Paul M Lieberman <paulmlieberman@...>
As part of the discussion of what it means to be "a Jew of Polish
heritage" started by Lilli Sprintz, Arie L. Wishnia raised the issue of
Just because someone has a Polish sounding name doesn't mean that he/sheI don't think this is what Lilli is wondering about. I think she meant
"Polish Jew", not a Jew who has gentile Polish ancestors. Michael
Bernet's comment on this are most relevant, but I think the question of
what percentage of Jews "have someone in their family of Polish
heritage" is still of interest and not totally unanswerable, though
certainly not a question that can be answered with mathematical certainty.
I have often mulled over the question of what influences were exerted on
me by the places that my ancestors spent their lives. My mothers family
were "Hungarian Jews", and, like most non-Hasidic Jews in Hungary proper
(in other words, not in Galicia), they were more assimilated than my
grandmother's family in Galicia, or my great-grandparents in Odessa. So
I grew up hearing Hungarian music and spoken Hungarian, and eating
Hungarian food, and wondering why my Galizianer grandmother's stuffed
cabbage tasted so different >from my Hungarian grandmother's (it wasn't
because the recipe was in Yiddish). If asked, I'd say I'm 100% American,
100% Jew, 50% Hungarian, 25% Galizianer and 25% Russian Jew.
As we JewishGenners have expanded our understanding of our Yiddishe
roots over the last decade, it's become clear that most of our families
moved around, some a great deal, some not so much. It's become clear to
me that I will never be able to trace my Hungarian family beyond the
early nineteenth century. If I were able, though, I'm sure I would find
that my ancestors came to Hungary >from other parts of the world (Spain?
Turkey?) sometime before 1800, and possibly not long before. And then,
between 1890 and 1921, all my immediate ancestors came to America. So,
even though they may have been in Hungary less than 200 years, Hungarian
culture has made an indelible mark on me, on who I am and how I identify
Let's keep asking these questions, and looking for the answers that are
meaningful to us and our lives.
- Paul M Lieberman