What It Feels Like To Be a Goy:
A Poet's Talk in Tel Aviv
WHAT does it feel like to be a Goy? Most modern Jewish fiction, or autobiography disguised as fiction, answers the complementary question “What does it feel like to be a Jew?” The goyim who surround each protagonist in these very similar dramas are described objectively; but the Jewish reader and the author himself can only guess what goes on behind their masks. Are they cruel, insensitive, or merely ignorant?
I am a goy, and the son of goyim: several generations at least on both sides of the family. It has recently become the fashion in the United States for young non-Jewish intellectuals to ransack their yellowing archives in search of a Jewish great-great-grandmother. The other day one of the Lowells of Boston told me with sparkling eyes that he actually has a Jewish great-grandmother. I cannot make any such claim. My father’s pedigree contains several medieval Kings of England, albeit through an illegitimate line, a Spanish King of Cordoba maternally descended from the Prophet Mahomet, and-since we Graveses married into several Irish families-any amount of legendary Irish kings and heroes. No Cohens or Levis, not one! I did have a German great-grandmother named Schubert, but unfortunately she came of solid Lutheran stock.
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