At school we were called, “Dirty Jews.” When we came home and said that we were being picked on. Papa said, “Fight the bully.” The problem was that the bully was too big, and besides, he always had a bunch of friends around. It was not a happy time during those years.
Mama’s advice always was, “Makh zikh nisht visndik.” She said, “Smile and don’t say a word.” It was none of the childish sayings about sticks and stones—just smile and makh zikh….
Many years later I read Mahatma Gandhi’s saying, “I cannot teach you violence, as I do not myself believe in it. I can only teach you not to bow your heads before anyone even at the cost of your life.” Nelson Mandela’s book, The Long Walk to Freedom added more to her wise words.
When I finished college, I was married and the in-laws and children came. There came a time when I taught school and joined several organizations. Many instances arose where other people had a difference of opinion and I was nearby. Mama’s words came in handy, for it was none of my business unless they asked for my opinion or advice.
Many of Mama’s words come back to me now and I wish I had listened to them when I was growing up.Makh zikh nisht visndik.