Aropsaid (A Diaspora In Reverse )

Last week, PBS began airing a series of shows collectively called, “The Story of the Jews”.  Somehow, I felt duty-bound to watch…as if it would be a shonda (ask your rabbi) not to.  And beyond that, I was hoping that the shows would provide me with both a healthy dose of Judenfreude, as well as a boundless supply of righteous indignation, which, I’m sure  doesn’t surprise you, is a staple of my psychic diet.  Also, despite many years of Hebrew School,  I no longer remember a lot of our history .  Oh sure, I can remember a few things that some Jews did recently but not so much from a thousand years ago.  And the truth is…I’m starting to have trouble remembering even the history of this Jew.  So, all in all I thought it would be worthwhile to invest some time to watch the pogrom program.

It was written and hosted by a British historian, Simon Schama, who served as our guide through the millennia.  Unfortunately, either because of Mr. Schama’s presentation or the material itself, I had a hard time staying awake for the two installments on the night that I watched.  But I forced myself because I wanted to see if the second installment would bring us to the Spanish Inquisition and the subsequent expulsion in 1492 of all the Jews living in Spain.  Which in fact, it did.

...and we'll be nicer, this time.

…and we’ll be nicer, this time.

I had a particular interest in that event–the Diaspora– which led to Spain’s Sephardic Jews winding up in far-flung regions of Europe and the Near and Middle East, because a few weeks ago I had come across an article in the Times that reported that the Spanish government has been inundated with applications for citizenship by many of the descendants of those very Jews who had been expelled.  Apparently, legislation has recently been approved which will grant them dual citizenship, if they so desire. Spain’s justice minister said that this legislation was aimed at correcting what the government has called, “a grievous error”.  The minister added that, “This law is a real historic representation of, I dare say, the biggest mistake in Spanish history”.  I’m going to take that as, “We’re sorry…awfully sorry”.

Now, one could be a little put off that it took the Spanish government 522 years to own up to their “mistake”, but when you consider that it was just a few years ago that Pope Benedict XVI wrote a book in which he exonerates the Jews (as a people) for Jesus’ death, the Spaniards seem almost trigger happy with their apology.

But even after giving weight to the apology, I wondered who all these Jews were who were applying for citizenship.  I know if it was me, even though I don’t see myself as someone who holds a grudge, you’d have to do a lot better than, “We made a grievous error” to get me back after you’ve taken everything from me and then shipped me off.  ( Gold doubloons come to mind.)  Well, it turns out most of the applications have come from Sephardic Jews living in Turkey and Venezuela where apparently,  they face a lot of hostility and may need to get out of town pronto.  Who knows, maybe all the Passover seders in Caracas this year will include the invocation: “Next Year in Madrid!”

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4 Responses to “Aropsaid (A Diaspora In Reverse )”

  1. Ymmij Says:

    All the way to the Inquisition in two episodes? How dull could it have been? Maybe watch following episodes while getting your next pedicure.

  2. iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

    yes.. all the way to the glorious 1490’s. but, the truth is that even after having watched it, i don’t know what the starting date is. it can’t be 5700 years ago; that’s a lot of territory to cover in a couple of hours. Maybe someone smarter than me (and possibly you) will read this and provide some answers.

  3. Ymmij Says:

    Nearly two weeks have passed. All the smarter someones are so happy they got into college that they forgot to answer your questions.

  4. iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

    alas… i’m afraid ‘the smarter someones’ don’t read the blog. maybe they’re not so smart after all.

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