By Gerald Hausman
Santa Fe, NM, USA

Children’s book writer David Greenberg once said jokingly to me, “I am feeling a little bit Jew-ish, how about you?”

I was thinking about David’s sense of humor when, just this morning, I found a review written by an internet troll who called me, “A lying Jew bastard.”

Curious about what compelled such a ridiculous appellation, aside from ignorance and prejudice, I wondered if the very name Hausman triggered this response.
Gerald Hausman

Some hours later, I discovered a family heritage that I had forgotten about. Namely (so to say) the fact that Hausman is what might be called a Jewish name as well as a German one.

However my family, on my father’s side, came from ZemplĂ©n, Hungary. On my mother’s side, they came from Plymouth, Massachusetts, and before that, jolly old England. Yes, Mayflower folks, and in fact, the first family to be legally married in Plymouth. In the words of an editor of mine: “On the Jewish roster, that makes you nothing. It’s got to come from the mother’s side.”

Still, I feel “a little bit Jew-ish.” And I do recall being at an editorial meeting in Manhattan where the director of affairs, the head of a major mass market publishing company said, “Well, here we are. We’re all Jews and we’re all smoking.” He meant cigarettes, as was the editorial fashion in the 1970s.

Back to the name Hausman. It was my friend Jan Wiener, whose family was wiped out by the holocaust, who took me to the “Name Buying Street” in Prague.

Jewish Quarter - Prague (1896)
“This is a street like the one in Hungary where your family probably bought the name Hausman,” he said. Jan added, “Names that sounded good were actually purchased as early as the Hapsburg dynasty. There were name-buying streets in Hungary as well as Prague, and other cities in Europe. A good name was worth a lot. You didn’t want to lug around a name like Snitzlelgruber or Katzenellenbogen. This became especially true in the New World at the turn of the last century.”

Jan was an historian as well as a freedom fighter, an author, and a Jew.

“Your heritage is secure,” he told me. “Your line of lineage comes down from both parents. We don’t have to follow that rigid orthodox formality – ‘It’s got to come from the mother’s side.’”

I was amused by a Pueblo Indian elder from New Mexico who asked me what my background was. I told him directly and he laughed. “You’re just a fruitcake like all the rest of us.” Some time after he said this, my lifelong Navajo friend, Ray Brown, said, “I would like to hear about your native heritage.”

I told him my mother’s family had some “American Indian blood”, and he chuckled. “Who cares about that? I want to hear about the first natives, the first wanderers, the oldest tribe of all, the Jews of Genesis. Got any of those in your family?”

It was around the same time that my D.A.R. great aunt said, “Someone told me your mother married a Jewish person. I told them that was not true.”

So, down we come to the fact we are all a bunch of fruitcakes, first wanderers, and happy-go-lucky, once upon a time, name buyers. That makes us all, if we like, “a little bit Jewish.”

(Gerald Hausman photo credit: Mariah Fox)

Gerald Hausman
Gerald Hausman at Stay Thirsty Publishing


Gerald Hausman is the author of Not Since Mark Twain - Stories and a regular contributor to Stay Thirsty Magazine.

All opinions expressed are solely those of its author and do not reflect the opinions of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.