February 25, 2009
By David Suissa
“Where are you from?” is a simple enough question. But when I asked Lisa Alcalay Klug the other day, she did everything she could not to answer. At first she tried to change the subject, and then she just smiled and said, “Right outside of Los Angeles.”
“But where outside of Los Angeles?” I wanted to know. What was she trying to hide? Was her coyness connected to her new coolness? Many of you might know that for the past few months, Klug has been traveling the country promoting her new book, “Cool Jew,” which has put her right up there on the Jewish hip-o-meter. So, was her hometown not in keeping with being a cool Jew?
Apparently so, because she finally blurted it out: “San Bernardino.”
Ouch. Is there any place less cool than San Bernardino? No wonder she kept stalling. Out of sympathy, I mumbled something about San Bernardino having a cool Chabad rabbi, but that didn’t get me far.
Eventually, after our long morning conversation at Delice café last week, I discovered the real reason why Klug was hiding the identity of her hometown. It wasn’t because San Bernardino is not a very hip place. Rather, it was because that was the place where she was introduced to that ancient malignancy called anti-Semitism, where, growing up, the attacks of “dirty Jew” she heard in school had to compete with the teaching of “proud Jew” she heard at home.
Both sides left a mark on her.
It’s clear that the “dirty Jew” side is not something she enjoys talking about. The subject is way too dark, and this woman is seriously happy. She’s been on a career high for most of the past year...
Causes Lisa Alcalay Klug Supports
One Family Fund
San Francisco AIDS Walk