Saturday, March 12, 2011

Asimov's life up until 1938

In Asimov's biography, In Memory Yet Green (1920-1954), pg 178, Asimov continues to explain more about his childhood.

"The various aspects of Yiddish culture never really permeated my life, however. Up to the age of 13, I lived in a Jewish neighborhood, but because of the candy store (and I don't remember the years before [the candy store]) we didn'ty participate in the neighborhood social life. There were the Jewish holidays, but, except very briefly in 1928, no synagogue, no Hebrew school, and eventually, for myself and my brother, no bar mitzvah.

I have dim memories of my mother "blessing the lights" when I was very little, the traditional task of the Jewish woman, but later on, especially after we moved into a Gentile neighborhood in 1933, we did not observe the Sabbath in any way, or the dietary laws, either.

Little by little my parents took to speaking English, even to each other. The result was that Marcia's (Asimov's sister) of Yiddish is much sketchier than mine, and Stanley has no Yiddish at all.

When I was very young, even as late as when I attended Hebrew school in 1928, I accepted all the tales of the Bible, the existence of God, and every other formal aspect of religion as a matter of course.

This slipped away quietly, however, as I realized through my reading of science (and of science fiction, too) that much of the Bible represented mothing more than a collection of primitive legends. There was no trauma about it, no soul-searching, no internal crisis, no troubled discussions with my parents or anyone else. There merely came a time, probably before I was 13, when I found myself accepting atheism as a matter-of-factedly as I had previously accepted religion.

...

In the Nazi ferment of the 1930s, it was impossible to think of ourselves as anything but Jews, even if we abandoned Judaism.


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