Caryl Simon-Katler <csimon@...>
I thought it might be of interest to mention that the 20th of Sivan, which
begins tonight June 26 and lasts until sundown tomorrow, is a day which most of
our relatives who lived in eastern Europe would have commemorated with a fast and
the reading of yizkorbooks. It initially began following the first ritual murder
accusation in Europe, in Blois, France in 1171. Thirty-two Jews died, rather than
accept baptism. Yhe day of their burning was declared a perpetual fast.
Interestingly, the Chmielnicki massacres some of which took place on the 20th of
Sivan in 1648 were also commemorated by this same fast. The Megillat 'Efah or
Scroll of Terror, an account of these Cossack massacres in which at least 100,000
Jews were murdered, was read and many old selichos >from 1171 recited. These
customs were observed throughout eastern Europe up to the eve of World War II.
Even if we no longer follow the custom, I think it's worthwhile to remember its
significance for our families, who were coping with the ever-present threat of
pogroms for centuries. The 20th of Sivan was their way of memorializing the
thousands of victims claimed by these pogroms.
Caryl Simon-Katler, Massachusetts