(April 18th to 24th)

Format: Triple

Very slow and deliberate was his speech, and carefully guarded to give offence to no one…

‘There be eight of us in Shushan, and we are waiting till there are ten. Then we shall apply for a synagogue, and get leave from Calcutta. To-day we have no synagogue; and I, only I, am Priest and Butcher to our people. I am of the tribe of Judah—I think, but I am not sure. My father was of the tribe of Judah, and we wish much to get our synagogue. I shall be a priest of that synagogue.’


This is from “Jews in Shushan” in Life’s Handicap.

Shushan is a large city in the north of India, that land of many faiths and peoples. There is a tiny community of Jews, who – as Ephraim their leader explains here – are hoping to make their numbers up to ten so that they can have a synagogue. But their numbers decline, and he takes his wife back to Calcutta. ‘Surely’ he says, ‘we must have been forgotten by our God.’

‘A little more than that perhaps,’ said Paulus. ‘Listen a minute.’ He threw himself into a curious tale about the God of the Christians, Who, he said, had taken the shape of a Man, and Whom the Jerusalem Jews, years ago, had got the authorities to deal with as a conspirator. He said that he himself, at that time a right Jew, quite agreed with the sentence, and had denounced all who followed the new God. But one day the Light and the Voice of the God broke over him, and he experienced a rending change of heart.


This is from “The Church that was at Antioch” in Limits and Renewals.

It is set in ancient times in the city of Antioch, where there is constant trouble between orthodox and christianised Jews. Here Paul, one of the Christian leaders, describes his own conversion. Later in the tale, Valens, a young Roman administrator, is stabbed by a religious zealot, but – in a truly Christ-like spirit – refuses to take retribution.

… Kadmiel answered, shaking his head. ‘You Christians always forget that gold does more than the sword. Our good King signed because he could not borrow more money from us bad Jews.’ He curved his shoulders as he spoke. ‘A King without gold is a snake with a broken back, and’—his nose sneered up and his eyebrows frowned down—‘It is a good deed to break a snake’s back. That was my work,’ he cried …


This is from “The Treasure and the Law” in Puck of Pook’s Hill.

Kadmiel, a Jewish moneylender, begins his tale of how he was able to deny gold to King John, forcing him to make terms with his barons, and sign Magna Carta, one of the great bastions of English liberties.