Name Isn’t Smith

In relation to “Anti-Semitism in 1960s Saskatoon” and related articles, Neil Remington Abramson commented as follows (e-mail correspondence reproduced with permission):

There has been a history of anti-semitism in Canada. When I was a kid, Jewish friends of my parents related stories about growing up in Quebec. When we arrived in Saskatoon with the surname “Abramson”, we used to get mailings from Christian groups offering to convert us. And there was that ship full of refugees from Nazi Germany, the MS St. Louis, that was refused landing in Canada (and the USA). They had to return to Hitler’s ovens.

It seems to continue to work both ways. At various points in my academic career, several professors with possibly Jewish names took an interest in me, until they appreciated that I was not Jewish. Just before one of several career-referenced evaluations, one committee member came to ask me bluntly if I was Jewish, as if that mattered. I told him I was not. Then he voted against me, as I later found out. I don’t know if it was because I said I wasn’t, or he suspected my veracity, and whether one was Jewish was somehow relevant to his assessment of my academic work.

My daughter has talked about changing her surname to my original birth surname, Remington, to avoid “confusion”. I now publish with a “Remington Abramson” surname, though not to avoid confusion. Instead, I want to honour my murdered birth father, William Remington, and my stepfather, Edward Abramson.

I am the same person, whether Remingon or not, Abramson or not, “white” or not, Christian or not, male or not, straight or not.

We would all get along much better if we could all just be human together. I think St. Paul said such.


About brucelarochelle
This entry was posted in Anti-Semitism, Community of Scholars, Saskatoon Reflections. Bookmark the permalink.

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