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Chapter 12 - The B'nai Khaim at Home and in the Community What musical instruments do members of your family play? (Who?) Anybody in your family (a) sings; (b) paints? (Who?) What special talents in your family? We asked these questions of all our married females as representing the family. In 22 of 34 households of our native-born females one or both parents and/or growing children played a musical instrument-piano, violin, cello, trumpet, guitar, the saxophone. In only three of the 22 homes did children alone play musical instruments. In 20 of the 28 households of native-born males (as reported by their wives) one or both parents and/or growing children played musical instruments and, again, in only three of the 20 homes did children alone perform. Altogether, instrumental music was played in over two-thirds of the second-generation B'nai Khaim households. (In many cases, of course, children were still too young to take music lessons.) In foreign-born homes the percentage was lower-56 in homes of foreign-born females and 54 per cent in homes of foreign-born males. Several families were especially musical. The report from one of these reads: "Mother plays the piano, one son plays the clarinet and sax, one son plays the flute and piccolo; one, the drums. From another: "Husband and daughter play the piano and husband also the bass viol." Recently a native-born B'nai Khaim mother wrote me: "All three girls take piano lessons, dancing lessons and attend Sunday School." The oldest is beginning to play the guitar and the younger two "enjoy strumming away at the autoharp." This mother is an accomplished guitarist. The wife of a native-born B'nai Khaim reported one son playing the bass viol, one son the cello, one the piano and the harp. This mother is a professional singer and plays the piano and the organ. In another family, the father is an accomplished violinist, although a mathematician by profession. His wife and son play the piano. Two native-born male B'nai Khaim, one a mathematician and one a psychoanalyst, have held graduate fellowships in piano at the Juilliard School of Music. Both these pianists engage in playing non-professional chamber music, as does also the mathematician violinist. Painting is an avocation for 36 per cent of the families. In two or three cases the avocation borders on the professional. Less than half as many, however, claim singing as an avocation. A very few - 16 out of the 111 families-lay claim to possession of special talents, in dancing, sculpture, "athletic sports," photography. One foreign-born female reports writing "short stories and poetry for my own amusement." One mother reports, "my son writes poetry," and another claims "a passionate love of music" in her children. (See note #1) The B'nai Khaim not only read, paint and play music but, like other Americans, also play games, and enjoy sports and many hobbies. They join lodges and clubs, and engage in community affairs in which they relate to their gentile neighbors and fellow-workers. The next table lists some of the sports, hobbies and games in which the B'nai Khaim and their spouses engage. (See table 19.) Nearly 90 per cent of our native-born groups and 55 per cent of the foreign-born engage in these activities, varying from card playing and bowling to Mah long and chess. The listing covers only activities in which four or more individuals participated. Bowling is equally popular with men and women. More men than women swim and play golf, while more women play cards. The surprising finding is that more women than men play tennis. The foreign-born and the native-born differ in the choice of activities even more than men and women do, reflecting probably chiefly difference in age. The figures are given in Table 20. The foreign-born lead in card-playing and three of our four chess players are foreign-born. However, they fall behind the native-born almost entirely in sports requiring physical effort such as swimming, bowling, tennis. Probably they are getting too old for that. It is the younger, the second generation, that engages in physical sports, including baseball, ice skating, skiing - the women along with the men, except in baseball. In addition to the above listings, the B'nai Khaim, or their spouses, variously engage in nearly 40 other sports, games and hobbies: fishing, hiking, photography, horseback riding, camping - acculturation in the raw. Other Americans may engage in these activites in different proportions than do the B'nai Khaim, but this is likely to be due mainly to differing environment. Americans who live in the country are likely to do more fishing than those who live in the city. Like most middle-class Americans, the B'nai Khaim seek social stimulation and community identification through associating with others in religious brotherhoods, in lodges and in secular clubs. Nearly 80 per cent of our people said they belonged to one or another of such organizations, generally to more than one. As would be expected, the organizations are largely Jewishoriented or Israel-oriented: Temple clubs, Jewish community centers, B'nai B'rith, American Jewish Congress; Hadassah and other Zionist groups. Many, however, are non-sectarian, such as Masonic lodges and the charitable and philanthropic groups. Very few of the secular "clubs" to which our people say they belong are of the usual restrictive variety. Mostly they are business clubs, such as "The Exchange Club," investment clubs, Lion's Club, realtor's clubs, etc. Only six may possibly be classed as restrictive social "country clubs," and all but two of these six, it seems, are non-sectarian. The two are exclusively Jewish, so "exclusive" indeed that only the very rich Jews in town are eligible for membership. Several B'nai Khaim, in addition, belong to University clubs. Individually and as members of one or another of these clubs, lodges, and religious and secular associations, the B'nai Khaim and their spouses engage in voluntary activities of service to the general community. More than half of our 211 married B'nai Khaim and spouses participate in such activities, serving as hospital volunteers, collecting for various health drives, in the Red Cross. As would be expected, our native-born and, in particular, the women, are most active in these services. One woman reported serving in more than five of these causes: United Fund, mental health drives, collecting for multiple sclerosis funds, the Red Cross, the City of Hope medical ship. Community Fund and P.T.A. record the most participants. Altogether, 109 B'nai Khaim and spouses gave free services to over 40 causes of benefit to the general community. When we recall how the B'nai Khaim were similarly active in service to the Jewish community (Chapter 10), we may conclude that our people are possessed of a high degree of civic conscience. In clubs, in lodges, and in their volunteer community activities the B'nai Khaim rub shoulders with their gentile neighbors. We learned in Chapter 6 that 94, or nearly 90 per cent, of our families live in mixed or gentile neighborhoods. How personally intimate do they become with one another as a result? "Do you have any close gentile friends?" we asked. "As close as your Jewish friends? Close enough to visit each others homes freely? Eat at each other's homes?" Table 21 gives the answers to these and related questions. Respondents from as many as 80 of the 108 B'nai Khaim families who answered the questionnaire said they had close gentile friends, but only 55 claimed them to be as close as their Jewish friends. As many as 70 visited each other's homes freely, and 66 said they ate at each other's homes. Eighty-nine exchanged Christmas cards with their gentile friends,(See note #2) but only half as many exchanged Christmas presents. From here on all gentile influence tends to disappear. Only six of our people exchange Christmas presents with other Jews and only five have a Christmas tree in their homes. Only 16 give Christmas presents to their children, but 59 give them. Khanukah presents. Of the five Christmas trees, three were in homes with gentile spouses, one in the home of a half-gentile spouse, and only one in a home in which both parents were Jews. In no case was the tree a religious symbol. In one mixed family the children topped the decorations with the Star of David. One child of mixed marriage, visiting an orthodox Jewish friend at Khanukah and learning that he will be getting a daily present eight days in a row, said to his friend's mother, "I am half - Jewish and get only Christmas presents. When I grow up I'll be all Jewish!" Notes to Chapter 12 (1) That so few as 16 mothers claimed special talent for their children testifies not so much to a lack of such talent as, I would judge, to the essential credibility of their responses. (2) In contrast, only 58 exchanged Jewish New Years cards with their fellow - Jews.