening a “block party,” to which everyone was invited. Most invitees brought their ethnic food, loud music was broadcast from radios, people met and happily interacted, sharing the happiness of the recent declaration of World Peace, and each other’s friendship, as fellow Americans and neighbors, and not as members of particular nationalities.
We begged our Mother for the $2.00 admission fee, and after consultation with our Father, she went to the emergency cash purse, extracted the fee, and joined us, with Dad, for a truly “American celebration. The warm, and neighborly interaction between all attendees, was more than celebratory; it was deeply, and profoundly, healing, and may well have been, the happiest recollected moment in our young life.