Page 147 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

Basic HTML Version

ANGEL /EL IA CARMONA: JUDEO-SPANISH AUTHOR
135
enting to you today, you will not encounter robberies, nor mur­
ders; but facts and various curious accounts, so that you will see
how patience brings one to a good end, and how a human being
must not be discouraged in the course of his life.”
LIFE STORY
Carmona was born in the neighborhood known as Ortakoy in
Istanbul. His family had been prominent and prosperous. At age
six, he went to the community Talmud Torah, and at age eleven
he was enrolled in the first school of the Alliance Israelite
Universelle in Ortakoy, which was directed by Gabriel Aryeh.
During his childhood, the financial situation of his family had
deteriorated, and his father was reduced to working as a ticket
man for the tramway company. At age fifteen, Carmona was told
by his father that he had to quit school in order to earn some
money for the family. Elia was given a position as teacher of
French for the children of a high Turkish official. But the job did
not last more than several months, since a French official wanted
his own son to do the French tutoring.
Carmona found employment with a Sephardic Jew who sold
papers for making cigarettes as well as matches. Carmona asked
his mother if he could accept ajob in that occupation. His mother
did not like the idea of her son being a lowly peddler. A Turkish
official, who was friendly with the Carmona family, told Car­
mona’s mother: “In what law is it written that a banker is great
and a peddler is small? Each man must work to earn his bread
with honor.” He then told the young Carmona: “The job you
wish to do is satisfactory in order for you to earn your bread by
the sweat of your brow, with honor. You are not stealing, you are
not doing anything dishonorable; you are doing that which you
want to do and you have nothing to be ashamed of.” But Elia’s
mother still would not encourage this endeavor, so Elia borrowed
money from a friend in order to buy the merchandise which he
would then sell at a profit. He set up a stand and went into busi­
ness.
One of the elder members of the Carmona clan who learned of
Elia’s work told Elia that the position reflected badly on the pres­
tige of the family. He also threatened that he would have Elia cut
off from the family unless he discontinued that kind of work. The
young Elia was embarrassed, as is evident from his words: “It is