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Isidore rose from his seat. He felt strangely tired. When he started across the room, Abraham set his own cup down and followed him to the hall. His uncle made no move to open the door, but instead placed his hand on the architrave as if he were guarding the exit. ‘You know, Isidore, there is something rather wonderful about our culture,’ he said quietly. ‘That could sound trite, but it’s not so. The Jewish way of life – it’s good for us, good for our children. Guidelines. How often do you witness disrespect of Jewish children for their parents?
Don’t you think that your dream could be telling you that? You have interpreted guidance differently, but think on it. There’s something solid in a sense of community, in not travelling life’s path alone.’ Isidore straightened his shoulders, looked directly into the older man’s eyes. ‘Uncle, please understand. The only thing I have against religion is times like this when practicalities are overridden in the name of faith, when friends are split up and rifts are caused in families. What both you and father cannot seem to grasp is that I am not Jewish. My mother is not Jewish and I was not brought up as a Jew. All this ruckus, all the judgements that are being made now over a woman neither of you have met – that’s one thing. But why was there not more fuss made over my not having a bar mitzvah? Was everyone too busy making money to note, beyond the book you so kindly gave me, that my thirteenth birthday came and went? Surely that would have been the time to stage a protest? For heaven’s sake, even Father didn’t marry a Jew, so why this fuss now?’ He reached for his coat on the hallstand. ‘No one understands better than me, believe me, the loneliness of never quite fitting in. Of always being neither one thing nor the other. But by being observant, by attending the synagogue, by marrying a Jewish woman, what would that achieve in terms of identity? Would that make me Jewish? Or would I still be on the outside? Not quite a Jew, but the man who married a Jew and had Jewish children?’ ”
ABOUT TANGEA TANSLEY:
Perth-based author Tangea Tansley’s most recent publication is A Break in the Chain – the Early Kozminskys – published by Affirm Press in 2011. Her previous published books include: For Women Who Grieve (Lothian, Melbourne, 1995 and Crossing Press, USA, 1996) and Heytesbury Stud: An Affair of the Heart (Gary Allen, Sydney, 2003). Tangea’s short stories and essays have been published in The West Australian, Island, Griffith Review and Scope Magazine. Her story Endlessly Rocking was included in a national anthology and two others were highly commended in national awards. Her essay Once Were Immigrants was chosen for broadcast on ABC Radio National in 2011.
“I completed the Varuna Professional Development program from July 4 -11, 2011. Twice in my life I’ve had this extraordinary feeling of existing in a warm and comfy bubble where I’ve been alone, yet not alone: the first was at Girton College, Cambridge in 2001, the second was at Varuna in 2011.” Tangea Tansley
A Break in the Chain (Affirm Press) 2011
Heytesbury Stud: An Affair of the Heart – co-writer (Gary Allen) 2003
For Women Who Grieve (Lothian Press, Crossing Press) 1995, 1996