Rahav and Baruh sighted Vidal, Juhuda and the boys and walked up the sloping street. They greeted their brothers and nephews with the usual kisses on both cheeks—the same as what others were doing as more and more men joined the group. Avram pushed his cart of cloths through the crowd so he could stand with his family. Roffe Michah walked over too. They stood together, waiting nervously with others in the community. A low hum buzzed as more people arrived.
Vidal said, “For generations, the synagogue has been central to our lives. Now, for the first time, a messenger of such importance is in front of the synagogue. This cannot be good”
The rabbi emerged from inside the synagogue. He was not smiling or showing any signs of joy that the monarchs’ emissary was visiting his synagogue. He had not changed to special clothes, suggesting that this was a surprise visit. He wore his basic brown tunic and a knitted kippa with its frayed brown edges and off-white Star of David in the center.
Collectively, the men standing in front of the synagogue gave a slight bow to the rabbi in reverence to his position. Daniyyel whispered to Vidal, “The rabbi looks blank, which is so unlike him. Usually he wears one of his two faces: happy for celebrations or sad for funerals and mourning days. What do you think?”
Vidal looked at his nephew but said nothing as the rabbi began to speak.
“This man is from our monarchs. He has an important message for us. Let us listen with the respect due our king and queen.”
A silence came over the crowd. The messenger cleared his throat. In a loud and emphatic voice, he read from a scroll entitled “Jewish Charter of Expulsion.”
How could a medieval Jewish cemetery in Vitoria, Spain be the cause of so much debate? At Vitoria transports the reader to the Iberian Peninsula at the end of the fifteenth century and weaves a story of success, downfall, love, terror, tragedy, shame, and honor. The historical and cultural details surrounding the story make for an evocative narrative that draws the reader in and provides an engaging sense of realism.
Marcia Riman Selz spent her business career as a marketing consultant to financial institutions. But after a vacation in Spain, the calling to write about Vitoria and its medieval Jewish community was overwhelming. So after several years of research, she wrote At Vitoria.
Dr. Selz earned her Ph.D. from the Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University, her MBA from Loyola-Marymount University and her Bachelors Degree from Indiana University.