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Young, R.M. (2003). What, If Anything, Can Be Done About My Anti-Semitism?. Free Associations, 10(3):360-381.

(2003). Free Associations, 10(3):360-381

What, If Anything, Can Be Done About My Anti-Semitism?1

Robert M. Young

I Have Asked Myself when I was first aware of someone being Jewish. I think it was when I went home to play with Erwin Hafner in the afternoons after primary school in Dallas, Texas. We were friends and remained on cordial terms, but, for some reason I cannot recover, we did not continue to get together, although he lived only a street away from my then best friend Neil Florer, a Catholic. It was Neil who introduced me to anti-Semitism. Sydney Weisblatt lived at the other end of the block from Neil, with whom I spent many an afternoon during the war. The occasion of becoming aware of anti-Semitism was Sydney's beginning Hebrew School, thus taking him away from our play on Saturday mornings. We persecuted him for this difference, if only by teasing and a degree of ostracism. I didn't know what was different about Jews, any more than I knew how Catholic or Protestant denominations differed from my own Presbyterianism (my grandmother was a missionary and my father a deacon), but I somehow got the message that to be Jewish was more different and somehow to be denigrated.

My next memory about Jews is from high school. Two things come to mind. One was that one of the prettiest girls who came to the dances we regularly attended was Wendy Marcus. She was special. Her father owned a famous department store, Nieman-Marcus, a sort of local Harrod's, and their house was the only one at the end of a private road, 1 Nonesuch Lane. She went to the local posh private girl's school and was Jewish. Actually, she wasn't. Her father was, but her mother, a beautiful former fashion model, was a Gentile, but this point of Jewish law was lost on the local population.

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