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Me at Pennsic 2012.
|Awards & Offices|
| (See Introduction)|
Rose Noire Pursuivant (Shire Herald) 1990 to present (mostly)
I am Reb Eleazar ha-Levi. The word “reb” is a Jewish equivalent to the title “lord.”
I joined the SCA in September or October 1973, while I was a grad student at Rutgers University. A friend of mine was forming a chapter in north central New Jersey, and the campus I lived on fell in her territory (if she expanded it slightly). I went to her house for the organizational meeting and was introduced to other SCAdians – and to Master Master Duke Sir Cariadoc’s quick mead. What can I say, I joined.
When I graduated and moved to Harrisburg, PA, I found that there were no chapters closer than Baltimore (Mirkwood), Philadelphia (Bhakail), or Pittsburgh (BMDL). That didn’t me much opportunity to participate, and I let my membership lapse in 1976.
In 1983, a friend of mine told me that he and his wife were forming a Harrisburg chapter (Dawnfield), and I rejoined. I’ve been a member ever since.
My first Pennsic was 1988. I took my daughter, Rose, who was originally known in the Society as Osnah Rachel bat Eleazar ha-Levi. Rose is still a member, only she is now known as Leonilla Kalista Kievlianina.
When I was designing my device, I wanted to have Jewish elements. What I came up with is “Per pale dovetailed Or and azure, three mullets of six points in pale and a date palm tree, eradicated and fructed, all counterchanged.” The date palm, FYI, is an old Jewish symbol for a pious man.
In 1987, I wrote up the research for my device (and a bit more) as a research paper entry for Ice Dragon. Master Arval Benicoeur, who was Brigantia Herald at the time, offered to work with me on the paper for possible publication in the Proceedings of the Known World Heraldic Symposium (now the Known World Heraldic and Scribal Symposium). The paper, “Jewish Heraldry” was published in the 1989 Proceedings. I’d been doing a bit of research on period Jewish culture, and this really got me into it.
In 1990, the man who was herald for the Shire of Dawnfield stepped down. It was suggested that I take the job, since, if I had gotten published in the KWHSS Proceedings, I must know something about heraldry. I took the job, and I’ve held it most of the time since then.
Award of Arms -- 05/09/87
Order of the Silver Crescent -- 09/16/95
Orderof the Maunche -- 03/09/96
I was born in Toledo in the Year of the World 4908. To those gentile who follow the calendar set many years ago by their Pope Julius, this was the year 1148. My place of birth was and is Toledo, the capital of the Kingdom of Castile, now under the rule of His Majesty, Alfonso VIII Sánchez, "the Noble" (11/11/1155-10/05/1214). It is now the year 4973, by that same calendar of their Pope Julius, 1213.
My full name is Eleazar Tzvi ben Shmuel Aharon ben Eleazar Tzvi ben Saul Yosef ha-Levi. My father, Shmuel Aharon (of blessed memory), was a grower and seller of herbs and flowers and a ceremonial gardener. My mother, Rivka bat Noach Dovid ha-Levi (also of blessed memory) was a sometimes midwife and one of the leaders of the women at our synagogue. I have a younger sister, Pesichaya, now married with two grown children, Rafiel ben Yosef and Michal bat Yosef. Their oldest son, Daniel ben Yosef died some years ago of a wasting disease.
I received a good Jewish education and discovered a love of knowledge, especially history, which could only be satisfied by study and travel. In 4914 (1162), I met the famous Rabbi Abraham ben Meir ibn Ezra (of blessed memory), who was married to a distant cousin, Cipporah bat Yehudah ha-Levi. Rabbi ibn Ezra had spent some years in Angle-Land, and he encouraged my interest in that far country. I travelled to that land in my twenty-third year and spent two years living in a town called Ox-Ford, which was a growing center of knowledge after their own King Henry had banned study at the University of Paris.
My feet, as they say, itched to travel, and I left Ox-Ford and travelled to Italy. I stayed a short time in the free commune of Bologna, also a center of learning, before I moved on to Rome. That city is under the rule of the Catholic Pope, whose steward at that time was a fellow Jew, Reb Jechiel ben Yakov, the head of the Jewish community and leader of “the wise men of Rome” a group whose knowledge of Jewish Law was of great renown in that country.
I lived for a time in the home of one of these men, Reb Chizikia ben Natan. Amongst his servants was an Italian maiden, Donna, who had converted to our faith, taking the name Yaphe bat Yisrael. I grew to love Yaphe, and took her as my wife. A year and half later, she died in childbirth. The baby, my daughter, Rosa (Asnat Rachel), survived and flourished. I lived in Reb Chizikia’s home for some years after that, studying under him and the other wise men and learning to care for Rosa.
In time, I began to long for my home city. In addition, the Pope Alexander had spoken out against employing Jewish servants. Reb. Jechiel was no long his steward, and life in that city was growing harder. Rosa was old enough to travel with me, so we returned to Toledo.
The King wisely employed Jews in his court as scholars, and I sought service there. I was well qualified by my time in Angle-Land and Italy. In addition to the language of Castile, I can read and speak Ladino, Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic, English, and Italian.
Still, there were some who felt that there were already too many of my faith in the court. As it happened, Rachel bat Dovid ha-Levi, also known as Rahel la Fermosa, whose father was brother to my own, was the king’s… friend. Her word in the king’s ear was a help, and I was offered a position as a translator of documents.
My efforts, if I may be immodest, have more than proved my worth, and I have found a position that has suited me. My efforts have been praised, and I have produced a number of works that have been deemed of use to the great men of His Majesty’s court.
Rosa has married a travelling bookseller, Micah ben Avraham, and lives somewhere in the East. I enjoy my life and my work, but I live, as any father would, for the letters from my daughter. So far, none of these have spoken much of grandchildren, but they are both young, and – Ha-Shem be praised – healthy and prospering.
Offices & Positions
- Name of Position, Location, mm/dd/yyyy to mm/dd/yyyy
- List in Chronological order, oldest to newest
- Name of Position, Name of Event, mm/dd/yyyy
- List in Chronological order, oldest to newest
Projects & Publications
“An SCA Guide to Jewish Persona” Compleat Anachronist #110, January 2001
Proceedings of the Known World Heraldic and Scribal Symposiums (KWHSS)
• “Jewish Heraldry” 1989 KWHSS
• “Jewish Naming Conventions in Angevin England” 1991 KWHSS
• “Hebrew Equivalents of SCA Titles” 1993 KWHSS
• “Hebrew Equivalents of SCA Titles Taken from Three Period Texts” 1996 KWHSS
• “Names found on List of 11th to 16thCentury Italian Jewish Scribes” 1997 KWHSS
• “Heraldry Aids” 2003 KWHSS
• “A Jewish Memory Book: Nuremburg, 1349” 2004 KWHSS
• “Jewish Names from the Roman Catacombs” 2007 KWHSS
• “Names from The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela” 2008 KWHSS
• “A Step Towards Period Practice: Medieval Jewish Use of Biblical Names” 2011 KWHSS
• “A Heraldic Coloring Book” 2011 KWHSS
• “Jewish Physicians in Southern France in the 13thand 14th Centuries 2012KWHSS
• "Charoset” TI#90 Spring 1989 – redaction of a medieval recipe for a dish served at Passover
• "The Medieval Seder" TI#98, Spring 1991
• "Scroll Coloring" co-authored with my daughter Osnah Rachel bat Eleazar ha-Levi, TI#108, Fall 1993 -- line drawings of presentation scrolls as a children's activity at events.
• Daily Life in Holland in the Year 1566 by Rien Poortvliet trans. Karin H. Ford and Growing Up in Medieval London: The Experience of Childhood in History by Barbara A. Hanawalt (book reviews) TI#116, Fall 1995
• Rashi: The Man and His World by Esra Shereshevsky (book review) TI#136, Autumn 2000
• “The First First Event” TI179, Third Quarter 2011
• Designing and building a “Games Box”, a carrying case containing the boards and pieces for seven different period board games (alquerque, backgammon, chess, fox and geese, nine-man-morris, tablero (de Jesus), and tafl) based on a less complex Italian Renaissance game box. So far, only a corrugated cardboard version of the game box has been made.
• Designing and registering a "Diabetics Badge." Although the badge is registered to me, any diabetic member of the Society has my permission to wear it. The blazon for the badge is Per bend sinister argent and gules, a fleam gules and a bee Or.
• Getting my KWHSS Jewish name articles posted to the Medieval Names Archive and to the Laurel Web Page.
• Serving as a member of the SCA Census Committee, assisting in the design of the questionnaire and the analysis of the data.
• Trying to fully document the use of pinyatas by Jews as part of the Purim celebration.
• Doing research on medieval Jewish cooking and brewing. I recently found some information on the brewing of beer as described in the Talmud.
• Encouraging the adoption of Jewish personas and the recreation of more Jewish arts, crafts, and activities.