Friday, December 22, 2006


Connections abound in Bloggy-World, as we all know. Some of them are even able to provoke surprise, as witness this clip from a recent post at BigHominid’s Hairy Chasms:
...weird interconnections of the blogosphere: Rory and Elisson are correspondents, and I saw that Elisson had left condolences for Skippy as well. We all seem to travel in overlapping circles.
Indeed. And as I mentioned to BigHominid in an e-mail, his site is where I first found Rory, who had been linked thanks to a post he had written about Fucked Up Soup (don’t ask).

And there are connections in Meat-World, as well.

I’ve already written about the Mystical Connection between me and Houston Steve. But we have a whole raft of Steves in the neighborhood - a veritable Legion of Stevies - and I also share a Mystical Connection (albeit much more indirect) with another of them...

Yesterday morning I attended services, as I often do, with the Minyan Boyz. Said services were especially lengthy today, despite its being a weekday: it was the sixth day of Chanukah, which invariably is Rosh Chodesh (the new moon, which marks the transition from one month to the next) as well. And thus the normally uncomplicated morning service is enriched with the addition of full Hallel, readings from two - count ’em, two - Torah scrolls, and Musaf. If all this sounds like Greek Hebrew to you, no problem: all you need to know is that a service that normally runs 30-35 minutes gets stretched to an hour.

But that was not all. We also had an ufruf, when a soon-to-be-married groom is called to the Torah with the all of the attendant rabbinic blessings and wise words. The groom, in this case, was the son of Shanghai Steve, who is both one of the Minyan Boyz and one of our congregation’s Legion of Stevies. After services, we all went over to Shanghai Steve’s house to celebrate the occasion with a deluxe breakfast.

Shanghai Steve got his nom de blog from me owing to his unusual history. Born in Berlin, his family emigrated from Nazi Germany when he was two years old. After escaping from Berlin to Venice, they boarded a steamer bound for Shanghai, where they lived for the next seven years. The Japanese overran the city, but despite being allied with Nazi Germany, they did not share the Nazi animus toward Jews - and Steve’s family survived.

Not all of them, though. Hanging on a wall, in a frame, were two postcards written from the camps, by uncles and aunts that did not make it through the war. They bear postage stamps with Hitler’s face; return addresses with all-too-familiar names, Bergen-Belsen and Theresienstadt; and stamped instructions to write only in German.

The house was warm and inviting, filled with artwork, books, and evidence of a family love of music. Shanghai Steve’s mother-in-law had been a concert violist, raised in a cultured home. On the wall behind the grand piano there was an old viola in a display box; it had belonged to Steve’s great-uncle before World War II and had survived the war years thanks to his Christian neighbors.

Peter Max There were also several Peter Max originals on the walls, thanks to there being a Mystical Connection between him and Shanghai Steve. It seems that Peter Max, another Berlin-born Jew, had also sought refuge in Shanghai as a child during the war years. Eventually, he emigrated to the United States, where he lived, for a time, with a family named Zeisel on Bay 26th Street in Brooklyn...across the street and perhaps a block away from where my father, Eli Hizzownself, grew up. And the Zeisels were, apparently, friends of my grandparents. Another Mystical Connection...whod’a thunk it?

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