Page 128 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 35

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Bitterly, Shortfield expresses his view of Jewish merchants:
“Success is their motto, and they pursue it with indom itable
perseverance, and with a total indifference to reputa tion . They
have no credit themselves, and they credit nobody. They trade
upon the production of others (they never create or produce
anything) and cheat the Christians with their own wares” (p.
T h e
M o d e r n V a s s e l—
S t o r y o f P o l a n d ,
W ilm e r .
Boston, 1849.
A young boy, Pavel, son of a count, is the victim of political
intrigue. He is placed in hiding with Noah, a Jewish innkeeper,
and his wife, Salome, who though overburdened with many
chores treat him with kindness and consideration. At first, Pavel
is fearful and distrustful of his Jewish guardians, remembering
frightening tales his nurse had recounted to him about the mys­
terious and abominable rites of the Jews and their crucifying
of Christian children on Good Friday.
In time, Pavel overcomes his hatred and fear. He witnesses
incidents in which his Jewish guardians are persecuted and
mocked and he is incensed tha t Noah does not fight back. He
argues tha t Noah’s chief sin is in submitting to these outrages,
that it is his timidity tha t makes him a scorn of the Christians.
When Pavel’s stay with the Jewish family is about to end,
Salome prepares a final meal for him as elaborate as a Sabbath
feast. She dresses for the occasion by wearing a crimson cap and
a stomacher embroidered with gold, silver and precious stones.
She explains tha t what she is wearing is all the fortune she
brought to her husband, as did her mother, grandmother and
great-grandmother before her when they married. T h e orna­
ments served as a resource, easy of concealment from the rapacity
of the Christians. “Should they discover the French goods in our
vaults, and seize our chattels, though fines might ru in us and
Noah languish in prison, still I have here the means of buying
his judges and of maintaining his children. You see, it is no
idle vanity tha t makes me cling to these ornaments which have
never yet, with any of their possessors, seen the light of day, and
have only shone to the sacred lamp behind closed shutters. I
hope a milder day will come for our persecuted race even in
this country.”