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There have been differences of opinion among historians as to the extent of antisemitism in America's past and contrasted American antisemitism with its European counterpart. You can follow the boys who recite their lesson "Arba'a Avot Nezikin". The rabbi strokes his broad beard and combs it with his fingers.

The hair that falls out he puts in between the pages of the Gemara. Outside the moon travels over the sky and the town is all shrouded in white. During the long summer days, too, we felt chained in our seats.

You were sweating and bored, A barter trade in odds and ends went on behind the rabbi's back. Here someone lets go a fly tied to a bit of straw. Some play at cards under the desk and everybody waits for the setting sun to peepin from the Shul-lane.

As soon as it would reach a certain point on the tree we would rush out, free from bondage for the day. A summer evening gently dover the town. Fromthe meadows you can hearthe frogs croaking and the breeze wafts in the inebriating smell of fields and hay. The "Heder" and peculiarly so "My Heder" with the stench of urine in the corner never could deaden the longing for the world of beauty - only a few hundred steps away.

The young began to rebel and to shake off the chains, to search for ways and means to build themselves a more beautiful and more secure future. The rabbi would be angry with us, when we came back panting from having run through the streets to attend a meeting of "Hashomer Hatzair.

And many days later, when we came to the verse "A, those, who stay up late - the wine fires them", he would say, "Those are your Shomrim. It was of no avail that I tried to defend them and explained that the Shomrim never drank wine and that the prophet's words did not apply to them. Only, because of my taking this side, I was shunned by the orthodox children.

Our older brothers and sisters realized that the skies were darkening. They saw the axe of anti-Semitism that was raised against the Jews, and they went to find their redemption, and looked for it in various shapes and debated over it endlessly and everywhere: at home, at street corners, at le entrance to the synagogue and behind the "Belemer" while the Tora as being read on the Sabbath.

When the debates grew hot and stormy, our old and honoured rabbi would get angry and he would scold "Shkocim hooligans go to sleep! The sleep of the wicked, may it does well to you and to the world. But the just of the world and their good works did not avert the disaster. Millions of honest people, whose only fault was that they were Jews, were exterminated.

My hometown, where, for generations, my forefathers had lived, was wiped out and with it my parents, brothers and sisters, friends and relations. Our lot was bitter.

We were born in a beautiful country but it wasn't ours. We were driven out, destroyed; those who got away are scattered all over the world.

But each and everyone will carry with him, to his dying lay, the memory Street Along The Cemetery - Punished - Influence Exerted! Effects: (CDr his dearest, of his childhood and of our town. A dream that will never come back. W e are left with the memories. We are alive and bear them in our hearts and shall remember as long as we shall live.

They are like rays of light, sometimes bright and sometimes dim that come out of the past. As time passes: days, years and decades, they become blurred and in order to preserve them and honour our wonderful Jewish past, Jewish Rozhan, we have delved into and set down all the gems of our lives in that little township. We have tried to uncover the spring from which our forefathers throughout the ages drew the strength and the courage to bear martyrdom and to hold up and continue Jewish life, which now culminated in the State of Israel established following the Holocaust that decimated our nation.

Dozens of our compatriots have contributed to this book. It is the least one can do. It is our bounden duty to those friends and relatives who did not live to see the resurrection of our nation on the soil of its historic homeland. We are doing, what the survivors of many other destroyed Jewish communities have done: we are keeping the legacy, never to forget.

We add a little chapter to Jewish history and give a crushing answer to those foes of Israel, who not have murdered its people and appropriated the heritage but would like to efface the traces from the history of their countries, which we have helped to build up over the centuries with Jewish blood and toil.

Our ancestors built their colourful, peculiar Jewish existence in the midst of hostile Christian surroundings. They became integrated in the realities of economic, social and cultural life while they had to struggle incessantly for their rights. Those were working people artisans and factory workers, shopkeepers and merchants, working intellectuals, townspeople, but also villagers, Hassidim and Mitnagdim and ordinary Jews. Among them were adherents or all parties, both national and socialist, inspired by the vision of a better future with the Jewish people and for the world at large.

They all strove for the good and the beautiful, each and everyone according to his lights. On the background of economic and social conditions typical of a Jewish township in Poland between the two World Wars, from the beginning of the renewed Polish independence to the bitter end, at the outbreak of the War inlife went on its normal course with peculiar, local overtones.

The social and political movements grew out of it and were nourished on Rozhan's soil and aimed at bringing the redemption to Man and to the nation - or at least to alleviate the suffering of the Jews. Hatred and persecution being felt more and more like a tightening noose.

The development of movements and parties did not begin or stop at the gates of Rozhan, which was simply a microcosm of the Jewish condition everywhere: from "Agudat Israel", rooted in the numerous orthodox population and enjoying the support of the government authoritiesthrough all the shades of socialist parties "Bund" and Rightist and Leftist "Poale Zion", and the whole gamut of Zionist parties.

The relative strength of all those movements was changing over time, more or less in keeping with developments in the Jewish world and in the state where we lived. It should be stressed that, during the 's and 30's, the Leftist "Poale Zion" and "Hashomer Hatzair" were especially active in Rozhan in addition to "Agudat Israel" whose position remained unshaken among the broad strata of conservative, orthodox Jews.

Its influence weakened only towards the outbreak of the war, when the "Mizrahi" gained ground and began to attract these people to Zionism. We have written our reminiscences down. A memorial for ourselves and for generations to come.

Landscape and Atmosphere. Rozhan was a peculiar little town with a charm of its own; first of all because of its geographical situation. While Mazovia is mostly level country, Rozhan was built upon a considerable elevation, sloping down to the East towards the broad river Narew. To reach the town you had to cross a wooden bridge with a "history" of its own, and then you were in hill country, as it were.

The same was true when you came ifrom the North, from Ostrolenka: you found the town situated on hills that continued to the South, parallel with the river. Only towards the West did the town melt into the broad expanses of the area in the direction of Makow and Pultusk. So the people of Rozhan had the feeling they were living on high, above a magnificent landscape that stretched far away, beyond the river, with fields and meadows like a carpet, whose colours were changing with the seasons.

Dark green forests were closing the horizon in the distance, over the river with their dented line. Each season had its opeculiar beauty. With spring the ice would break and begin to float downstream and the river would inundate a vast area. The sight of wide eunderwater would fill the heart with pride, but also with anxiety. The rising waters would approach the lower parts of town and threaten to swamp the dwellings of the poor, both Jews and Gentiles.

Then it would get warmer, the waters would recede slowly and expectations turned towards the approaching summer time, when you could refresh yourself with a bath in the river, cross it swimming, make boat trips or go for a hike in the great outdoors. The river was now confined to its bed and you could see the large meadows, where the famous goats of Rozhan were grazing - that had become a by-word - also in jest, for our Jewesses.

How can I forget the goats and their kids we used to have in our back garden, when I was a child; how sorry I was when the lambs had to beslaughtered, so that only their soft pelts were left to cover and adorn the floor until our last day in town?

Spring also carried its special smells of tfruit trees and the lilac ibloom, mixed with that ofthe first hay to be cut. As the weather grew warmer, bathing and swimming in the river were very refreshing. Men and women had separate facilities, as bathing suits were not yet the fashion in our place.

When these were finally introduced, strict separation was abolished and bathing in the river became an occasion for the social mingling of the younger generation, as is the custom throughout the world. Most of the bathers were Jews. Idlers would spend whole days in the sun to get tanned, but most people frequented the shore in the afternoon after work and on Fridays.

You could see not only the young, but also old people with beards who took their plunge in the river instead of a ritual bath in the Mikve.

So we had many Jewish swimmers in Rozhan. Yet, It must be said that it was not always fun. The river was large and sometimes treacherous and drowning accidents did occur. People liked to take a stroll, generally starting on the sidewalks around the market square and going out on the road to Pultusk or the Wiemke-road that led from the main street down to the bridge.

A longer walk, on Sabbath and holidays would be across the bridge to the barracks, to the copse and even beyond. Everybody, old and young, would go for a walk, but most of all the young with their romantic feelings and their sensitiveness to the beauties of nature. There the youngsters could really unbutton themselves, frolic, sing, laugh aloud, play games and enjoy practical jokes. Thus it went on until the Gentiles began to give free rein to their anti-Semitism.

When this happened, walks became restricted to the sidewalks round the market-square. We should also mention the "summer resort" of Rozhan where the "rich" or those in need of recreation would spend their vacation. It was in the nearby village of Kashevitz, but we, the young, never went there. We were content with an occasional ice cream, or a glass of ice cold lemonade. The ice cream was made with real cream in a primitive copper container that was rotated in a surrounding layer of ice.

This, in turn, was kept in a natural kind of cellar, a pit in the ground, filled with ice from the river in winter and covered with insulating material like sawdust. But then the hot summer days drew to an end and the High Holidays were approaching.

Autumn came and with it Grey and gloomy weather. The joys of outdoor life had ended, but life went on indoors in the home and in public places and party premises.

When the peasants gathered their harvest, the townspeople, too, had to make their preparations for the winter. Each family had to lay in its store of potatoes, cabbages and firewood. Autumn rain and storms come from a darkened sky and the double windows had to be taken out of storage, put in place and made tight with green moss.

The river rose again owing to the waters that come down from the hills. Puddles of water and mud appeared in the streets, that were not all paved and provided with sidewalks, and there were the first ice crystals on the window panes and the first snow.

The atmosphere changed, a blanket of white covered the area and was enhanced by the contrast with the evergreen forests on the horizon. The cold became intense and blocks of ice formed on the river whose colour, too, had darkened.

One day, a solid layer of ice covered it all, while the current continued to flow underneath. More snow fell and hid the ice. The river seemed to have vanished and you could discern first people and then horse drawn sleds cross it.

Onlthe bridge reminded you of its existence. Days were short, but the joy of life knew no bounds and again we went for long walks - in appropriate apparel, of course. What fun sliding down the hillside in a toboggan loaded with children, laughing and giving vent to their elation.

And as usual most of the participants were our Jewish youths, members of the various parties and movements. Those who went to school as well as those who learned at the "Heder". There was room enough for everybody on the hillsides and the skilled ones could also go skating on the frozen river.

So the circle of seasons closed, each with its colourful beauty, its joys and adventures. Thus we lived our lives, close to nature, for many generations, and then, suddenly, there came the end. The Jews were cruelly torn out of their surroundings, in a way unprecedented in human history. The land is there, the landscape is there, the sun shines as always - only the Jews are no more and only our memories are left.

What the Town Was Like. These peculiar surroundings also produced a special human type. I don't know why, hut even our dialect of Yiddish was different from that of Makov, only 19 km. The situation of Rozhan on the main road from Warsaw to Russia made it one of the strategic points along the river Narew to protect, which a string of subterranean forts had been built as far back as the days of the Tsars.

That's why Rozhan was destroyed and had to be rebuilt after each of the many wars that swept over the country. This fact is well documented. It was a farming region, partly wooded, and the Polish population lived mainly on agriculture, cattle raising, fishing and forestry and allied professions. Rozhan belonged to the district of Makov-Mazovietzk.

Farming practices were rather extensive, backward and holdings small and fragmented. I can't remember many large-scale farms in the vicinity. Communications to our town were on poor roads, while the villages lacked paved roads altogether. The nearest railway station, at a distance of 14 km. The whole region was poor, had no industries, no regular communications and as a result lacked modern comforts, and the standard of living was low. The town of Rozhan, built in the midst of such backwardness, was backward too.

There was no running water. Every household would get its supply from one of the many wells in town. Only one pump was installed in the middle of the market square and it was the livelihood of the water carriers, who would supply the householders with their buckets borne on a wooden yoke.

Electricity was introduced only in the mid 20's, when a municipal power station was built. And yet, Rozhan served as a supply center of consumer goods for the vicinity.

Most of thPolish inhabitants were partly enin agriculture, apart from their urban occupations. As there was a vital necessity of crafts and tradesmen, a special Jewish form of economy developed over the ages, which was largely determined Album) the historic causality that ruled Jewish life everywhere in Poland, and the professional and social structure of this part of the population.

At the outbreak of the Second World War. To prevent the Jews from securing a majority of seats in the municipality the Polish authorities annexed a nof villages to the municipal area, thus increasing the number of Polish voters. Professions were varied; there were Jewish tailor, shoemakers, saddlers and upholsterers, carpenters, tinsmiths, locksmiths and blacksmiths, wheelwrights, hatters, bakers, butchers and all kinds of other craftsmen; also teamsters, porters, drivers and so on.

Substantial merchants there were few. Most of the trade was in the hands of small shopkeepers with their tiny and crowded premises; grocers, haberdashers, and clothiers, ironmongers and stores of building materials, hardware and household goods, small eating places and sort drink stands. There were two flourmills: one power-driven and one a windmill. A meat processing plant in the village of Orshobova was outside the municipal area and constituted an "empire" in its own right.

Craftsmen were organized in their guilds. Most of them were independeand employed no more than two-three apprentices or hired men, hired for a "period" or term either from Passover to Sukkoth or from Sukkoth to Passover. Only much later, after a prolonged struggle, did these tired men secure an eight-hour day. The apprentice's dream was either to get started on a shop of his own or to emigrate. Economic conditions for artisans were hard and to eke out a living they had to work dawn to dusk.

Competition was keen and as time went on there was administrative chicanery. The craftsmen had to adhere to a national craft guild and to take out an official license issued on the strength of a certificate of proficiency Karta Rzemieslnicza.

To become an independent craftsman the apprentice had to pass an examination and to receive a certificate. The intention was clearly anti-Semitic: to create administrative difficulties for the Jewish craftsmen, who dominated many professions, and to encourage Polish craftsmen whose numbers were increasing. Artisans marketed their produce themselves and there were among them a number of substantial householders. Most of them were orthodox and their public activities centered around the synagogues, of which there were two in town: the Big and the Small one, standing next to each other.

The big synagogue was erected on the site of the old one, destroyed during the First World War. Its construction proceeded slowly and took many years. Because of its size and height it could not be used in winter and then people prayed in the little synagogue that was well heated.

In a small town, a synagogue was not only a place to pray, it also served as a community center, where meetings used to be held before elections, where public events took place and where speakers from abroad would address audiences. The small synagogue served, in fact, as a center for the artisans, who held their meetings there. Apart from that craftsmen used to come for prayer meetings to our house, the home of Bender. Here also records were kept of events regarding this hardworking community, but they were destroyed during the First World War.

Most important among the institutions of mutual help was the "Gmilus Hassodim", which extended interest free loans to its members. Its manager was Fishel Gogol, who ran a repair shop for bicycles and sewing machines. He held a position of honour in the organization of craftsmen and his main concern was with professional and social questions.

This organization was politically neutral and people of various affiliations were active in it. Most of the shops clustered around the quadrangular market place in the middle of town. Some were to be found in the side streets too, of which I remember the butcher's lane.

Most shops were small and the choice of items limited. In the absence of wholesalers, the shopkeepers and traders had to bring their merchandise directly from Warsaw or order it through a middleman.

Communication with Warsaw was by bus run by Jews, or by train from the station at Pasheky. Merchandise was also delivered to the shopkeepers and traders by motor truck. Towards the end of the 's when the anti-Semitic government intensified its economic pressure on the Jews, it nationalized the Jewish bus lines and transferred them to a State monopoly.

To defend their livelihood the Jews, who had been engaged in traffic, introduced the horse drawn "omnibus", a closed wagon that could seat 20 passengers, to compete with the nationalizePolish buses. The time for the trip now took hours instead of three, but in those days, time for the Jews was not money. They had plenty of it and, when the danger of economic strangulation increased, this inconvenience had to be borne.

The omnibus would go to Warsaw twice a week and there had to be stops to feed the horses. The trip was anything but fun, people were crowded and seats uncomfortable.

The road was in poor condition and at the end of the trip you would arrive at Warsaw or Rozhan thoroughly shaken and exhausted. On the other hand there were advantages: the journey was cheap and it gave you the feeling of "victory". You had proved you could do without the government bus! Economic activities centered around the monthly fairs and market-days, held twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays, unless they collided with a Jewish holiday, which took precedence, as under the primitive trade relations that prevailed from time immemorial, all economic activities had to reckon with Jewish customs: without Jews there could be neither market nor fair days.

The fairs were held every four weeks, on Tuesday. On regular market days the peasants would bring their produce to own and buy those necessities which they did not produce themselves. Here Jews and Gentiles came into initial contact.

Jewish families could buy their wants of farm products, while the peasants purchased from the Jews salt, sugar, kerosene etc. All this took place in the market square and most of the trade in the region was transacted here. Fair days were quite an event, for which the Jews would prepare a store of goods, products both of handicrafts and of industry.

Preparations began on the eve. Artisans and traders would arrive in their covered wagons from all the neighbouring townships, take up their places and begin to erect their booths for display.

There was no organization or planning but, it came to be that booths arranged themselves in rows by the nature of the merchandise they had to offer: tailors alongside tailors, shoemakers with shoemakers and so on.

It must have been an ancient tradition. Noise and commotion filled the town. In the market square hundreds or even thousands of people would he jostling each other: sellers and buyers and the curious.

Booths stood close together. From early morning you could hear the noise: sellers would cry out their merchandise and buyers bargained. In all that turmoil there was also room for acquaintances and relatives to meet; in all a colourful, lively and joyous occasion.

Apart from the market square, another place at the edge of the town would be full to overflowing on fair day: it was the livestock market horse fair where horses, cattle, pigs lehavdil were traded, where animals were also brought for mating. The noise was tremendous too, but of a different nature, as it included the whinnies, lowings and squeakings as well as the voice of human beings.

Towards evening turmoil would subside but you couldstill hear drunken goyim in the streets, who had celebrated their bargains in the pub on the way back to their wagons.

Jews would hurry home, as soon as the trading was over to avoid meeting a drunken Pole. For the Jews this was an important day and the turnover and profit made at the fair had to keep you going for weeks. And so it went on from one market day to the next, from on fair to the other, imbued with an outspoken Jewish character.

Sundays and Christian holidays were official days of rest and shops had to be closed by law, but trade was carried on in spof this. The Gentiles, who came to pray at the big church in town, found the way to effect some of their purchases on Sundays as w. They could quench their thirst at the Jewish pub and, when full with meat and drink, they were apt to become a nuisance.

As time went on, assaulting Jews became almost a regular phenomenon. In addition, soldiers from the barracks across the river would turn up in town on Sundays and Christian holidays and they, too, took their share in the drinking, licentiousness and the "fun" of Jew baiting. Polish holidays left a bitter taste and in the period before they became a real nightmare. And Jews were afraid of going out into the streets. This was true for the Polish national holidays as well; Independence Day on the 3rd May Constitution Day when soldiers would parade in the streets, accompanied by the military band or the band the local fire brigade.

Houses had to be decorated with the national flag and otherwise, and the Jews complied without relish. We knew that at the end of thidemonstration of force by the powthat be, we would be left withthe nagging question in our hearts: what next? We would watch these demonstrations of national and political independence with hidden envy, dreaming of our own country, Eretz-Israel, of independence, of a Jewish State and a Jewish army. Only on such occasions would the Jewish character of the town be obliterated; and for us they were not days of celebration but of fear and of sorrow.

Only on Jewish holidays did we breathe a festive atmosphere. Jewish Day-to-Day Life. On Friday afternoons the peasants, who had come to the market, left town and the quiet atmosphere of the Sabbath spread everywhere, instead of the noise and the hubbub that had been reigning only a short while ago.

Shmuel-Jankel, the synagogue janitor shammes walks about and at every corner he announces that the Sabbath is beginning and calls the Jews to prayer. Who doesn't remember his booming voice: "Shabbes! Come to prayer! Shops close one after the other. Jews are returning from the Mikveh, clean and radiant. Those who do not frequent the Mikveh make their preparations at home. The sun has set and candles can be seen in every window.

Jews hurry to the synagogue or to other places, where prayer meetings are held, to greet the Sabbath and to pray together. At the synagogue the atmosphere is festive. Some really come to pray, others just to meet, but even if you don't pray, if you are not observant, you are part and parcel of the community and you feel that this is the day of rest after a week's toil and trouble.

The meeting of people begins at the synagogue. The week's news is told; social, political and regarding the world at large.

There is no topic that isn't discussed at the synagogue. After prayer people go home for the festive evening meal and for the Kiddush on the wine and the homemade bread, for a meal of fish and meat. For the young Sabbath Eve begins only after the repast at the weekly meetings in the movements and parties, in circles and groups, lectures and performances.

The same holds true for the holidays. Rest was complete according to traditional Jewish custom. Everything is closed in town; no need for laws or ordinances. No Jew would venture to open his shop on the Sabbath and on this day you couldn't see any Gentiles.

It was the Jews who gave the town its character and here I would like to expatiate a little on the peculiarities of the Jewish holidays as I saw and remember them. Passover is approaching and with It the time to bake Matzes. A few weeks earlier ovens have been tried out in a number of places and neighbours organize in groups for mutual help. The children, too, sense the event as they take their share in the preparations from the baking of Matzes to the burning of the Hometz, for which a special place has been allocated opposite the Mikveh on an empty lot near the street that leads down to the river.

It's there where bonfires were made with the straw of old mattresses that had to be renewed for the occasion. In every house and courtyard people are busy, making crockery kosher with heated stones, cleaning and scrubbing.

Even the walls are whitewashed. Nature, too, is making preparations and the smells of spring are in the air. The sun is growing warmer; the new green appears and adds to the festive atmosphere. It is the celebration of spring and of freedom. And here is the Pentecost. I remember the milk-fare one used to have and the houses adorned with greens and reeds that we would carry home from afar or buy frothe Goyim, Street Along The Cemetery - Punished - Influence Exerted!

Effects: (CDr, who knew Jewish customs. I have special memories of the High Holidays. It is already autumn and the weather is no longer bright. On New Year's Day the big Synagogue would be full. Whoever had a permanent seat insists upon his rights for himself and for his relations, since there was not room enough for all the inhabitants.

Therefore Jews would carry chairs from their homes to sit down on, so as not to miss the prayer as sung by the Hazanim, best of all by the Hazan and Shohet Freedman, the Radzinower.

Yom-Kippur was felt in town days beforehand, when people brought their "Kapores" chickens who were then slaughtered on the holy day's eve. The atmosphere of sanctification descended on Rozhan well before the evening and after the last meal before fasting people went their way to the synagogue - or private places of worship Shtiblach - everybody went.

It became the custom to collect gifts for the J. Members of "Hashomer Hatzair" served at the collection plate for the J. With reverence I remember the Kol-Nidre nights at the Synagogue, bright with electric lights and with the candles in memory of the dead, which add to the solemnity of the Day of Atonement. It all goes to the heart from the first words of prayer to the weeping of the women behind their partition, that mingles with the clouded and trembling voice of the rabbi who intones Kol-Nidre and the congregation that responds.

Yom Kippur, too, had something special in our town. First of all, I must mention the three ritual slaughterers, who on this day acted as cantors - each according to his ability. They would divide the task among them. Itche-Meir Elbik began with hymns, Haim-Shlomo Hatzkowitch took the morning prayer, and the chief Hazan, Freedman the Radzinower, with his strong and sweet voice excelled in Mussaph.

Even boys from "Hashomer Hatzair" joined in the impromptu choir that helped the Hazan at the climax of the service-Ha'avoda. In my mind this was their finest hour in the Synagogue. There was something strange about it, but here it was; maybe their feeling were not religious, but they wanted to be part of and share with the whole community the festive atmosphere in those sublime and bright surroundings from Kol-Nidre to Ne'eela.

Only a few days later came Sukkes. In every courtyard the hammers are pounding as the huts go up; branches to cover them are brought in and palm fronds Lulovim and Ethrogim, which the Shammes carries round, so that those who cannot afford this expensive citrus fruit can at least say the blessing over it at the synagogue. For the last day "Hoshanes" are ready - green willow branches, which you beat during prayer until the leaves fall off.

Most of the Jews in our town did their best to keep up Jewish cus, although modern life was already the. And so Jewish life went on from one holiday to the next as of old in the midst of changing times, while religions and worldly habits existed side by side, in conflict and then compromise.

It was the younger generation, and above all a strong "Hashomer Hatzair" movement that brought the Zionist revival to our town and with it a new dimension to Jewish life. This revival of national feeling became imperative, as anti-Semitism and the economic steps to strangle the very existence of the Jews made life increasingly difficult. The "Owszem" became the official policy ofthe "Sanatzia" party, which ruled the country to the outbreak of the war. Economic boycott of Jews became practically legal as the"Sanatzia" tried to vie with the ND.

National Democratswho preached physical violence against the Jews in order to force them to leave the country. So a gloom was cast over our lives; the joy of our holidays was dimmed, cares multiplied because of the openly anti-Semitic policy of the authorities, which was in turn influenced by what was happening in Hitler's neighbouring Germany. Before long the world would be plunged into a terrible blood bath and we, the Jews were to be its first victims.

Jewish Education and Schools. Jewish education, which had been essentially religious in keeping with the general attitude in town, now also began to undergo changes in the direction of worldliness, which I experienced as I greup. Even as a child I felt this struggle between the religious and the worldly trend. First I went to the "Heder", changing them from one term to the other. Mendel Abba's, Raphael Hirsh and others.

Lessons in the "Heder" were routine and boring; the teachers were mostly old men without any pedagogic training or wider views on education. Children were punished for the slightest fault, as was the traditional rule under the backward and outmoded system of education.

The only occasion for relaxation was in the traditional games such as Metta played with a ball and stickPalant played with a stick and a small piece of wood and the bike. No wonder children were not happy in their boring "Heder", while outside a different. More liberal and more progressive kind of education was beckoning. Meanwhile, compulsory education was introduced in Poland and knowledge of the Polish language and culture became an indispensable condition of existence and advancement.

This tipped the scales with my orthodox parents and they agreed to send me to a non-orthodox Jewish elementary school, where the pupils were sitting with bare heads and the language of instruction was Polish. And yet the school was Jewish to all intents and purposes: pupils, teachers and the headmaster and the whole atmosphere were distinctly Jewish.

The buildings, that housed the school, belonged to a well known Jewish family by the name of Segal and the Polish authorities had sequestered them, when the family left town at the time of the Bolshevik invasion.

This was the first opening to enable the Jewish child and adolescent to escape the traditional, exclusively religious education, to receive a general education, which also was a co-educational one. I still remember the curious stares when a boy sat down next to a girl and both were embarrassed.

At noon when lessons ended, I went straight back to the "Heder" till evening. The "Heder" had lost all interest for me and the pressure exerted by my parents to go on with traditional studies created great tension. For the sake of peace and quiet I did my best to fulfil the demands of the two conflicting authorities, which were educating me, while my bias was clearly in favour of the worldly school.

But here, too developments intervened. Because of the demographic structure of our town it was absolutely necessary to maintain an elementary school for Jewish children only with its headmaster and staff.

Together with it there existed a purely Polish school, not only for the children of Rozhan, but also for those of the surrounding villages, and for some time the two schools existed side by side without friction. However, with the rising tide of anti-Semitism trouble was brewing. Lessons in the Polish language were forced upon the "Heder" in order to teach the orthodox children, who were kept out of the elementary school, the elements of Polish culture.

This was in fact an agreed measure, designed to comply with the compulsory education act. But matters were not allowed to rest at this. The anti-Semites did not like the fact of a virtually independent general but in reality Jewish - institution and an order was issued to transfer pupils of the two higher grades - the 6th and the 7th - to the Polish school and to mix them with the Gentile children.

This, of course, raised the question of classes on the Sabbath - a possibility unthinkable for any Jew. Ferment seized us all and we decided to declare a strike. A public campaign was waged and a delegation of Jewish parents went to plead with the educational authorities of the district town in order to the evil and ask that the Jewish school might continue to function as before.

However, the delegates came back empty handed and in shame. I can remember my father, one of the delegates, on his return from Makov. Tears were choking his voice as be told us there was nothing left for us to do but to swallow another bitter pill. So we went to school only five days a week and this created great difficulties.

Open anti-Semitism among both teachers and pupils was growing from day to day. Our class teacher, one Panzshinsky, baited us with provocative questions. To this day my classmates remember a debate I had with him on the situation of Polish Jews following the anti-Jewish economic measures of Grabski finance minister in the 's.

In the end, when he no longer knew how to answer my complaints about discrimination against Polish Jews, be shouted at me in wrath "Hold your tongue! You talk like a communist! Of course I fell silent.

But then I was called before the headmaster, Zibbeisky, in the presence of a priest. My father, too, was called in, so that he might hear what a rebellious son be had.

There was tremendous excitement in the class and I was stirred to the depths of my soul. Queer theory extends that even further. I work from multiple theories. Identities are inscribed by the person in and on the body as much as the cultures, economies, and societies surrounding them see also Bell et al.

While bodies contain qualities that are not easily erased, bodies are also produced and therefore malleable in some ways, through the fissures that open up and point to possibilities of difference within the regulatory structures and discourses of our daily lives Butler The geographer Lise Nelson criticizes Butler for fixing and exhausting identities in specific spacetimes.

Lesbians and queer women I interviewed always found a way to resist and move forward by breaking through the crack between binaries. Together, performativity theory and theories of the visceral body account for the social-biological body, for a body is never distinct as either. Space can be similarly recognized in the material and the imagined, the social and the emotional—i. Such performed and visceral bodies are never one identity or another, but rather the intersection of multiple standpoints that are always being produced.

Legal and critical race theorist Kimberle Williams Crenshaw suggests using intersectionality, whereby you draw upon all your identities gender, sexual, race, class, ability, age, etc. Feminist geography similarly encourages situated experience and knowledge in producing knowledge see Katz b.

Geographer Matthew Wilson suggests that the cyborg can be used as a model for human life and spaces that is constantly being and becoming, an ontology that fits strongly within the fragmented and fleeting aspects of queer theory. Delany uses his own cruising experiences to theorize the distinction between contact and networking.

For him these spaces afford the production of actual community and connection in the form of cross-class and cross-race contact, versus the distanced practice of networking.

Queer geography then becomes the ability to make what one can of life, where one can, and incorporating all aspects of oneself. The body in space spans many scales, from the global to the intimate see Pratt and Rosner Recent and important debates to consider as you pore through the experiences of the artists in the very different places of this book relate to the scale of the family and the nation-state. Halberstam describes how LGBTQ lives do not run in the patterns and paces of heterolives but have distinct social and economic conditions, including patterns of mating, childbearing, home buying, and retiring.

With women making seventyseven cents on the dollar in the U. The atrocities in Israel-Palestine illuminate how queer bodies are not refused but rather are used. The current claim to cosmopolitanism is pinkwashing, which entails claiming the beneficial treatment of LGBTQ people while ignoring atrocities against other groups. The forgetting of our history and our oppressions can be as violent as the invisibilization and violence done to other groups, and much healing can be done by interceding not only in the fight for social justice but spatial justice as well in the ways places and people are represented and recognized.

The last and perhaps most exciting use of queer theory and space is the way queer theory makes the seeming oppositions of space into mutually constructed places. An ever popular topic is the concern over public and private. Michael Warner proposed the notion of counterpublics, which spans those othered, queered publics that refuse heteronormativities. For lesbians and queer women in my research, claiming the streets and being visibly queer is part of their history of radical activism and radical being-doing to resist homophobia.

Feminist geographer of sexualities Kath Browne has proposed the notion of genderism to describe how not only transphobia fear of genders that queer or shift the binary male-female but the regulation of bodies into binary genders takes place within public and private spaces in varying ways. In interviewing nontraditional-gender-presenting women, they described how the private space of the bathroom becomes a space for public regulation in their regulation or judgment.

A dimension of geography not yet queered but that I want to introduce here is the mutually influential concepts of time-space compression and time-space expansion. Time-space compression is geographer. In my work these two ideas are not merely opposing or mutually constructing but offer up other possible readings of shifts in spacetime.

There are varying forms of movement in, by, and through space. How can we encompass these multiplicities and refuse being used by the commodifying and fetishizing processes of capitalism? One such process is the way gentrification uses and is used by LGBTQ people in order to create territories and spaces of their own for safety and refuge, all the while displacing poorer neighborhoods of, most often, people of color, and, over time, being displaced by later waves of wealthier heterosexuals and LGBTQ people see Knopp ; Doan One recent inspiring response to more multiple forms of understanding space and time is the work on autonomous or anticapitalist spaces.

For example, the geographers Gavin Brown and Jenny Pickerill propose accounting for how the affective and emotional aspects of space shape protest and resistance. It is all these ideas, concepts, and experiences that inform and incite my work and everyday life.

I am still thinking and working with the stories of my participants. The work in this book from such different places, Copenhagen, Beirut, and Tijuana, helps me to open up those stories further, and to make change, in ourselves and the world. What does it mean for Camilla Tved to map a personal history of violence against lesbians in Copenhagen?

What are the ramifications of writing but not picturing sex in Beirut as Akram Zaatari counters? Globally, more work remains to be done to account for queer difference, especially around race and class within the context of different places. Queer Geographies as a selection of experiences is one of those large steps forward to offer us ways to imagine and enact social and spatial justice, whether on the streets in protest, in the gallery and library with artworks, or in bed with theory or something even more exciting.

I very much invite you to join in these questions and places, and often. Fifth Come and Gone and Going On In these four moments of coming to grips with queering space and spatializing geography, I have shared my story: a gendered perspective of and life in queer space.

The worry that we do not get the queer or understand what letters to use in our alphabet soup of a community must be overcome—at times, lgbtqitsaa is too much to say let alone but we must try.

Queering space and spatializing the queer are mutual practices that are ongoing, exciting, and can and must be embraced from multiple standpoints to effect the change they hope to create. While my own work sits with urban environments, these ideas and concepts cross scales, borders, and boundaries and can go wherever you wish to take them—or at least farther than the world may let us imagine for now.

I hope this essay leaves you in the midst of these possibilities with the tools to join me and so many others in this work. To that end I provide a works cited to the materials I mentioned in this essay, as well as a series of recommended readings at the end of this book that fuel me and can maybe serve to light your fire as well. Altman, Irwin, and Setha M. Place Attachment.

New York: Springer. Bell, David J. Mapping Desire: Geographies of Sexualities. New York: Routledge. Berlant, Lauren, and Michael Warner. New York: Monthly Review Press. Binnie, Jon.

Binnie, Jon, and Gill Valentine. Brown, Gavin, and Jenny Pickerill. Browne, Kath. Burgess, Ernest, Robert E. Park, and Roderic McKenzie. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. Chauncey, George. New York: Basic Books. Crenshaw, Kimberle. Crenshaw, Neil Gotanda, and Garry Peller, — New York: The New Press.

Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities. Delany, Samuel R. Doan, Petra L. Duggan, Lisa. Russ Castronovo and Dana D. Nelson, — Faderman, Lillian. New York: Penguin. Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality, Vol. New York: Vintage. Gieseking, Jen Jack. Michelle Addison and Yvette Taylor, New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Gray, Mary. Gregory, Derek. Geographical Imaginations. Malden, MA: WileyBlackwell. Grosz, Elizabeth. Beatriz Colomina, — Halberstam, Judith. Haraway, Donna J. Harvey, David. Social Justice and the City. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. Katz, Cindi.

Kennedy, Elizabeth, and Madeline Davis. Knopp, Lawrence. Amy Gluckman and Betsy Reed, 45— Knopp, Lawrence, and Michael Brown. Kunstler, James Howard. New York: Free Press. Lefebvre, Henri. The Production of Space. Puar, Jasbir. Rich, Adrienne. Said, Edward W. Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky.

Epistemology of the Closet. Warner, Michael. Michael Warner and Social Text Collective, vii—xxxi. Publics and Counterpublics. New York: Zone Books. Weston, Kath. Wilson, Elizabeth. Wilson, Matthew W. Wirth, Louis. Manalansan, IV. Mills, C. The Sociological Imagination. New York: Grove Press. Nelson, Lise. Pain, Rachel. Pain, Rachel, and Susan J.

Fear: Critical Geopolitics and Everyday Life. Surrey, UK: Ashgate. Pratt, Geraldine, and Victoria Rosner, eds. New York: Columbia University Press. Proshansky, Harold, Anne K. Fabian, and Robert Kaminoff. Her prayer found gods to hear; both bodies merge And one form covered both. As when a gardener sets a graft and sees Growth seal the join, and develop as one. In Lebanon, as elsewhere, but particularly in Lebanon, a zero-public-infrastructure policy reigns, crushing at every street corner any fleeting feelings of citizenship.

But you can do other things—almost every other thing. Smoke in an elevator, steal money, kill, and roam hysterically from party to after-party.

In this city, there is a sense that everything is possible, which is the equivalent of nothing being possible.

In a loop, the city swings that pas de deux. Bobo was hosting a Sari brunch in a subterranean rooftop that connected the parking lot to the thirtyfirst floor of a war-ravaged building where industrial diamond-shaped pools were filled with chlorinated pink champagne. A friend, F. He just wanted to get his mind off what had happened the day before, after he got arrested while photographing a flickering neon sign flanking the Beirut highway.

In a room with gray walls covered with illegible doodles, F. The smoke clouding the narrow walls came from red Marlboros or Lucky Strikes. With throbbing hands, a young police officer gave F. Gay-friendly locales and cruising paths are well known in Beirut but are not structurally protected.

Such spaces are tolerated until, for whatever reason, things change. In Augustthirty-six men were arrested at the Plaza cinema, a.

The Plaza cinema exists within the city, as a striated space where encounters that are not yet subject to neoliberal lifestyles or dumb bourgeois sociality can still exist. The thirty-six men arrested at the Plaza for suspected homosexuality were subjected to anal probes performed with an egg, which, inserted in the anus, is meant to prove anal intercourse. This medieval-like practice has been publicly condemned by Human Rights Watch and by the medical profession in Lebanon.

This unfortunate episode was quickly picked up by international media, as well as numerous gay sites, most of which paralleled such practices with the presence of the Hezbollah Party in Lebanon.

How can one think of ways, in a context such as Lebanon, to structurally shift discrimination and to rethink the relationship between lifestyles and structural powers? Politics is precisely where realms meet and intersect, generating new perceptions literally, what Arendt called the space of appearance where citizens physically appear to one another. How do these junctures manifest in the city? How can different realms meet, albeit momentarily? The queer geography workshop in Beirut gathered artists, activists, geographers, designers, and dancers.

The versatility of the group was its strength. During the workshop other walks took place. Cruising itineraries were performed but not documented Richard Kahwagialong with a performance on the economy of the female body in the public space.

The passage from the private to the public to the semipublic was explored through the structure of the workshop itself. We all gathered every day at the Sanayeh House to discuss issues of public space and sexuality, watch films, and share massage skills.

During one screening, Akram Zaatari joined the group with Ali Cherri. The debate following the video projection is published in this book. We invited Akram Zaatari to share his experience retroactively, three years after the screening and the panel. In a way, Let It Be overtly flirted with structural constraints and limitations. Although it was February I recall that we were all wearing summer clothes. The point of the meeting was to share our concluding thoughts or experiences; the public sphere and the public realms, activism and art, parties and after-parties, the private and the semiprivate, cruising paths and industrial swimming pools were mentioned too.

But mostly, we were just sitting there. The garden, a traditional public space, reflected a more acute image of the group. The fact that we appeared to one another that day, physically, shifted the stage of the public sphere back to the city. Video still from What I spot becomes a portal of entering a train of thought, produced after the workshop in Beirut by Chinook, Beirut workshop.

Photo by Mathias Kryger. It takes place every year and a half in Beirut. He is driving and I am sitting next to him, sometimes I reach to his side and put my hand in his, other times he reaches to my side and puts his hand in mine. We roam, we talk, and we look. Holding hands becomes a risk, a secret act, fun for being dangerous.

We hold and un-hold, depending on where we are and on who and what is next to us. The holding is interrupted, always. The car as a gay space is constantly vulnerable and exposed. It is a temporary clandestine and paranoiac space for as long as the hands are together. We choose to un-hold. Revolt does happen every once in a while when we keep the hands together. It feels like resisting, like making a point and taking a risk.

The Thought of Sex The problematic presentation of Let It Be in Beirut Akram Zaatari The representation of sex in mainstream cinema has been mostly restricted to suggestive imagery, ellipses, and symbols. Restrictions are particularly severe in conservative societies where the laws forbid the production and circulation of sexually explicit material. Let It Be presented films and videos produced outside the film industry, made by artists and filmmakers who imagine, describe, or comment on different aspects of sex, in more or less explicit ways.

These works function as personal reflections that reveal the critical concerns. Short films and videos from the s and the early s were presented in a two-session presentation. Additionally, the program paid tribute to William E. Jones and dedicated one evening to his work, which is centred on studying the porn industry and reediting pornographic films into critical, poetic, and narrative constructions.

The program also commissioned the Lebanese artist Ali Cherri to produce a video work entitled You. The choice of developing such a program on sex evolved from a longtime personal interest in the topic. As a filmmaker, I created two video documentaries about sex practices among men in Lebanon. InI made Majnounak Crazy for Youin which I recorded the narratives of young men describing their sexual encounters with women in full detail.

I was interested in how those men imagined themselves as the heroes in stories of sexual conquest. Four years later, in. None of these works showed any explicit sex; rather, they evoked sexual experiences through detailed description. My research and presentation of the works in the Let It Be program was stimulated by a proposal by an activist friend, Mazen Khaled, who wanted to involve me in initiating a gay and lesbian film festival in Beirut.

Khaled was pursuing a collaboration between Helem a Beirutbased organization acting for the rights of gay men and women and Ashkal Alwan. Implicit in his suggestion was a desire to see a gay event incorporated into an art platform, a proposition that interested Ashkal Alwan. My first reaction was that Beirut indeed needed to address public and legal issues related to homosexuality. However, I questioned whether a packaged event such as a gay and lesbian film festival would be a good way to open up this dialogue.

Today, many activists, thinkers, and individuals consider Article an offense to modern society and to human nature. Furthermore, the law still denies Lebanese citizens the right to have a civil marriage. In such a social and political climate, I believed any program on homosexuality had to address a larger picture. I was eager to share the videos I watched while working on this program with close friends and fellow Lebanese artists.

I have always found it strange how. I conceived this program as an encounter with an audience, almost in the form of a site-specific work, or an interruption in an event that comes more and more to look like an art biennial.

Home Works has gained exceptional international recognition in the past ten years and has provided my generation of Lebanese artists with an important platform in which to think, to meet, and to present artworks. Most importantly, Home Works provides an opportunity to sincerely question forms of presentation in relation to where we live, what we have been through, and what we have learned about art and our forms of production.

Given its spirit of openness and experimentation, it was inevitable that a discussion about highly debated subjects, such as homosexuality, would reach that platform, in that form. Having been, for a long time, part of political turmoil, militancy and art have always had a productive conflicting tension. We were interested in critical distance, and our work was more interested in questions. At the time, many of us questioned where we stood as artists facing an unjust invasion.

The organizers of Home Works asked themselves many times whether or not that edition of the forum should take place. Had we been activists, things could have been much easier, as we would have just cancelled the event, and gone on the streets—but we were not. We believed that it was our duty to continue doing what we had to do.

While witnessing the daily hysterical activist demonstrations on the streets of Beirut, many of us felt we were—and still are—very removed from what was happening. Many of us also felt that the critical margin in which we operated and expressed ourselves was fragile.

The invasion was the first in a series of political events where the same feeling of unease, and uncertainty, kept reasserting itself: the brutal assassination of former prime minister Rafic Hariri inthe Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the summer ofand most recently during the pseudocoup led by Hezbollah on May 7, This is at least.

My second concern centred on the ability of an international art platform to transcend the limits imposed on it by its location. In the case of Home Works, that is its political situation in Lebanon. There are laws that impose many restrictions on the presentation of artworks, particularly theatre and film works. These legal practices sometimes restrict the circulation of artworks and the mobility of artists by setting impossible conditions.

Such works, however, remain impossible to present at an art platform or cinema. Even though his films have been screened at least four times on private national television, no art institution has received permission to invite Avi Mograbi to come to Lebanon or even screen his work.

Obviously, the laws are way behind lived reality. In this context, I worked towards the presentation of the Let It Be program, albeit discreetly. The program was not intended to offend, nor confront, nor provoke anyone. The program did not intend to hijack the platform on which it was offered; though I concede that maybe it sought to measure or expose the limits of that platform in terms of the issues in question.

Despite the full support of Ashkal Alwan, the responsibility of organizing such an expansive public event and the fear of possible conflicts with the censors and local authorities proved to be more powerful than the desire to raise the issues in question. This is why the event that I had imagined was shaped by the institutional, legal, and social constraints of showing work in Lebanon.

Ashkal Alwan and I were aware that we were breaking a law by organizing the public representation of sexual acts on-screen, including nudity and the exhibition of genitalia. We were also aware that many of the films included explicit sex, and therefore would never be granted a screening license if presented to the censorship office. Throughout the research phase, we had to rely on friends traveling in and out.

They helped send screening copies back and forth to their distributors during the selection process. I was lucky to participate in a three-month residency in France inwhich allowed us to speed up this process, and also allowed me to bring screening copies of the films to Lebanon.

We were aware that we were breaking a law, but we were also sure that we were doing it for the right reasons. We agreed that many of the censorship laws regarding film production and diffusion were becoming obsolete and needed to be changed. The presentation of Let It Be came out of an unspoken urge and a later discourse that developed in Beirut. I see it very much as a product of all those laws and constraints that we are calling to change.

I was aware that I was taking a risk with this presentation, but never saw it as a provocation. This is why I had to be very flexible throughout the planning process, first letting the proposal settle in, then adjusting to the constraints outlined above. By doing that, I was no longer playing the role of the individual artist, but that of a mediator trying to find a place for the program within the auspices of an institution.

It was extremely important to me that an art institution host this show and defend it. From the moment we decided to conceive the program as part of an institution, it became clear that it could only happen within certain limits.

Since we knew we were breaking the law, we also knew that we could not announce the details of the program unless we were prepared for a confrontation—and we were not. Yet I admit I also felt the program was being strangled by the political situation. First, all details about the films were removed from the publicity materials, which ambiguously announced the program without listing any of the titles. Next came the problem of finding a screening location.

The less graphic works would be presented in the main theatre, and the rest would be screened in a more discreet location. I opted for the second alternative in an effort to preserve maximum visibility. The initial order in which I organized the works had to be changed.

A few months after presenting Let It Be in Home Works, I realized that such a presentation in Beirut could never have pretended to be liberated from the general constraints of presenting artworks in Lebanon—particularly because Home Works is such an expansive public event. In the absence of laws that allow cultural events a large margin of freedom, the psychology of fear will always play a role in shaping culture and the arts.

This presentation included works by William E. Transportation was arranged to take people from the Madina Theater in Hamra to the industrial suburb of Karantina, where buses waited until the screening was over to drive visitors back to Hamra. This sounded awkward, but things could have been worse. Happily, this was not the case. I still think of this program as one made specifically for Beirut, and yet at the same time, it did not fit Beirut at all.

This disjuncture made me feel uncomfortable. In the end, I was left with even more questions than when I started about where we come from, how we think of sex in Lebanon, our education and how we can activate an art platform such as Home Works. Beirut, November Panel with William E.

It may never be presented again, or it may develop into something else. I would love to hear comments, particularly regarding this presentation in Beirut. Does Beirut need something like this? Can we do anything with it? Can we expand it? Are there possible contradictions maybe in the program, perhaps contradictions between my thoughts and what you saw; because we do interpret things differently, so please give me your feedback.

Mohamed Soueid is a video artist and a writer. He wrote three books. This is his latest, which was published two or three years ago by Dar Al-Adaab in Beirut. Simultaneous translation to English is available. Yet they are sometimes extremely poetic, very powerful. Why is this restricted to text and not images?

There are laws that regulate the circulation of sexually explicit images, but not texts. Laws were primarily made to control pornography, and do not differentiate how images are consumed, therefore do not differentiate between art and pornography, and do not apply to text forms.

Is it a contradiction? Are there lapses in the code of censors? This is why I wanted to read these recent texts for you. Suddenly inspiration came to her and she found the idea for her film. All she needed was my help. She was right. In our previous trips we had limited our search to houses that were abandoned voluntarily by their owners for fear of getting hurt, and had neglected the buildings that had housed refugees and those that had been occupied and controlled by armed militias.

She said that the desired location was within reach. I asked. She used her tongue again as if a mounting euphoria were taking hold of her to the joyful beat of her trapping her film.

Throughout my service in the ranks of the Forces of Salah Eddin, I neglected to investigate what my military. It was a five-story building the windows of which we had barricaded with fortified concrete and sandbags. She put me in a difficult position, embarrassing and unexpected.

I went mute, and when I tried to answer, I stuttered and tripped on the stairs I was climbing with her looking for suitable apartments to film. I took advantage of my stuttering and tripping to change the conversation. I asked her to hand me the bag and asked what was in it. She said it was some books and videos made by combatants during the war and that she intended to use them in her forthcoming film, as well as a number of voluminous historically traditional cultural books that included Arabic dictionaries and Abbasid poetry collections.

I hung the camera around my neck and accompanied her search for an appropriate location to shoot. She asked me about the location of my military post. I took her to the last floor. The name of the occupant written by hand on the doorbell attracted her attention. George Hamra. She said it was probable that he was somehow related to the Hamra family. She told me that Hamra Street took its name from his family. It seemed she had found the first suitable location for her film.

She asked me to hand her the camera and the lens pack. She placed my Kalashnikov between my legs. I opened the bag, gave her the camera and equipment. She tried to open the door. It opened. She crouched and swayed, enamored with taking pictures.

She photographed the spacious living room through the crack of the door. The snapshots kept coming and my head turned in a moving whirl of still images. Everything spoke of the stillness of life. The emptiness of the house terrified me.

I was puzzled by her interest in a place that the sun was forbidden to enter other than through the holes bitten into its walls by bomb shrapnel and the slits of its windows stacked with sandbags. I asked her how she could shoot a film in an empty place, without furniture, people, or life besides ants and crawlers moving among the holes of the sand walls and the cracks of the wooden shades of windows.


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