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Black on White

If you’ve got something to sell, an excellent way of selling it is through the columns of the Jewish Daily Bulletin. Call Ashland 4-3093 for rates.

Aboard the S.S. Statendam on route to this scorched isle isle of scent most equestrian, six men sat at a table one evening, in the ornate dining salon, formally attired and proudly American. While somewhat short of real swank, the cruise was one that does not cater to persons on relief, and these six were a few pegs above the average on the passenger list. The vice-president of one of the most important American corporations, the head of a large advertising organization, an outstanding insurance broker, a journalist of some reputation, etc.—a fair enough representation of our upper middle orders.

They picked uncertainly among the French names on the absurdly long menus, wondering what the syllable concealed. They tasted tentatively the dishes set before them: And they made conversation. You know the sort of table talk I mean—polite, routine stuff, without lift or passion or inner driving force.

The talk, like the food, had an important look to it, but no authentic relish, no abandonment. The Supreme Court decision on the N.R.A., the antics of the stock market, the trivia of this and former ocean journeys, a few comments on this play or that movie.

But suddenly, through some obscure association in the conversation, someone mentioned potato pancakes. And the intrusion of the humble latke, strange as you may think it, changed the atmosphere magically.

No More oxygen needed to be pumped into the flagging conversation; it began to breath e through its own nostrils. Voices were touched with passion at last and words echoed an inner relish. Vociferously most of the six men boasted that never and nowhere were there potato pancakes such as his mother made—crisp, brown, succulent and golden, and subtly superior to all other pancakes of all other mothers. The journalist averred that his wife is an artist in the domain of latkes and the vice-president, throwing all dignity to the ocean winds, insisted that they could not possibly come up to the high standard of his early memories. The various ways of serving this plebian delicacy were warmly described and hotly disputed, and the dishes with French names hung their heads in humiliation as the fervor deepened.

Under the white tuxedo coats and commercial self-importance and characteristic American faces, the memory of Jewish pancakes. It meant youth and mother and in a crude fashion also race. It is no accident that the most intimate holidays and ceremonials of all races are so often symbolized by some special food served on the occasion.

P. S.—The ship’s chef was induced to make some next day for luncheon for the six nostalgic Americans. They did not appear on the menu, but they were Pancakes-a-la-Kovno, the vice-president having provided the formula. And they were good.

To Descend hastily from these sublime heights to the level of the ridiculous:

While American Jews are boycotting German steamship lines, certain shipping companies operating in America are boycotting Jews. They run cruises to which Jews are admitted only on a quota basis. I do not know the percentage, but that does not affect the principle.

Naturally they do not advertise this exclusion, but they use it as a sales argument in reaching a certain type of American clientele. It would be a healthy move, it seems to me, to expose these lines. There is nothing either in American law or human decency which permits them to bar men and women because of their race or religion. If the facts were made generally known, thousands of non-Jewish Americans who now patronize these despicable lines in ignorance of their policies will be ashamed to deal with them. It is an insult not alone to the excluded Jews but to the self respect of Americans whose dollars these lines do accept.

If you’ve got something to sell, an excellent way of selling it is through the columns of the Jewish Daily Bulletin. Call Ashland 4-3093 for rates.

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