Page 151 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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couple. Her little brother, Mushon, is kidnapped by a non-Jewish
neighbor who wants to raise him as her own son and as a Chris­
tian. The novel records the trials and tribulations of each of the
children. In an emotional passage, little Mushon decides to run
away from the Christian home in which he is being raised: “No! I
can no longer tolerate this life! It is true that I have no father or
mother, but I do have a nation! . . . My nation will protect me, my
nation will give me to eat!” Mushon ran away and began to live on
the streets along with other poor children. These youngsters
begged for alms and somehow managed to sustain themselves.
During World War I, there were shortages of food and other
necessities in Turkey, and many poor people — adults and chil­
dren — begged in the streets for assistance. After the war, a Jew­
ish woman decided to establish an orphanage for the Jewish chil­
dren who were living in the streets. Estreyica and Mushon were
reunited in this orphanage, and presumably lived happily ever
Another novel,
La novia aguna
(The agunah bride) was pub­
lished in Constantinople in 1922. It also took place in Istanbul. A
certain wealthy Jew was celebrating the engagement of his only
daughter to the son of a pious Rabbi. Everyone rejoiced over this
match, except the bridegroom. He was very poor and did not like
the idea of marrying a wife from a rich family. Before the mar­
riage was to take place, he fled town, hoping to go to Paris to
become rich on his own so as not to be dependent on his wife’s
family. But he was on board a ship which was wrecked near
Corsica. As he struggled to swim to shore, a non-Jewish criminal,
who had already reached shore safely, told him that he would
save him only if he handed over his ring and valuables. Of course,
the young man agreed. Once the thief had taken the valuables,
though, he threw him back into the ocean and assumed that he
would drown. But the young man managed to get back to shore
safely. Having no money and nowhere to go, he started to work in
Meanwhile, everyone in Istanbul heard that the ship had been
wrecked, and one of the young man’s friends had told the com­
munity that the bridegroom had been on that ship. The bride
then became an “agunah”; she was not free to marry anyone else
since she was still bound to her bridegroom and there was no
absolute proof that the bridegroom was not alive. After about
eight years, the non-Jewish thief returned to Istanbul and told