20160430 - O earth, cover not thou my blood, and let my cry have no place

posted 3 May 2016, 07:36 by Lodzer Shabbat-Bulletin   [ updated 3 May 2016, 07:38 ]

Lisbon, Pesach 1506 Massacre memorial-xw600.jpg

With Yom HaShoah coming tomorrow, I am standing on the site of one of the worst single pogroms in the entire history of the European Jewry.

In 1506 - almost a decade after the expulsion of the Jews from Portugal - thousands of forced converts to Christianity, known here as Novo-Christos, still lived in Lisbon, many of them secretly practising the faith of their ancestors.
The plague was severe in Portugal at the time (and everybody knew whose fault that was, sure enough).

On April 19, during Easter prayer at the Dominican church (behind me in the picture) one of the parishioners thought he saw the divine face smiling at him from behind the cross. The crowd, eager to accept a miracle, were all in agreement that it signified approaching coming of the messiah. That is, until one Novo-Christo suggested what was thought to be a face was merely a reflection of the candle light on the crucifix.
The mob dragged him outside and tore him to pieces right in the square. For the following 3 days, instigated by two Dominican friars who promised absolution from sins to all those who killed heretics, they plundered, murdered, burnt houses of the converted Jews and the people in them.
King Manuel I put an end to the massacre which by that time may have claimed as many as 4,000 lives. Some 60 perpetrators were seized and hanged, the two seditionist friars defrocked and burnt at the stake.
In the new wave yet of antisemitism that followed, thousands of Jews were either banished or escaped from the country; yet even then, they remained passionately loyal to the king.

The monument before you was consecrated 500 years later to the day. Speaking to the memory of the victims of intolerance and fanaticism, its foundation bears an inscription both in Hebrew and Portuguese. The single verse from the book of Job reads:
"O earth, cover not thou my blood, and let my cry have no place".

May the lives of the holy victims and innocently murdered be bound up in the bond of life eternal.

Rabbi Eli