Brian Isaac Rizowy,
Born and raised in the USA to Jewish parents, one from Sarandi Grande, Uruguay, the other from Chicago, I am nearly 100% Polish, with a dash of Russian and Mongolian thrown in. My great grandmother hid her Asian features with swanky glasses from the 1940s and 50s, lest anyone suspect her rapist-father was a Mongolian shepherd. Grandma Reva came by ship from Russia at age 3, and as Alzheimer’s stole her memory, Yiddish was the last to go.
Abuelo and Eva met in the Warsaw Ghetto and survived Auschwitz together. Once liberated, he told the ICRC “Uruguay” because that’s what his mom said would save his life. Once plump enough to travel by ship, Abuelo and Eva setup camp in the village of Sarandi Grande, Uruguay.
Eva died at age 47 when my dad was 18 and living in Israel. Mom died when she was 47 and I was 16, right before I left for Israel.
Abuelo married Abuela Ester who was also Polish, but escaped before the war.
Mom spoke to me in French, Dad in Spanish, and my teachers in a combined Hebrew and English.
A social scientist at the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion), like the chameleon I’ve turned into, I make sure to stick out.