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Musing About Identity.

Wendy Freund, MSEd., LCSW
A word from Judy Gringorten
This is the second article we are publishing on our website that continues our new feature of posting essays by our members.
In this essay our esteemed member, Wendy Freund discusses her thoughts about the immigration policies she has observed with horror today, and her own family's immigration after fleeing anti semitism in Eastern Europe. It is very a very poweful piece. Please read and comment as you like at the end.

I have been reading about the immigration problem and the news about the border and reacting with outrage and horror, especially when I see children separated from their families. I began musing on my own story and looking for ways to make sense of the current situation. Both of my parents came from families fleeing anti-Semitism and chaos in Eastern Europe and the Ukraine in the wake of World War I—or so I thought and that was how I built my cultural place in the world.

I always said I was Hungarian, although my mother was born in Romania, Transylvania but her family always said they were Hungarian. The border changed after World War I so my grandmother was born in Hungary and my mother was born in the same house but in Romania. My father was born in the United States and the youngest son, the only one not born in the Ukraine. I steadfastly ate Hungarian food and sought out an opportunity to go to Hungary—searching for my roots in Budapest where no one in my family ever lived. After my mother died, I obtained her birth certificate and learned she was actually Romanian and to my surprise her religion and my grandparents' religion was listed as Eastern Orthodox.

I am sharing all this to explain that I see identity as elusive and shifting as the borders between countries change and personal safety becomes at risk. It is entirely possible that my mother's birth certificate was falsified for political reasons and to ensure the family's safety but what does any of this mean to who I really am? If we open ourselves up to the certainty that we are humans managing to live in this world, we can build a fluid personal identity that has individual meaning and grounds us but does not become rigid and hurtful to other groups of people. Those of us lucky enough to live in a democracy and in the United States need to realize it is all a turn of the screw and the best we can do is safeguard what is good and right about living in a multi- cultural city and country.

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      Judith Gringorten, LCSW, DCSW — Executive Director
      Robin Halpern, LCSW–R, DCSW — Assistant Director
      Special Projects Coordinator: Leslie Goldstein, LCSW, BCD
      Articles &... Editor: Robin Halpern, LCSW–R, DCSW

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