Picture of Haym Solomon
Second Interview with Tereza Eliasz-Solomon: Judaism and Anti-Semitism.
First, we need to work out some terms. In this interview, Anti-Semitism refers strictly to Anti-Jewish sentiment.
- Where are your ancestors originally from?
- The Solomon [Paternal Grandfather] Family originated in Portugal and then immigrated to America. My Wolf [Paternal Grandmother] was Hungarian, immigrating to America as well. The Solomons have long been aware of our family connection to the Jewish financier Haym Solomon [often misspelled/Anglicized to be Soloman] and we have sought to confirm that family link. My husband Chester Michael Eliasz-Solomon is a genealogist, who has and will continue to research that for our family/children. My Mother’s family were Albanian – of Muslim descent, as well as part Italian. Both my amazing parents were born here [1st generation] in the United States.
- How religious was your household growing up?
- My father was quite learned on Judaism – as such we were schooled in Talmud and Torah and observed all the holidays. My paternal grandparents were Orthodox and I loved attended synagogue with them – adored my faith from childhood. My mother grew through her conversion to be quite devoted to Judaism and Zionism.
- How often did you attend synagogue?
- Frequently – events, occasions, holidays, as well as, regular Friday/Saturday services. Not every week but I spent a great deal of my life in synagogue. One of my favorite childhood photos is me dressed up – hat & gloves included – holding my prayer book, as I wait in a big chair for my parents to take me to synagogue for high holy day services.
- Did you have a Bat Mitzvah?
- Yes – small and private. In fact, we were a bit “WASPY” in that way – no big bash but instead a refined and dignified event.
- Did you socialize more with Jews or non-Jews?
- On a scale of % – more Jews but certainly because of intermarriages and my parents many, many social and political causes, as well as, varied interest – people of ALL faiths.
- You told me your father marched in the Civil Rights Movement, with Dr. King. What prompted him to do that and did he get any backlash from that?
- My father, Abraham, was a early civil rights activist – protesting in Philadelphia when public transportation denied black mechanics jobs as drivers that offered better salaries & benefits in the early 1940’s and on to participating in the Civil Rights Movement of the late 50’s/60’s. Jesse Jackson visited our home – my father joined NAACP and placed himself into various activities in an effort to assure equal rights for African Americans. There was no real backlash as my parents were in a position of authority by being business owners and community leaders – there were veiled threats but Philadelphia was a progressive town and the individuals close to my parents like minded. Of course, my father endangered his life going south for sit ins, et al.. We decided to name one of our twin sons, Aleksander to honor my father, Abraham – giving our child a great legacy to live up to.
- This refers to question six. Do you think in the long run, it was good for Jewish-Americans to march in the Civil Rights Movement, or should Jews have sat it out, said nothing or cheered from the sidelines?
- I believe we Jews have no choice but to champion civil rights and other similar causes – it is prescribed by our faith. Even the least religious Jew innately knows caring about and for others rights is paramount to a good life, There are times of frustration when the current day youth in the African American community seem to not know that it was singularly the Jew by their parents and grandparents sides in the civil rights struggle in this country and around the world – including against South Africa’s horrific apartheid struggle. It would have been alien for Jews to sit out or be sidelined during the iconic civil rights movement – we are the originators of justice, in that our Talmud and Torah demands our involvement.
- Do you see yourself as Jewish first or American?
- Definitely as Jewish first. I am a observant Jew – I study torah and Talmud daily and as such I am defined by my faith – no matter where I live/what nation I reside in – I am and will always be a Jew. I am a proud loving my country of birth/citizenship American – I believe, as all American Jews do in the greatness of this nation – as such I ALWAYS vote, never resent paying taxes, participate on all levels in the U.S.A. system. However, I have no illusions – history has taught we Jews that no matter our love of nor prominence in a country nor length of presence there, we are always the other. For this reason my passport and shall we say options will remain open – Israel is my ancestral REAL homeland but then again, aren’t all Americans, except Native Americans, immigrants and foreigners?
- Did you encounter Anti-Semitism growing up and if so, how often and under what circumstances?
- Yes, of course – always has been the experience of anti-Semitism in my life. Ebbs and flows according to world events – for instance the 1970’s oil embargo made more prevalent the suspicions against Israel and then there was bit of Israel popularity after Entebbe in a sort of cheerleading for the good guys tone. Being one of first post Holocaust Jewish born generation children, there was a definite awareness of our plight – informed by books, movies and my very astute parents edification on the topic. I experienced the usual slights and insinuations – suggestions about Jews that are really deep seeded anti-Semitism … for instance, why don’t we just accept Christ as the messiah? As if only – then we Jews would be acceptable. Fortunately my parents, unlike most of my Jewish peers, gave me a “superiority complex” about being Jewish, instead of an inferiority attitude about my minority status. My parents taught about the Jewish difference while not necessarily demeaning others – as such, we fought anti-Semitism with REAL facts and great pride. Always vigilant and always ready to refute lies and misinformation about Judaism and Israel was my growing up mantra!
- Have you ever been to Israel and if you have, for how long?
- I have been there 14 times – various lengths of stay – the longest 2 months. I am very comfortable there and as anyone who has been knows – it is very chic and cosmopolitan – not all Kibbutzim. Of course, there are the historical and biblical sites but my small homeland has more tech companies, more concert halls, more art venues, etc., than any nation its size- possible in some ways, than any nation on this planet. Truly a paradise on G-d’s earth is how I see modern day Israel.
- If it looked as though Israel might be destroyed, how would you react?
- My husband and I, as my parents did keep aware of and our options open in consideration of that unthinkable scenario. Suffice it to say, we are proactive. Of course, concerned that Israel’s destruction would allow [G-d forbid] other nations to subjugate we Jews to harsh situations. I stay involved and support the ADL, etc. for this reason and many others.
- We’ve seen Holocaust Deniers out there. Do you think it’s worth trying to correct the error of their ways, or just acknowledging them and keeping an eye on them?
- YES, YES, YES – I will do anything [legally] to stop the lie spewing hate monger Holocaust deniers – use my resources and energies by thwarting their lies. I belong to a Facebook group attempting to have that company ban deniers and when things are settled, as I am doing this Fall and will ALWAYS do in my personal life by suing for slander and defamation, I will gather like-minded truth seeking Jews and gentiles in an effort to litigate against and stop Holocaust deniers. As I have learned in law classes and written about more than once in my blog posts – you can mock me, insult me, tease me, question, suggest about, respond to me but you can NOT lie about me – same goes for the Holocaust. I LOVE jurisprudence and am/plan to continue to be one of those job creators current GOP so champion – mine is happily creating jobs for lawyers!
- Do you think Jews worldwide should be trained more for technical jobs, trades, and languages because of our history of having to wander?
- I believe we Jews are trained in EVERY discipline and EVERY language. Israel has more tech patents and scientific developments than any other country – more Jews are in science and math here in U.S. than any other demographic but yes, we MUST continue to be learned in all disciplines. On the language issue – in my own life, I insist my children are multilingual – I believe ALL Jews should know multiple languages – ignorance should NEVER be an option for us the Diaspora Jew!
- Does marrying non-Jews and bringing them into our world make us stronger?
- Difficult to say – on the one hand our intermarriage means others have skin in the game [bad pun] – meaning gentiles who marry us/have children with us are therefore subject to the issues concerning Jews. However if the woman is NOT a Jew/does Not convert – children of a mixed union are not Jewish. My first WASP husband [married nearly 21 years when died] converted to Judaism. My second husband while not [yet] having converted, legally took my Jewish last name. agreed to raise our children 100% Jewish [not that he had a choice on that] and fully participates in our Jewish home life. I am blessed – Chester Michael Eliasz-Solomon is the most amazing spouse a Jewish woman could have – from the start he made sure our home had all the items needed [Shabbat candles, menorah, et al.] to practice Jewish rituals. Our homes are full of Jewish art work and mementos – many purchased by my not Jewish husband. Sadly, mine is a unique situation – many intermarriages dilute the Jewish side. I am determined that my children marry Jews. As I have written in blog posts my Mother’s family were of Albanian Muslim and Italian Catholic ancestry – she embracing fully Judaism and Zionism in marrying my Father but my Mother wanted her children to only marry Jews as well. My life is full and blessed with people of ALL faiths – some of my best and dearest extended REAL family not Jewish but as they hope their children will marry in their own faith, I too insist my children marry in mine. Of course, both my marriages were to gentiles – not a problem as David [may he rest in peace] converted and Chester Michael is as close to a Jew as a gentile can get … in fact, I/my family often joke that as a genealogist he will someday discover he really is Jewish/has Jewish roots or that he was adopted from a Jewish family – which will probably be how it turns out because oy veh – if you ever met his parents other children, you would surely agree my hubby MUST be adopted!!!
- How do you think Jews should fight Anti-Semitism?
- As I mention in my answer about growing up and dealing with anti-Semitism – one MUST always be vigilant – always ready to refute and “out” the haters. I am attempting to organize a class action slander, defamation, libel lawsuit against Holocaust deniers – to paraphrase one of my law professors, when you take peoples stuff, it often shut them up. Jews and our friends must NEVER allow [not even a single] act or statement of anti-Semitism!
- Do you think Jews are held to a different standard than other groups and if yes, why do you think that is the case?
- Oh my, yes – we Jews are definitely held to a higher standard. G-d forbid a Jew commits a crime – the attitude is “that Jew did _________”. There is of course, the fact that we do excel in so many areas – succeed above others and as such are in the position of being envied and that leads to the lesser types praying for our missteps. It is like the movie star who is worshipped and exalted above anything normal – then the masses [often real asses] practically bay at the moon when that celebrity falters or fails. We Jews are both admired and envied – jealously of our success means our failures are often welcomed and highlighted in a very exaggerated fashion.
- Do you think feelings about Jews are worse, staying the same or improving?
- Tragically I fear anti-Semitism is increasing … not that it ever went away but there were tolerable ebbs and flows, I have been blessed to travel a great deal – seen many places and experience various levels over the years of anti-Semitism across the globe. Lately [the last few years] the tone of vitriolic speech about Israel and Judaism has definitely grown more virulent and pronounced. The internet and social media has allowed and produced a plethora of conversations demeaning Jews and falsely condemning Israel. This of course is of great concern as the internet can spread lies in ways not even Nazi Germany was able to – say something false enough times and idiots/even otherwise rational people will believe it. These falsehoods MUST NOT be tolerated!!!
- By the way, Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel – one must ask why the world finds that so egregious … why for instance does someone in Idaho gives a damn about that issue? Answer is obviously anti-Semitism – yes, I actually had an Irish American from the Midwest challenge me on this issue [definitely an OMG moment for me].
- !8. What are your feelings concerning the religious extremists in Israel?
- I worry – believing ALL demographics of Jews – secular, very religious and moderate should be and MUST be included in the Israeli family demands an open minded attitude toward religiosity. Likewise, I understand the concern of our faith being diluted and not properly practiced – I am a full time, while not Orthodox, practicing Jew – all rituals and tenents observed and so I too wish that for others but NEVER will approve of excluding another Jew from Israel!
- What current Anti-Semitic issues are you personally dealing with?
- There is the usual slights – intended and otherwise by friends and colleagues. Of course, I have had Facebook and Twitter back and forth about Israel, Zionism, etc. – arguments that I never avoid – many that I report to authorities when warranted. These are all par for the course but most troubling is the blatant and more subtle anti-Semitic attitudes expressed by my husband’s now legally disowned and disinherited biological family [must note that happily – there are a few cousins from my husband’s “family” who are close and very dear]. There is also an individual we are litigating against from my husband’s youth in Michigan that posted what a Priest friend of mine explained is one of the most hateful anti-Semitic Christian prayers … it was without question pointed at me [and of course saved – forwarded to both my Jewish and Christian attorneys]. You see even though my Catholic husband did not convert, he legally [as of January 2012] took my Jewish last name of Solomon, had the Court therefore make that the legal last name of our children and agreed to/assist in bringing our children up 100% Jewish, maintaining Kosher homes and participating fully in a Jewish life with me. As is usual, these miscreants out of envy and their own insecurity, resorted to anti-Semitism – small lives, small minds and evil hearts usual foray. As with most, these misanthropes use their faux Christianity to cover up their evil intentions – happily for me, others not of my faith are REALLY good, decent and not anti-Semitic. Still to think people [formerly] related to my husband/father of my children and those he once [mistakenly] thought of as friends, are this loathsome is a bit disconcerting. Then again, as a friend advisor remarked, why should these losers be different than anyone else of that mind set? One other point – we noticed that these people have no Jewish nor Muslim friends or close acquaintances in their life [to best of our knowledge that is] … interesting in that they work at hospitals and tech industry – where we Jews are very present. Another lives near or close to a very Jewish Pennsylvania area and yet no interaction that we have seen. One must therefore question why that is the case? The obvious answer for me and my friends/family, is both their limited life experiences as well as the obvious – hatefulness toward us Jews that keeps them from any relationship with us. Not to worry, I have been promised by attorney that this will be mentioned in Court – a sort of bonus “outing” [hopefully in the press as well] of anti-Semites!!!
- There is a recent issue of African refugees crossing into Israel illegally. How do you think the Israeli government should deal with the issue?
- Israel has been very generous and welcoming to ALL refugees – including those from Africa. Of course, Jews from Africa/Ethiopian descent are welcomed as all other Jews to Israel; those not Jewish have been allowed to live and work, as well as receive government subsidies. Israel can not and should have to do more than any other nation – including the U.S.A., in reference to illegal persons. Again, seems only we Jews/Israel must be all things, at all times, to all people or unlike, other countries be condemned. To answer more directly, I feel Israel must legally deport illegal alien persons, who are not qualified for political or other asylum.
- If there is a possibility Israel would develop an Non-Jewish majority, do you think Israel would have to give up democracy?
- A difficult scenario to contemplate – Israel is after all a Jewish homeland – therefore to maintain its unique identity pure democracy may not be the best system in the long run. We Jews invented democracy – our ancient laws dictates that very philosophy of governance – therefore it is a heart break to know that in order to survive Israel might need to suspend the democratic form it has today. None the less, survival is paramount and no ideal should stand in the way of that ultimate goal.
- What if any negotiations should there be with the Palestinians?
- First of all, there is NO such thing as a Palestinian – it is a location, not a race nor religion nor ethnicity. That being said – NO more negotiations – the self described Palestinian can live safely in Israel or Jordan [their real homeland] but ONLY if in peace. I NEVER negotiate my own destruction in my personal life nor should Israel as a nation!
- What should Israel do about the West Bank and Gaza?
- I think it was a huge mistake to not keep those territories as part of Israel – the idea that a sovereign nation like Israel should allow itself to be surrounded by those hell bent on its destruction is insane. Would the U.S. – has the U.S. allowed Native Americans to form a separate nation in a state or two? Would The U.S. tolerate a hostile rocket throwing Canada to exist without invasion from us or retaliation? Why then is it different for Israel – who has NEVER been the aggressor? As it stands now, Israel has no choice but to be watchful and ready to reestablish West bank and Gaza as part of its territory should that become necessary.
- With the changes from the Arab Spring, how do you think life is going to change for Israel?
- I did not buy into the romantic notion of the so called Arab Spring – yes, I want ALL people to be free and have self determination, etc. but having been almost everywhere in the Middle East, I am very aware of the tone and posture of my Arab cousins – there is no real nor absolute path to true democracy in that region. Hence the most viable situation is a joined/combined rule from the strongest least radical nations. I know that my words sound almost those of a benevolent despot – only because of my REAL experience in the Middle East can I suggest this type of thing. The area is not ready for complete self determination – it sadness me but it is true!
- Israel and the Iranian nuclear threat. How do you think this will affect U.S.-Israeli relations? Do you think Iran will attack before the election?
- It would be unthinkable for Iran to invite the GOP/right wing extremist hawks to win this November election by attacking Israel prior to that event – they know hedging their bet with Obama who might be able to negotiate with Israel is far better option for them. Exactly like when Israel attacked Syria’s nuclear facility years ago, the U.S. will posture faux reprimand when Israel chooses its only option – that is to take out Iran’s facility and deplete its nuclear capability once and for all. Here again, I must ask why Israel is not allowed to do as any other nation would – protect itself against annihilation. May I suggest the reason is that which my previous answers reference … pure and simple – it is anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel!!!
- I want to end by thanking my dear, supportive [forever] friend and fellow writer for the privilege of being interviewed – you Michael Charton are a true blessing in my life from G-d, for which I am grateful!
- Shalom, Tereza Diane Eliasz-Solomon
I want to end by thanking my dear, supportive [forever] friend and fellow writer for the privilege of being interviewed – you Michael Charton are a true blessing in my life from G-d, for which I am grateful!
Shalom, Tereza Diane Eliasz-Solomon
Interview number three will be about travel.