Growing Up Jewish In Chelsa, Massachusetts
By MARY KORETZ
Mary Koretz of Oak Park has taught
both children's and adult classes in
Yiddish at the Workmen's Circle.
Etleche years ago, I hob gezen
a motion picture entitled
Gentlemen's Agreement. In es, a
character, a Jewish scientist, zogt
that he doesn't know farvos he
identifies zich as a Jew.
Since he is a non-believer, he
can't farshtayn. Why he elects to
endure the anti-Semitism that is so
farshprayt. I don't recall the exact
verter, but that is the eindruk as I
remember it. That a Jew would
even entertain the idea of not being
bavust as a Jew blew my mind.
For me, who am oych a non-
believer, the inyen is simple. If one's
eltern are Jewish, then one is
Jewish. It is simple, an indisputable
fact. It is as immovable as a
mountain, as batempt as corned
beef oyf rye.
Shpeter, I was to antdekn that
there were those who by omission
or commission led or permitted
andere to assume az their origins
were quite andresh. I was
incredulous when I met azelche
people. Locally, there were
advantages to be dergraycht by
being considered a gentile. There
were no quotas, not in universities,
shteles or housing. There was not
the civilized balaydikung. "Well, of
course, they zeinen people, but you
wouldn't want to have lunch mit
Why then did I persist so
tenaciously in my Jewish
identification? Why did I, according
to a tayl of my gentile
acquaintances, "flaunt" my
Jewishness. I didn't flaunt it; I
simply didn't behaltn it.
My self-searching led me tsurik
to Chelsa, Massachusetts, vu I was
born and spent the ershte six years
of my lebn. Chelsa was a shtetl to
which we came ariber from Eastern
Europe, steerage class, of course.
I carry the image that it
ongekumin like its inhabitants with a
perene under its arm. That was its
ayntsik prized possession. In
Chelsa, everyone was Jewish, or so
I thought. The exception was the
policeman, who I hob gekenf to be
Irish. He was hoych, blue-eyed
pleasant and an imposing figure but
did not seem to be a real person. I
never heard him talk. He would
shmaychl at me as passed him by.
The residents of the shtot were
FRIDAY, JANUARY 18, 1991
immigrants in farshaydine stages of
being "green horns." Those who
were not "grin" paraded their
superior visenshaft of the American
way of life. They hob oysgedrikt a
fine contempt for the newer arrivals.
Chelsa was vibrant, lebedik
with sound. Arguments, gossip,
gelechter, cries of anguish were
expressed in loud, unrestrained
My father hot farmogt a
restaurant, which served the same
med each day. They were roomers.
That is, they rented rooms where
meals were not provided. Other
men and all froyen were boarders.
They took their moltseitn where they
lived. No woman every ate in my
When I started school, I was
astonished to discover a strange
new langauge — English. It wasn't
biz we moved to Detroit that I
learned that the new langauge was
not confined to school. Jewishness
is home to me. It is my father's
anger and amusing stories. It is my
mother's good-natured cursing and
easy laughter. It is all the ups and
downs of life; it is life itself.
some, a few
Bubbie-Zadie & Kinder Camp
Three Days of Fun for Grandparents and Grandchildren
(Sorry, no parents allowed!)
Friday, June 6 - Sunday, June 8
At the beautiful
Butzel Conference Center in Ortonville
• experienced staff
• child care at night
• pioneer skills
• warm, family Shabbat
• delicious kosher meals
• talent show
Space is limited! Send application below with $50 deposit to:
Bubbie-Zayde & Kinder Weekend 1991
HOW TO APPLY?
Fill out application and send with the designated deposit to Fresh Air Society, 6600
West Maple Rd., West Bloomfield, MI 48322.
If you cancel within ten days of a program, and your space can be filled, your
cancellation fee will be 50% of the deposit. If your space cannot be filled, you
will lose your entire deposit.
Confirmation and further details will be sent to those accepted. Payment in full
is due within 10 days of notification of acceptance. Refunds will be sent to all others
after the program takes place. In the event of a cancellation, families on the waiting
list will be notified.
Bubbie-Zadie & Kinder Weekend 1991
Bubbie/Zadie Family Name
Bubble & Zadie's Address
Bubble's Business Phone
Attach additional sheet if necessary
Zadie's Business Phone
Mother's Business Phone
Father's Business Phone
• We (have/have not) attended a Butzel Family Camp Program before.
O We would like to be in the same guest house as
S128 per adult
• S80 per child 3-18 years old
S45 per child 2 years or younger @
Application must be accompanied with a deposit of $50.00
'If sharng rom with adult, otherwise price will be adult fee.