I was a child. I did not know what the words meant. Because Jews could not be a member of the country club, they formed their own. They lived in community because their neighborhood was insulation from the outside world...the world that didn't want them.
By the time I was growing up in the 1940s and 1950s, inroads to discrimination had been made. Since the Christians wouldn't include them, the Jews in the Jewish community became tight knit. I was jealous that I wasn't included. I could not live in certain neighborhoods....the best ones with the biggest houses. There was no legal segregation ...just people who wanted to live with their own kind. A kind of reverse discrimination occurred. My high school was on the edge of this prized neighborhood. Many of the members of my class were of this religion. They had better clothes than I did. They had better nutrition and good haircuts. They got braces on their teeth if they needed them. The girls were spoiled. They wore cashmere sweaters and a single strand of pearls. They had money to spend when I did not. I wanted to be spoiled just like them. We called them Jewish princesses. They had an attitude of entitlement. I was excluded. If there were any more Jewish students in our high school, I guessed that the school would be open for Christmas and closed for Hanuka. For a skinny underweight teenager, this was a big blow to my confidence.
In those days, sororities and fraternities were part of high school life. My sorority had a sister branch at a private school...Girls Seminary. What did their fathers do to make a living to pay for tuition to a private high school? I remember one joint meeting. The girls from Seminary had on cashmere sweaters and a single strand of pearls. Their hair was done in the fashion of the movie stars of the time...the old black and white movies. Everyone looked like Lauren Bacall. My Christian sorority sisters looked just like my Jewish classmates.....Sigh...
From these experiences, I saw that some people chose a lifestyle...of style. How their houses looked, how the family looked, what clubs one belonged to, how much money was in the bank...These things were important to many people.
The flip side of this was that since my family didn't share that life style, some how I wasn't very important. They took one look at me and dismissed me as not important. There was nothing I could do for them to progress their careers or life style. I was dismissed.
In another blog entry, I hope to report on how I surmounted those feelings of inferiority and learned to treasure a different value system.
Actually, the families of my high school classmates had the same values as my parents. It was the veneer of money that excludes people that bothered me.
Labels: Jews in my high school