DR ELIAS LIPINER
by Schulamith Halevy
Dr. Elias Lipiner, a dear friend, kindred spirit and expert of the Portuguese Inquisition, passed away yesterday (April 26, 1998: 30 Nisan 5758).
I first met Dr. Lipiner at a conference and already at our first private meeting he told me that he was "first and last, a poet." His poetry was rich in its imagery and language, and sad, expressing his loneliness, his sorrows and, at times, despair.
We met often, talking not only about the Inquisition, but also about poetry, religion and many other subjects in which we shared an interest. Whenever I brought anusim to him, they left with new wisdom and complimentary copies of his books.
Lipiner was young at heart. Having survived abject poverty in childhood (in Romania), loneliness as he went by himself to Brazil at a young age, and a sense of spiritual isolation wherever he was, his zest for life never tarnished. But he also knew to connect from his pain to the suffering of the anusim.
When he was writing his book about the heroic martyr, Izaque de Castro, who was burned at the stake at the age of 24, he would sit into the dark nights crying and writing, writing and crying. He was wiping tears even as he described the process to me. He went through the Torre do Tombo looking to uncover our past. He lamented to me how of 40,000 processos buried therein fewer than twenty are published. He had hoped to at least catalog them and make them more accessible in his lifetime. I still dream that they will all make it into the national archives of the Jewish State, where they belong.
Lipiner was a lawyer by profession. His expertise in the inquisition of Portugal was acquired as a result of his zeal to uncover this little known chapter in our history. He gained command of the material using all his energies, his knowledge of Jewish studies and his legal acumen.
He was not satisfied with the traditional footnotes, but went to the trouble, and often to the expense, of including in his books copies of the documents he uncovered, for all to see. He was a prolific and sensitive writer who combined the art of belles-lettres with exquisite scholarship.
Even after his death his contributions continues. Three books he authored are undergoing final proofing and as they appear they will remind us of the expert we lost, of the energetic, accomplished and loving man, who sat days and nights, year after year, asking for nothing and giving his all.
I cherish this noble man's friendship, and will carry his memory wherever my life takes me.
submitted by: Schulamith
The poet of "The Reflection In Your Mirror"
by permission from Kulanu "All of us"