Article by Ruben Honigmann
“I like Sukkot. For a week, Jews are required to eat their meals in an ephemeral dwelling, in Hebrew a sukkah, which is translated, for want of a better word, as “booth.” This draws the curiosity of children and perhaps softens the hearts of antisemites. (…) A clever solid-fragile construction to which one repairs three times a day to eat, dining cart in tow. By temporarily settling outside while keeping one foot at home, inside and outside merge, primary and secondary residence are reversed. In short, you stage your own exile. And as I never manage to feel totally at ease where I am, hoping at each station that the next one will be the right one, this festival of fidgeting suits me perfectly.”
“I arrived in France when I was only one year old and waited 37 years to become French. I knew nothing about my homeland Germany, my Germanness was virtual, reduced to a language and a passport. The procedure was expeditious and I received my French birth certificate only six months after I started my naturalization process. Three days later, the dual citizen I had just become was again seized with identity-related restlessness and I contacted the Austrian embassy in Paris. Since 2019, Austria, like Germany, allows the descendants of victims of Nazism to recover the nationality of which their ancestor was deprived. This is my case. »
“It’s the same scene every time. I’m in a Parisian square and people ask me what language I speak with my children. My “Jewish face” throws them off the trail with two wrong answers: either it’s Yiddish or Hebrew. In either case, they don’t recognize my mother tongue, spoken by one in five Europeans.”
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Thanks to the Paris office of the Heinrich Böll Foundation for their cooperation in the design of the magazine’s website.