Friday, March 16, 2007

The Da Vinci Codization of Jewish history

Presence links to a review by Allan Nadler in the Forward of a book called A Murder in Lemberg: Politics, Religion, and Violence in Modern Jewish History by Michael Stanislawski.

"On September 6, 1848, a young Orthodox Jew with the very inauspicious name of A.B. Pilpel (Hebrew for pepper), bearded with sidelocks and dressed in a black hat and a long caftan, entered the kitchen of the district rabbi of Lemberg, Abraham Cohen, and, pretending to light his cigar from the stove, poured arsenic into the Cohen family’s soup. Within hours of their supper later that evening, the entire Cohen family was severely ill. And by 3 o’clock the next morning, Rabbi Cohen and his infant daughter, Teresa, were dead."

Stanislawski tries to connect this incident with the Rabin assassination (you know, exceptions that prove the rule) and makes entirely too much hay out of it. It struck me as a bit of a Da Vinci Code tendency in modern semi-scholarly literature. Get the sexy angle, in this case Orthodox Jewish violence, and hopefully more people will notice your book about 19th century Lemberg. zZzZz

I read it because it's the type of thing *I* read--but without the Rabin angle, how many people might read it?

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