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Category: Interviews »

Subject: Cultural Studies »

Bernard Korbman on Migrating to Australia

Bernard Korbman and Mara Moustafine.



Date Added:

21 April 2009


source not available


mov (Quicktime);

File size:

7 MB






I didn’t have a sense of my Jewish identity until I was in my early 30s. When I was born, I was not circumcised, because my mother had been in Auschwitz, so – and that was the first way that they told who a Jewish boy was, so I was not circumcised and in fact, I was not told I was Jewish. I didn’t know.


The first time I knew I was Jewish was when I arrived in Australia, because in France, with the official separate constitutional separation of church and school, never – there was never any religious instruction in the school. And the first – I arrived at school and on the first Friday of school, we had religious instructions in those days and a little Jewish man came up to me and said, “Come with me little one.” You know, “You’re Jewish.” I went with him and he was very nice and I went home and said to my mother, “This little fellow said I was Jewish, am I and what is it?” And my mother could say, “Yes you are.” But to, “what is it?” she didn’t know herself because she came from a very assimilated background, which she’d had nannies and governesses and her father had a batman because he was an army officer and so on, so she knew nothing about the religion.


I think her – she knew she was Jewish but yeah, very little about her religion. And then there was something about – because of my background, I was never that comfortable in the Jewish community and so I hung out mainly with non-Jewish kids. I married a non-Jewish woman. And we had two children, but the one – one of the nice things about my ex-wife is that she used to always say, you know when the children were born, “Buy some Jewish storybooks.” So I started to read Shalom Aleichem and all these things and she and I would read them to the children, because she always said, “Your – our children need to know about their heritage.” And when we split up, was when I started to get interested and finally I ended up starting to study with some rabbis and the I met my wife, who is Jewish and she came from a traditional home and kept kosher and all these things.


And through her, I started to become more and more involved within the Jewish community.

End transcript