Rafael Eli (1952-2020) Empresario y cuentista judío-cubano-norteamericano/Cuban American Jewish Businessman and Short-story Writer — “Camino a Tierra Santa”/ “Journey to the Holy Land” — Realismo mágico/Magical Realism

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Rafael Eli

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Trabajé con Rafael Eli por un par de meses en 1994, cuando publiqué este cuento. Me impresionó muchísimo. Fue un víctima de COVID-19./

I worked with Rafael Eli for a couple of months in 1994 when I published this story. He made a great impression on me. He was a victim of COVID-19.

Steve Sadow

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Sobre Rafael Eli por Joseph Schram

El socio y director de operaciones de Schramm, Rafael Eli, perdió su batalla de cinco semanas con la neumonía por coronavirus hoy. Rafael es mi querido amigo y leal socio comercial, y, hasta que fue sedado hace aproximadamente dos semanas, nos habíamos comunicado todos los días durante 30 años. Contrajo el virus a mediados de marzo y, durante los últimos 18 días, ha estado bajo el cuidado del equipo médico dedicado en Mt. Hospital Sinaí en la ciudad de Nueva York. Rafael es conocido por nuestros socios comerciales como especialista en las áreas de marketing hispano, ventas de patrocinio y promoción del fútbol internacional. A menudo mencionaba alegremente su papel en la promoción exitosa de eventos de fútbol internacionales con entradas agotadas con equipos de clase mundial en el estadio Giants, MetLife y Citifield. Rafael también es conocido dentro de las comunidades de radio y televisión hispanas y ha sido el coproductor detrás de escena de la Cumbre Anual de Televisión Hispana, presentada durante los últimos 18 años por Broadcasting & Cable y Multichannel News. Disfrutó especialmente influir en la elección de los ganadores del premio de la Cumbre, en particular el talento de la televisión hispana y las celebridades con las que tuvo una relación personal, como la presentadora de programas de entrevistas Cristina Saralegui, el presentador deportivo Andrés Cantor, los presentadores de noticias José Díaz Balart y Jorge Ramos, por nombrar algunos. Hace unos 10 años, aprovechó estas relaciones personales con personalidades destacadas de radio y televisión para llevar a cabo con éxito una campaña pro bono en español, en los medios de comunicación de masas para alentar la donación de órganos en nombre de Matchingdonors.com Rafael se benefició personalmente de esta campaña cuando él mismo se convirtió en el receptor de un riñón de un donante vivo. Antes de convertirse en socio de Schramm, Rafael trabajó en ventas de distribución de contenido para ABC Radio y anteriormente en marketing hispano para AT&T. Mientras estaba en ABC y en AT&T, hizo amigos para toda la vida dentro del personal, en sus agencias de publicidad hispanas y entre muchos en la industria de medios hispanos. AT&T también le brindó la oportunidad de desempeñar un papel influyente para ayudar a la compañía a asegurar su patrocinio a largo plazo de Major League Soccer (MLS). Estaba especialmente emocionado de hacer un discurso bilingüe en el evento de “lanzamiento” de la liga de fútbol en la ciudad de Nueva York. También ha disfrutado sus actividades con el capítulo de Nueva York del American Jewish Committee (AJC) donde ha hecho muchos amigos. Se sintió honrado de haber servido como miembro de su junta capitular. Estaba particularmente orgulloso de un evento especial que había organizado en la Sociedad Histórica de Nueva York, que asoció una exhibición de México con el cónsul mexicano en Nueva York y con el apoyo del AJC. Rafael también disfrutó de los perezosos días de verano en Fire Island, leyendo, buscando libros antiguos en la librería Strand, viajes internacionales, aprendiendo idiomas extranjeros, hablando de historia, compartiendo datos interesantes sobre el judaísmo y la cultura judía, compartiendo historias sobre su infancia en La Habana, asistiendo películas, compartir chistes de colores, escribir ficción en español, asistiendo a espectáculos de Broadway, realizando viajes espirituales a Brasil, compartiendo sus puntos de vista sobre espiritualidad y desarrollo personal, y fotografía. El legado que nos deja son la multitud de fotos que ha tomado. Quizás, lo que más disfrutó Rafael fue estar con otros. Me encantaron las conversaciones interesantes y conocer otros puntos de vista. Daría seguimiento y se mantendría en comunicación con muchas personas que conoció a través de negocios, voluntariado, familia o sus intereses personales. Como resultado, Rafael Eli es un hombre con muchos amigos. Además de sus muchos amigos, Rafael tiene una hermana, Myriam Eli, un cuñado Joe Zeytoonian de Margate, Florida, así como muchos familiares en su natal Cuba, Florida, Nueva York, Israel y España. Rafael también es miembro “oficial” de ambos lados de mi propia familia Schramm-Bruce. Para terminar, Rafael es un amigo leal y querido que siempre nos alentó a ambos a tratar a los demás con amabilidad (incluso cuando era más fácil no hacerlo), a realizar negocios con integridad, a ser mentores, alentar y ser pacientes con los empleados y entre sí (lo cual tendría sus desafíos), y estar entusiasmado con el futuro. Es cierto que es difícil para la familia de Schramm Marketing Group, tanto actual como pasada, imaginar el futuro sin Rafael. Extrañaré especialmente a mi aliado cercano y reconozco que las amistades cercanas como la que tengo con Rafael son un bien raro en la vida.

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About Rafael Eli by Joseph Schramm

Schramm partner and COO, Rafael Eli lost his five-week battle with coronavirus pneumonia today. Rafael is my beloved friend and loyal business partner, and, until he was sedated about two weeks ago, we had communicated every day for 30 years. He contracted the virus in mid-March and, for the past 18 days, has been under the care of the dedicated medical team at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City. Rafael is known to our business associates as a specialist in the areas of Hispanic marketing, sponsorship sales and the promotion of international soccer. He would often gleefully mention his role in successfully promoting sold-out international soccer events featuring world-class teams at Giants Stadium, MetLife and Citifield. Rafael is also well-known within the Hispanic television and radio communities and has been the behind-the-scenes co-producer of the annual Hispanic Television Summit, presented for the past 18 years by Broadcasting & Cable and Multichannel News. He especially enjoyed influencing the choice of the Summit’s award recipients, notably Hispanic TV talent and celebrities with whom he had a personal relationship including talk-show host Cristina Saralegui, sportscaster Andrés Cantor, news anchors Jose Diaz Balart, and Jorge Ramos to name a few. About 10 years ago, he leveraged these personal relationships with noted on-air radio and TV personalities to successfully conduct a pro-bono Spanish language, mass media campaign to encourage organ donation on behalf of Matchingdonors.com  Rafael benefited personally from this campaign when he himself became the recipient of a kidney from a live donor. Prior to becoming a partner at Schramm, Rafael was employed in content distribution sales for ABC Radio, and earlier in Hispanic marketing for AT&T. While at ABC and at AT&T, he made life-long friends within the staff, at their Hispanic advertising agencies and among many in the Hispanic media industry. AT&T also afforded him an opportunity to play an influential role in helping the company secure its long-running sponsorship of Major League Soccer (MLS). He was especially excited to make a bilingual speech at the soccer league’s “launch” event in New York City. He has also enjoyed his activities with the New York chapter of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) where he has made many friends. He was honored to have served as a member of its chapter board. He was particularly proud of a special event that he had orchestrated at the New-York Historical Society that partnered an exhibit from Mexico with the Mexican consul to New York and with the support of the AJC. Rafael also enjoyed lazy summer days on Fire Island, reading, hunting through old books at the Strand Bookstore, international travel, learning foreign languages, talking about history, sharing interesting facts about Judaism and Jewish culture, sharing stories about his childhood in Havana, attending movies, sharing off-color jokes, writing fiction in Spanish, attending Broadway shows, going on spiritual journeys to Brazil, sharing his views of spiritualty and personal development, and photography. The legacy he leaves us are the multitude of photos he has taken. Perhaps, what Rafael enjoyed the most, was being with others. He loved interesting conversations and getting to know other points of view. He would follow up and stay in communication with many people he met through business, volunteerism, family, or his personal interests. As a result, Rafael Eli is a man with many friends. In addition to his many friends, Rafael has a sister Myriam Eli, a brother-in-law Joe Zeytoonian of Margate, Florida as well as many relatives in his native Cuba, Florida, New York, Israel and Spain. Rafael is also an “official” member of both sides of my own Schramm-Bruce family.  In closing, Rafael is a loyal and beloved friend who always encouraged us both to treat others with kindness (even when it was easier not to), to conduct business with integrity, to mentor, encourage and be patient with employees and each other (which would have its challenges), and to be enthusiastic about the future. Admittedly, it is difficult for the Schramm Marketing Group family, both current and past, to imagine the future without Rafael. I will especially miss my close ally and I recognize that close friendships like the one I have with Rafael are a rare commodity in life.

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Camino a la Tierra Santa

por Rafael Eli

A mi abuelo Abraham Mowszwicz (1884-1991), y a sus cuentos.

Nunca olvidaré aquellos tiempos en los años treinta. Aunque éramos pobres, vivíamos sumidos en el aire de magia que habitaba nuestras vidas, transmutando nuestra pobreza y ayudándonos a soportarla. Debido a esos de lo que somos ahora que tenemos carros último modelo y casa en una isla privada en Miami Beach. Sin embargo, aquel mundo, donde lo supernatural cohabitaba con lo trivial, dejó de existir desde el momento en que el abuelo nos dejó para siempre.

Lo que más recuerdo y añoro de aquella década, son las mañanas cuando perseguía en su trayectoria al Parque Central de la Habana, sin que él diera cuenta. Cuando llegábamos, el abuelo se sentaba en un banquito debajo del almendro, frente al Capitolio, y comenzaba a relatar cuentos inverosímiles, mientras yo me escondía sobre la multitud que rápidamente se aglomeraba.

Su favorito era aquel que comenzaba con la anunciada muerte de su propio abuelo que, si vamos a creerle, había expirado a la bíblica edad de 150 años aunque, a veces se contradecía al contarnos que andaba vivo por el mundo haciendo las suyas. Le fascinaba contarlo más que nada porque esperaba él también a vivir dos vidas en una, y cuando la gente se impresionaba con que le faltasen sólo tres años para el centenario, se moría de risa, mostrando los pocos dientes carcomidos que les quedaban.

Si se encuentra con algún incrédulo, procedía a insultarlo en dialectos de idiomas oriundos desde la Rusia esteparia al oeste del Volga hasta la planicie de Varsovia para no le comprendiesen, deseándoles enfermedades ya desconocidas en sociedades avanzadas como el cólera y el tifus. Pero si disgustaba con lo que consideraba una concurrencia de ignorantes y cretinos, primero los mandaba a todos al carajo, en su castellano bastardazado  y después se ponía a recitar las oraciones religiosas de la mañana en hebreo, como si estuviera en la sinagoga y la gente lo estudiaba como si fuera un fenómeno o un loco.

Cuando esto sucedía, yo por mi parte, echaba a la gente a un lado y me le sentaba a sus pies. El me castigaba con la palabra usual de: “Moishele, ¿por qué no estás en la escuela?”, yo le decía: “Abuelo, mami me pidió que te llevara a casa ahora mismo. Dice que vas a achicharrar con el sol, pero si me compras un helado de mamey, le haré un cuento de que lo pasaste en el centro sionista jugando dominó “. Invariablemente, en ese instante, el abuelo me sonaba un manotazo por mentiroso que me mandaba a volar y que la gente aplaudía por el espectáculo. El abuelo se levantaba y se inclinaba dándole las gracias a su público y en eso continuaba el cuento del día.

Obviamente, lo que relataba había sucedido en otro continente y posiblemente hasta en un siglo ajeno al nuestro. El abuelo del abuelo simplemente había decidido que sólo le quedaban exactamente un mes, una semana, tres días y unas pocas horas de vida, y ordenó a sus hijos legítimos y demás, nietos, bisnietos y tataranietos hasta la infinidad para despedirse de todos, uno por uno.

La noticia se había regado rápidamente por toda la comarca y habían tenido que enviar jinetes a galope a las ciudades cercanas para notificar, a través de telegramas, a los parientes que le habían ausentado de la región y hasta del país en busca de mejores oportunidades. La procesión había tomado semanas durante las cuales el pueblo se había convertido en un festival carnavalesca llena de familiares y oportunistas que los seguían por los caminos.

Por las calles del pueblo terminaron por pasearse zíngaros errantes listos a leerle a uno a su fortuna a medio kópek, tártaros de la Crimea buscando compradores para sus sementales y cosacos que bailaban en las calles al son del acordeón. Por otra parte, los campesinos judíos, polacos y ukranianos en pos de vender sus productos agrícolas se mezclaban en oradores prediciendo del fin del mundo y vendedores de botellitas llenas de agua del río Jordán para protección contra los malos espíritus.

La gente terminaba por dormir en las calles, en los campos y hasta en las carreteras. Pero una vez que diez campesinos venido del Cáucaso ultrajaron dos veces cada uno a Rajil, la mujer del carnicero, quedó el pánico sembrado en la población. Las mujeres se atemorizaron y únicamente salían acompañado por sus padres, hermanos o esposos y sólo de día, pues de noche, las prostitutas venidas de Odessa se acostaban debajo de los árboles y hasta en las aceras donde había casi pisarlas para poder pasar.

La noticia del caos que esto le estaba causando a las regiones colindantes con las provincias polacas , llegaron a los oídos del Zar en San Petersburgo. El Zar decidió enviar uno de sus batallones para restablecer el orden y controlar aquella algarabía que aparentaba poner en peligro la paz del reino. Sin embargo, al acercarse el primer pelotón a pocas millas del pueblo, los soldados quedaron entontecidos, se podía decir que hasta hipnotizados por una fuerte niebla de aromas que provenía del poblado.

Los valles cercanos habían quedado invadidos por olores a strudels de manzana con canela, a sopas de kneidlach y de borscht, a enormes kugels de tallarines repletos de ciruelas pasas, kasha varnishkes, a panes de huevo rellenos de frutas secas y cubiertos con azúcar y a montones de otros exquisitos platos en proceso de ser preparados para la gran cena antes de la caída del sol, ya que el próximo día sería Yom Kipur, el día de ayunas en el cual los judíos le piden perdón a Dios por todos los pecados cometidos en el año.

Los soldados perdieron conciencia de sus órdenes y entraron al pueblo muertos de hambre. Forzaron a los moradores a que los alimentaran para finalmente juntarse con chusma que se había apoderado de las calles y celebrar, orgiásticamente a la rusa, después del gran banquete con vodka y sexo. El pueblo había tomado matices de Sodoma y Gomorra y los judíos se lamentaban, no sólo porque les habían contaminado el día más sagrado del año, sino porque no habían podido comer antes de la caída del sol y tendrán que esperar hasta el final del próximo día, como lo ordenaba la ley sagrada. Desafortunadamente, muchos ni llegaron a ver la salida del sol.

Al llegar a esta parte del cuento, el abuelo siempre comenzaba a temblequear y entre sollozos le contaba a la muchedumbre emocionada cómo había presenciado el descuartizamiento de su abuelo por los soldados de zar que, de orgía sexual, habían pasado a una matanza desenfrenada. El abuelo se había escondido junto con su madre en un escaparate y desde ahí, había escuchado los gritos de los familiares que rodeaban a su abuelo para protegerlo de la ira de la soldadesca. Por su parte, el abuelo del abuelo no moría, a pesar de lo que estaban despedazando y se reía a carcajadas de los desconcertados soldados. Finalmente, el abuelo vio cómo se llevaron a su abuelo todavía vivo, que ya sólo venía a ser un ensangrentado torso con cabeza. Poco después tuvo que salir del escondite debido al calor y al humo y, al caer en cuenta que el pueblo entero estaba en llamas, se dio a la fuga, junto con su madre, hacia los campos de trigo.

Nunca se supo si el abuelo del abuelo falleció antes de su tiempo o si sobrevivió aquel abuso, pues nunca se recobró lo que quedaba de su cuerpo. Por su parte, los ciento y tanto familiares sobrevivientes de la masacre se reunieron en las afueras del pueblo arrasado y decidieron que era hora de marcharse de aquella tierra inhóspita. La búsqueda por un refugio había comenzado una vez más y no podían ponerse de acuerdo si debían marcharse a Palestina o a los EEUU. Por otra parte, algunos querían ir a donde la prima Rebeca que vivía en Londres. Otros preferían Sur África porque había oportunidades para inmigrantes como mencionaba el tío Mendl en sus cartas. Al fin y al cabo, como muertos de hambre que eran, terminaron por andar a pie en dirección a Varsovia, donde vivía el primo Jaím, que se había vuelto rico con la venta de pieles.

En Varsovia, el primo Jaím, con tal de salirse de la parentela que le había invadido la vida de ricachón, recorrió desesperado todas las embajadas extranjeras hasta se enteró que la República de Cuba acababa de abrir su embajada en la calle Tlomatska. El embajador quedó impresionado por el primo Jaím no sólo por ser la primera persona que visitara el recinto sino, más que nada las grandes cantidades de dinero que le ofreció con tal de salirse de aquel gentío que lo esperaba apiñado afuera de lo que había sido en un tiempo una mansión de Conde Vranitsky. Con las visas en las manos, los llevó a todos a la estación de trenes y los mandó en dirección de París y rumbo al Caribe con tal de nunca verlos más. Pero la vida tiene sus cosas y, años más tarde, después de la Segunda Guerra, se nos apareció el primo Jaím en La Habana muerto de hambre y pidiéndonos de comer y donde dormir.

Yo siempre escuchaba al abuelo embobecido hasta llegar al punto en que llegaba el tren a París, pues, hasta ahí, siempre relataba con variaciones como si contara un nuevo cuento. Pero de ahí en adelante, ya yo me lo sabía de memoria y me iba camino a la escuela.

Una vez que llegaba a París, contaba sobre la primera vez que había visto un negro y cómo éste le había vendido una banana y le había indicado que se comía con cáscara y todo. Sin embargo, nunca explicaba cómo había logrado entenderse con supuesto vendedor de bananas. Después de aquello, su cuento deterioraba y ya para cuando el barco se adentraba por la bahía de La Habana, la gente aburrida se disipaba dejándolo solo en un banquito hasta que mamá lo recogió a la hora del almuerzo.

En los años cincuenta, mucho después de su centenario y también mucho después que dejara de dar sus peroratas frente al Capitolio, todavía la gente hablaba de aquel viejo polaco cuentista y hasta llegaron a mencionarlo en un artículo en una edición de la revista Bohemia del año 52 que trataba sobre los personajes curiosos que rondaban por las calles de la capital como, el Caballero de París, que era el más famoso, y otros que se distinguían por sus locuras y peculiaridades.

Ya por aquel entonces, medio ciego y casi sin poder caminar, se pasaba el día contándonos en casa sus cuentos aunque no quisiéramos escucharlos. “La gente del pueblo se había cansado de los abusos de los rusos y también del frío”, nos decía mientras se quejaba del calor habanero y hasta de los negros y sus timbales que se oían diariamente. Otros días convertía a la Rusia que lo había oprimido en un lugar mitológico inigualable donde las manzanas eran del tamaño de coliflores, las casas eran palacios y la nieve era una maravilla.

Hacia finales del año 58, cuando el sudor del abuelo empezó a oler a violetas gensianas, supimos que se nos iba. Cuando mamá lo encontró una noche flotando en sueños con el cuerpo a pocas pulgadas del techo mientras cantaba en ruso: “Volga, Volga. . .”, me llamó para que le ayudara a bajarlo. Le pedimos una escalera a Fefa, la vecina, y lo bajamos y mamá decidió atarlo de ahí en adelante a los postes de la cama.

A la semana, me lo encontré lloriqueando y me dijo: “Moishele, suéltame, que Dios ha venido a buscar para que yo viaje con él a Jerusalem y así, morir para que me entierren en el Monte de los Olivos y no tener que viajar mucho cuando llegue el Mesías. “Sí, mi zeide”, le dije mientras una lágrima me corría por la mejilla y le pedía que me enviara alguna señal que me dejara saber si por fin había muerto o si su alma todavía rondaba perdida por la tierra.

La zafé las amarras y se elevó saliendo por la puerta del balcón y se siguió elevando hasta que quedó flotando junto sobre La Habana Vieja. La voz se regó como fuego y todo el vecindario se tiró para la calle, la gente colgaba de los balcones, y hasta el tráfico se detuvo a lo largo de los muelles. La gente lo miraba azorada, unos se santiguaban, otros se despojaban con pañuelos blancos. Cuando alguien gritó, “Es la reencarnación del diablo”, el gentío se echó a correr despavorido pero en eso, el abuelo, con su acento de ruso y en una voz que retumbó por toda la ciudad como el bombazo de las nueve, donde allá arriba le dirigió la palabra a Alejandrina, que era la muchacha que nos limpiaba la casa y me cuidaba los niños y le dijo: “Jalendrine, de aquí veo la mantziclet de Myriamke en el tzolar de la etzquine” y caímos en la cuenta que se refería a la bicicleta de mi niña Myriam, que había desaparecido en el solar de la esquina.

Aunque la gente no entendía lo que había dicho, el vozarrón hizo que se detuvieron. En eso, le notaron el aura que se lo rodeaba, reconocieron la mano de Dios en lo que sucedía y comenzaron a gritar: “El polaco es un santo, por amor de María Santísima”. Todo aquello culminó en procesiones religiosas. Los curas sacaron a las vírgenes de las iglesias y dicen que al otro lado de la bahía, los negros celebraron un sendo bembé bajo la enorme estatua del Cristo Rey. A medianos del próximo día, comenzó un viento huracanado que se llevaba el abuelo hacia el este. La gente decía que iba en dirección de Guanabacoa pero nosotros sabíamos cuál sería su destinación final.

Aquello fue apoteósico. Desde 1909, el año en el cual pasó el cometa Halley por La Habana y enterraron al célebre chulo Yarini, no acontecía algo semejante al revuelo que deja opacada la entrada de los barbudos en la ciudad pocos días después.

Hoy día, cuando me viene el abuelo a la mente, pienso que tuvo suerte al escaparse de un entierro mecanizado como los que se llevan a cabo aquí donde, después que lo meten a uno en la fosa y justo antes de que haya terminado el rabino de leer las oraciones, le cubren a uno el ataúd con un plancha de cemento depositada por una grúa. De esa prisión hermética más nunca lograría salir el abuelo para encontrarse con su creador en Jerusalem en el día de la redención de Israel. Y es por eso me alegro de que el abuelo no haya llegado a vivir hasta la bíblica edad de 150 años aunque, a veces tengo mis dudas cuando me pregunto si no se habrá desviado en camino a la Tierra Santa para seguir relatando sus cuentos.

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Journey to the Holy Land

by Rafael Eli

To my grandfather Abraham Mowszwicz (1884-1991), and his stories.

I will never forget those times in the thirties. Although we were poor we lived immersed in the air of magic that inhabited our lives, transmuting our poverty and helping us tolerate it. Owing to who we are now that we have the newest model cars and a house on a private island in Miami Beach. Nevertheless, that world, where the supernatural cohabited with the trivial, ceased to exist that moment that our grandfather left us forever.

What I most remember and miss from that decade, are the mornings when I pursued him in his trajectory to the Central Park of Havana, without his knowing it. When we arrived, grandfather sat on a bench below the almond tree, in front of the Capitolio building and began to tell implausible stories, while I hid within the mass of people who rapidly came together.

His favorite was that one that began with the heralded death of his own grandfather, who, if we were to believe him, had expired at the biblical age of 150 years old, although, at times, he contradicted himself, telling us that he was still alive in the world and busy. It fascinated him to tell it especially because he also expected to live two lives in one, and when people understood that he was three years short of his centenary, they died of laughter, showing the few rotted teeth they had left.

If he encountered someone incredulous, he proceeded to insult him in dialects of languages native from the Russian steppes west of the Volga to the plains of Warsaw, so that they didn’t understand, wishing on them diseases not yet known in advanced societies, such as cholera and typhus.  But if he was disgusted with a those he considered an audience of uneducated and cretins, first he told them to go to hell in a bastardized Spanish, and then he began to recite, in Hebrew, the morning religious prayers, as if he were in the synagogue and the people looked at him as if he were a phenomenon or crazy.

When this happened, I, for my part, pushed the people to one side and I sat at his feet. He castigated me with the usual words: “Moishele, why aren’t you in school?” And I said to him, “Mami asked me to bring you home right away. She says that you are going to burn to a crisp in the sun, but if you buy me a mamey ice cream, I will tell her that you passed the time in the Zionist Center, playing dominoes.” Invariably, in this instant, my grandfather made my head ring with a slap for lying, that sent me flying and that the people applauded for the spectacle of it.

Obviously, what he was telling had happened in another continent and possibly in a century unconnected with ours. The grandfather of my grandfather had simply decided that only exactly a month, a week, three days and a few days of life were left to him, and he ordered his children, legitimate and others, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren endlessly to say goodbye to all, one by one.

The notice had rapidly washed through the entire region, and they had had to send riders at a gallop to nearby cities to notify, by telegrams, those relatives who had left the region and even the country in search of better opportunities. The procession had taken weeks during which the town had been converted into a carnival-like festival full of relatives and opportunists who followed them on the roads.

On the streets of the town ended up errant gypsies, ready to read your fortune for half a kopek. Tartars from the Crimea, buyers for their stud farms, and Cossacks who danced in the street to the sound of the accordion. Also, the Jewish, Polish and Ukrainian peasants, in pursuit of selling their agricultural products, mixed with orators predicting the end of the world and salesmen of little bottles full of water of the Jordan River for protection against evil spirits.

The people ended up by sleeping in the streets, in the fields and even in the main roads. But once, when ten campesinos coming from the Caucuses twice each raped Rajil, the wife of the butcher, panic was sown in the population. The women were terrified and only went out, accompanied by their fathers, brothers or husbands and only by day, since at night, the prostitutes who came from Odessa slept below the trees and even on the sidewalks where it was necessary to nearly step on them to be able to pass.

The news of the chaos that all this was causing to the regions bordering on the Polish provinces reached the ears of the Tsar in St. Petersburg. The Tsar decided to send one of his battalions to reestablish order and control that commotion that seemed to endanger the peace of the realm. Nevertheless, on the first platoon’s approaching a few miles from the town, the soldiers became stupefied, it could be said almost hypnotized by a strong mist of aromas coming from the village.

The nearby valleys had stayed invaded by the smell of apple strudels with vanilla, soups of kneidlach and of borscht, kasha varnishkes, enormous noodle kugels over-filled with dried cherries, egg breads filled with dried fruit and covered with sugar and mountains of exquisite dishes in process of being prepared for the grand supper before sundown, since the next day would be Yom Kippur, the day of fasting in which the Jews ask God’s pardon for all the sins committed in that year.

The soldiers lost conscious of their orders and, dying of hunger, entered the town. They forced the inhabitants to feed them in order to finally pair up with the rabble that had taken over the streets and celebrate, orgiastically in the Russian style, after the banquet, with vodka and sex. The town had taken on shades of Sodom and Gomorra, and the Jews lamented, not only because the most sacred day of the year had been contaminated, but because they hadn’t been able to eat before sundown, and therefore they would have to wait until the end of the next day to eat once again, as the sacred law so ordered. Unfortunately, many didn’t live to see the dawn.

Arriving at this part of the story, grandfather always began to tremble and between sobs told the deeply moved crowd how he had witnessed the dismemberment of his grandfather by the soldiers of the Tsar who, from a sexual orgy had moved on to an uncontrolled killing spree. Grandfather had hidden with his mother in a closet and from there, had heard the shouts of his relatives who had surrounded their grandfather to project him from the anger of the army rabble. For his part, the grandfather of my grandfather didn’t die, despite that they were cutting him to pieces and laughed scoffingly at the disconcerted soldiers. Finally, grandfather saw how they carried his grandfather, still alive, now become a bloody torso with a head. Shortly thereafter, my grandfather had to leave the closet because of the heat and smoke, and realizing that the entire town was in flames, began to flee, with his mother, toward the fields of grain.

It was never known if the grandfather of my grandfather died before his time or he survived that abuse, as what was left of his body was never recovered. For their part, the hundred or so surviving relatives of the massacre met at the outskirts of the destroyed town and decided that it was time to leave that inhospitable land. The search for a refuge had begun once more, and they couldn’t come to an agreement is they ought to leave for Palestine or the US. On the other hand, some wanted to go to cousin Rebeca who lived in London. Others preferred South Africa because there were opportunities for immigrants, as Uncle Mendl mentioned in his letters. Finally, dying of hunger as they were, they ended up by walking in the direction of Warsaw, where cousin Chaim, who had become rich, dealing in furs, lived.

In Warsaw, cousin Chaim, with the intention of getting away from the relatives that had invaded his life as a man who was loaded, desperately checked all the foreign embassies until he learned that the Republic of Cuba had just opened its embassy on Tlomatska Street. The ambassador was impressed by cousin Chaim, not only for being the first person who visited the place, but, more than anything, for the great quantities of money that he offered to get rid of those people who were waiting for him crammed in the stairs of what had been in its time the mansion of Count Vranitsky. The visas in their hands, he brought all of them to the train station and sent them toward Paris on route to the Caribbean, with the idea of never see them again. And years later, after the Second World War, cousin Chaim appeared in Havana, dying of hunger and asking us for food and a place to sleep.

I always heard my silly grandfather he got to the point when the train arrived in Paris, since, from then on, he always told the story with variations as if he were telling a new story. But from there on, I already knew it by heart and I went on to school.

Once he arrived in Paris, he told about the first time he had seen a black man who had sold him a banana and had indicated to him that you ate it peel and all. Nevertheless, he never explained how he had been able to communicate with the supposed banana salesman. After that, his story deteriorated and already when the ship entered Havana bay, the bored people dissipated leaving him alone on a bench until his mama collected him at lunch hour.

In the fifties, much after his centenary and also long after he gave his boring speeches at the Capitolio building, the people still spoke about that old Polish story teller and he was mentioned in an edition of the Bohemia magazine of 1952 that dealt with curious persons who wandered about the streets of the capital like, the Gentleman of Paris, who was the most famous, and others who distinguished themselves by their craziness and peculiarities.

And in those days, half blind and almost without the ability to walk, he passed his days, telling his stories at home, although we didn’t want to hear them. “The people of the town had tired of the Russian abuses and also of the cold,” he told us while he complained about the heat in Havana and even the blacks and their timbales heard daily. Other days he converted the Russia that oppressed him, into a mythological place where the apples were the size melons and the snow was a marvel.

Toward the end of 1958, when grandfather’s sweat began to smell like ginseng violets, we knew that he was leaving us. One night, when mama found him floating on dreams with his body a few inches under the ceiling, while he sang in Russian: “Volga, Volga…,” she called over me to help her bring him down. We asked our neighbor Fefa, for a ladder and we lowered him and tied him from then on to his bedposts.

A week later, I found him sobbing, and he told me: “Moishele, untie me, since God has come to seek me so that I travel with him to Jerusalem and so, to die so that they bury me on the Mount of Olives and I won’t have to travel far when the Messiah comes.” “Yes, my zeide,” I said to him while a tear ran down my cheek and I asked that he give me some sort of signal to let me know that he finally had died or if his soul was still wandering lost on earth.

I let go his moorings and he rose leaving by the balcony door and kept rising until he was floating just above La Habana Vieja. His voice broke out like fire and all the neighborhood rushed to the street, people hung from the balconies, and even the traffic stopped along the docks. Astonished, people looked at him; some crossed themselves, others said goodbye with white handkerchiefs. When someone yelled” “He’s the reincarnation of the devil,” the crowd began to run terrified, but to that, the grandfather, with his Russian accent, that reverberated through the entire city like the nine o’clock shotblast, from high above, he directed his words to Alejandrina, who was the girl who cleaned our hour and took care of the children, and he said to her: “Jalendrine, I see from here the mantziclet of Myriamke in the tzolar de la etzquine”, and we understood that he was referring to the bicycle of my daughter Myriam, that had disappeared in the grassy spot on the corner.

Although the people didn’t understand what he had said, the huge voice made them stop short. Then, they noticed the aura that surrounded him, recognized the hand of God in what was happening and began to shout: “The Pole is a saint, for the love of Maria, the Most Holy.” That all ended in religious processions. The priests took the Virgins out of the churches and it was said that at the other side of the bay the blacks celebrated a sendo bembe festival under the enormous statue of Christ, the King. At the middle of the next day, a hurricane wind came up that carried grandfather to the east. The people said he was going in the direction of Guanabacoa, but we knew where would be his final destination.

That was awesome. Since 1909, the year in which Halley’s Comet passed over Havana and they buried the famous pimp, Yarini, nothing had happened similar to the commotion that almost made overshadowed the entrance to the city of the bearded men a few days later.

These days, when I think of my grandfather, I think that he had the good fortune to escape a mechanized burial like those that take place here where, after they  had put someone in the grave and just before the rabbi had finished reading the prayers, they cover someone’s casket with a sheet of cement deposited by a crane. From this hermetic prison, never more would the grandfather been able to leave to meet with his Creator in Jerusalem on the Day of Redemption of Israel. And for that, I am pleased the grandfather had not reached 150 years old, although, at times I have my doubts when I wonder if he hadn’t wandered off on the way to the Holy Land so that he could go on telling his stories.

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Published in Spanish in: Brújula/Compass 21. New York: Latin American Writers Institute. Edited by Isaac Goldemberg and Stephen A, Sadow. Invierno/Winter, 1994, pp. 30-31.

Translation into English by Stephen A. Sadow

Guillermo Kuitka — Artista judío-argentino de renombre internacional/Argentina Jewish Artist of International Renown

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Guillermo Kuitka

Descendiente de inmigrantes judíos y criado durante el brutal período de la dictadura militar conocida como la “Revolución Argentina” (1966-1973), Guillermo Kuitca produce poderosas pinturas, esculturas, dibujos e instalaciones que resuenan con temas de aislamiento, dislocación y soledad. Aunque casi siempre está desprovisto de humanos, sus obras tienen un fuerte sentido de presencia humana, con motivos como carruseles de equipaje del aeropuerto, mapas, planos de apartamentos y gráficos de asientos de teatros que se ejecutan en sus muchas creaciones. Como él explica, sus obras sostienen “la verdad, la historia, el pasado, la experiencia.

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Descended from Jewish immigrants and raised during the brutal period of military dictatorship known as the “Argentine Revolution” (1966–73), Guillermo Kuitca produces powerful paintings, sculptures, drawings, and installations resonant with themes of isolation, dislocation, and loneliness. Though almost always devoid of humans, his works have a strong sense of human presence, with motifs like airport baggage carousels, maps, apartment floor plans, and theater seating charts running throughout his many creations. As he explains, his works hold “the truth, the story, the past, the experience.

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Pinturas/Paintings

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Teatros/Theaters

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en MoMa en Nueva York

Jacques Fux — Romancista brasileiro-judaico/Brazilian Jewish Novelist” — “Antiterapias”/ “Anti-Therapies” –fragmentos do romance/excerpts from the novel

Site

Videos

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Jacques Fux

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Jacques Fux é graduado em matemática e mestre em ciência da computação pela UFMG, doutor e pós-doutor em literatura pela UFMG, pela Universidade de Lille 3 (França) e pela Unicamp, além de pesquisador visitante na Universidade de Harvard. Sua tese de doutorado, versão do livro Literatura e Matemática: Jorge Luis Borges, Georges Perec e o OULIPO (Perspectiva, 2016), recebeu em 2011 o Prêmio CAPES de melhor tese de Letras e Linguística do Brasil e foi finalista do Prêmio APCA de 2016. Antiterapias (Scriptum, 2012), seu romance de estreia, venceu o Prêmio São Paulo de Literatura 2013 e o manuscrito de Brochadas: confissões sexuais de um jovem escritor (Rocco, 2015), recebeu Menção Honrosa no Prêmio Cidade de Belo Horizonte. Foi finalista do Prêmio Barco a Vapor 2016. Publicou ainda Meshugá: um romance sobre a loucura, que saiu pela prestigiosa Editora José Olympio, e recebeu o Prêmio Manaus de Literatura 2016, e Nobel (José Olympio, 2018) em que realiza o sonho de todo escritor: ser laureado com um Nobel de Literatura.

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Jacques Fux has a degree in mathematics and a master’s in computer science from UFMG, a doctor and a post-doctor in literature from UFMG, the University of Lille 3 (France) and Unicamp, as well as a visiting researcher at Harvard University. His doctoral thesis, version of the book Literature and Mathematics: Jorge Luis Borges, Georges Perec and OULIPO (Perspectiva, 2016), received in 2011 the CAPES Award for the best thesis in Letters and Linguistics in Brazil and was a finalist in the 2016 APCA Award. Antiterapias (Scriptum, 2012), his debut novel, won the São Paulo Literature Award 2013 and the manuscript of Brochadas: sexual confessions of a young writer (Rocco, 2015), received an Honorable Mention in the Belo Horizonte City Award. He was a finalist in the Barco a Vapor Award 2016. He also published Meshugá: a novel about madness, published by the prestigious Editora José Olympio, and received the Manaus Literature Award 2016, and the Nobel Prize (José Olympio, 2018) in which he fulfills the dream of every writer: be awarded a Nobel Prize for Literature.

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Jacques Fux. Antiterapias. 2 ed. Belo Horizonte: Scriptum, 2014, 27-29, 113-114.

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Antiterapias

os fragmentos

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Então, se era para estudar, era para estudar. E se estava numa escola judaica atinha que rezar também. Não havia muito que questionar. Era para chegar cedo, rezar em hebraico—para não entender bem aquelas letras e músicas—e depois ir a sala de aula. Eu gostava das minhas aulas sobre a Torá, sobre o judaísmo e das aulas de hebraico. Ainda não era muito bom em hebraico. Ainda não sabia que poderia criar um Golem pela mera manipulação das letras hebraicas. Se soubesse, teria criado o mesmo Golem de Praga.O Golem de Bashevis Singer. Este Frankenstein judaico muito teria me ajudava a conquistar o amor de Silvinha e a repelir o profeta às avessas que sempre me perseguia. Mas eu desconhecia as relações entre letras e números. Não poderia imaginar (e v meus professores poderiam ensinar) as relações entre o Aleph, a matemática e um mundo literário completamente novo. Oh God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a King of infinite space. Também não tinha batido minha cabeça na escada para poder vislumbar a pequena esfera furta-cor, de quase intolerável fulgor, que me revelaria os segredos do universo. Mas estava suficientemente feliz com as explicações simplórias da vida. Da origem, da criação e da justiça divina. Era tudo muito simples. Deus me criou à sua imagem e semelhança. Eu era ainda mais parecido com Ele, segundo mamãe e papai. Criou o mundo e os animais. A luz da escuridão. E tudo isso em seis dias. E descansou no shabat. Estava tudo lá escrito. Pelo menos me diziam, já que não sabia muito bem ler hebraico, sobretudo sem as vogais. Ah, claro, havia dez mandamentos. O meu manual de conduta moral e ética já estava pronto. Nem precisava questionar nada. Sim, Ele era o senhor meu Deus e eu deveria acreditar nisso. Não deveria matar. Não poderia roubar. Não praticaria o adultério. Não desejaria a mulher do próximo. Não daria falso testemunho. Não criaria imagens. Honraria meu pai e mãe (claro e sempre!). Lembraria o shabat (o que tinha o Dror e era bom). Não pediria ajuda a Deus em vão. Ufa, eram tantos nãos. Mais como era bom, fácil e simples! Não tinha muito que questionar. Era seguir e ser feliz. Acredito que hoje alguns mandamentos, mudaram. Todos nós desejamos a mulher do próximo, desde que esse próximo não esteja ou seja tão próximo assim.

Ou que a mulher do próximo esteja numa revista, num site pornô o mesmo atravessando a rua. Já roubar, bem, roubar pequenas coisinhas na Machiné não era tão grave assim. Éramos todos judeus, numa, numa excursão de judeus, e estávamos tentando perpetuar nossa espécie. Já os outros mandamentos, esses tento cumprir.

Tudo corria muito bem, sum nenhuma questão mais polêmica, até que a nossa professora resolveu nos explicar sobre Darwin. A evolução das espécies. Que coisa complicada! As explicações não se fechavam muito bem. O sistema não era completo, consistente e coerente. Os teoremas da incompletude de Gödel já poderiam ser vislumbrados logo na Bíblia. Em 1925, outro jovem brilhante judeu chamado Gödel demonstrou que qualquer sistema formal capaz de fazer aritmética não é capaz de provar sus própria consistência. E além disso, esses sistemas são incompletos. Ora, se existe um Código da Bíblia e se acreditarmos na Cabala, o sistema bíblico torna-se incompleto, como já era de esperar. Assim poderíamos provar algo inconsistente: que Deus existe o que Deus não existe. Ficção? Com Darwin, a teoria do mundo seria diferente daquela contada em seis dias. Outras histórias bíblicas também perderiam o sentido. A seleção natural seria fruto da Arca de Noé? Noé os selecionou para perpetuar as espécies? Tudo muito confuso. E agora, José, em que acreditar? A festa acabou? A casa caiu? A Torá ruiu? E todas as histórias, parábolas, contos, civilizações que as versões de mamãe tinham me ensinado na escola, era tudo inventado? Toda essa história deveria contada como o Ilíada? Moisés seria como Ulisses? Não haveria compromisso com a verdade num livro escrito com inspiração divina? A divindade então era literária? Poesia? Besteira? Malditos Nazistas. O tempo se bifurca perpetuamente para inumeráveis futuros. Nesse encontro fomos inimigos. Todas essas histórias bíblicas poderiam estar num livro de seres imaginários? Fui ludibriando, novamente, pelo Dibouk? Se eu descobrisse quem era o mentiroso, arrenegado, anhangão, Pé-de-Pato. O -que-nunca-se-ri que falseou essa história, eu o colocaria em algum dos círculos do inferno dantesco. Fosse ele Darwin, fosse ele Deus! E eu tinha que descobrir. Tinha que revelar para o mundo o segredo. O meu fantasioso e literário segredo. Mas é lógico que o único caminho que conhecia era o de estudo.

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As religiões voltadas todas para Deus e para o arrependimento. Para o arrependimento pelas faltas com Deus. Eu, que fui educado desde muito pequeno com os valores judaicos, não os associava à religião. A religião não ensinava a forma como deveríamos tratar as pessoas, o meio ambiente, nós mesmos. Ensinava esse temor divino. Esse medo e as

eternas oferendas que deveríamos fazer. O Deus católico era extremamente bondoso, mas era necessário extremamente receptivo a tudo o que ele pregava. Ou que pregavam por ele. O Deus judeu era um Deus justo. Justiça podia simbolizar rigor. Punição, Adoração. E eu, que gostava o gosto dos valores humanos, do respeito, admirava os valores judaicos. Não a religião, mas sua cultura milenar. Se dependêssemos dos ortodoxos judeus, haveria um colapso econômico. Famílias imensas existiriam. Existem. Todos esperando o tal do Mashiach, chegar. Nada de trabalhar. Só rezar. Nem todos poderiam ser rabinos. E sem trabalho, com alta taxa de natalidade, a economia ruiria. Lógico que há exceções. Em Nova Iorque, muitos ortodoxos trabalham demais. Em todos os lugares também.

Mas há um grupo de ultraortodoxos em Israel e nos EUA que não trabalha. Só rezar. Só espera o Mashiach. Não vai o exército. Não está de acordo com a existência do Estado Judeu. Aguarda. Alguns de elos até já encontraram o Amadinejah em um congresso revisionista de Shoah. E não fazem nada para contribuir, além de terem mais filhos. Israel assegura sua existência. Eles não. Foi um de esses que matou Isaac Rabin. O que tentou verdadeiramente fazer a paz. O que sonhou. Aquele que apertou a mão a Arafat num gesto inédito. Impensável na época. Surreal. Mas que foi morto por um extremista judeu. É interessante pensar que consta nos dez mandamentos um preceito explícito o não matarás. Na verdade, é um mandamento que diz não assassinarás. Assassinar é matar alguém inocente. Matar se direciona a alguém culpado, segundo a interpretação dessa Lei. Assim alguns ortodoxos condenaram á morte pelo acordo com Arafat. Por não desejar expandir o território judeu em busca de Israel Gdolá. A Israel bíblica. Segundo eles, Rabin foi morto, não assassinado. No era um inocente. Histórias de vida real. Mas, também, se a perpetuação do judaísmo dependesse somete dos liberais, alguns valores seriam perdidos. Muitos. Purim vivaria um Carnaval? A Rainha Ester seria uma Rainha de Bateria? Poderíamos fazer uma pequenina refeição no Yom Kipur? E alguns valores, crenças, marcos e fatos seriam mudados. Evolução natural? Não sé, mas acho que, existindo somete os liberais, teríamos outra religião. Com outra visão. Muitas vezes, boa. Muitas vezes, falha e incompleta. E eu não sabia muito bem em quem acreditar, em que acreditar nem por acreditar. Creio, assim, necessário esse duelo entre os religiosos, os liberais e os marginais, como eu, que não concordam com nenhum dos lados. Ou que concordam com os dos lados.

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Rabin, Clinton, Arafat

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Antitherapies

excerpts

So, if it was to be studying, it was to be studying. And if it was in a Jewish school, it was yet to pray also. There was never much to question. It was to arrive early, to pray in Hebrew—to not understand well those letters and tunes—and then go to the classroom. I enjoyed my classes about Torah, Judaism and the Hebrew classes. Though I not was very good in Hebrew. Though I didn’t know that you could create a Golem by the mere manipulation of Hebrew letters. If I knew, I would have created the same Golem of Prague. The Golem de Bashevis Singer. This Jewish Frankenstein would have helped me a lot in conquering Silvinha’s love and to have the prophet chase away that craziness that always pursues me. But didn’t know the relationships between letters and numbers. I couldn’t imagine (and not even my teacher could teach) the relation between the Aleph, to mathematics and a completely new literary world. O God I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space. Moreover, I have never beaten my head against wall so I could have glimpse at a small iridescent sphere, of an almost intolerable brilliance, that would reveal to me the secrets of the universe. But I was sufficiently happy with simple explanations about life. Of the Beginning, the Creation and Divine Justice. It was all very simple. God created me in his image and resemblance. I was therefore very similar to Him, according to mother and father. He created the world and the animals He created the world and the animals. Light from darkness. And all this in six days. And He rested on Shabbat. It was all written down. At least they told me so, as I didn’t know how to read Hebrew very well, especially without the vowels. Oh, of course, there were ten commandments. My manual of moral conduct and ethics already was ready.

It wasn’t necessary to question anything. Yes, He, the Lord, my God and I should believe this. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not desire your neighbor’s wife. Thou shalt not give false testimony. Thou shalt not create graven images. Honor your father and your mother (Most certainly and forever!) Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy (or do what Dror did and that was good enough. Don’t take God’s name in vain. Yikes! There were so many Shalt Nots. But they were good, easy and simple. There was never much to question. Follow and be happy. I believe that today some commandments have changed. We all want our neighbor’s wife, since that wife is or is not necessarily a neighbor. Or that your neighbor’s wife is in some magazine, some porno site or even crossing the street. As for stealing, stealing little things from the Macjané, the vending machine, wasn’t so serious either. We were all Jews, in a group of Jews, and we were tempted to perpetuate our species. As for the other commandments, those I try to follow.

Everything was just fine, without any other polemical questions, until our teacher decided to Darwin to us. The Evolution of the Species. What a complicated business! The explanations don’t fit very well. The system wasn’t complete, consistent or coherent. The theory of incompletion of Gödel could then be seen in the Bible. In 1925, another brilliant young Jew named Gödel demonstrated that any system that was capable of being proven mathematically, was not capable of proving its own reality. And because of this, those systems were incomplete. Now, if there exists a Biblical Code, and if we believe in the Kabbalah, the Biblical system becomes incomplete: that God exists or that God doesn’t exist. Fiction? With Darwin, a theory of the world would be different from that told in six days. Other Biblical stories would also not make sense. Natural selection would be the result of Noah’s Ark? Noah selected them to perpetuate the species? Everything is very confusing. And now, Joseph, who to believe? The party is over? The house falls? The Torah collapses? And were all the tales, parables, stories, civilizations, songs that had been taught in school all invented? All of that history should be told like the Iliad? Moses would be like Ulises? There couldn’t be compromise with the truth of a book written with divine inspiration? The Divinity, then, was literature? Poetry? Nonsense?  Damn Nazis. Time perpetually divides into innumerable futures. At that meeting we were enemies.  All those Biblical stories could be found in a book of imaginary beings. I was fooled once again by the Dibbuk? If I were to discover who was the liar, the cursed, the devil, the faker. Or, that scoffer who falsified that story, I would put him into the circles of Dante’s Inferno. Was it Darwin? Was it God? And I had to discover which.

I had to reveal the secret to the world. My fantastic and literary secret. But, logically, the only path that I knew was studying. I was looking for everything that I could find. And Astrophysics wasn’t sufficient to prove Darwin’s or God’s fallacy, at least so I believed. And I had to understand all that Jewish or scientific nonsense at six years old.

I had to reveal the secret to the world. My fantastic and literary secret. But, logically, the only path that I knew was studying. I was looking for everything that I could find. And Astrophysics wasn’t sufficient to prove Darwin’s or God’s fallacy, at least so I believed. And I had to understand all that Jewish or scientific nonsense at six years old.

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The religions all returned to God and for repentance. For repentance for the failings with God. I, who was educated since I was very small with Jewish values, not those associated with religion. Religion didn’t teach the way in which we ought to treat people, the environment, ourselves. I taught fear of the divine. That fear and  the eternal sacrifices that we ought to make. The Catholic God was extremely generous, but it was necessary to be very accepting of everything that He preached or that they preached for him. The Jewish God was a just God. Justice could symbolize rigor. Punishment. Adoration. And I, who liked or like human values, admired Jewish values, out of respect, I admired Jewish values. Not the religion, but its millennial culture. If we were to depend on the orthodox Jews, there would be and economic collapse. Immense families existed, exist. All waiting for such a Mashiach to arrive. Nothing about working. No working. Just prayer Not all of them could be rabbis. And without work, with a high birth, the economy collapsed. Of course, there were exceptions. In New York, many orthodox worked too much. In every other place, too.

But there was a group of ultra-orthodox in Israel and in the United States who didn’t work. Only prayer. Only waiting for the Meshiach to arrive. Didn’t go into the army. Didn’t agree with the existence of the State of Israel.  Wait. Some of them had even met with Ahmadinejab in a revisionist congress dealing with the Shoah. And they didn’t do anything to contribute, other than having more children. Israel assures their existence. They don’t. It was one of those who killed Isaac Rabin. He who truly tried to make peace. Or so he dreamt.

The one who offered his had to Arafat in an unheard-of gesture. Unthinkable in that period. Surreal. But who was killed by a Jewish extremist. It is interesting to think that the Ten Commandments contains an explicit precept that thou shalt not kill. In fact, there is a commandment that says assassinate.  Assassinate or kill someone innocent. To kill is used with someone guilty, according to the interpretation of that Law. So, some orthodox condemned to death for the agreement with Arafat. For not wanting to expand the Jewish territory in search of Israel Gadolà, Greater Israel. The Biblical Israel. According to them, Rabin was killed, not assassinated. He wasn’t an innocent. Stories of real life. But, moreover, if the perpetuation of Judaism were to depend on the liberals, some values would be lost. Many. Purim become a Carnival. Queen Esther would be a Queen of Drums. Would we be able to make a slight reference to Yom Kippur? And some values, beliefs, references and facts would be changed. Natural evolution? I don’t know, but I think that, with only the liberals existing, we would have a different religion. With another vision. Often good. Often faulting and incomplete. And I don’t know really know in which to believe or why to believe. I believe it to be necessary, therefore, this duel between the religious, the liberals and the marginalized. Like me, who doesn’t agree with either of the two sides. Or who agrees with both sides.

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Rabin, Clinton, Arafat

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Translation from the Portuguese by Stephen A. Sadow

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Livros por Jacques Fux/Books by Jacques Fux

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Mario Szichman (1945-1918) Novelista y periodista judío-argentino-venezolano-norteamericano/Argentine Venezuelan American Novelist and Journalist — “Los judíos de la mar dulce”/ “The Jews of the Fresh-Water Sea”– Fragmento/Excerpt

 

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Mario Szichman

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Mario Szichman nació en Buenos Aires en 1945, llegó a Caracas en 1967. Regresó a su ciudad natal en  1971 y, en  1975, volvió a Venezuela para quedarse por cinco años más. Se enamoró de Venezuela y su  compromiso con el país estuvo vivo su muerte. En 1980, tras ganar el Premio de Literatura Ediciones del Norte de New Hampshire, Estados Unidos, por su novela  A las 20:25 la señora entró en la inmortalidad, viajó a Estados Unidos, junto con su esposa  Laura Corbalán. Se residenciaron en Nueva York, allí trabajó para la Associated Press y como corresponsal del periódico Tal Cual.  Su obra: sus novelas históricas, seis de ellas reunidas en dos series: “La trilogía del mar dulce” formada por  La verdadera crónica falsaLos judíos del Mar Dulce A las 20:25 la señora entró en la inmortalidad, novelas que relatan las peripecias de una familia judía que trata de reinventarse a fin de ser aceptada en la sociedad argentina y  “La trilogía de la patria boba”, conformada por Los Papeles de Miranda, Las dos muertes del general Simón Bolívar Los años de la guerra a muerte, novelas que narran las peripecias de los próceres de la independencia venezolana.  Luego escribió La región vacía, sobre los atentados a las torres gemelas, cuya trama tiene como soporte una serie de crónicas que estuvo escribiendo a partir de los  acontecimientos ocurridos el 9 de septiembre de 2001.

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Mario Szichman was born in Buenos Aires in 1945, arrived in Caracas in 1967. He returned to his hometown in 1971 and, in 1975, returned to Venezuela to stay for five more years. He fell in love with Venezuela and his commitment to the country was alive his death. In 1980, after winning the Northern New Hampshire Editions Literature Prize, United States, for her novel At 20:25 the lady entered immortality, traveled to the United States, along with his wife Laura Corbalán. They resided in New York, where he worked for the Associated Press and as a correspondent for the newspaper Tal Cual. Her work: her historical novels, six of them brought together in two series: “The Sweet Sea Trilogy” formed by The True False Chronicle, The Jews of the Sweet Sea and At 20:25 the lady entered into immortality, novels that relate the vicissitudes of a Jewish family that tries to reinvent itself in order to be accepted in Argentine society and “The trilogy of the silly homeland”, made up of Los Papeles de Miranda, The two deaths of General Simón Bolívar and The years of the war a death, novels that narrate the adventures of the heroes of Venezuelan independence. Then he wrote The Empty Region, about the attacks on the Twin Towers, whose plot is supported by a series of chronicles that he was writing based on the events of September 9, 2001.

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               “Los judíos de la mar dulce”                  un fragmento

        El primer día de navegación de los Pechof vieron la película titulada “Argentina. Tierra de Promisión”. La pantalla había sido dividida en cuatro partes, como un escudo de armas, y se veían trigales, vacas de perfil, barcos filmados desde abajo para que sus proas fueran vertiginosas, y una familia compuesta  por madre, hijo, hija y perrito juguetón, mirando un sol radiante.

Los cuatro eran gente lindo, y alegre, y tenían la misma cara. La diferencia entre el hijo y el padre se debía al pelo pintado de gris al pelo pintado de  blanco y las arrugas sonrientes en el entrecejo y en las comisuras de los labios.

En el país que habían preparado a gilada inmigrante, no había indios ni flechas envenenadas, ni selvas llenas de tigres y caimanes, ni mugre, ni casas viejas, ni Guardias Blancas, ni miserables, petisos, gordos, pájaros , of antisemitismo. Ese mundo tenía la tersura satinada de las páginas de “El Hogar”, la guita crecía en los árboles, y los inmigrantes se hacían domadores extraordinarios,  ante los ojos primero burlones y luego asombrados de criollos que los invitaban a tomar un matecito con “Venga, paisano, se lo ha ganado en buena ley”. Todos subían en el escalafón y con el pasado borrado por la falta de antecedentes, un soldado se convertía en mariscal, lo albañiles en inyenieri y las punguitas en ladrones de guante blanco. En esa Argentina imaginaría la gente que hablaba de tú, los burros se llaman jumentos. Los limosas eran óbolos, los pobres usaban ropas remendadas pero pulcras, los grandes hombres nacían en humilde cuna, los padres se la pasan llevando a sus hijos a los desfiles para emocionarse al paso de los granaderos, nuestro amigo el policía se dedicaba a cruzar viejecitas, los niños hablaban en difícil, los sociedades de los fifís eran beneméritas instituciones, las distinguidas damas guardaban cama, los torneos de canasta tenían siempre lúcidos contornos y la gente se moría de mentira.

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Los Pechof viajaron primero hacia el puro desierto amarillo y reconstruyeron el rompecabezas de un pasado del que querían adueñarse para liquidar el desarraigo. Se pusieron en la línea de partida del año mil ochocientos diez y salieron por devorarse los años que los separaron de los goim, de sus pitos intactos, de su genealogía perpetuada en retratos de óleo de Pueyrredón, Pellegrini o Morel; de sus generaciones de parientes generales, jueces o diputados, de sus abuelas duras, de facciones angulosas que se enfrentan a las hordas unitarios o federales, de ese idioma que ya había sido manoseado por antepasados en cuarta o quinta generación, y les había sido donado junto con los gestos tranquilos y despectivos del que se siente dueño del poder, tratando de añadir a esa casta de tipos grandotes, corajudos, vergalargas, que extendían las fronteras, o se la pasaban bien en París de pura joda, ya victoriosos, ya desplazados, pero siempre dueños de su tierra; el tímido recuerdo de un bisabuelo que se perdía en la memoria apenas subía a un barco para irse a Palestina llevando como único tesoro, unos tfilin escritos por un discípulo de Rashi, y unos antepasados de barba larga, trencitas en los sienes, shlapques redondo y nariz ganchuda, que buscaban con desesperación cualquier tipo de barba rubia y ojos azules para convertirlo en el meyiaj (meísas).

Tuvieron que apoderarse de una historia ajena, llena de mainzes raros. Los héroes se achicaban cuando terminaba la guerra de independencia y se convertían en caudillos sedientos de sangre. Los ejércitos libertadores que habían mezclado su banderas en la lucha contra el godo, recogían sus trofeos y sus muertos, y se iban a sus países a formar montoneras anárquicas. La gloria era reemplazada por la ambición y el renunciamiento por apetitos inconfesables. Los guerreros redujeron sus estatura y arruinaron sus perfiles, bajándose del caballo donde inmortalizaban sus proclamas y cubriéndose de barbas amenazantes. Hasta el tiempo se modificaba, y el cruce de los Andes ocupaba en los libros de historia el mismo espacio que el gobierno de Rosas.

Los Pechof tomaron partido por el bando de los vencedores y siguieron la línea Mayo-Caseros, terminando hechos unos antiperonistas que invitaban al almirante Rojas a las fiestas de la Daia.

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[1} Rîo de la Plata

[2] Dictador of Argentina, por 17 años..

[3]  In Argentine political history: the Revolution of May, 1810 and the Battle of Caseros in 1853, when Rosas was defeated inaugurated the modern Argentine nation, according to the conservative and neo-liberal point of view. That is not accepted by the popular sectors.

[4] Almirante Rojas, vice-presidente de la golpe militar que derrocô a Perón en 1955 a el más sangriante de los que intervinieron of the military coup, autor de muchos fusilamientos de peronistas.

[5] Daia, el liderazgo de la comunidad judîa que se juntó con los anti-peronistas that en aquel entoincs. Dicho con ironîa para señalar el “ambiente” de la novela–esos judîos imigrantes como los Petchof que quería sre–medio cristiano y asimilado, igual a otros argentinos y aceptados por los que mandan.

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“The Jews of the Fresh-Water Sea” (1)

fragmento

The first day on board, the Pechoff family saw the movie, “Argentina. Promised Land.” The screen had been divided in four parts, like a coat of arms, and showed wheat fields, cows in profile, ships filled from below so that their prow were dizzying and a family composed to mother, son, daughter and playful little dog, looking a radiant sun.

The four were good happy people, and they the same face. The difference between the son and the father  depended on the hair dyed grey or hair dyed white and the smiling wrinkles on the forehead and the corners of the lips.

In the country that had provided the easily-fooled immigrant, there were no Indians or poisoned arrows, or jungles full of tigers and crocodiles or filth or miserable people o small guys, fat guys or anti-Semitism. That world had the satiny smoothness of the pages of the middle-class “Home Journal,” the dough grew on trees, and the immigrants became excellent buckaroos, before the eyes of the at first  scoffing and then amazed eyes of the locals who invited them later on to try to take a bit of mate with a “Come on over, “paisano,” my friend, you’ve truly earned it.” Everyone rose in social standing and with the past erased along with its lack of precedents , a soldier became a marshal, the bricklayers in “inyenieri,” engineers and, the pickpockets in white gloved criminals. In the imaginary Argentina, people spoke to “you, friend,” the burros are called donkeys. The alms were donations, the poor wore mended but beautiful clothing, the great men were born in humble cradles, the fathers spent their time bringing their children to parades to excite them with the passing of grenadiers, our friend the policeman dedicated themselves to helping little old ladies cross the street, the children spoke with tricky words, the societies of filthy rich were meritorious institutions, the distinguished ladies kept to bed, the canasta tournaments were always fairly played, and the peopled died of lying.

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The Pechofs traveled first toward the pure yellow desert and reconstructed the jigsaw puzzle of a past of which they wanted to take hold of to sort out their position in it. The aligned themselves with the party of 1810 and set out to devour the years that separated them from the goyim, from their intact pricks, of their genealogy of oil portraits of Pueyrredón, Pellegrini or Morel, of generations of relatives who were generals, judges or deputies, of their tough grandmothers, of angular features that confront the Unitarian or Federalist hordes,[1]of that language that had been embellished by ancestors of the fourth or fifth generation, which they had been given together with serene and derogatory gestures  of those who feel to be the owners of power, trying to add to this caste of huge, valiant, big-dicked, who extended the frontiers or who enjoyed themselves in Paris, partying all the time, already victorious, already supplanted, but always owners of their land; the timid recollection of a great-grandfather that was being lost in memory as soon as they went on to a ship to go to Palestine, carrying as his only treasure, son “tefillim” phylacteries written by a disciple of Rashi, and some ancestors with long beards, little curls on their temples, rounded black hats and very hooked noses, who desperately looked for any sort of blond beard and blue eyes to convert him into “meyiah,” the Messiah.

They had to take on a foreign history, full of “metzias,” strange stories. The heroes shrank when the War of Independence ended and they became blood-thirsty caudillos. The armies of liberation that had mixed their flags during the fight against the Spanish, collected their trophies and their dead and went on to form anarchical gangs. Glory was replaced by ambition and sacrifice for uncontrollable appetites. The warriors reduced their stature and ruined their profiles, dismounting their horses where they immortalized their proclamations and covering themselves with threatening beards. Even time was modified, the crossing of the Andes occupied in the history books the same space as the government of Rosas.[2]

The Pechofs took the side of the winners and followed the line Mayo-Caseres,[3] ending up as anti-Peronists who invited Admiral Rojas[4] to the parties hosted by the DAIA.[5]

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 [1} Rîo de la Plata

[2] Dictator of Argentina, for 17 years.

[3] In Argentine political history: the Revolution of May, 1810 and the Battle of Caseros in 1853, when Rosas was defeated inaugurated the modern Argentine nation, according to the conservative and neo-liberal point of view. It is not accepted by the popular sectors.

[4] Admiral Rojas, vice-president of the military coup that overthrew Perôn in 1955 and the most bloody of the military who intervened also author of the execution of many Peronists

[5] DAIA, the official Jewish Community leadership that joined the anti-Peronsit forces at that time. Said with irony to signal the “atmosphere” of the novel—those immigrant Jews like the Pechofs wanted to be—half Christian and assimilated, equal to other Argentines,accepted by those who lead.

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Mario Szichman

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Unos libros de Mario Szichman/Some of Mario Szichman’s Books