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Any Jews?

The notion of "the other" has cast long shadows over my life. One morning, when I was about nine or ten, I was sitting at the kitchen table with my mother and my father's mother. Grandma Alice spoke only Yiddish and could not read or write English. Mama was reading aloud from a newspaper account of a plane crash the night before, shaking her head with sadness at the loss of life. "Any Jews killed?" Grandma Alice asked. This was the familiar refrain: "Any Jews?" If there were no Jews, it was a non-event, something of no concern. I was confused. It made no sense to me that a segment of humanity would be excluded from concern because they were not part of our membership group. It was my first awareness of culture as a system of belonging, of insiders and outsiders.

Baker, Elaine DeLott. "They Sent Us This White Girl." In Deep in Our Hearts: Nine White Women in the Freedom Movement, (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2000), 261.

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Quotation from "They Sent Us This White Girl" where Baker writes about her Grandmother Alice's view of the world as split between Jews and non-Jews. The author describes this as her "first awareness of culture as a system of belonging..."

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Baker, Elaine DeLott
University of Georgia Press
Deep in Our Hearts: Nine White Women in the Freedom Movement
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Jewish Women's Archive. "Any Jews?." (Viewed on April 16, 2014) <>.