Solomon Simon, the Yiddish Writer and Secularist

it was the air it was the water and we drank so air we breathed it was totally Jewish it was Yiddish it was happiness you have English it was everything my mother kept a kosher kitchen kosher in her thinking she never served milkshakes and classics at the same meal she would never buy traif there was singing there was Jewish songs it was people coming and going and everyone spoke Yiddish I went to shoulder my whole life I went to the show for tusen I went to metal show I went to judicial error seminar there was no going to synagogue there was no governing in the house people don't need a man up in heaven was a long white beard just that was the way he put it I had a best friend Rena who lived was also her parents were part of this folks group secular Jews and so they also didn't go to synagogue so when we were about 10 Rena and I had this discussion how come other Jews go to synagogue and we never get to go to synagogue why don't we go to synagogue so I approached my father and I said you know it was Russia shana I said I mean Rena and I want to go to shul I mean everybody's going to show we should go also and he said we don't go I'm not going but if you want to go to show you take Rena and you walk over the shoal and I'll let you in and I said well we don't have tickets he said not to Jewish girls come to show you think they're not gonna let you in that's ridiculous you just go over to the shore so we walked a few blocks it wasn't far and we got there and we said we want to go in for the services and he said okay but you have to go sit upstairs and we said why do we have to sit upstairs he said well the women sit upstairs immense it's downstairs and we each looked at each other and said we're not going here Oh ever and we ran home and I said to my father listen to this they don't listen to go sit upstairs he said did I tell you to go to shul through his life he had different versions of religiosity where he was more secular he sort of go in and out again even though some people didn't like say they Yiddish language because they thought it represented isolation Jews kept in the shtetl he wanted to maintain that and perpetuate that he had such a love for you – and you – culture the debate is whether at the end of his life whether he became a believer throughout his life as a Jewish educator he wanted very much to educate Jews and Jewish children create a system where they could be educated in a different way with a different set of content that would still maintain continuity and it was clear I think by the 60s that that had failed let's say so Malayalam sure was the the you know his effort at that the effort of his cohort I think he was disappointed in his kids my Uncle David my Aunt Judy my mother didn't effectively pass down Yiddish to us by speaking it in the house for example by making it a more important part of our family life we just became sort of generic Jews and Great Neck or in Huntington or or wherever they did more than somebody who did nothing I mean they sent us to Jewish camp they sent us to show Malik him folk shul but from his perspective and I think he was right those were so watered down as to become essentially ineffective and so I think he was revisiting the idea that maybe traditions that went with rabbinic Judaism and with the you know with Temple Judaism which he had rejected as being fashioned and sort of wooden and meaningless and that he didn't himself carry forward when he came to America had value for a continuity that's different from saying he wants to bring them back and adopt them for belief purposes but I don't think that leads to any kind of a conclusion that because the old stuff was associated with God worship that he is buying back into God worship I have his Tallis we talked about before I never saw him we're the tallest I don't think I ever saw him wear a yarmulke I think he was thinking of those things as ways of bringing a younger generation back into some kind of substantive Jewish content he was bedeviled by the contrast between his success in this in the Americas secular world and his ideals for the Jewish community which weren't coming into fruition and he thought that his life has been a failure because he hadn't achieved what he wanted to achieve his children were failures it was the same reason yet at the same time he took proud in our achievements and in his own you

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