The Last Jew

287a2f10.jpgAfter enjoying the Physician so much, I thought I would read another Noah Gordon’s novel. So I went to one of the local bookshops. They had three. The Last Jew seemed to be the most interesting. I also picked it up because, although it is not that far from home, I have actually never been to Spain. I suspect I needed something a bit exotic.

Another reason I chose this novel, rather than the two other ones, is that I felt I wanted to know more about the Jewish community which was expelled by Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain in 1492. The Edict of Expulsion was issued against the Jews of Spain on March 31. All Jews of whatever age were ordered to leave the kingdom by the last day of July, (one day before Tisha B’Av), the “saddest day in Jewish history” and a traditional day of mourning.

It is estimated that 165,000 emigrated, 50,000 converted and 20,000 died en route. This is a low estimate; people disagree on the actual figures.

In today’s French Jewish community a lot of people are the descendants of the Spanish Jews who settled around the Mediterranean Sea, mostly in Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Turkey and Greece.

During the twentieth century they were forced out of the countries where they had settled but their Spanish roots is reflected in their surnames; they are called Toledano, Bitton, Cardozo, Malka, Marciano…

In fact the novel is not so much about the Jews who left than those who stayed on, one teenager in particular Yonah. The book deals with his attempt at remaining a Jew when everything and almost everyone was against it. As in The Physician, its author manages to convey historical authenticity and the story rings true.

3 thoughts on “The Last Jew

  1. That sounds like a great book. I’m also interested in the Inquisition and you know I’m a fan of Noah Gordon. I hadn’t heard of this one but I will check to see if the library has it.

  2. I have read and enjoyed every one of Noah Gordon’s books, but my favorite one remains “The Rabbi” which, I believe, was his first book. I usually re-read that one once a year. I particularly like it because the Zeyde in that book, and his wife fled from Kishineve. My husband’s grandparents on his mother’s side emmigrated to America from Kishineve in the early 1900’s. The Rabbi is a book that I hate to have end.

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