When Marin County columnist Rina Z. Neiman’s backward mother, the Israeli folk accompanist Shulamit Dubno Neiman, performed cutting Yemeni, Bedouin and Arabic apparel in the 1960s and ’70s, it wasn’t an act of cultural appropriation. It was a affirmation of cultural identification with these bespoke, abundantly abstract linen, affection and polyester best dresses and pantsuits and the communities who produced them. Although Neiman was of Polish ancestry, anniversary of the cultures that amidst her in Israel became a allotment of the t that fabricated up her own multicultural identity.
This is aloof one of the abounding absorbing tidbits about her musically able and awfully beautiful mother that Neiman includes in her admission book “Born Under Fire” (Zivia Books; 258 pages; $14.99). Neiman is a longtime San Francisco writer, accident ambassador and PR able for Bill Graham Presents, the San Francisco Symphony and Macy’s West.
In the actual novel, which Neiman will altercate in chat with Sue Fishkoff, editor of J. the Jewish News of Northern California, at the Jewish Community Library of San Francisco on Sunday, Oct. 14, the columnist parallels the advancing of age of her Jerusalem-born mother — who would go on to win a acquaintance to the Manhattan School of Music, assignment at the aboriginal Israeli Consulate in New York City in the 1950s, represent Israel as a singer-guitarist in performances about the apple and affair a 1972 folk anthology blue-blooded “Shulamith and the Two Guitars” — with the betraying conflicts that culminated with the 1948 founding of the accompaniment of Israel.
Q: What aggressive you to address “Born Under Fire”?
A: About six or seven years ago, I had put up a little website with the dresses that my mother calm — this big 30-piece accumulating of Yemenite and Bedouin dresses, pantsuits and children’s shirts and dresses — and this huge fan of Yemenite adornment contacted me, absent to do an commodity for a advertisement alleged Needle Art. I beatific her a few pictures and started cogent her added about my mother, and she said, “Oh, this is fascinating. I appetite to apperceive about her for the article.” So I went and pulled out all the being from storage, and that’s back I started attractive through all these papers, including a sketchbook my uncle illustrated and wrote about the cruise they both took to the Galilee in 1947. Then (I) was accepting actual absorbed in this bearing who were aboriginal defining what it was to be an Israeli and how that came to be. As I was attractive through the stuff, I had this admirable adventure about this trip, and I anticipation I’ll address about the cruise and I’ll aggrandize on anniversary page. Then I accomplished that wasn’t the accomplished story. That was alone a allotment of one chapter.
Q: Did researching and autograph this book accomplish you feel added affiliated to your Israeli heritage?
A: Back I was absolutely young, we acclimated to go to Israel every summer, so I absolutely acquainted bisected Israeli. But I grew up here, and afterwards my mother died of cancer, back I was 11, we absolutely became allotment of our American Jewish family, and it’s different. It’s article I anticipate about and attempt with circadian active here. But I feel acerb that I accept area my mother was advancing from now in agreement of how she lived and how she grew up. Reading all about this bearing and what they were — literate, hard-working, musically accomplished and boxy — I feel like I analyze added with that appropriate now.
Q: One of the things that’s best arresting about your book is that amidst so abundant Arab-Israeli battle there are examples of Jews like your mother and her ancestors that befriended and formed ancillary by ancillary with Arabs.
A: I got a lot of that advice from my mother’s aboriginal cousin. I’m actual appreciative of that, and that’s one of the things I capital to analyze in the book.
Q: How do the dresses that your mother wore comedy into her across-the-board attitude?
A: My mother was a performer, and every time she had a performance, she looked for article that’s activity to represent her. She looked for things that are East and West, so it was bridging cultures. We were in the Old City already and she was attractive for a Bedouin jacket, and aback she started acceding in Arabic with a shopkeeper. And I acquainted like this was my mother’s identity, too. She was from the Middle East and she was Israeli, so there was a big affable of the Yemenite, the Moroccan, all the cultures about her, and we were all activity to be one big blessed family.
Q: What bulletin do you achievement readers booty abroad from “Born Under Fire”?
Rina Z. Neiman will altercate her new book with Sue Fishkoff and appearance six to eight of her mother’s one-of-a-kind Yemenite and aboriginal Israeli dresses. 1:30 p.m. Oct. 14 at the Jewish Community Library of San Francisco, 1835 Ellis St., S.F. Free; http://www.jewishlearningworks.org. For added advice on “Born Under Fire,” go to https://www.bornunderfire.com or https://www.amazon.com.
A: I achievement they get a bigger compassionate of Israel and its history. The arrival of Germans because of Hitler afflicted the accomplished antithesis there, and that’s aloof one allotment of the history. There were bodies who came beforehand and had a altered attitude. I anticipate it’s such a answerable abode and a answerable topic. I anticipate it’s aggravating to say, “Hey, it wasn’t consistently like it is today.”
Josh Rotter is a San Francisco freelance writer. Email: [email protected]
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