Reputation, Reputation, Reputation

Reputation, reputation, reputation!

O, I have lost my reputation!

I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial.

My reputation, Iago, my reputation!

—William Shakespeare, Othello, II, iii

On a traffic-free walking street in the Belgian city of Antwerp, a man pulls his long black coat more tightly around him to keep out the cold chill of the winter wind that blasts off the cobblestone street like a wave cracking against the rocks. As the wind gusts again, he quickly grabs his black hat to steady it on his head, and ducks into the doorway of a large building. Entering a long high-ceilinged room, he loosens his coat to free his long graying beard as he walks swiftly past the two dozen or so plain wooden tables that line the high-windowed wall. “I must hurry,” he thinks to himself, “or I will not be home by sundown.”

It is Friday, and for observant Jews, the Sabbath begins at dusk.

At a table near the back, he greets another man, dressed in a white shirt and black vest, and quickly takes a seat across the others. The hubbub of others, sitting at other tables, engaging in quiet conversation, fills the room.

The wife? Der kinder? They keep the small talk to a minimum as they begin an animated discussion conducted in a mix of Yiddish and English. They both know it is getting late. The vested man opens a thin black leather pouch and produces a small paper envelope no bigger than a postcard. Slipping off his coat, the visitor ...

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