Saturday, July 05, 2008

M is for Mokum

Mokum is the Yiddish word for Amsterdam. [pronounced Moe-kum.] Through a bit of research (yes, I occasionally research before putting things up here) I found that it means literally "place" or "safe haven," and is also used for other cities. I've actually had someone write me and tell me that she "misses her Mokum."

It's not a reference I hear a lot. It threw me at first. It was somewhere in my research when I was writing about activities and things to do in Amsterdam. I said, "What's this Mokum they keep talking about?" Sounds like a coffee drink, doesn't it?

The picture above is the Jewish Historical Museum, which is housed in two former synagogues. Nice little artsy six-pointed star there in the middle. Apparently, most of the Jewish Quarter was torn down to make way for the subway and other modern amenities that the city thought were more important than a Jewish Quarter. Outside the Opera House (Het Musiektheater) there is an outline of the place where there used to be an orphanage for Jewish children.

And right near that, is this monument that memorializes the Jews lost in the war. It's on a nice, busy little waterway corner near the opera house. A good place to sit and watch tourists pass by in boats - by the boatload. What would we do without our tourist?

The weather here is sort of perfect for me. Gray and warm. Not great for pictures, but nice weather to bike around in wearing a cotton shirt and jeans. And it feels very mokum, very much a safe haven for me.

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