Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Their hollow inheritance

Nolo putes pravos hominess peccata lucrari;
Temporibus peccata latent, sed tempore parent.
— Marcus Porcius Cato Uticensis

I am translating from a Russian translation of a Polish text. Therefore, it will most likely not do any kind of justice to the original. Plus, I am not sure I will translate the names of the locales correctly. If you have suggestions, please comment. An excerpt from Andrzej Sapkowski’s Lux Perpetua:
— My people, — she suddenly said after long silence, — come from Nadrein, under Ksanten. Almost everyone in the family was murdered in 1106. A crusade! Deus lo volt! The knights Emich and Gottshalk heard Pope Urban II’s call, and with enthusiasm turned it into life. They began the fight for Christ’s Coffin from butchering Nadrein Jews. In Ksanten, only one boy survived, Yehuda, probably because he converted.

Under the name of Guido Fonseca he settled in Italy, where he returned to the faith of the ancestors; in other words, as you people say it, he returned to judaica perfidia. His descendants, Jews again, were expelled from Naples in 1288. They spread throughout the world. Some of the family settled in Bern. In 1294, a child disappeared there. Without a trace, under unknown circumstances. A clear case: a ritual murder; the Jews must have kidnapped the kid and made a matza out of him. For this all Jews were expelled from Bern. My ancestor, a rabbi, carrying then the name of Mevorach ben Kalonimos, settled in Franconia, in Weinheim.

In 1298, in Franconian settlement of Rottingen someone apparently desecrated something. Poor knight Rindfleisch saw this as a sign of G-d. “The blasphemy was done by Jews” said the sign. Kill the Jews, you who has faith in the Lord. The faithful ones turned out en masse; Rindfleisch became the head of the murderers, with whom he started working on the Divine Plan. After the communities in Rottenburg, Vuzeburg and Bamberg were exterminated to the last person, came the turn of Weinheim. On September 20th, Rindflesch and his friends entered the ghetto. Rabbi Mevorach and his family, all Jews, women and children, were pushed into the synagogue and burned alive together with it. Only seventy five people. Not so many, considering that in Franconia and Schwabbia alone, Rindfleisch killed five thousand.

Some of them, using more creative methods than burning.

With the rest of relatives in the diaspora — same classical cases. Converted great-grandfather, Paolo Fonseca, was killed in 1319 in France, during the rebellion of Pastoureaux, the little shepherds. Pastoureaux killed, as a rule, the nobility, monks and priests, but the Jews and converts were taken care of with especial passion, oftentimes with the help of local population. Knowing what Pastoureaux did with women and children locked in the cellar of Verden-on-Haronne, great-grandfather Paolo with his hands smothered the great-grandmother and two children.

Grandfather Yitzchak Iohanon, who settled in Elzas, lost almost all of his family in 1338, during some of the famous massacres done by the peasant bands who called themselves as Judenschledger. One of my great-grandmothers, whom nobody was merciful enough to kill, was gang-raped many times. So, perhaps since those times I have some mix of Christian blood. You are not happy about it? I, imagine, am not either.

Riksa grew silent. Reinevan coughed.

— What was... next?

— 1349.

— The Black Death.

— Of course. The ones whose fault was in the starting and spreading of the disease were naturally Jews. It was a Jewish plan to kill all Christians. The rabbi of Toledo, Peirat, about whom you must have heard, sent emissaries throughout Europe to poison wells, springs and fountains. Then the good Christians began to punish the poisoners. On a large scale.

Many of my relatives were amongst the six thousand burnt alive in Meintz, two thousand in Strasburg, among the victims of massacres in Berne, Basel, Freiburg, Spire, Fulde, Rehensburg, Pfortzheim, Erfulte, Mahdenburg, and Leiptzig, and among some others, some three hundred destroyed communities of those times. My family was among those killed in Basel and in Prague, as well as in Niece, Bjegu, Gura, Olesnitsa, and Wrotzelav. I forgot to tell you that most of my family lived at that time in Silesia and Poland. It was supposed to be better there. Safer.

— Was it?

— In general, yes. But later, when the epidemic started receding. One pogrom in Wrotzelav in 1360. There was a fire, the Jews were blamed, killed and drowned. Thirty or fourty people. From my family — only two. More serious case was in Krakow, in 1407, the Tuesday after Passover. A killed Christian baby was found. He was killed of course for the blood for matza. Those at fault are, of course, Jews, were preaching the priests. Masses, moved by the speeches, ran for vengeance. Several hundred were murdered; several hundred were converted. In two years I was born a Christian, a daughter of converts.

I was washed over by the waters of baptism and named Anna, after a saint, whose church was in 1407 burnt by inertia by the enraged peasants of Krakow. Fortunately, I was Anna not for long, because in 1410, my family fled Poland to Silesia, to Stshegom, returning to judaica perfidia, to the faith of Moses. In Stshegom some of our relatives resided, and overall, one hundred forty people of our faith. Seventy three of them, including my father Samuel ben Gershom, lost their lives during the pogrom of 1410. The reason? The sounds of shofar on Rosh-ha-Shana were interpreted as a call for attack on Christians. My mother with the father’s sisters and me, one-year-old baby, fled to Javor. There, at the age of eleven, I saw the second pogrom with my own eyes. Trust me, it is an unforgettable sight.

— I believe you.

— I do not complain, — she raised her head sharply. — Take it into account. I don’t cry over myself, over those of my tribe. Over Jerusalem, over the Temple. Uwene Jeruszalaim ir hakodesz bimhera wejameinu! I know the words, but their meaning is lost on me. I am not going to sit and weep in front of Babylon’s rivers. I am not looking for sympathy of others, not even mentioning tolerance. But, you asked me whether it had an effect. Of course it did. Some things are better not to handle if you are paralyzed by fear of consequences, of what can happen. I am not afraid. I accumulated bravery for generations... No, not bravery. Immunity to fear. No, not immunity. Insensitivity.

— I understand.

— I doubt it. Better go to sleep. If your concoction works, we shall leave at dawn. If not, we shall leave at dawn anyway.


The Real Shliach said...

Well that's a nice little depressing bit of reading.

A Pseudo-Chossid said...

A day in the life of Ivan Denisovitch.

A Pseudo-Chossid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Real Shliach said...

What a lucky guy.

e said...

hey, I thought jews never convert, not even when subjected to great pressure, because of that soul business!

e said...


A Suede Ḥossid said...

A Jew can never separate himself from G-d. When it was obvious that they were separating, they did not convert. When they could invent some sort of excuse for themselves how what they were doing was not separation (just as an everyday sinner does), they converted.

e said...

Tanya says that when asked to convert, you can't make up excuses. Apparently these people were more creative at making excuses than tanya thinks one can be.