As much as I would love to believe that the author of the national poem of Poland was Jewish, I'm afraid the idea is not supported by the evidence. For instance, Wiktor Weintraub says, in "The Poetry of Adam Mickiewicz", that "[his mother's] maiden name was Majewska. In old Lithuania, every baptised Jew became ennobled, and there were Majewskis of Jewish origin. That must have been the reason for the rumours, repeated by some of the poet's contemporaries, that Mickiewicz's mother was a Jewess by origin. However, genealogical research makes such an assumption rather improbable." Even people who believe his mother was of Jewish origin believe the family had converted, and Mickiewicz was certainly not brought up in the Jewish religion. See here for more information. --Ubiquity 00:51, 4 November 2007 (UTC)
- I am not going to revert Ubiquity as it is a silly thing to have an edit war over. However, I am sorry to see that Ubiquity has fallen for the Polish trick of pretending that none of their notable countrymen could be Jewish. The link he gives in fact establishes Mickiewicz' antecedents beyond doubt:
- "Mickiewicz's mother, descended from a converted Frankist family": Encyclopaedia Judaica, art. Mickiewicz, Adam. "Mickiewicz's Frankist origins were well-known to the Warsaw Jewish community as early as 1838 (according to evidence in the AZDJ of that year, p. 362). The parents of the poet's wife also came from Frankist families." Encyclopaedia Judaica, art. Frank, Jacob, and the Frankists.
- Wiktor Weintraub, "The Poetry of Adam Mickiewicz" in fact gives no proof of his assertion. As for whether Mickiewicz was an orthodox Jew, that is irrelevant. Judaism is, after all, an ethnicity as well as a religion. Would Ubiquity remove the "British Jew" tag from Benjamin Disraeli (Yes, I am a Jew, and when the ancestors of the right honorable gentleman were brutal savages in an unknown island, mine were priests in the temple of Solomon.) because he was baptised?--Cato 22:44, 4 November 2007 (UTC)
No need to fear an edit war from me, Cato. I'm Jewish too, and as I said, I would love to believe that Mickiewicz was Jewish. My main authority that he was not was Wikipedia. Forgive me if I have too high an opinion of that august institution. ;-) If you feel the evidence that he was Jewish is strong enough, feel free to put back the categorization, I certainly won't revert.
As to the Disraeli question, I am of two minds about that, and certainly wouldn't remove the categorization when I can't make up my own mind. But I wouldn't argue very hard with someone who did. Anyway, I have more pressing difficulties. Right now my girlfriend is angry that I won't accept that Columbus was Jewish. --Ubiquity 23:15, 4 November 2007 (UTC)
- OK, I'm reverting. I think there's a 50-50 chance that Columbus was Jewish; see the quote by Cecil Roth from the Encyclopaedia Judaica article on him:
- He was himself mysterious when speaking of his origin, apparently having something in his background which he wished to conceal. However, he boasted cryptically about his connection with King David, and had a penchant for Jewish and Marrano society. Spanish scholars have attempted to explain the fact that this great hero of Spanish history was almost certainly born in Genoa, Italy, by the assumption that his parents were Jewish or ex-Jewish refugees from Spain. In fact, the name Colon (or Colombo) was not uncommon among Italian Jews of the late medieval period. A document recently discovered suggests that Columbus was of Majorcan origin, and almost certainly belonged to a Marrano family: but the authenticity of the document still remains to be proved. On the other hand, Columbus' mysterious signature, which he adjured his son always to use, is susceptible to a Hebraic interpretation, which is no more improbable than the many other solutions that have been proposed. It is remarkable moreover that Columbus began his account of his voyage with a reference to the expulsion of the Jews from Spain; that in one document he refers to the Second Temple in Jerusalem by the Hebraic term "Second House"; that he dates its destruction as being in the year 68, in accordance with the Jewish tradition; and that he seems to have deliberately postponed the day of his sailing until August 3, while all was ready for the purpose on the previous day, which was the unpropitious fast day of the Ninth of Av commemorating the destruction of the Temple. The mystery regarding Columbus' origins is largely the outcome of his own mendacity: and as a result it is equally impossible to exclude or to confirm the hypothesis that he was descended from a Jewish or ex-Jewish family.--Cato 23:33, 4 November 2007 (UTC)
- "My main authority that he was not was Wikipedia. Forgive me if I have too high an opinion of that august institution. ;-)" Come off it! It's official Wikipedia policy that you can't cite a Wikipedia article to prove something in another article.--Poetlister 15:21, 5 November 2007 (UTC)
Ubiquity: you think that there's the slightest doubt that Disraeli, who was 100% of Jewish descent and regarded himself as Jewish, should be labelled as a British Jew? Is your argument that nobody should be described as Jewish unless they are strictly observant Jews? You say that you are Jewish. Do you fast Sheni, Chamishi veSheni? Do you lay Tefillin Rabbenu Tam?-Yehudi 23:14, 5 November 2007 (UTC)
- I think we're getting a little far afield here, but my objection has nothing to do with observance. For example, I am happy to admit that Einstein was a Jew. But it's Disraeli's uncoerced baptism and lifelong participation in the Anglican church which makes me wonder. Disraeli considered himself a religious Anglican and an ethnic Jew. Forgive me if I find that makes him difficult to classify.
- In the case of Mickiewicz (yes, I thought maybe we should talk about him a little too ;-) ), I think the situation is even less clearcut. His mother may have been a converso (or some Ashkenazy equivalent term). But what is the point of identifying someone as Jewish who never practiced and never claimed the identity?
- Elvis Presley's maternal great grandmother was Jewish. He partially identified Jewish. But WQ does not classify him as a Jewish entertainer. Where do we draw the line? Since I personally can't decide, I'm content to let other people draw it. --Ubiquity 00:24, 6 November 2007 (UTC)
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Note: some the English translations given below for the poetry excerpts are of an extremely low quality, distorting both the meaning and the style beyond recognition. They were probably produced by an automatic translator. Urgent correction needed.
- User:220.127.116.11 15:55, 11 May 2008