The Secret Jewish History
O Robin Hood
Robin Hood is well known as a defender of oppressed populations. But one aspect of his story that has mostly been lost to time, however, is his role as protector of Jews, who figured prominently in ballads and dramatic texts that began appearing in th- and
th-century England. Aside from his fundamental mission of tikkun olam — repairing the world via a forced redistribution of wealth, aka stealing from the rich and giving to the poor — Robin Hood was originally portrayed as a champion of all the oppressed, whether they be peasants, Muslims, disinherited kings, scorned Crusaders, anti-clerics or Jews.
There is no single scriptural source for the tale of Robin Hood. Rather, this figure of English folklore, typically portrayed as a noble outlaw, is the stuff of legends that have accumulated for over half a millennium, legends that retell and elaborate on the basic story in order to emphasize and add to its various aspects like so much midrash, in the form of ballads, poems, games, plays, books and, for the past century, on the silver screen: This month, the latest version of Robin Hood can be found in an eponymously titled movie directed by Otto Bathurst (“Peaky Blinders,” “Black Mirror”) and starring Welsh actor Taron Egerton as the title character, Jamie Foxx as Little John, Ben Mendelsohn as the Sheriff of Nottingham and Eve Hewson (daughter of U’s Bono) as Maid Marian.
While tales dier as to Robin Hood’s exact origins, it is generally accepted that he hailed from Yorkshire in the north of England in the th century — an area that also boasted a significant Jewish settlement — before moving to Nottinghamshire, home to Sherwood Forest and a particularly nasty sheri who was no friend to the children of Israel. By the
th century, the fictional Robin Hood was typically portrayed as a contemporary and supporter of the late- th-century king Richard the Lionheart. In this schema, Robin was driven to live outside the law due to the misrule of Richard’s brother John, while his friend Richard was abroad doing the things crusaders did on the Third Crusade. Oddly enough,
Robin Hood hails from an area that boasted a significant Jewish population.
ROBIN AND HIS HOODS: The new ‘Robin Hood’ features Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx (left) and Eve Hewson (above).