“It Ain’t Necessarily So”
I met my friend, Joe, at Dunkin’ Donuts.
As we shook hands, Joe’s firm grip reminded me how fit he is for a 76 year old.
I recalled how Joe was, in a sense, a living miracle—considering that during the WWII, he was born in the Vilna ghetto.
His dad survived the war by being a partisan fighter in the forests of Lithuania.
It felt good thinking,”I’m breaking bread with the son of a man that killed Nazis.”
Over coffee and “Old Fashions” we talked about the past (the Holocaust), the present (Israel) and the future (our grandchildren).
Two old timers, eating “Old Fashions” and talking smack.
I dunked my donut into my black coffee and listened to Gershwin playing in the background.
Tasting its sweetness as it dissolved in my mouth, I thought, “Fresh pastries, fresh schmooze, fresh coffee and the music of Ira and George—does life get any better?”
Joe interrupted my analysis, “Have you been watching The Assassination of Gianni Versace on Netflix?”
“Nope. Is it worth watching?”
“It’s pretty gay and gory. You may like it. But the kid who plays Cunanan mentions how good the Danes were to the Jews during the Occupation.”
“Yeah, I read Uris’s Exodus in the Sixties. I fell love with the book, the movie and Leon Uris. I’ve read everything he has ever written and I’ve seen Exodus least five times, Pausing I added, “Boy, as a kid, I fell hard for that tall, blue-eyed, blonde in that movie.”
“What was her name?”
Shaking his head, Joe replied, “Mort, you’ve seen the film five times and you can’t remember Eva Marie Saint.”
“Hey Joe, Give me a break. I’m getting old and that was a long time ago. But boy can I remember how hot Eva was—the curl of her lips, the contours of her body and her cute little nose and ass. The perfect woman.”
Joe smiled, sipped his coffee and asked, “Do you even remember that Paul Newman starred in the movie?”
“Of course I do. He nailed his role of Ari Ben Canaan.”
“That story made me fan of the Danes and Denmark. Uris wrote that the Nazis ordered the Danish Jews to wear stars on their jackets—just as they had done in Germany, Poland and France. When the King Christian X heard about the edict, he ordered his tailor to sew a Magan David on to his military uniform. Then he went out horseback riding so that the citizens of Copenhagen would see what he had done. Within a few days, thousands of Christian Danes left their homes wearing yellow stars. Here was a European monarch who donned the yellow star in solidarity with his Jewish subjects.—to protect their lives.”
“It turns out that whole story is bullshit! It’s an urban legend!” Joe exclaimed.
“The Nazis never ordered Danish Jews to wear Stars of David. Therefore, the King nor the Danes ever sewed them on their clothing. It’s one big fat lie,” Joe vented.
“In my research Uris may have read a 1942 British report that said, the King “threatened” to wear the star if Danish Jews were forced to and they never were.”
“Well kishmir tuchus. I believed that myth for over 50 years. I’ve seen it on the tube and in print at least 100 times. But thinking about it I have never seen a photo of the King wearing the star.”
“I wonder if Uris knew that it was a myth when he wrote the novel?” I added.
Joe continued, “But the Danes turned out to be pretty good guys. After they learned that the Nazis were about to round up Jews and send them to the camps, the Danes smuggled most of them in small boats to neutral Sweden.”
“You know what’s another myth?” Joe asked.
“I’m all ears.” I replied.
“That the Jews all went like sheep. That they didn’t kill the Krauts and the Japs. And it took the State of Israel to prove Jews had balls.”
“During the Second World War, over one and a half million of our brethren fought in the U.S., Soviet Union or British armies and in the Jewish resistance—like my dad. That’s a lot men.”
I put down the cup, looked Joe in the eyes and said, “This morning over coffee and donuts, you and the Gershwin brothers taught me a valuable life lesson.”
“What’s that?” Joe inquired.”It’s from the Gershwin opera, Porgy and Bess. It’s a song about the Bible.”
“Which song?” Joe asked.
“It Ain’t Necessarily So,” I replied.