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Sarajevo Rose: A Balkan Jewish Notebook

av Stephen Schwartz

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1111,391,200 (3.5)Ingen/inga
Tracing the path of the Sephardic Jews to the Balkans - following their expulsion from Spain during the Inquisition - Schwartz draws on place names, historical chronicles, epitaphs, folk ballads, banned books, and the media. He examines both the travails and remarkable cultural achievements of these communities which, hundreds of years after the trauma of forced exile, were almost entirely destroyed in the Holocaust.The richness of the literature, poetry, mythology and craftsmanship that emerged from the Balkan Jewish milieu is explored, as well as the intermingling of Orthodox, Jewish, Catholic, and Muslim communities in the region. Highlights include commentaries on Sabbatai Zvi, who declared himself the Messiah in the seventeenth century and who reputedly chose conversion to Islam, and the 'Renaissance Jewish Traveller' Abraham Kohen Herrera, a convert under duress during the Inquisition, who later discovered his Jewish heritage through mysticism, and who may have been the model for Shylock in Shakespeare'sMerchant of Venice.This is not only an historical analysis but also a personal journey. The author's poignant descriptions of attempted pilgrimages to Jewish cemeteries and synagogues throughout the Balkans are testament to his yearning for historical pride and validation of identity.… (mer)
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http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/1172728.html

This book was sent to me by the author some time back. It's a collection of essays of varying lengths about the Jewish traditions of Bosnia (Sarajevo in particular) and of the "Albanian lands". Most of the essays explore the history of the Sephardim exiled from Spain and Portugal in 1492: while of course the majority ended up further south and east, in Istanbul and especially Thessalonica, Sarajevo and the other major Bosnian towns also became smaller focuses of settlement, and Schwartz looks at the major historical figures and the surviving architectural traces - in one piece, he and a friend attempt to locate the tomb of the apostate false Messiah, Sabbetai Zvi (1626-1676) in Ulcinj in southern Montenegro (Ulcinj is the centre of Montenegro's Albanian population).

It is a subject about which I knew very little - I've met once or twice with Jakob Finci, the leader of Bosnia's Jewish community, and also sympathised with Ivo Andrić's Jewish narrator in his short story "Letter from 1920", who flees the small-mindedness and ethnic divisions of his home town for a life elsewhere. Schwartz is not an Andrić fan, and has a short piece on five great ex-Yugoslav writers in which he ranks Danilo Kiš, Meša Selimović, Miroslav Krleža and Miloš Crnjanski as better than their Nobel-prize-winning conpatriot - I confess I had heard only of the first two, and only knew of Selimović because he features on banknotes from both sides in Bosnia and shared my birthday (though 1910 rather than 1967). More for my reading list... ( )
  nwhyte | Feb 15, 2009 |
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Tracing the path of the Sephardic Jews to the Balkans - following their expulsion from Spain during the Inquisition - Schwartz draws on place names, historical chronicles, epitaphs, folk ballads, banned books, and the media. He examines both the travails and remarkable cultural achievements of these communities which, hundreds of years after the trauma of forced exile, were almost entirely destroyed in the Holocaust.The richness of the literature, poetry, mythology and craftsmanship that emerged from the Balkan Jewish milieu is explored, as well as the intermingling of Orthodox, Jewish, Catholic, and Muslim communities in the region. Highlights include commentaries on Sabbatai Zvi, who declared himself the Messiah in the seventeenth century and who reputedly chose conversion to Islam, and the 'Renaissance Jewish Traveller' Abraham Kohen Herrera, a convert under duress during the Inquisition, who later discovered his Jewish heritage through mysticism, and who may have been the model for Shylock in Shakespeare'sMerchant of Venice.This is not only an historical analysis but also a personal journey. The author's poignant descriptions of attempted pilgrimages to Jewish cemeteries and synagogues throughout the Balkans are testament to his yearning for historical pride and validation of identity.

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