Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction and Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel and post Colonial Asian Fiction, Yiddish Literature, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality historical novels are some of my Literary Interests





Friday, October 12, 2018

“The Little Messiah”. - A Short Story centered on The Traditions of. Yeminite Jews in The 1950s - by Rikudah Potash







RIkudah  Potash 

Born 1903 in Tshenstokhov, Poland

Moves to Jerusalem in 1934 

Dies 1965 in Jerusalem

In the early 1950s thousands of Yeminite Jews migrated to Israel.  At time Israel was largely settled by Eastern European and Russian immigrants, commonly identfied as Yiddish Jews.  They dominated the society in all areas.  The reasons for mass migration Jews from Yemen, a subject I just began to explore today, are complicated and controversial.  It is clear many did not want them in Israel.  There are unsubstantiated to this day claims of kidnapping of Yemenite babies to be raised as “mainstream” Europeans tradition Jews.  They were looked down upon for their skin tone, at the time many suggested they were not    “Pure Jews” but mixed with African bloodlines.


Rikudah Potash is one of the very few, writing in Yiddish, who focused on stories about Yemenite Jews living in Israel.  “The Little Messiah” shows Yemenite traditions involved, circa 1950, when a boy is born.  Potash vividly showed us what happens on this all important occasion.

“It didn’t take long for two young boys with long peyehs sidelocks to appear. They went from door to door to announce that a male child had been born. It also didn’t take long for Yemenite women, young and old, to push themselves through the low doorway where the kimpetorin, the woman who’d just given birth, lay on a raised bed, wrapped in a colourful Yemenite shawl. She looked like a little girl herself. She had a black pim-ple on the tip of her nose, and large, dark, dreamy eyes. Her hands were tawny, childlike, and they fluttered nervously. All the cheder boys came by to get a taste of Alkhasid’s delicacy. The women coming to wish her mazel tov placed their hands to their lips three times and let out a strange wail”.

There seems to be something very special about this baby, it is felt he maybe a “little messiah” destined to lead his people out of poverty and repression.

He appears to be born holding The Old Testament.

“Nemah, the really old one, not a single tooth left in her mouth, tells the kimpetorin what she dreamt: “To Simkhe was born a little Messiah. He came out of the womb with a tiny Tanakh in his hand, and this was a sign that he had studied the Torah for the whole nine months. He didn’t even get scared when the angel came to give him a flick under the nose so that he would forget everything, a sure sign that he had brought the Tanakh with him.” 

The second day of his birth an old man comes and begins to play unceasingly a flute.  After some discussion, the consensus is the old flute player was sent by The Great Messiah.

There is a lot of very interesting details about birth folklore, messiahs and much more.  

This story was elegantly translated from Yiddish by Shirley Kumove.  

I do not have the first publication data. If you do, please let me know.

Rikudah Potash (1903–1965) Born in Tshenstokhov, Poland, Rikudah Potash became a poet at sixteen. Stirred up by the Lemberg pogrom of 1918, she turned to Yiddish; her stories, novellas, essays, and theatre pieces appeared in literary journals worldwide. In 1934 she left Poland and settled in Jerusalem, where she lived for the next thirty years and continued her multi-faceted literary life. Her last prose writings, In geslekh fun Yerusholoyim ( In the Alleyways of Jerusalem), were devoted to the Eastern Jews from Yemen, Bukhara, and Salonika facing the challenging realities in the newly established state of Israel...from The Exile Book of Yiddish Women Writers / edited by Frieda Johles Forman; translated by the Toronto Yiddish Translation Group: Sam Blatt, Sarah Faerman, Vivian Felsen, Frieda Johles Forman, Shirley Kumove, Sylvia Lustgarten, Goldie Morgentaler, Alisa Poskanzer, and Ida Wynberg. Includes bibliographical 






















Rikudah Potash (1903–1965) Born in Tshenstokhov, Poland, Rikudah Potash became a poet at sixteen. Stirred up by the Lemberg pogrom of 1918, she turned to Yiddish; her stories, novellas, essays, and theatre pieces appeared in literary journals worldwide. In 1934 she left Poland and settled in Jerusalem, where she lived for the next thirty years and continued her multi-faceted literary life. Her last prose writings, In geslekh fun Yerusholoyim ( In the Alleyways of Jerusalem), were devoted to the Eastern Jews from Yemen, Bukhara, and Salonika facing the challenging realities in the newly established state of Israel...from The Exile Book of Yiddish Women Writers / edited by Frieda Johles Forman; translated by the Toronto Yiddish Translation Group: Sam Blatt, Sarah Faerman, Vivian Felsen, Frieda Johles Forman, Shirley Kumove, Sylvia Lustgarten, Goldie Morgentaler, Alisa Poskanzer, and Ida Wynberg. Includes bibliographical 






1 comment:

Buried In Print said...

Are you reading through this collection, or just a few stories? I feel like I've seen the cover recently here as well...