Colmar Remembered


Most people have never heard of Colmar, a tiny French Alsace town near the German border.  Charlemagne knew it as a Saxon settlement, and it existed as one of the many little spaces connecting the Holy Roman Empire.  Not all of its residents were Christians.

Colmar’s “street of the Jews” once housed a synagogue, a school, a mikveh, and a thriving community, Jews living side by side peacefully with their Christian neighbors in a tumultuous Medieval landscape.

That is, until the Black Death. Jews received the blame for the plague in 1348-49, and, despite protestations from the Holy Roman Emperor and Pope, their neighbors turned against them.

They were burned alive by Colmar’s residents.

What thoughts went through their 14th century Medieval minds when they buried their treasure- a treasure no one found until 1863? And can we learn from this episode in human history? I’ve stopped asking “what can we learn” because I feel that few can see the patterns anymore.

Maps of Colmar come later, including a stunning bird’s eye  view of its homes, businesses and street life from the 1540s.  In the 1540s, there was no sign of Jewish life in Colmar.  The synagogue is gone. The school is gone.  No one remembered the Jews.

This photo is of a wedding ring from the Cloister’s current exhibit on the Colmar Treasure. Its letters represent Mazel Tov, and it depicts the Temple, which had been destroyed by Romans centuries earlier. It belonged to a human being, who most probably planned to hand it down through the generations.

Studying history through its objects offers a deep perspective.  What objects remain to tell the story?




Fall Registrations are filling fast!

bayeaux cometHello homeschoolers!  I am working on the content for the fall classes, and homeschool class spaces are going very fast!  If you’re interested in anything being offered, please reach out.  I can provide you with more details and a preliminary syllabus.  As always, more information may be found on Homeschoolny and NYCHEA email lists.  Be sure to join them to keep up to date on homeschool happenings!

Medieval History! – using the Met and written primary sources as our guides

Medieval Literature! – starring Boethius, Augustine, Chaucer, Boccaccio, and the lost writers of the Tain, Mabinogion, Icelandic Sagas, Song of Roland and more!

The Universe! – Cosmology, Astronomy, Astrophysics, and the crossroads of science and culture!

Issues in the Ancient World! – Colonialism, Racism, Orientalism, Religion and all of the other ways in which we make assumptions about Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Andean peoples, Mesoamericans, and more!

Paranormal and History! – Studying world and US history through the lens of the “unexplained” – haunted castles, alien assumptions, vampires, ghosts and other examples of the otherworldly as our lens!

Governments! – using the AP Comparative Government exam as our guide to comparing the governments of China, Iran, Great Britain, Nigeria, and Mexico…as well as others, based on student interest!  More US focus available, too!

AP styled courses in US History and Europe!, but with many additional twists and museum explorations!

I am also delighted to finish the fine-tuning on my Hunter College syllabi.  Religious Experience, Ancient Near Eastern Religions, Religions of Mexico, Central and South America, and Astrology and World Religions are offered.

I’m looking forward to a great 2019-2020 year!