My Race – a Book Review

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When I read about My Race by Lorraine Lotzof Abramson in The Jewish Week, I knew I’d enjoy it and ordered it straight away. I have been interested in South Africa ever since I was a teenager, maybe because I had heard about it through my parents who visited this country in 1976.

My Race is an autobiography. Lorraine Lotzof Abramson whose grand-parents had immigrated from Eastern Europe grew up in South Africa. Regretting that she had not questioned them more about their lives, Lorraine Lotzof Abramson wanted her granddaughters to know about her life that’s why she decided to write this book.

The title is a two-fold reference to Lorraine’s status: she was a white Jew in South Africa and an athlete who was a national champion and a winner of nine Maccabiah medals – because South Africa has been barred from taking part in the 18th Olympic Games in Tokyo Lorraine, Lotzof Abramson never took part in the Olympics although she had been selected by her country.

Being written for her teenage granddaughters, My Race is a wonderful book for anyone who wants to know more about South Africa. Lorraine Lotzof Abramson relates her own story against the backdrop South Africa’s history.

She is also quite honest about her family’s ambiguous position in South Africa. Her mother was a liberal who regularly criticized the country’s racist government at home and as Jews they were never made to feel they were quite as South-Africans as the Afrikaners. Yet Abramson acknowledges that they enjoyed the advantages and privileges of the white population such as the right to vote, the freedom to move and settle anywhere in the country, a free education …

On a more personal level, there are beautiful passages in the book: Lorraine’s years in high school where she and the other forty Jewish girls were able to practice their faith, her romance with the American swimmer who was to become her husband, her lovely tributes to her parents.

My Race is a book I deeply enjoyed and which I strongly recommend.

Lorraine Lotzof Abramson on YouTube

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15 thoughts on “My Race – a Book Review

  1. Thank you for the informative review. I had a friend/acquaintance who grew up in South Africa, and another who was born there but grew up in Israel (both Jews). It would be interesting to learn what it was like to be Jewish there.

    • Lorraine Abramson shares quite a bit about growing up as a Jew in South Africa at the time of Apartheid. At a personal level when I was a student on a visit to Italy I met a red-hair from South Africa in a youth hostel dorm. When she heard that she was from that country, a black girl (I don’t remember where she was from) had a go at her. The South African girl girl burst into tears saying that – as a Jew – she did not feel she could be held responsible for the political situation.

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  4. Ilana, I want to thank you so much for your kind review and interesting comments about my memoir:
    My Race:
    A Jewish Girl Growing Up Under Apartheid In South Africa
    I also appreciate all the posted comments. I’m gratified to see that the story is resonating with so many people.
    Best wishes,
    Lorraine Lotzof Abramson

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