Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Unhappy Jew

Susan felt sorry for the drunk old Jew.

"What made you so unhappy? Were you in the darn camps?"

"No, not I."

"What then?"

"I am excludet from ze Synagok."


"I vas involft in ze case ven a Christian boy vos killt."

"Where you the accused?"

"No, but involft anyvay."


"It vos I hoo killt ze boy."

"But why?"

"Orrderrss. Damnet orrderrss. But I hat to obey. Vun hass to obey orrderrss in life."

"Not just any orders?"

"No, not orrderrss from Christians. But zis vos an orrderr from a Cohen."

"But why would he want a Christian boy killed?"

"Becoss he vos Christian. Ant becoss he vos a boy, so he vos only killt for being a Christian."

"But why?" Susan wanted to leave.

"Stay a vile yet. I vill explain. If he hat been grown, he voult haff been guilty off uhzerr sings. Ass he vos just a boy, he vos guilty off being a Christian."

"But that is absurd! You aren't killing Christians after Christians just for being Christians! You can't say that. You are drunk, you are talking nonsense!"

"I am drunk, yes, but I am not tawking nonsense. Ve do kill Christian after Christian for being Christian on a much larcher scale since back zenn, ve do it in Soviet Union."

"But that is the Communist party!"

The Jew stood up, swaggering with pride and drunkenness, he had something nicer to talk about than his own guilt, supposing it was real.

"It iss ze Communist Party. Right. You are per - feck - lee right zere!"

He paused.

"Hoo iss ze Communist Party? Hoo? Ve off coss!"

"But they are Atheists, you can't be serious!"

"So arr ve, so arr ve. At least zose off uss hoo haff reat Spinawssa. I haff reat Spinawssa. I haff reat ze Kabbalah. Haff you?"

"No, I am not Jewish, and even if I were I am not sure I would read that!"

Susan paused.

"But what has that to ... I mean, Communists may be killing Christians on heaps, like back when Trotskiy fought teh Czarists, but they don't single out small boys for killing."

"Ah ... ziss vos before ze Communists. Orr before zey became rulerrss, openly."

"Wait, you aren't saying you were involved in such a Passover ritual killing as they were accused of under the Czars?"

"Zey vere accuset, I dit it."

"But it's nonsense! You don't eat blood anyway, so why would you eat human blood for Passover?"

"I ... I personally, I for my own parrt, neverr, everr, sait zat ve eat bloot of Christian boyss. I know vot ve dit. I know vot ve dit not."

"So, you didn't drain his blood then, at least?"

"Ah, ve dit. He vos fount vizout bloot in ze veins, and vos ve hoo dit it."

"But why? You said yourself you don't eat human blood."

"Becoss ve bake matzoth viss hiss bloot."

"Now, that is nonsense. You would be ritually impure, and you said yourself you do not eat it."

"I am ritually impure. For life. Zat is vy I drink. Ant I dit not say ve eat zose matzoth."

"But if so ... why did you do it?"

"By obedience. Vun must obey, at least the Cohens. At least ze guy told me ze orrderr came from a Cohen."

"What guy?"

"The guy I vos obeying."

"You are not sure he was a Cohen? Are you even sure he was Jewish?"

"Oh, he vos Yewish all right. Zat I coult tell, he mate it very opvious. Not yust knowing about Yewish sings, but being Yewish. He geiff ze orrderr in Hebrew. Ve talkt about a lot off sings, he showet me time after time he vos loyal to ze Yewish Community ant hat a right to Commant me."

"But matzoth are eaten, right?"

"Matzoth are eaten."

"And you never would eat matzoth with blood in them?"

"Zat is a horribull sing to eat, no I voult neverr. Everr."

"So you are just making this up right?"

"Vy shoult I? I am a drunkarrt becoss I killt a Christian boy, I sait. Ant I mean it."

"But the part of draining his blood and baking matzoth ..."

"Is true ass vell. But I neverr sait ve eat of zose matzoth. Ve may be criminal, ve are not mat."

"Why then?"

"Becos he vos a Christian, I sait. Are you hearing ill? A bit young forr zat ... I't say."

"But even supposing you executed him, why the bloody matzoth?"

"For proof. Christianss haff proof in body empty off bloot. My superiorrss hat proof in bloot in matzoth. Ant for anuzzer reazon."


"My cousin, the son off my fahzerrss sisterr, vos ill. Ve vonted to heal him vis bloody matzoth."

"But you couldn't, could you?"

"You know vot Christianss say about people hoo get executit forr being Christianss? Marrtyrrss."


"Ant you know vot Christianss call parts off marrtyrrss bodiess?"


"Very goot. Yes, relics. Ant Christianss say relics can heal sick people."

"But you don't believe that do you?"

"Vot hass believing got to do viss it? In a desperate cace, you try voteverr means you can finet."

"Vos it that desperate?"

"He hat ze bleeding sickness. He get a scratch, hiss bloot run for hhourrss and hhourrss. So ve toucht him vis a bloody matzoth."

"And you drink because you killed a boy to get medicine for another one?"


"Or because it didn't help?"

"But it dit help! He vos curet, completely." The old Jew looked twice as sad when he said this.

"Why are you so sad then?"

"After getting vell, my couzin became a Christian."

"Wouldn't you have been wanting to become a Christian if you had seen him healed?"

"If I see my uncle healet from impotence by a Hhindoo idol, you vont me to become Hindoo?"

"No, but impotence and bleeding sickness isn't quite the same thing, is it?"

"Vots diffrent?"

"Impotence can have mental causes. Impotence, I have heard can come from a spell. But bleeding sickness comes from the genes. Complete healing is a complete miracle in such a case."

"Hoo sayss bleeding sickness cannot come from spell or from mental causess?"

She did not answer, he poured himself another glass. He drank it all.

"But if it was your cousin who became Christian why are you excluded from the Synagogue?"

"Becoss I killt ze boy."

"But you did it because he was a Christian, you said?"

"Executionerrss are taken from zose condemnet to death. I hat deserrft stoning before I vos tolt to kill ze boy. I shoult haff been killt by ze Christianss, zey voult haff punisht my adultery vile sinking zey punisht me for killing a Christian boy. Zen my family voult haff been satisfiet, I voult haff pait my crime. But ... I vos forgiven."

"Not by the Czar, surely?"

"Perrhaps by ze Czarr, perrhaps not. But certainly by Pranaitis. Fahzerr Pranaitis, zey call him, ze Christians. He prretendet to know nussing, Beyliss vos freet, and Beyliss coult not be oblichet to tell on me."

"How did Pranaitis do that?"

"He vos to testify on vot he knew about Yews killing Christian boys. He prretendet to be perrfectly ignorant. He prretendet he did not know ziss parrt off ze Talmut or zat parrt off ze Talmut. Ze defence hat a goot laugh at him."

"How do you know he did it on purpose?"

"Forr vun sing, becos I know ve kill ... back zenn ve killt ... Christian boyss. But also becos he tolt Beyliss."

He paused. Susan stood there unsure of herself, she did not want to understand.

"He tolt Beyliss, zat ze Eyteenss Cannon off ze Fourrss Laterran Council voult make him impurre ass a prriest if he mate a man hang in ze gallows, even a guilty man. Vot iss ziss sing ze Christians haff about not punishing guilt? It's absurrt! A Cohen shoult be prrout if he helps to punish a bat man."

Susan was feeling a bit more disgusted than just before. She realised that the drunk man just could be telling the truth.

"You will excuse me, I have to go now."

"But you vill not tell, vill you?"

"Not while you can be reckoned as alive. But it seems everyone here knows anyway."

"Zey do, zat's vy I am an outcast. Zat's vy I drink."

And he poured himself another glass, while Susan left. Well, she thought, better not tell the Israeli's, if she did, he could be shut up in a madhouse if he was just imagining it. Not a thing she wished even her enemies, after tasting it a few years back. He might even be shut up in a madhouse for telling the truth, for all she knew.