Folktales of the Jews - Vol. 2

By Dan Ben-Amos | Go to book overview

21
The Exodus on Purim in the
Town of Yampol

TOLD BY MRS. ḤAYYIM LEIZER BEZDITNICHKE TO
SHALVA POLSHTINSKI

In our town, like all towns, there is a street where the gentiles live. We used to call it "dog street," but "wolf street" would have been more appropriate because they were such murderers that the wicked Haman was a poodle by comparison.… And just to provoke us, it seemed, their church was smack in the center of town, so every Sunday, whether you liked it or not, you couldn't help bumping into drunken, bloody, murderous assassins, and it was no treat having to be afraid of them. You know, of course, that when you chop wood, the chips fly; when they used to beat their heads against the wall, chips flew into Jewish windows—and not everyone has shutters. You don't have to ask how terrified we were. And who do you think was responsible? Their scoundrel of a priest (may his name be blotted out!), who had such an end—it should only have happened to his late ancestors.

Every Purim the priest used to rage as only a gentile could. He had taken Haman's grievance as his own, because Haman had been killed on account of Mordechai. He could not forgive this. There always seem to be Hamans assailing the world, and the Haman who came to our town was bad enough to be a punishment for every Jew in the whole world. That Esau raged, especially at Purim, and he decided that was the time to take revenge against the Jews. He stirred up all the gentiles, even though they used to look forward to Purim, when the Jews would treat them to hamantashen* and other pastries. The priest persuaded them that the haman tashen were poisoned. The Jews wanted to poison all the gentiles. You would never believe that such a pogrom could take place today.

In our town, there were all sorts of Jews, respectable people—the rich,

*A triangular pastry filled with poppy seeds that is eaten during Purim.

-152-

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