Out of the Killing Fields

Robert Hirschfield tunes in to the ambiguity of silence in an émigré community.Robert Hirschfield

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© Panha Seng

The gray frame house on Marion Avenue in the East Bronx stands sandwiched in between two nearly identical white-and-yellow frame houses. A perfectly assimilated structure but for the bright, multistriped Cambodian Buddhist flag out front. The Jotanaram Temple has been a peculiar part of this solidly Hispanic neighborhood since 1985.

Once, many years ago, in its Jewish incarnation, this neighborhood was my neighborhood. The five- and six-story brick buildings that rub endlessly against one another, inflicting heinous boredom on me as a child, are still there. The Valentine Theatre, in which I saw Satyajit Ray’s The World of Apu, has gone. I find it has been replaced by Fino Men’s Wear.

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