The Arty Semite

Memoir of An Algerian Jewish Prostitute

By Benjamin Ivry

“Locked Rooms: the Story of an Algerian Jewish Prostitute,” released on Amazon Kindle by Nouveau Monde editions, is the work of Germaine Aziz, who died in 2003 at age 77 after having survived daunting challenges. Aziz’s memoir, which originally appeared from Les éditions Stock in 1980 and was reprinted in 2007 by Nouveau Monde, is marked by the eloquence of plain speech.

Aziz was born in Paris to a grievously poor Algerian Jewish family – her father was the son of a noted rabbi from Oran. After her mother’s early death, Aziz was sent to live with relatives in that city’s Jewish ghetto. There, she noted that Arabs and Jews were “intertwined, united by the same music, the same poverty, the same language.” Both were also despised by French colonials: “Jews and Arabs received the same contempt from Frenchmen, as picturesque elements, foul but colorful.” Aziz’s life alternated between celebrating Shabbat at her paternal grandfather’s home and hearing anti-Semitic insults from the French. These became worse during the Second World War when Aziz observed, “There was no need for the Germans to occupy Algeria for hostility towards Jews to spread.”

To escape crushing poverty, at seventeen, Aziz accepted a job as a bar hostess in Bône, a city in northeastern Algeria now called Annaba. Her employer enslaved her as a prostitute, forcing her to work in windowless rooms. In the original French, her title “Les chambres closes” also implies “sealed rooms.” Aziz vividly describes the odors, diseases, and filth she endured in a series of brothels, where she was bought and sold with no chance of escape, due to police and governmental cooperation with a system that treated prostitutes like chattel. For fifteen years she tried to flee, before finally returning to Paris in the 1950s and comparative liberty, albeit that of a streetwalker.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: prostitution, Simone Signoret, Germaine Aziz

Out and About: The New York Times Goes to KlezKamp; New Hanukkah Song From Matisyahu

By Ezra Glinter

Getty Images

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Yiddish Song, West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, Sex and the City, Saul Bellow, Salomon Maimon, Prostitution, Out and About, Matisyahu, KlezKamp, Lee Siegel, Jewish Quarterly, Jerry Stiller, Ingrid Pitt, Hanukkah, Ezra Glinter, Charlie Chaplin, Bob Dylan

The Shaming of Eliot Spitzer

By John Semley

Getty Images
Eliot Spitzer addresses the media with his wife Silda Wall to announce that he will resign from office after revelations that he had been a client of a prostitution ring.

Is there anything more reprehensible than white-collar crime? Certainly, there are any number of moral offenses that may trump the impulses of rich white men to make themselves even richer. But even the most egregious of these can be rationalized (rightly or wrongly) through psychological profiling and the ascription of some mental disorder or social disease. But piggybacking on the investments of the working people to defraud them and pay yourself a salary in the hundreds of millions of dollars? Rationalize that. Unless the DSM-IV has a listing for “jackass,” these guys are crooks, plain and simple.

As the self-appointed “Sheriff of Wall Street,” Eliot Spitzer did fine work rounding up these overpaid criminals and muscling them into the national spotlight. As New York’s Attorney General, Spitzer exceeded the call of duty, setting his sights not just on local scam and flam artists, but on all kinds of corporate and securities hucksters. He was the brash, two-fisted brawler who knew that the only way to clean up white-collar America was to bust the right skulls. He was a thorn in the side of rich white men hoping to hold themselves above the law and moral responsibility. To others, he was kind of a hero.

Then he had to go and have sex with a couple of prostitutes.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Ziggy, White-Collar Crime, Sudoko, Robin Hood, Sheriff of Wall Street, Prostitution, Monopoly, John Semley, GFE, Film, Eliot Spitzer, Documentaries, Democratic Party, DSM-IV, Client 9, Bill Clinton, BBBJ, Alex Gibney, Ashley Dupre




Find us on Facebook!
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • This 007 hates guns, drives a Prius, and oh yeah — goes to shul with Scarlett Johansson's dad.
  • Meet Alvin Wong. He's the happiest man in America — and an observant Jew. The key to happiness? "Humility."
  • "My first bra was a training bra, a sports bra that gave the illusion of a flat chest."
  • "If the people of Rwanda can heal their broken hearts and accept the Other as human, so can we."
  • Aribert Heim, the "Butcher of Mauthausen," died a free man. How did he escape justice?
  • This guy skipped out on seder at his mom's and won a $1 million in a poker tournament. Worth it?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.