Tila K: Tell us about yourself
Always a hard question to answer!! I am the grandson of Polish and Turkish immigrants to Mexico City, where I spent the first half of my life. I had a lively childhood. It was full of great experiences and notable people. I went to high school in San Diego, college in upstate New York, and graduate school in Pittsburgh. I’ve been in DC for a little over 2 years. I like to eat, read and other good things like that.
TK: What is the Jewish community like in Mexico?
Jewish life in Mexico is interesting! Despite small numbers, Jews are well represented in the working sector, in the arts, politics, and society. The Jewish community is very close, although there is a noticeable breakdown between ethnic groups in a way that is more pronounced than in the US. This is less the case today than in the past, when marrying outside your ethnic group was frowned upon. Also, Jews in Mexico have blended their Judaism with several aspects of the surrounding culture, as they have in other places. And since Judaism and Mexican cultures are both rich, the product is vibrant and endlessly interesting.
Stephen R.: What Spanish phrase or word does the English language really need?
“No Manches,” which literally translates to “don’t stain,” but is really a clean substitute for a vulgar term, which is used to convey surprise in a number of different contexts. It’s like the joker card. It’s kind of how the phrase “forget about it” is used in the movie Donnie Brasco. But I don’t really know anyone who goes around saying “forget about it” for every possible situation, except if they just watched the movie and are really enthusiastic about it. But, most Mexicans use “no manches” in a number of contexts.
SR: A few world cups back, the United States beat Mexico in the round of 16. Was the corner kick goal the USA scored on a hand ball or a legitimate header for a goal? Who were you rooting for?
Ah, nice attempt to test my allegiance, which I pledge to the flag… But really, that was a handball, or at least not a deliberate handball as the ref later claimed. I lost my faith in all humanity after that terrifying incident.
SR: You said you like to eat and read. What food and book go particularly well together?
“Like Water for Chocolate” and chocolate; “Green Eggs and Ham,” and green eggs but no ham; “Who Moved my Cheese?” and Tofu; “Charlotte’s Web” and bacon. Ok, never mind that one. I don’t eat bacon only because I have a soft spot for Wilbur the pig and because I learned first-hand the trauma of eating a personified animal when back in Mexico the cook killed my pet turkey “Daniel” and made him into dinner! Very, very traumatic!
SR: Many graduating high schoolers are asked for a senior profile for which they have to pick a theme song. Mine was “Damn it feels good to be a gangsta” … For obvious reasons. What would your song be? And why?
Damnit Stephen!! Don’t you be stealing my song! I’m the only gangsta in this piece cuz real gangstas don’t flex them cuz they know they got it! Got it? Ummm… I guess you can also be a gangster and we can then both be gangsters?
TK: Where can we find you on a Friday night?
I try to frequent 6th and I or DC minyan but lately I’ve been a bit of a hermit. Now that it’s summertime I am determined to get out a bit more.