Sailing on the Danube with the Hungarians – Day 5

This morning, a group of us travelled to Lewisham to interview our subject whilst the rest of us attended the lecture by Lily Kahn on Jewish life along the Danube. The group in Lewisham were invited to spend the morning speaking to Enikò in her home and learnt all about her life and experiences in London. Eniro was very open to talking to us which made the experience of interviewing very enjoyable. She shared her pictures and different objects that she brought with her from Hungary. We came back into central London with her on her journey to work (at the dentist).

The rest of us came to know Isaac Edward Salkinson, who was an Ashkenazi Jew born in Shklou (Lithuania). If you are wondering what Ashkenazi means, it is the way Eastern European Jews identified themselves. Salkinson had an adventurous life, settling first in Vilnius, where he met intellectuals of the Haskalah, the Jewish Enlightenment. Then he moved to London where he joined the Jewish community present in the city in the East End. In London, he decided to convert to Christianity and then became part of the London Missionary Society. He was sent to Vienna by the Society in order to translate the New Testament into Hebrew. Nevertheless, in Vienna he met Peretz Smoleskin who convinced him to translate Shakespeare into Hebrew. Salkinson translated Othello and Romeo and Juliet, but the most interesting thing about his translations is that he managed to “domesticate” the Christian and mythological content of the Shakespeare’s plays making them understandable for a Jewish audience.

In the second part of the day, we looked at the differences and similarities among Danubian languages. We were encouraged to read translations of the same Biblical line in all the languages and to pick up the words we could understand. We also read a folk tale in Boyash, a Romani language closely related to Romanian.

-Harriet and Clara from the Hungarian Team

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