Bella is Jewish. Her parents had met after their time in Holocaust camps and moved to the United States as refugees.
Kalmen was 39 and Rivka was 26.
Polish Rivka was told to say that she was German because the United States was still accepting that nationality but had put a stop to immigrants from Eastern Europe, her homeland before World War II stripped her of her previous identity.
But Bella doesn’t yet know or understand that. She’s never asked about the tattoos on their arms. And she doesn’t understand the importance, and bravery, of fixing a Jewish mezuzah to their front entrance.
She grew up in a time when the Lower East Side was diversifying and people from many different cultures were interacting and learning about each other. To a point.