Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Peri Berki - December 9, 1983

Sister and Jewish Stereotypes

Uh, and your sisters, what happened with them?

All the time she lived in this, in this house where we had thirty-nine people. And then when I lived with these people I wanted to help her because it was very difficult. So, I, it, I told you that was very easy for us to, to pretend we are refugees. So, and then, and our neighbor who asked for a room for my sister and her daughter who are refugees and running away from the, from the Russian army or whatever it was, Russian army.

In the city though.

In the city, yeah. And in my neighborhood, I got a room for her. So she came also there with her daughter. She had more trouble that they suspected that she was Jewish. And you know why? That's also interesting. It's all a study. She, she was there with her daughter. And she... My sister is a maniac, hygiene maniac. She said, Susan—her daughter's name Susan—wash your hands. Susan, I have to comb your hair, Susan, I had to wash your hair. And somebody said, I think this woman is Jewish.

Why? Why did they...

Because, because she was so...

You mean that was a stereotype of a Jewish woman?

Like they told my son once, he wore, he had glasses and we lived in the city, and this woman she said, “Yousef, Yousef, why do you wear glasses? You are not a Jew.” Now can you explain that?

Well, maybe because Jews study and read and...

Yeah, sure.

But I never realized that stereotype of...

You know that's how they...

But they call, but the Gentiles call the Jews dirty Jews. Why do they associate cleanliness with the Jews?

I can't answer that question. But also I can answer that the people from that, what they identified Jews, one we were, lived with the Gentile peoples in that little village. I became very friendly with the neighbors, they were my friends. And one day one of the friends, new friends came, what shall I do today for, for dinner? I don't know what to cook. We, we Jewish people we liked, we used to have as a dessert, noodle with poppy seed and sugar. Have you ever heard that?


Yeah, you have.


And I told her make noodle, poppy seed and sugar. I'm not a Jew! So, can you see? This is how. That's the experiences that is interesting because it's different. This typifies a Jew. I'm not a Jew—rejecting. So what was, ask something else.

So, um.

Some people don't like to talk and I talk too much. Go ahead.

No, that's fine.

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