The Missing Jewish Ghetto of Trieste

We were a small group that morning; no more than eight and I recognized one of the Argentinians from the Passover service. He was a short dark young man wearing a black suit too warm for the hot weather. I barely noticed his yarmulke until the tour guide, a tall woman wearing large sunglasses and a red suit, told him to take his “hat” off.

“Excuse me,” my mother said to the tour guide.

“It is risky for him to wear it,” the tour guide answered.

One of the women in the group must have been Argentine too and translated the tour guide’s message. The young man looked angry, but took off his yarmulke and stored it in his bag. I stared at the tour operator. She wore very high heels for someone conduct- ing a walking tour…

The lethargy of our group in the day’s heat and the hilly cobblestone streets that the tour guide so deftly maneuvered in her heels but made my own legs ache. The Argentine man, even though he had a full head of hair, seemed almost bald without his yarmulke. He stayed in the back of our group and focused more on the birds in the sky than any sites. Before I knew it, the tour guide had returned us to the cruise ship.

“Grazie,” the tour guide told us with a little bow. “I hope you enjoyed our little trip to Trieste.”

“I hope she’s not expecting a tip,” I heard someone mutter behind me.

“We did not see The Jewish Ghetto,” my mother said loudly.

“Excuse me?”

The way the tour guide looked at my mother did something to me. Even though her eyes were hidden behind her sunglasses, I knew her stare was cold and dismissive.

“That’s right,” I said, taking out my brochure. “It says right here on the itinerary. A visit to the legendary Jewish Ghetto of Trieste. “

The tour guide took the guide a little too forcefully out of my hand. She glanced at it and frowned. “A mistake,” she said, returning the brochure to me.

“I think not,” my mother said, using that voice I knew so well when I was in trouble.

The tour guide pouted. “They did not tell me this was included on the tour.”

“Then take us there now,” I told her.

The Argentine man placed his yarmulke on his head. Our small group surrounded the tour guide. I thought she would be scared but she just laughed.

“No matter what country you are from, you are all the same.”