Friday, September 3, 2010

What is Jewish?

Today was my 2nd day of school, and I spent most of it with the "Big International Class" (11 4- and 5-year old boys). The assistant wants very much to learn English, so she kind of attached herself to me. As in, when I was at a table playing with a few of the kids, she took pictures of my hair with her cell phone.

So the kids were getting served lunch and she looked at me and said "In America, you...." and crossed herself and put her hands in front of her like she was praying. I laughed and said "No, not all Americans, just Christians." Clearly she didn't know what that meant, so I used a Chinese dictionary (always handy to have!) to show her the words "religion" and "Christian." Then I said "I am not Christian. I am Jewish." She was very confused, so I drew a Jewish star for her. No meaning registered. I went back to the dictionary and looked up "Judaism" and "Jewish" and when she read the characters, she said "Oooooooh, yes yes." She then went to her cell phone to type in Chinese characters (the cell phones convert characters to English and vice versa because the texting is done in the ABC alphabet). When she showed it to me, it read one word: Germany.

I DIED. OHMYGOSH. I say Jewish and she says Germany?? Seriously??

I recovered quickly and tried to say 1940, but that was confusing, so I looked for "Holocaust" in the dictionary. Big surprise; it wasn't there. However, "Hitler" was on the opposite page, so I pointed to it. Her response? "Oh yes! I watch lot of TV!"

So apparently the Communist system equates Judaism only with movies about the Holocaust. I she watching American movies (Schindler's List, The Pianist, etc.) or the government controlled television (Chinese people playing Nazis and Jews? I would love to see that!) To be determined...