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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Apples and Honey

I brought apples and honey to Aviva and Noah's school classes last Friday, which was the last day of school before fall break (and thus the last chance to eat apples and honey in school before Rosh Hashana, which started last night).

I just left the apples and honey discreetly on the table in Noah's class, after greeting his teachers. It was morning kindergarten ramp-up time, so kids were milling around and I did not create a stir.

When I came into Aviva's class, though, they were in the middle of circle time and all heads turned.

"I brought something," I announced. (In Swiss-German, obviously.)

The kids jumped up from their seats and crowded around. "Is it Aviva's birthday?" one asked.

"Nope," I said.

"Is it Noah's birthday?" (Aviva reports that she talks about her little brother constantly, so that was their natural next thought.)

"Nope," I said. "It is a birthday... but not of a person..."

Suddenly Lorenz's eyes lit up. "Is it a Jewish holiday?" he said in great excitement.

We had all made dreidels together last Hanukah.

"It's Rosh Hashana!" Aviva announced.

"That's right!" I said. "It is the New Year!"

"It is not," someone said.

"There are different New Years," I said. "When is the Swiss New Year?"

"August first!" someone said.

"Nuh-uh, January first!" Luis said.

"Both right, sort of," I said. "August first is Switzerland's birthday, and January first is the Swiss New Year. And Tuesday evening is both, for the Jews -- the New Year, and the birthday of the world."

"Wowwwwwwwwww", said the crowd of easily impressed second graders.

Then they fell upon the apples and honey in a horde, and devoured them, and licked the paper plate clean.

I seem to be, like, Mr. Diversity for Aviva's class, because (once they are sated on apples and honey) they crowd around me and tell me how they too are different.

"I speak Spanish!"
"I'm from Turkey!"
"My dad is from Russia!"
"I speak Norwegian!"
"I speak French!"
"I speak Arabic!"
"And you speak Tibetan, right Tinley?" I asked.
"Yes," he said.

When I come in, it's like there's permission not to be Swiss.

L'Shana Tovah, everyone. May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good and very sweet year.

Posted by benrosen at September 30, 2008 07:10 PM | Up to blog


L'Shana tovah, dear thing, and to your whole family.

Posted by: Haddayr at October 1, 2008 03:21 AM

You were Mr. Diversity in our class too. When you came in there was permission not to be normal.

Grateful for that.

I love your blog.

Posted by: Jamey at October 1, 2008 03:34 PM

Shanah Tovah! That was a lovely story. "Permission not to be Swiss" - that's it, of course! Growing up in the latter days of the Melting Pot, I knew I was supposed to be All American - and, more importantly, knew that if I chose to identify as such, no one could give me any crap - but was keenly aware that I was just passing.

Posted by: Ellen Kushner at October 4, 2008 05:36 AM
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