3 Pages

The chrysalis

WithJoseph Rykwert

About the end of the author's first decade, between 1935 and 1936, the comfortable cocoon provided by his family broke brutally, though he did not emerge from it a fully developed butterfly, or even a beetle. Jewishness remained a matter of pride, yet it also appeared to be a glaring stigma. Semi-official anti-Semitism had been constant and demeaning – but not yet ominous. The relationship between Jewish and non-Jewish boys in the author's comparatively eirenic school noticeably worsened after 1935. A more serious threat came when he was summoned by the headmaster and told that he had been accused of insulting the clergy – almost of blasphemy. The author's expulsion was demanded by his accuser, who turned out to be one of his classmates. What had seemed a casual, innocent remark turned into a threatening accusation that gave the author a very anxious week; his parents were visibly worried, if supportive.