Dina's Lost Tribe
A Novel
by Brigitte Goldstein

In my years of darkness, those friendless years devoid of hope, you, my sons, were my only light, my consolation. You made my dark world luminous. You made an unbearable fate bearable. You even brought me moments of joy when I held you in my arms, when I saw you growing into manhood. And now you too are free from the curse of your birth. The mark of shame has been wiped from your forehead. You are no longer outcasts, bastards, no one will ever again shun you, spit at you, curse you. You are free men now! Do you understand what this means? Then why the muttering in the shadows? Why the doleful miens? The suspicious stares? Why the doubts, the whispers, reproachful glances, yes, even secret accusations? I see the questions in your eyes. I feel them burning in my back. I sense them even when you lower your eyes at the table or when I pass you in the fields, as you build your homes here in this mountain valley. I know you would not confront your mother openly. But I am not so blind as not to sense what tears at your souls. You want to know what made me do what I did. You have a right to know. He was the man who fathered you. You are flesh of his flesh. His blood flows in your veins. But that is all; he is nothing else to you. You owe him nothing, no loyalty, no love, no respect, no honor. Remember it was he who condemned you to the status of bastardry; he left you exposed to the scorn and derision of the lowliest of peasants. He dishonored your mother, kept her in a perpetual state of degradation and bondage, lower than the swineherd in the village. Remember it was your mother who raised you, who instructed you in the teachings of her people. It was she who told you about the glory of our forefathers, of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. She taught you about Moses the lawgiver, she recalled the stories of David and Solomon, the kings of the ancient Israelite realm. I also nursed you on the many stories of persecution and suffering my people, your people, had endured since the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Secretly, I had to tell you these stories for these heretic villagers scoffed at our Holy Scriptures, at what Christians call the Old Testament. The man who was your father paraded as a good Christian, a priest ordained in the Roman Church. In reality he was the devil in priestly garb, a wolf in sheepskin, a fornicator and a deceiver, a depraved miscreant from whom no woman in this mountain region was safe.