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This blog is dedicated to Malta - my island home. My aim is not to bore you with history but to share my thoughts and a few facts together with a photo or two. For a more in -depth background of the island please go here. The purpose of this blog is not to point out the short-comings of the island. There are plenty that do that already. My wish is to show you the beauty of an island at the cross roads of the Mediterranean, a melting pot of history; a place where fact and fiction are sometimes fused to create unique myths and legends; a country that has been conquered so many times that our culture is a mish mesh of the lands that surround us and of lands far away. I confess that my greatest desire is to make you fall in love with this tiny enchanting island.

Monday, May 31, 2010

A Glimpse of the Past

Medieval Mdina 020  

I was walking up this narrow, winding street one bright April afternoon. There was nothing unusual about that. I must have walked this road at least a hundred times. Then suddenly I heard what sounded like a sob and a heart-broken cry. I looked up but all I could see was a tiny red window. No one else was in sight – and yet I felt that someone was very close.

Medieval Mdina 021

I reached out and touched the limestone wall, etched deeply by rain that had long since dried up and caressed by winds that have blown themselves out, and I felt a connection to another time. An echo from the past whispered it tale. In the deepening silence I closed my eyes and let the walls pour out their story – a story of prejudice and misguided zeal, of families forced to abandoned their homes and livelihoods, of hasty conversions to avoid persecution and death.

I continued to touch the wall gently with the tips of my fingers, feeling the sad vibes of this family that has long since moved on and wondering … wondering who these ghosts were, what made them so sad … then a sign above the door brought the past hurtling back and I remembered …

The Jewish Silk Market

Medieval Mdina 022

 

The above narrative is, of course, just something I made up but the event I am hinting at took place. The first Jews had settled in the Maltese islands at least 3500 years ago. Archeological proof from many areas of the island confirm that there was a fairly large Jewish community living here. Most of these Jews were shopkeepers, merchants or import-export agents. This mostly peaceful co-existence with the native population changed suddenly in 1492 when the Inquisition gave all Jews three months to leave the island or else convert to Christianity and forfeit 45% of their possessions. This was certainly not one of the most glorious moments of our chequered history. In the centuries that followed mutual distrust grew between the two nations. These hard feelings may have been laid to rest when, during WW2, Malta was the only European country that did not require Jews fleeing Nazism to have a visa. Consequently thousands of Jews were able to escape to freedom. For more information about Malta and the Jews, go here.

16 comments:

  1. Loree...beautifully written..gorgeous photos and your words spellbinding..I was carried away inside them...I am was lost in the energy fo your poetic words..! Fabulous.. heart felt.. intriguing post..
    Kiki~

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  2. I can't say it any better than Kiki above. Your post was very beautifully written, Loree.
    Interesting fact of history I didn't know!
    ♥...Wanda

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  3. I was pulled in by your pictures and fascinating story. I didn't realize there was a Jewish community there long ago.

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  4. Beautiful old streetand old buildings.
    Costas

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  5. Oh yes, knights and ladies I can imagine without any problem. On a more serious note, I will never understand...

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  6. Wonderful post! Thank you for sharing this. Beautifully expressed.

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  7. You're a talented writer Loree, your story was so beautifully written, and I loved reading about the history of Malta. I had no idea.

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  8. First time here!I loved this post :)
    Love your style of writing and those pictures are simply great!
    Have a great time!
    B

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  9. What an enigmatic piece of writing...eerily beautiful.

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  10. Hi Loree..just dropping by to say hi! And yay..your masks soudnd super- gorgeous..I would love to see them sometime!! Thanks for your super lovely comments as always! have a magical week!
    Kiki

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  11. Fantastic post, Loree! You have a way with words..

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  12. Beautiful images and story. I, too, was unaware of the Jewish population in the Maltese Islands so long ago. Thank you for providing the historical link.

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  13. I've been a bit absent from my Malta windows, sorry. Having to dela with way too much right now, I feel I'm losing hold of myself.

    Hopefully a little vacation with family will restore smiles.

    Ciao
    Eleonora xx

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  14. The second picture has a wiped clean except for the memories feel.
    ~Mary

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  15. The tiny red window you show and mention belongs to my grandmother's house in Mdina :) fascinating story

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  16. The tiny red window you show and mention belongs to my grandmother's house in Mdina :) fascinating story

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