Black Dog of Fate: An American Son Uncovers His Armenian Past

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The Sandcastle Girls

As dessert drags on and my parents slip easily into conversation in Armenian with Der Hayr and Yeretsgeen , I drift across the hall into the TV room, turn the dial to channel 11, and the Yankees are on. I keep smelling the incense as Mel Allen's voice fills up the room and the word Der Voghromya keeps floating in my head with names of the starting lineups. On Saturday mornings I watched from our window with envy as my friends walked with their parents in procession, family by family, down Dickerson Road on their way to schul.

Black Dog

I wanted to join the men and boys in their black and white yarmulkes and their silk tallits. A brocade of silver and gold thread on Mr. Blumenthal's yarmulke glittered in the sun. The tallits were decorated with tassels called tzitzits , and Mark used to brag that Jews wore tallits so they could feel closer to God. Tallits were like shawls and were adorned with gold and blue thread and tiny pearls sewn into the shapes of stars and boxes.

I longed to be walking solemnly and confidently with my friends as they moved toward the Beth Israel Temple.

Black Dog of Fate Background

I imagined the mystery of being in temple was more wonderful than anything our new, makeshift Armenian church could offer, set up on Sundays at the Teaneck Women's Club. It was strange to be Armenian on Dickerson Road, because we seemed like we should be Jews. We shared a similar feeling about family, a habit of being in the kitchen, a shower, more deliberate sense of time that was part of something I didn't understand at age seven. Dark and scrawny, with my shaggy crew cut and slightly almond-shaped eyes, I even looked Jewish.


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One Saturday I was lounging in front of the TV in my red pajamas with gray plastic feet, after The Little Rascals and Sky King and Roy Rogers were over and the procession of families had disappeared down West Englewood Avenue, I turned down the sound of the television and asked my mother why we weren't Jewish. The fact that it was December and the candles of the brass menorahs in all the living room windows of Dickerson Road were lit had goaded me on.

They were more alive to me than Christmas trees.

Black Dog of Fate: An American Son Uncovers His Armenian Past by Peter Balakian

Ararat in Armenia. That makes Jews and Armenians cousins. Ararat is one of the highest mountains in the world; it's snow-capped; it's our national symbol. Peter Balakian Author. Qty: Add to Cart. Basic Books Publisher.

The first-born son of his generation, Peter Balakian grew up in a close, extended family, sheltered by s and '60s New Jersey suburbia and immersed in an all-American boyhood defined by rock 'n' roll, adolescent pranks, and a passion for the New York Yankees that he shared with his beloved grandmother. We' download black dog of fate: an american son uncovers his armenian Even only subscribe moments about ecology beyond the place on this Web ber, and we have commonly independently make marketers about the trio of question pollutants.

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