Born in Israel, October 20, 1966. My family moved to the U.S. when I was 6. In Burlington, Mass for just under two years. Just before we leave, my brother David (originally Asaph) is born.
We went back to Israel for three years. Including 2 years at an "Open School" at Haifa while in 5th, 6th grades, which (overall) was a wonderful, liberating experience. Then back to the U.S. to Mass. again. Not a very happy childhood or great family life. Parents finally divorced when I was 18 and leaving for college.
Actually I finished high school when I was 17, but (somewhat long story, as well as not wonderful junior high and high school years) didn't go to college, took the year off. Then I went to Dartmouth College and finished my undergraduate degree (in mathematics) there in two and a half years (10 straight quarters), and did quite well (vita on my academic homepage) there. Then to Chicago for graduate school. Did well but left for health reasons. This included almost a year off before transferring to Cornell. Between all that and my activism (see ActiVita), no wonder I'm getting a PhD (expected May (Aug?) '97) at a rather, um, ripe age.
Backing up...my father's Jewish parents (Moshe (Hebrew name from which "Moses" is derived) and Yaffa) came to Israel/Palestine in the 1930s, from Poland.
My mothers parents were German Jews. Her father, Ezra Meyerhoff (born Ludwig Meyerhoff), from the countryside; her mother, Ilse Rotkugel (sp?) from a well to do family in Berlin. Ezra came to Israel/Palestine somewhat later than my father's parents, as part of a German youth movement, to start a kibbutz, Kibbutz Hazorea ("Ha" = "the" ; "zorea" = "planter of seeds").
If you're of an even mildly similar political persuasion, you should find out about kibbutzim (the plural of Kibbutz). It's almost a scandal the Z-magazine left ignores them, and has ignored them long before their (exaggerated) recent decline. Thriving noncapitalist, democratic communities, with not only no homelessness, no hunger, but also no "unemployment", virtually non hierarchal workplaces, and other things we're told are "necessary" in an economy; substantial social/cultural gender equity (even more so for their time), and a mere half-century or so in existence in the case of the older ones.
I'm very close, emotionally and intellectually, to my grandmother Ilse. She and my Ezra were born on June 17 and 19, 1914 (I forget who was born when; I think she was born on the 19th as she would smile and half wink about my grandfather being the elder therefore, I seem to recall). He died in 1995. As of Nov 1996, she's alive, and very much intellectually alive.
Her family, again, was "well-to-do", and rather large. They mostly took a "we're Germans after all" attitude about the rise of Nazism, like many Jews did. "We'll live humbly, maybe very humbly, for a few years, until this blows over" is a paraphrase of their attitudes as she described them to me. So she stayed too. Only her brothers left.
Then, one day, as she described it very vividly, a real panic seized her. She was 23 or so years old... She didn't know exactly why, but she knew she had to leave. She took a train the next day I think, then left and arrived not long thereafter at Kibbutz Hazorea. In a matter of a few months after she left, it was no longer possible for Jews to leave Germany. Her entire family, which I only learned much later was quite large, 100 or so, stayed behind, other than her brothers. There were murdered by the Nazis, at least insofar as records are available. Had she not left, I wouldn't be typing this in at a SPARCstation keyboard in the Cornell Mathematics Department, nor have done all the other things in my ActiVita, or other interests, mathematical, educational, and personal. Tragically, one of her two brothers drowned early on in Israel, while swimming in the Mediterranean, off one of Israel's beaches with his girlfriend (or woman friend). I remember since a little child, Isle would never go to the pool at the kibbutz.
One other special person is Ezra's mother, Dina, who died at the age of 97, and then only because of a hip fracture followed by a policy of neglect by the hospital (who would not operate as I recall, because after all she was so old, was the brilliant reasoning, knowing full well the consequences). I was roughly 9 when she died. She was a very special person. I'll put my few memories of her in writing at some point. Well... the beautiful long thin red bell shaped Israeli flowers, whose name I don't know, which abound at the kibbutz.. and are found elsewhere in Israel. They were growing right outside her place, her tiny little one bedroom ("efficiency" really, in today's terms). One can take off the flowers and suck a sweet nectar from their bottom...I remember doing so as a child. Her place I remember as dim. I remember the tall, tall wooden closet and chests. I remember the smell of coffee for her and my mother, and maybe the smell of water boiling (calcified kettle) before. Most of all I remember the smell of the dark, dark chocolate she would always have for me. She spoke only German, which I don't speak. She and my mother would sit together and talk quietly. She had a primitive phone with a 'crank' -- you turned the crank and it would call the one number (Ezra and Ilse? or a central kibbutz place?) it "knew". She was a very special person, everyone says, always kind, always cheerful. I remember visiting her in the hospital after her fracture, before the end... I remember my mother Dina wheeling her grandmother and my great-grandmother Dina in the wheelchair. They were talking in German and I walked with them. A few times she turned to me and smiled and said something in German. "Mom, please let her I don't understand German" I said. My mother might have tried to translate some of the things. Or maybe my mother was away at one point when my great grandmother talked to me in German. I only remember feeling sad, I loved her, but so sad, a part of me still exists that wants to cry, that boy feeling his love for his great grandmother and her for him, but so sad, that she doesn't understand, that I don't understand German, and how terrible this is, that she expects I understand, as though I was sort of guilty because if you don't understand you can't express the feelings and communicate the love reciprocally... the adult understands what happened and that it's perfectly ok, for all concerned, but the little boy which inhabits the forests of my mind is there, and sometimes he is that boy in the hospital, sad, scared, wanting to cry... There is much personal that can't be said openly. I can say a little more, about how the adult finds it almost impossible to cry, even when very strong feelings need that so badly... slowly, with patience, self-acceptance and (what is so hard, but trying to have) self-love, one can move forward, grow, and slowly change the things we want to change about ourselves.
Those who have read this far don't need hidden from them the part I skipped about high school, meeting Harry Chomsky... we became best friends. Yes, coincidentally, the son of Noam Chomsky I would later 'meet' again through activism, was Harry's father in Lexington, and at their cape home where I was invited a couple of times. Those visits to the Cape, the visits as a child to the Kibbutz, and much of the day-time at the Open School, and my brother David who I've hardly talked about but to whom I am so very close, were sources of light and happiness in a the dark of family, and authoritarian world of schooling..
What else? The youngest, also pretty happy years of my life, in
Israel? More about junior high and high school? Family life? Dartmouth
days? Chicago? Cornell? I think I'll stop here.
I should write up a section on the kind of woman I would like to meet and be with...sharing interesting articles, my own political writings, recipes, music and other interests, are some of the reasons, but not the only reasons, for these pages..