SBS 301 Cultural Diversity/Prof. Koptiuch         Fall 2014       Personal Memory Ethnographies

Matthew Schulman

Israelite vs. Brazilian

deer valley hs

Deer Valley High School is located in the southwest corner in the intersection of 51st Ave. and Union Hills at Glendale, Arizona here in the United States of America. The attractive school colors, blue and silver, were on all of the buildings, as well as the uniforms for every sporting event. At practice athletic students had to wear practice clothes that had the school colors on them. Wearing school colors was common in most high schools. Grass covered mostly everywhere in the both the practice field and the sports field, which were across from the school. The grass was mowed perfectly so that no one tripped over it. The grassy field was vast so that multiple field games could be played. The baseball/softball, soccer, football, and track and field events were held in different areas. However, the football field is inside the track area so the two sports have to share it at different seasons; football is played in the fall semester, and track and field is played in the spring semester.

When I was a senior at Deer Valley High School during the spring season of 2011 I was on the track and field team. Track is an individual sport, and this was my second year on the team. One day, after practice I was just minding my own business until I heard someone calling to me in the distance. It was a guy named Vincent who was also on the team. He shouted out, “Hey Matthew!” and stuck his arm straight up at an angle in my direction, and then walked away. I was appalled and then furious by this action of his because everyone knew that was a symbol for “Heil, mein Fuhrer”, the Nazi salute. I really wanted to beat up Vincent in ways that I cannot describe. Vincent had bullied and harassed me in the past years in high school, but this time he went too far in my book. I had heard rumors that Vincent, a Brazilian of European ethnicity who was considered a white person in the U.S., was a Nazi so it didn't surprise me, but I was still angry at him. After I calmed myself down I walked in the opposite direction from his. All I could think of for the rest of the day is “How did he know?” Eventually, I found out that my last name, Schulman, originated from Czechoslovakia, now called the Czech-Republic, and the name is Jewish.

            One day during the fall semester of 2011, the beginning of my freshman year at Glendale Community College, I met an elderly college professor who was wearing the Star of David button on his shirt. I asked him, “Why do you wear that? Aren’t you afraid?” The 82-year-old man gave me a smile and said, “Oh, no. I wear it because I like it.” I told him that I have a Jewish heritage, even though I’m a Catholic; my mother is a white Catholic and my father is a white Jew. He told me that his name is Nathan, and he is a history professor who studies world history from the 1700s to present time and gave me interesting information (some of which I never knew about) since we both had a long break time in between classes.

In 1896 Jews, as well as Italians and other southern and eastern Europeans, became the largest groups to migrate into the United States (Race: Immigration…). During this time anti-Semitism was developing in the U.S. In order to prevent this, the Anti-Defamation League, which is the world’s leading organization of its type, was formed in 1913 to fight anti-Semitism through programs and services that counter hatred, prejudice and bigotry (Wikipedia). However, this group didn’t change people’s beliefs immediately. In 1915 Leo Frank, a Jew who was superintendent of the National Pencil Company, was convicted of murdering Mary Phagan, an employee of his, back in 1913; even though he was sentenced to life in prison, he was lynched in Marietta, Georgia by a group called the Knights of Mary Phagan (Wikipedia). During 1925 through 1941 the Jewish population decreased from 564,379 to only 164,000 in Germany due to emigration ( One of the reasons why they left Germany is because in 1938, during the nights of November 9-10, Jewish shops, homes, schools, and above all synagogues that were held in cities of Germany were set on fire; this was known as Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) (Wikipedia). In the same year the Holocaust began in Nazi Germany. About six million Jews were murdered in concentration camps all over in Nazi Germany in 1944, which was one year before the end of World War II (Race: Nazism and WWII). After this event many more European Jews immigrated to the U.S. and to Israel, a newly created Jewish state. Finally, in 1945 all concentration camps worldwide, mainly in Germany, were abandoned.

I told Nathan about my experience with Vincent at Deer Valley High School. He wasn’t surprised that people would still do things like that, but he felt sorry for me. He also told me that he still experiences anti-Semitism here in the U.S. People had damaged his property ever since the 1950s until the early 1990s when he finally moved into another neighborhood. At least it wasn’t as bad as it was in the Czech-Republic when he was sent to a concentration camp at the age of eight and lived through the horror he experienced. He is thankful to still be alive to this day. I wished him a good day and we then parted our separate ways.

            My name is Vincent, and even though I was born here in the U.S. I have a German-Brazilian heritage. People might ask, “How is it that I am a Brazilian with a German background?” It all started in 1818 when the first 165 German families, including my ancestors, immigrated to Brazil. Over the years the numbers grew slowly until 1850 when millions of people left Germany because of the failed revolutions of 1848, a series of European rebellions occurring mainly in Germany (Wikipedia). During the 1930s Nazism began in Germany, as well as Brazil (Wikipedia). To the Germans, Brazil was numerically the most important area in the Nazi party since about 3000 people joined. However, the Brazilian president at that time had opposing views to the Nazi party. President Getulio Vargas believed in miscegenation, which is the mixing of racial groups, while the Nazis believed in racial purity. Vargas later forbade foreign political activity.  In 1942, Brazil entered World War II against Germany and suffered 600 deaths in one naval battle (Wikipedia). After that attack, Brazil began a ban on German languages. Any person who spoke the language was to be punished by being thrown in prison right away. In the spring of 2011, after track practice, I made a joke when I showed Matthew, a track and field teammate at the time, the “Heil, mein Fuhrer” salute in front of him. I did that because his last name gave out that he is a Jew. He absolutely did not like that at all. However, it seemed that he was expecting that from me since he probably heard rumors that I am a Nazi. I am not a Nazi, but if people want to think that I am one then that is their choice.

            At Glendale Community College in the fall of 2011, I accidentally bumped into an elderly professor who was wearing the Star of David button on his shirt. I told him that I am sorry, and he said that it’s alright. As I was walking away I looked back at him and noticed that he was looking back at me as if he knows me in a way.

            Many people would assume that if one parent is Jewish, then the child must be Jewish as well. This is a misconception that has been going on for many years. It is only when the mother is Jewish that the child is Jewish as well because it is according to the Old Testament that it should be this way. In my case, my mother is Catholic and my dad is Jewish. It is true that all Jews are Israelites, but not all Israelites are Jewish.

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