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Showing posts from May 11, 2003
Zimler, Richard. The Last Kabbalist in Lisbon. Overlook Press, 1998, 318 p.

Lisbon in 1506 was not a safe place for Jews. The Inquisition is in full swing in nearby Spain and a drought is the excuse to make Jews in Portugal the scapegoat for God's anger. Whipped into a frenzy by Dominican friars, Lisbon's Christians go on a rampage, murdering scores of Jews. Some are burned, some are stabbed, some are thrown from rooftops. No abomination is too sordid for the mob once they begin their orgy of death and destruction.

One of the survivors is young Berekiah Zarco. Zarco's uncle Abraham is one of the elders of the community and a renowned mystic. Abraham is training Berekiah in the ways of the Kabbalah, a Jewish mystical tradition. But Abraham cannot escape the death that is all around and Berekiah finds him dead, murdered, in their cellar. Berekiah resolves to solve the mystery of his uncle's death. Risking his own safety, he moves through Lisbon, following clues, until h…