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Chapter 18

Now one day there arrived a new assistant priest (deacon) to minister in Úsov and its neighbourhood. He was an inveterate enemy of the Jews, and constantly endeavoured to harass us in any way he could.

Now three times a year, on the Christian festivals, our leaders were wont to send gifts to the priests of the town. This priest also accepted our presents with kindly mien. Nevertheless, he improved the occasion with sermons to our leaders, the bringers of the gifts, on the merits of his religion and the demerits of ours. Also, in his church he preached against us, and warned his hearers to abstain from rendering us the usual services, such as trimming the candles, even for payment, on their holidays if they coincided with our Sabbath or holidays. He also strictly forbade his flock – whether belonging to his parish or not – to buy our Chometz at Passover time, on the peril of their souls, beside the infliction of fines. And he exhorted them not to lend or hire us any beast of burden on their holy days. In short, he did his utmost to vex us.

In our community we had a virtuous and God-fearing man, the aged Rabbi Joshua, the son of the martyr Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch (who suffered great tortures on a charge of circumcising a Christian boy, in Wrocław). Rabbi Joshua and his wife (grand-daughter of the Chief Rabbi of Kraków, Rabbi Yom Tom Lipman, the author of Yosphoth Yom Tov), on reaching the age of seventy years, and being childless, presented a Scroll of the Law to the Jewish community of Úsov. The Scroll was beautifully written, and the case richly embroidered. The presentation took place on Simchat Torah of the year 5508 (1747) with great parade and ceremony, as is the custom.

All the Jewish inhabitants of the town gathered before the house of the donors, waiting for the finishing touches to be given to the Scrolls. At last the word went round that it was complete, and the musicians struck up a favourite hymn melody. Then the Scroll-bearer went under the wonderfully embroidered Chupah, the honoured donors, surrounded by the heads of the community walked in front, the other adults and the children followed. The procession marched in triumph through the streets till they arrived at the Synagogue.


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