When you live in Paris, the best place to go on Sundays is Le Marais
métro St. Paul, line 1.
Because Le Marais is the Jewish quarter,
on Sundays when everywhere else
the supermarkets and post offices close
and the wide boulevards, the Champs Elysées and the Rue de Rennes,
appear wider in their emptiness,
its lean streets throng contrarily,
burgeoning into their own metropolis.
One Sunday, I led my boyfriend, who is somewhat Muslim
in the way that I am somewhat Jewish, into those streets
crowded by Hebrew bookstores, synagogues, bagel shops.
We watched the tourists eat falafel from pita bread
the children streaming from Sunday school,
and I saw resemblances to myself in those people –
something about the arc of the eyebrows or a jawbone,
the way they spoke loudly, happy to share their opinions
with anyone who might hear.
We entered one of the bookstores, and in the back
we took guilty photos of him wearing a yarmulke
examined picturebooks telling the Torah-stories
and I explained, pointing out symbols,
saying every name I could dredge up
from the weeded plots of memory
to hide the acres and acres
I found I did not know.
– Zoë Bogart
Download “A Jewish (American) girl in Paris” as a PDF.