Welcome to my literature and arts blog.
Here, in the coming weeks and months, you will find Jewish history in all its diversity, presented as tale, midrash, fable and parable. Now and then I will also post images of illuminated miniatures I’m working on. Still more occasionally, when the political waters become particularly turbulent, I may offer a drash on my views of the situation.
But mostly, I will be featuring in serial format the ongoing story of the Eternal Jew. The tales you will read concerning this world wide wanderer and his partner Batsheva Koltov, aka Batkol, are not those misshapen and bigoted fables we have inherited from the past. Now, finally, we have come to an age when the tales of Jewish life in all its genius, adventure, and mis-adventure may be told uncensored.
So let me introduce you to our hero. He is a wise and engaging fellow, proudly Jewish, with a biting wit and a wry but mystical view of worldly events and his place in them. His wife, Batkol, is more socially and politically astute, and perhaps sharper but less cutting. She also tends to be more frum than he is. Like you and me, they go about their business on a day to day basis, yet they have an uncanny capacity for inserting themselves into some of history’s juiciest events, and for meeting remarkable and despicable people.
The story opens around 30 CE in Jerusalem, with the EJ talking politics and God with a local friend and revolutionary who pushes the authorities a little too far. Comes 70CE, he flees Jerusalem as it is being consumed in flames, and wanders the region meeting sages and soothsayers, some lost to memory, some known for their letters. He’s in Sura when Caliph Omar leads the Muslim armies into town. Some years later in Kairouan he meets his bashert, Batkol. In Granada they become envoys for a Jewish general. They travel on a mission to a vintner in Alsace, and get swept along with crusaders and ne’er-do-wells from Mayence to Jerusalem. If memory serves, they hook up with some Venetians, travel the Silk Road, and stumble upon some Mountain Jews who divert their journey. Fleeing Genghis’s sons, they hitch a ride with a caravan and return to that emerging Jewish haven, Poland. Unfortunately, a rabbi there doesn’t like their attitude. Somewhere in there they get tangled up with that Ethiopian Jew, Aesop. Now, here comes big trouble out of the east: the two get locked in a life-or-death chess game with the devil as he travels Europe with his good friend, Black Death. Gotta say, their tushes get singed in that one. Alas, I’ve skipped over so many adventures already, and I’ve hardly begun to unfold this feast of Jewish history filled with recipes and flavors, traditions and heresies, tyrants, sages, pedants, badasses and roadies from every land.
So, welcome to my blog and the story of the Eternal Jew. Oh. By the way, our hero and heroine don’t talk with an Israeli or Eastern European accent. They’ve been living on a houseboat on the Mississippi, just outside of Memphis for a number of decades now, and that’s put some fine country music into their voices.