Saturday, May 31, 2014

Just Say No to the Oy Vey Lifestyle

I've been reading a little about the history of the Ashkenazi. I'd like to delve more deeply into the early history, learn more about how they came to settle by the Rhine and in what is now France. Wikipedia  said they were encouraged to move to Europe in the very early middle ages because it was thought the Ashkenazi were smart and good with money. Then they were restricted to only working with money, then blamed for monopolizing the market and subsequently persecuted.

That is a terrible oversimplification and may not even be accurate - I found it on the internet where anyone can post anything. It sounds about right, though. I need to do some reading, for sure.

One interesting factoid I read today is that there were very few Ashkenazi Jews for a long time, then all of a sudden our numbers increased, peaking in 1931. We did well in Europe. We flourished. After the Holocaust, there were far fewer of us, of course.

What is it with my tribe? So interesting to think about. In particular what I'm thinking is that it's no wonder we Ashkenazi developed a culture of witty complaint, guilting, wailing and lamenting. It's a cultural style, the Oy Vey Lifestyle, it surely is. When I think about the long term history of my tribe in Europe, it's easy to see why these behaviors developed. We are also given to bouts of joy and bliss; we are passionate, but there is always an underlying note of melancholy. Just listen to klezmer music. It always begins mournfully, builds to a frenzy of bliss, ends in a minor key. There is a lot of sadness embedded in Ashkenazi Judaism.

Oy vey!!

I'm pretty good natured in early old age, more tolerant than I could have imagined when I was younger. My life is wonderful. I have no complaints. My life is as different from my ancestors' as I can imagine. In fact I can't imagine. I might as well live on a different planet.

One of the reasons I had to write my ancestors a letter was to tell them I won't carry their grudges and will not relive their pain. I will not wear the Oy Vey groove any deeper into the oversoul of our family and tribe. No. This is not the path of healing!

Did I say I was done with ancestor work for the time being? I am not, I guess. Right now my work is about research and refusing to be melancholy. I tell you my life as a shaman is so weird. I would love to turn my attention to something other then those who came before me. Seriously! But they whisper to me, they do. The tribal culture is powerful. The echoes linger.

Life is short, my fine grandfathers and uncles, grandmothers and aunts. I wish to move on. Please? Thank you.


  1. Ha -- I was laughing when I started reading this because your ancestor work is so clearly NOT over. I think many people when they reach their 60s become fascinated by ancestors and genealogy. My dad did. My grandfather did. I'm not sure why this is true or why it happens then, but it happens -- at least for some people.