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    Bobbemaysehs – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. What is a Bobbemayseh?

    A. It has nothing to do with grandmothers or old wives’ tales.

    In the 16th century, Yiddish translations were made of much of European literature, including an Italian book about the adventures of a prince or knight called Buovo d’Antona. The result was the Buovo- or Bovo-buch, a compilation of charming romantic tales about Buovo and his lady Druziana, with an admixture of Jewish elements.

    The translator, Elya Bocher, was originally a wandering Yiddish troubador but became well known in the more serious fields of Jewish scholarship as Elijah Levitas. His fame as a scholar was so widespread that he was invited to teach Hebrew at the University of Paris but he turned down the offer, probably out of Jewish loyalty, since France had expelled its Jews in the 14th century.

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