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SIMPLY MING Season 15 Season 15 | American Public Television

Posted By on September 29, 2018

SIMPLY MING Season 15 Season 15 | American Public Television


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SIMPLY MING Season 15 Season 15 | American Public Television

Cambodian genocide denial – Wikipedia

Posted By on September 27, 2018

Cambodian genocide denial was the belief expressed by many Western academics that claims of atrocities by the Khmer Rouge government (1975-1979) in Cambodia were much exaggerated. Many scholars of Cambodia and intellectuals, opposed to the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, denied or minimized the human rights abuses of the Khmer Rouge, characterizing contrary information as "tales told by refugees" and U.S. propaganda.[1] They viewed the assumption of power by the communist Khmer Rouge as a positive development for the people of Cambodia who had been severely impacted by the Vietnam War and the Cambodian Civil War.

On the other side of the argument, anti-Communists in the United States and elsewhere saw in the rule of the Khmer Rouge vindication of their belief that the victory of communist governments in South-East Asia would lead to a "bloodbath".

Scholar Donald W. Beachler, writing of the controversy about the range and extent of Khmer Rouge atrocities, concluded that "much of the posturing by academics, publicists, and politicians seems to have been motivated largely by political purposes" rather than concern for the Cambodian people.[2]

With conclusive evidence (including the discovery of over 20,000 mass graves[3]) of a large number of deathsestimated at between one and three millionof Cambodians caused by the Khmer Rouge, denials, deniers, and apologists largely disappeared, although disagreements concerning the actual number of Khmer Rouge victims have continued.

Against the background of the Vietnamese invasion and occupation of Cambodia (1978-1979), the United States practiced what the Washington Post called "hold-your-nose diplomacy", recognizing the Khmer Rouge as the legitimate government of Cambodia while abhoring the "record of genocide" of the Khmer Rouge. The U.S. policy was in solidarity with China, Thailand, and other South East Asian countries who opposed the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia.[4]

The Khmer Rouge captured Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, on April 17, 1975 and immediately ordered all the residents to evacuate the city. "Between two and three million residents of Phnom Penh, Battambang, and other big towns were forced by the communists to walk into the countryside... without organized provision for food, water, shelter, physical security or medical care."[5] The evacuation probably resulted in at least 100,000 deaths.[6] The dispossessed urban dwellers were assigned to re-education camps or "New Settlements." Former government employees and soldiers were executed. Soon, according to journalists, Cambodia resembled "a giant prison camp with the urban supporters of the former regime being worked to death on thin gruel and hard labor."[7]

The Khmer Rouge guarded the border with Thailand and only a few thousand refugees were able to make their way to Thailand and safety. As virtually no Westerners were allowed to visit Cambodia, those refugees plus the official news outlets of the Khmer Rouge were the principal sources of information about conditions in Cambodia for the next four years.

Beachler has described the late 1970s debate about the character of the Khmer Rouge. "Many of those who had been opponents of U.S. military actions in Vietnam and Cambodia feared that the tales of murder and deprivation under the Khmer Rouge regime would validate the claims of those who had supported U.S. government actions aimed at halting the spread of communism. Conservatives pointed to the actions of the Khmer Rouge as proof of the inherent evils of communism and evidence that the U.S. had been right to fight its long war against communists in Southeast Asia... "[2]

Despite the eye-witness accounts by journalists prior to their expulsion during the first few days of Khmer Rouge rule, and the later testimony of refugees; many academics in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Australia and other countries portrayed the Khmer Rouge favorably or at least were skeptical about the stories of Khmer Rouge atrocities. None of them, however, were allowed to visit Cambodia until the final few days of Khmer Rouge rule (except Gunnar Bergstrom, president of the SKFA) and few actually talked to the refugees whose stories they believed to be exaggerated or false.[8][9]

Some Western scholars believed that the Khmer Rouge would free Cambodia from colonialism, capitalism, and the ravages of American bombing and invasion during the Vietnam War. Cambodian scholar Sophal Ear has titled the pro-Khmer Rouge academics as the "Standard Total Academic View on Cambodia" (STAV). The STAV, which he said included among its adherents almost all Cambodian scholars in the Western world, "hoped for, more than anything, a socialist success story with all the romantic ingredients of peasants, fighting imperialism, and revolution."[8] Author William Shawcross was another critic of the STAV academics. Shawcross's views were endorsed and summarized by human rights activist David Hawk: the West was indifferent to the atrocities taking place in Cambodia due to "the influence of anti-war academics on the American left who obfuscated Khmer Rouge behavior, denigrated the post-1975 refugee reports, and denounced the journalists who got those stories."[10]

The controversy concerning the Khmer Rouge intensified in February 1977 with the publication of excerpts from a book by John Barron and Anthony Paul in Reader's Digest magazine. Based on extensive interviews with Cambodian refugees in Thailand, Barron and Paul estimated that, out of a total population of about 7 million people, 1.2 million Cambodians had died of starvation, over-work, or execution during less than two years of Khmer Rouge rule.[11] Published about the same time was Franois Ponchaud's book, Cambodia: Year Zero. Ponchaud, a French priest, had lived in Cambodia and spoke Khmer. He also painted a picture of mass deaths caused by the Khmer Rouge. French scholar, Jean Lacouture, formerly a sympathizer of the Khmer Rouge, reviewed Ponchaud's book favorably in The New York Review of Books on March 31, 1977.[12]

On May 3, 1977, Congressman Stephen Solarz led a hearing on Cambodia in the United States House of Representatives. The witnesses were Barron and three academics who specialized in Cambodia: David P. Chandler, who would become perhaps the most prominent American scholar of Cambodia, Peter Poole, and Gareth Porter. Chandler believed that "bloodbath" was an accurate description of the situation and by no means an exaggeration.[13] Porter stated that the tales of Khmer Rouge atrocities were much exaggerated.[14] Porter was the most outspoken of the academics. He had co-authored (with George Hildebrand) Cambodia: Starvation and Revolution, a highly positive book about the Khmer Rouge. Porter characterized the accounts of a million or more dead Cambodians as wildly exaggerated. He said, "I cannot accept the premise... that 1 million people have been murdered systematically or that the Government of Cambodia is systematically slaughtering its people."[15] He described the stories by refugees of Khmer Rouge atrocities collected by Barron and others as second-hand and hearsay. Asked for his sources, Porter cited the works of another adherent of the STAV, Ben Kiernan, an editor for a pro-Khmer Rouge publication in Australia. Porter never mentioned having spoken to any Cambodian refugees to evaluate their stories personally.

Solarz, who had visited Cambodian refugee camps and listened to refugees' stories of Khmer Rouge atrocities, characterized justifications and explanations during the hearing about the Khmer Rouge as "cowardly and contemptible" and compared them to the justifications of the murder of Jews by Adolf Hitler during World War II.[16]

Academics Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman were among those who examined the conflicting reports of the situation in Cambodia in 1977. On June 6, 1977, Chomsky and Herman published an article in The Nation which contrasted the views expressed in books by Barron and Paul, Ponchaud, and Porter and Hildebrand, and in articles and accounts by Butterfield, Bragg, Kahin, Cazaux, Shanberg, Tolgraven and others. Their conclusion was: "We do not pretend to know where the truth lies amidst these sharply conflicting assessments; rather, we again want to emphasize some crucial points. What filters through to the American public is a seriously distorted version of the evidence available, emphasizing alleged Khmer Rouge atrocities and downplaying or ignoring the crucial U.S. role, direct and indirect, in the torment that Cambodia has suffered."[17]

Chomsky and Herman noted the conflicting information in the various accounts, and suggested that after the "failure of the American effort to subdue South Vietnam and to crush the mass movements elsewhere in Indochina" there was now "a campaign to reconstruct the history of these years so as to place the role of the United States in a more favorable light". This rewriting of history by the establishment press was served well by "tales of Communist atrocities, which not only prove the evils of communism but undermine the credibility of those who opposed the war and might interfere with future crusades for freedom." They wrote that the refugee stories of Khmer Rouge atrocities should be treated with great "care and caution" because "refugees are frightened and defenseless, at the mercy of alien forces. They naturally tend to report what they believe their interlocuters wish to hear."[17]

In support of their assertion, Chomsky and Herman criticized Barron and Paul's book Murder of a Gentle Land for ignoring the U.S. government's role in creating the situation, saying, "When they speak of 'the murder of a gentle land,' they are not referring to B-52 attacks on villages or the systematic bombing and murderous ground sweeps by American troops or forces organized and supplied by the United States, in a land that had been largely removed from the conflict prior to the American attack". They give several examples to show that Barron and Paul's "scholarship collapses under the barest scrutiny," and they conclude that, "It is a fair generalization that the larger the number of deaths attributed to the Khmer Rouge, and the more the U.S. role is set aside, the larger the audience that will be reached. The Barron-Paul volume is a third-rate propaganda tract, but its exclusive focus on Communist terror assures it a huge audience."[17]

Chomsky and Herman had both praise and criticism for Ponchaud's book Year Zero, writing that it was "serious and worth reading" and "the serious reader will find much to make him somewhat wary."[17] In the introduction to the American edition of his book, Ponchaud responded to a personal letter from Chomsky, saying, "He [Chomsky] wrote me a letter on October 19, 1977 in which he drew my attention to the way it [Year Zero] was being misused by anti-revolutionary propagandists. He has made it my duty to 'stem the flood of lies' about Cambodia -- particularly, according to him, those propagated by Anthony Paul and John Barron in Murder of a Gentle Land."[18]

A different response appeared in the British introduction to Ponchaud's book.

"Even before this book was translated it was sharply criticized by Mr Noam Chomsky [reference to correspondence with Silvers and the review cited in note 100] and Mr Gareth Porter [reference to May Hearings]. These two 'experts' on Asia claim that I am mistakenly trying to convince people that Cambodia was drowned in a sea of blood after the departure of the last American diplomats. They say there have been no massacres, and they lay the blame for the tragedy of the Khmer people on the American bombings. They accuse me of being insufficiently critical in my approach to the refugee's accounts. For them, refugees are not a valid source... "After an investigation of this kind, it is surprising to see that 'experts' who have spoken to few if any refugees should reject their very significant place in any study of modern Cambodia. These experts would rather base their arguments on reasoning: if something seems impossible to their personal logic, then it doesn't exist. Their only sources for evaluation are deliberately chosen official statements. Where is that critical approach which they accuse others of not having?"[19]

Cambodia scholar Bruce Sharp criticized Chomsky and Herman's Nation article, as well as their subsequent work After the Cataclysm (1979), saying that while Chomsky and Herman added disclaimers about knowing the truth of the matter, and about the nature of the regimes in Indochina, they nevertheless expressed a set of views by their comments and their use of various sources. For instance, Chomsky portrayed Porter and Hildebrand's book as "a carefully documented study of the destructive American impact on Cambodia and the success of the Cambodian revolutionaries in overcoming it, giving a very favorable picture of their programs and policies, based on a wide range of sources." Sharp, however, found that 33 out of 50 citations in one chapter of Porter and Hildebrand's book derived from the Khmer Rouge government and six from China, the Khmer Rouge's principal supporter.[9]

Veteran Cambodia correspondent Nate Thayer said of Chomsky and Herman's Nation article that they "denied the credibility of information leaking out of Cambodia of a bloodbath underway and viciously attacked the authors of reportage suggesting many were suffering under the Khmer Rouge."[20]

Journalist Andrew Anthony in the London Observer, said later that the Porter and Hildebrand's book "cravenly rehashed the Khmer Rouge's most outlandish lies to produce a picture of a kind of radical bucolic idyll." Chomsky, he said, questioned "refugee testimony" believing that "their stories were exaggerations or fabrications, designed for a western media involved in a 'vast and unprecedented propaganda campaign' against the Khmer Rouge government, 'including systematic distortion of the truth.'"[21]

Beachler cited reports that Chomsky's attempts to counter charges of Khmer Rouge atrocities also consisted of writing letters to editors and publications. He said: "Examining materials in the Documentation Center of Cambodia archives, American commentator Peter Maguire found that Chomsky wrote to publishers such as Robert Silver of the New York Review of Books to urge discounting atrocity stories. Maguire reports that some of these letters were as long as twenty pages, and that they were even sharper in tone than Chomskys published words."[22] Journalist Fred Barnes also mentioned that Chomsky had written "a letter or two" to the New York Review of Books. Barnes discussed the Khmer Rouge with Chomsky and "the thrust of what he [Chomsky] said was that there was no evidence of mass murder" in Cambodia. Chomsky, according to Barnes, believed that "tales of holocaust in Cambodia were so much propaganda."[23]

Journalist Christopher Hitchens defended Chomsky and Herman. They "were engaged in the admittedly touchy business of distinguishing evidence from interpretations."[24] Chomsky and Herman have continued to argue that their analysis of the situation in Cambodia was reasonable based on the information available to them at the time, and a legitimate critique of the disparities in reporting atrocities committed by communist regimes relative to the atrocities committed by the U.S. and its allies.

Malcolm Caldwell was a British academic who wrote extensively about Cambodia, including, a few months before his death, an article in The Guardian denying reports of Khmer Rouge genocide.[21] Caldwell was a member of the first delegation of three Western writers, two Americans, Elizabeth Becker and Richard Dudman, and Caldwell, to be invited to visit Cambodia in December 1978nearly four years after the Khmer Rouge had taken power. The invitation was apparently an effort by Pol Pot, leader of the Khmer Rouge, to improve the image of the Khmer Rouge in the West, now questioned by some of its former academic sympathizers.[21] On December 22, Caldwell had a private meeting with Pol Pot and returned "euphoric" to the guest house in Phnom Penh where the three members of the delegation were staying. During the night Becker awoke to the sound of gunfire and saw a Cambodian man with a gun in the guest house outside her room. Later that night she and Dudman were allowed by guards to venture out of their rooms and they discovered Caldwell's body. He had been shot. The body of a Cambodian man was also in his room.[25]

The murder of Caldwell has never been fully explained. Four of the Cambodian guards were arrested and two "confessed" under torture. They said, "We were attacking to ruin the Khmer Rouge Party's policy, to prevent the Party from gathering friends in the world... it would be enough to attack the English guest, because the English guest had written in support of our Party... Therefore, we must absolutely succeed in attacking this English guest, in order that the American guests would write about it." Whatever the motive behind Caldwell's murder, it seems highly unlikely that it could have occurred in tightly-controlled Cambodia without the involvement of high-level Khmer Rouge officials.[21]

The impact of Caldwell's visit to Cambodia and his murder was muted by the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia three days later on December 25, 1978, which soon ended the rule of the Khmer Rouge. Support for the Khmer Rouge in the Western academic community of Cambodian scholars quietly faded away. Peter Rodman, an American foreign policy expert and public official, stated that "When Hanoi [Vietnam] turned publicly against Phnom Penh, it suddenly became respectable for many on the Left to 'discover' the murderous qualities of the Khmer Rouge qualities that had been obvious to unbiased observers for years."[26]

In August 1978, the Swede Gunnar Bergstrm, who was then president of the SKFA (Sweden-Kampuchea Friendship Association) as well as one of the Khmer Rouge's most ardent supporters,[27] was the only Westerner allowed to visit Democratic Kampuchea together with three other Swedes. They also had dinner with Pol Pot.[28]

At that time, Gunnar Bergstrm was just 27 years old and he was an idealist and a leftist, truly believing that the reports about overwork, starvation and mass killings in Cambodia were just "Western propaganda".[29] They saw "smiling peasants", a society on its way to become "an ideal society, ...with no oppressors". When they came back to Sweden, they "undertook a speaking tour and wrote articles in support of the Democratic Kampuchea regime".[29]

Evidence that emerged after the fall of the regime shocked Bergstrm, forcing him to change his views. He said that it was "like falling off the branch of the tree" and that he had to re-identify everything he had believed in.[29] In later interviews, he acknowledged that he had been wrong, that it was a "propaganda tour" and that they were brought to see what they wanted them to see.[27][29]

After then, Gunnar Bergstrm went back to Cambodia for a "big forgiveness tour".[27] In a speech with high school students in Phnom Penh on 12 September 2016, he recommended that everybody should learn history and he stated that a peaceful communist revolution is simply not possible.[29]

With the takeover of Cambodia by Vietnam in 1979 and the discovery of incontestable evidence of Khmer Rouge atrocities, including mass graves, the "tales told by refugees", which had been doubted by many Western academics, proved to be entirely accurate. Some former enthusiasts for the Khmer Rouge recanted their previous views, others diverted their interest to other issues, and a few continued to defend the Khmer Rouge.[8]

In a caustic exchange with William Shawcross in The New York Review of Books on July 20, 1978, Gareth Porter wrote that, "It is true, as Shawcross notes from my May 1977 Congressional testimony, that I have changed my view on a number of aspects of the Cambodian situation. I have no interest in defending everything the Khmer government does, and I believe that the policy of self-reliance has been carried so far that it has imposed unnecessary costs on the population of Cambodia. Shawcross, however, clearly does have an interest in rejecting our conclusions. It is time, I suggest, for him to examine it carefully, because it does not make for intellectual honesty." Shawcross responded, "I was glad to acknowledge in my article that Mr. Porter had changed his views on the Khmer Rouge and it is a tribute to his own integrity that he now agrees that the Khmer Rouge have imposed 'unnecessary costs' on the Cambodian people. He should, however, be a little more careful before he accuses others of deliberately falsifying evidence and of intellectual dishonesty."[30]

In 2010, Porter said he had been waiting many years for someone to ask him about his earlier views of the Khmer Rouge. He described how the climate of distrust of the government generated during the Vietnam War carried over to Cambodia. "I uncovered a series of instances when government officials were propagandizing [about the Vietnam War]. They were lying," he explained. "I've been well aware for many years that I was guilty of intellectual arrogance. I was right about the bloodbath in Vietnam, so I assumed I would be right about Cambodia."[31]

Australian Ben Kiernan recanted after interviewing 500 Cambodian refugees in 1979. He admitted that he had been "late in recognizing the extent of the tragedy in Cambodia... and "wrong about... the brutal authoritarian trend within the revolutionary movement after 1973."[32]

In the opinion of Donald W. Beachler, the genocide deniers and doubters among academics may have been motivated more by politics than a search for the truth, but conservatives who "embraced the reports" of Khmer Rouge atrocities had no less "cynicism or naivet" in later downplaying reports of atrocities by anti-communists in Central America.[33] He noted that the supportive attitude towards the Khmer Rouge had also been expressed by the U.S. government and politicians for a dozen years after the regime was toppled in January 1979, as part of the denigration against the Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia in the 1980s. In fact, the U.S. was one of the countries that voted for the retainment of the Democratic Kampuchea's seat at the United Nations until 1991.[34] Bruce Sharp, who points out many errors of Chomsky's analysis, also says that "While Chomsky's comments on Cambodia are misleading and inaccurate, one important point must be borne in mind: The actions of the United States were largely responsible for the growth of the Khmer Rouge."[9]

Certain authors have continued to downplay Khmer Rouge atrocities in recent years. Richard Dudman, who accompanied Caldwell to Cambodia, challenged the "conventional wisdom that Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge are irrational fanatics who practiced deliberate genocide [and] slaughtered more than one million Cambodians" in a 1990 New York Times editorial, arguing that "The evidence for these fixed beliefs consists mainly of poignant though statistically inconclusive anecdotes from accounts of mass executions in a few villages. It comes mostly from those with an interest in blackening the name of the Khmer Rouge: From Cambodian refugees, largely the middle- and upper-class victims of the Pol Pot revolution, and from the Vietnamese".[35] In 2012, journalist Israel Shamir wrote an article titled "Pol Pot Revisited" for the American left-wing newsletter CounterPunch in which he argued:

"New Cambodia (or Kampuchea, as it was called) under Pol Pot and his comrades was a nightmare for the privileged, for the wealthy and for their retainers; but poor people had enough food and were taught to read and write. As for the mass killings, these are just horror stories, averred my Cambodian interlocutors. Surely the victorious peasants shot marauders and spies, but many more died of American-planted mines and during the subsequent Vietnamese takeover, they said... Noam Chomsky assessed that the death toll in Cambodia may have been inflated 'by a factor of a thousand'... To me, this recalls other CIA-sponsored stories of Red atrocities, be it Stalin's Terror or the Ukrainian Holodomor... [The Vietnamese] supported the black legend of genocide to justify their own bloody intervention."[36]

In 2013, the Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen passed legislation which makes illegal the denial of the Cambodian genocide and other war crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge. The legislation was passed after comments by a member of the opposition, Kem Sokha, who is the deputy president of the Cambodian National Rescue Party. Sokha had stated that exhibits at Tuol Sleng were fabricated and that the artifacts had been faked by the Vietnamese following their invasion in 1979. Sokha's party have claimed that the comments have been taken out of context.[37]

Estimates of the number of Cambodians who died during the four years of Khmer Rouge rule have been controversial and range from less than one million to more than three million. Kiernan, head of the Cambodian Genocide Project at Yale University, estimated that the Khmer Rouge were responsible for 1.5 million deaths and later raised that estimate to 1.7 million, more than 20 percent of the population. His deputy, Craig Etcheson, undertook the most complete survey of mass graves and evidence of executions in Cambodia and concluded in 1999 that the Khmer Rouge may have executed as many as 1.5 million people and as many as another 1.5 million may have died of starvation and overwork. Kiernan criticized Etcheson for "sloppiness, exaggerating a horrific death toll", and "ethnic auctioneering". Etcheson's report was removed from the web site of the Cambodian Genocide Project.[38]

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Cambodian genocide denial - Wikipedia

Edict of Expulsion – Wikipedia

Posted By on September 25, 2018

This article is about the 1290 Edict of Expulsion from England. For the 1492 Edict of Expulsion from Spain, see Alhambra Decree. For other historic instances of Jews being expelled from the lands where they resided, see Jewish refugees.

The Edict of Expulsion was a royal decree issued by King Edward I of England on 18 July 1290, expelling all Jews from the Kingdom of England. The expulsion edict remained in force for the rest of the Middle Ages. The edict was not an isolated incident, but the culmination of over 200 years of increased persecution. The edict was overturned during the Protectorate more than 350 years later, when Oliver Cromwell permitted Jews to return to England in 1657.

The first Jewish communities of significant size came to England with William the Conqueror in 1066.[1] After the conquest of England, William instituted a feudal system in the country, whereby all estates formally belonged to the Crown; the king then appointed lords over these vast estates, but they were subject to duties and obligations (financial and military) to the king. Under the lords were other subjects such as serfs, who were bound and obliged to their lords, and to their lords' obligations. Merchants had a special status in the system, as did Jews. Jews were declared to be direct subjects of the king,[2] unlike the rest of the population. This was an ambivalent legal position for the Jewish population, in that they were not tied to any particular lord but were subject to the whims of the king, it could be either advantageous or disadvantageous. Every successive king formally reviewed a royal charter, granting Jews the right to remain in England. Jews did not enjoy any of the guarantees of the Magna Carta[3] of 1215.

Economically, Jews played a key role in the country. The Church then strictly forbade the lending of money for profit, creating a vacuum in the economy of Europe that Jews filled because of extreme discrimination in every other economic area. Canon law was not considered applicable to Jews, and Judaism does not forbid loans with interest between Jews and non-Jews.[4] Taking advantage of their unique status as his direct subjects, the King could appropriate Jewish assets in the form of taxation. He levied heavy taxes on Jews at will, without having to summon Parliament.[5]

The reputation of Jews as extortionate moneylenders arose,[citation needed] which made them extremely unpopular with both the Church and the general public. While an anti-Jewish attitude was widespread in Europe, medieval England was particularly anti-Jewish.[3] An image of the Jew as a diabolical figure who hated Christ started to become widespread, and myths such as the tale of the Wandering Jew and allegations of ritual murders originated and spread throughout England as well as in Scotland and Wales.[6]

In frequent cases of blood libel, Jews were said to hunt for children to murder before Passover so that they could use their blood to make the unleavened matzah.[7] Anti-Jewish attitudes sparked numerous riots in which many Jews were murdered, most notably in 1190, when over 100 Jews were massacred in York.[7]

The situation only got worse for Jews as the 13th century progressed. In 1218, Henry III of England proclaimed the Edict of the Badge requiring Jews to wear a marking badge.[8] Taxation grew increasingly intense. Between 12191272, 49 levies were imposed on Jews for a total of 200,000 marks, a vast sum of money.[5] Henry III imposed greater segregation and reinforced the wearing of badges in the 1253 Statute of Jewry. He endorsed the myth of Jewish child murders. Meanwhile, his court and major Barons bought Jewish debts with the intention of securing lands of lesser nobles through defaults. The Second Barons' War in the 1260s brought a series of pogroms aimed at destroying the evidence of these debts and Jewish communities in major towns, including London, where 500 Jews died, Worcester, Canterbury and many other towns.[9]

The first major step towards expulsion took place in 1275, with the Statute of the Jewry. The statute outlawed all lending at interest and gave Jews fifteen years to readjust.[10]

In the duchy of Gascony in 1287, King Edward ordered the local Jews expelled.[11] All their property was seized by the crown and all outstanding debts payable to Jews were transferred to the Kings name.[12] By the time he returned to England in 1289, King Edward was deeply in debt.[13] The next summer he summoned his knights to impose a steep tax. To make the tax more palatable, Edward, in exchange, essentially offered to expel all Jews.[14] The heavy tax was passed, and three days later, on 18 July,[15] the Edict of Expulsion was issued.

One official reason for the expulsion was that Jews had declined to follow the Statute of Jewry and continued to practice usury. This is quite likely, as it would have been extremely hard for many Jews to take up the "respectable" occupations demanded by the Statute. The edict of expulsion was widely popular and met with little resistance, and the expulsion was quickly carried out.[citation needed]

The Jewish population in England at the time was relatively small, perhaps 2,000 people, although estimates vary.[16] The expulsion process appears to have been relatively non-violent, although there were some accounts to the contrary. One perhaps apocryphal story told of a captain taking a ship full of Jews to the Thames, en route to France, while the tide was low, and convincing them to go out for a walk with him. He then lost them and made it back to his ship quickly before the tide came back in, leaving them all to drown.[12]

Many Jews emigrated, to Scotland, France and the Netherlands, and as far as Poland, which, at that time, protected them (see Statute of Kalisz).

Between the expulsion of Jews in 1290 and their formal return in 1655, there are records of Jews in the Domus Conversorum up to 1551 and even later. An attempt was made to obtain a revocation of the edict of expulsion as early as 1310, but in vain. Notwithstanding, a certain number of Jews appeared to have returned; for complaints were made to the king in 1376 that some of those trading as Lombards were actually Jews.[17]

Occasionally permits were given to individuals to visit England, as in the case of Dr Elias Sabot (an eminent physician from Bologna summoned to attend Henry IV) in 1410, but it was not until the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 and Portugal in 1497 that any considerable number of Sephardic Jews found refuge in England. In 1542 many were arrested on the suspicion of being Jews, and throughout the sixteenth century a number of persons named Lopez, possibly all of the same family, took refuge in England, the best known of them being Rodrigo Lpez, physician to Queen Elizabeth I, and who is said by some commentators to have been the inspiration for Shylock.[18]

England also saw converts like Immanuel Tremellius and Philip Ferdinand. Jewish visitors included Joachim Gaunse, who introduced new methods of mining into England and there are records of visits from Jews called Alonzo de Herrera and Simon Palache in 1614. The writings of John Weemes in the 1630s provided a positive view of the resettlement of Jews in England, effected in 1657.[19]


Edict of Expulsion - Wikipedia

Carmel synagogue tagged with anti-Semitic graffiti

Posted By on September 24, 2018

Indiana is one of five states without a hate crime law with penalties, even though local police agencies are supposed to report them. Just what is a hate crime here? Dwight Adams,

Congregation Shaarey Tefilla moved from their old location off of Central Ave. in Indianapolis to West 116th St. in Carmel Sunday, December 9, 2007.(Photo: IndyStar archives)Buy Photo

Police are investigating after anti-Semitic graffiti was discovered over the weekend at a Hamilton County synagogue.

According to theIndianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council, the vandalism occurred atCongregation Shaarey Tefilla in the 3000 block of West 116th Street in Carmel. The vandalism occurred late Friday or early Saturday and was discovered Saturday morning.

The crime scene remained intact and surrounded in yellow police tape Sunday morning. The graffiti, which comprised a pair of Nazi flags and iron crosses, was spray painted on two walls of a brick shed that surrounds the property's garbage bin.

On the grass in front of one of the Nazi flags, there are apparent burn marks in two places, and a portion of the graffiti bears a black burn mark, too.

Vandals painted a Nazi flag on a garbage bin shed at Congregation Shaarey Tefilla in the 3000 block of West 116th Street.(Photo: Justin Mack / IndyStar)

Responding to Carmel hate crime: This is what Indiana lawmakers need to do, Tim Swarens writes'A declaration of war': What the anti-Semitic symbols on the Carmel synagogue mean

We are deeply disappointed in the horrific vandalism that occurred at our congregation," Shaarey Tefilla Rabbi Benjamin Sendrow said in a statement. Intolerance, hatred, and violent acts against Jews are significant realities today. The response to this heinous act affirms that America is collectively outraged at these hateful acts in our neighborhoods.

One of the Nazi flags was covered Sunday by an olive green tarp that had been taped up to cover the graffiti. But the other, flanked by iron crosses, was uncovered bycongregant Eli Keren.

He said he pulled the tarp down Sunday, so that people could see what happened and feel the same anger and disappointmenthe felt when confronted by the hateful images the day before.

"For me to see this, it kind of hits home. I'mfirst generation after the Holocaust.My fathers family is from Poland. My mothers family is from Hungary. And 90 percent of our family went up in smoke just under this particular flag in (concentration camps) and this kind of hate and bigotry," he explained. "The peoplewho didthis probably don't even know what this represents. I would welcome them and their families and the people who fed them this hate to come here and speak with us. Understand who we are and what we are, and maybe theyll stop hating us so much."

His wife, Tamar Keren, said that the couple came to Carmel from Israel about two years ago, and this is the first time she has come face to face with anti-Semitism.

"It's very emotional now, because it's the first time ever for me to see something like that. Seeing that is very disturbing. It makes me feel like there is no safe place for Jewish people except Israel," she said through tears."I'm not happy to see that. I'm happy that I went throughmy life without seeing those (symbols)and I'm very sorry I had to face it here."

Reaction to Carmel anti-Semitism: Pence, Donnelly, Young and more weigh in

Eli Keren said that he has been encouraged by the messages of support he's received from everyone in the community, and he said that this act of vandalism is not going to send him running.

"I'm not scared for our safety, because these people are bullies. Theyare cowards. If they come say it to my face, they'llprobably realize how small they are," he said. "These people, they will disappear the same way the Nazis did.

"So no sheets.No hooded bonnets or whatever. Just come say it out loud to my face."

Information on possible suspects is not yet available, but Corey Freedman, president of Congregation Shaarey Tefilla, said investigators believethe crime happened between 11 p.m. Friday and 2:30 a.m. Saturday.

The graffiti will again be covered, but not to hide it from view, Freedman said. The goal is to preserve theevidence, so that police can find the culprit. Until further notice, the shed and the area around it are considered active crime scenes that citizens should avoid.

"It was disturbingto say the least," Freedman said of the vandalism."Ithink we can all say we've had some family that was lost in World War II."

Congregation Shaarey Tefilla on West 116th Street in Carmel was targeted by vandals who spray painted a Nazi flag and other symbols on the property. Justin L. Mack,

But after the pain, Freedman said the congregation was embraced by a wave of support that came pouring in from across the globe. They plan to celebrate that unity at a community and interfaith gathering at 6 p.m. Monday atCongregation Shaarey Tefilla.

"For those that feel emboldened to do these kind of things, I wantthem to understand that they are the minority, that it is not tolerated and that we will stand together to help fight this," Freedman said. "If their heart is that hardenedwith hate, Iwould hope that there would be a way in which they can find a method to get past it to understand that we areall human."

In response to the crime, Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard condemned the actions of those responsible and made it clear that he wants the guilty party held responsible.

"There is no place for this kind of hatred in Carmel and it does not reflect the respectful and welcoming nature of the vast majority of our residents who come from many different cultural and faith backgrounds," Brainard said in a statement. "As we are reminded each year during our city's Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony, we must never forget and never stop fighting against the hatred that led to the murder of 6 million Jews. These images that represent the ideas that led to those crimes are not reflective of what our city stands for.

"I want to assure the Congregation Shaarey Tefilla and all of our residents that our Carmel Police Department is already investigating this incident and when apprehended, those responsible will be held accountable."

The Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council is working closely with the congregation to offer assistance and support.The organization has also reached out to other Indianapolis-area congregations to ensure that they are taking the necessary security precautions.

Carmel Police Department officials said Sunday that the crime remains under investigation, and more information should be released this week.

The incident happens little more than a year after two bomb threats were called into theIndianapolis Jewish Community Center at 6701 Hoover Road on Indianapolis'north side.

The first threatwas called in Feb. 27, 2017, which was the same day that legislation targeting hate crimes died in the Indiana legislature.

The two threats also followed a waveof threats and vandalism against Jewish organizations and people nationwide. Within the month of the JCC scares, bomb threats hadbeen called in across the country, and vandals damaged more than 200 headstones in Philadelphia and St. Louis.

Indiana is one of five states without a hate crime law with penalties, even though local police agencies are supposed to report them. Just what is a hate crime here? Wochit

In 2016, an Indianahate crimes bill failed to advance despite a record 69 hate crimes being reported to the state. The measure also failed in 2015, as the state grappled withreligious freedom and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The hate crimes bill was back on the table for the 2018 legislative session. But in January,Senate Republicans could not reach agreement about Senate Bill 418, which would have allowed judges to impose tougher sentences for crimes motivated by factors such as race, religion, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.

At the time, Senate President Pro Tempore David Long said he believes there is growing public acceptance for the legislation and he expects Indiana lawmakers to take it up again in 2019.

A recent poll indicated that nearly two-thirds of Hoosiers are in favor a hate crimes law.Indiana is one of only five states without such a law.

IndyStar reporterTony Cook contributed to this story. Call IndyStar reporter Justin L. Mack at 317-444-6138. Follow him on Twitter: @justinlmack.

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Carmel synagogue tagged with anti-Semitic graffiti

Zionism – HISTORY

Posted By on September 24, 2018


Zionism is a religious and political effort that brought thousands of Jews from around the world back to their ancient homeland in the Middle East and reestablished Israel as the central location for Jewish identity. While some critics call Zionism an aggressive and discriminatory ideology, the Zionist movement has successfully established a Jewish homeland in the nation of Israel.

Simply put, Zionism is a movement to recreate a Jewish presence in Israel. The name comes from the word Zion, which is a Hebrew term that refers to Jerusalem.

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Throughout history, Jews have considered certain areas in Israel sacredas do Christians and Muslims. The Torah, the Jewish religious text, depicts stories of ancient prophets who were instructed by their God to return to this homeland.

While the fundamental philosophies of the Zionist movement have existed for hundreds of years, modern Zionism formally took root in the late 19th century. Around that time, Jews throughout the world faced growing anti-Semitism.

Some historians believe that an increasingly tense atmosphere between Jews and Europeans may have triggered the Zionism movement. In one 1894 incident, a Jewish officer in the French army named Alfred Dreyfus was falsely accused and convicted of treason. This event, which became known as the Dreyfus Affair, sparked outrage among Jewish people and many others.

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Persecuted Jews who were struggling to salvage their identity began promoting the idea of returning to their homeland and restoring a Jewish culture there.

Modern Zionism was officially established as a political organization by Theodor Herzl in 1897. A Jewish journalist and political activist from Austria, Herzl believed that the Jewish population couldnt survive if it didnt have a nation of its own.

After the Dreyfus Affair, Herzl wrote Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State), a pamphlet that called for political recognition of a Jewish homeland in the area then known as Palestine.

In 1897, Herzl organized the First Zionist Congress, which met in Basel, Switzerland. He also formed and became the first president of the World Zionist Organization.

Although Herzl died in 1904years before Israel was officially declared a statehes often considered the father of modern Zionism.

In 1917, British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour wrote a letter to Baron Rothschild, a wealthy and prominent leader in the British Jewish community.

In the brief correspondence, Balfour expressed the British governments support for the establishment of a Jewish home in Palestine. This letter was published in the press one week later and eventually became known as the Balfour Declaration.

The text was included in the Mandate for Palestinea document issued by the League of Nations in 1923 that gave Great Britain the responsibility of establishing a Jewish national homeland in British-controlled Palestine.

Two well-known Zionists, Chaim Weizmann and Nahum Sokolow, played important roles in obtaining the Balfour Declaration.

Many Jews living in Russia and Europe suffered horrific persecution and death during Russian pogroms and under Nazi rule. Most historians estimate that about 6 million Jews were killed in Europe during the Holocaust.

In the years before and during World War II, thousands of European Jews fled to Palestine or other regions to escape hostility. After the Holocaust ended, Zionist leaders actively promoted the idea of an independent Jewish nation.

With the end of Great Britains mandate in Palestine and the British armys withdrawal, Israel was officially declared an independent state on May 14, 1948.

The rise of Zionism led to massive Jewish immigration into Israel. About 35,000 Jews relocated to the area between 1882 and 1903. Another 40,000 made their way to the homeland between 1904 and 1914.

Most Jewsabout 57 percent of themlived in Europe in 1939. However, by the end of World War II, only about 35 percent of the Jewish population still resided in European countries.

In 1949, more than 249,000 Jewish settlers moved to Israel. This was the largest number of immigrants to arrive in a single year.

The Jewish population in Israel increased from about 500,000 in 1945 to 5.6 million in 2010. Today, around 43 percent of the worlds Jews live in Israel.

Since it started more than 120 years ago, Zionism has evolved, and different ideologiespolitical, religious and culturalwithin the Zionist movement have emerged.

Many self-proclaimed Zionists disagree with each other about fundamental principles. Some followers of Zionism are devoutly religious while others are more secular.

Zionist lefts typically want a less-religious government and support giving up some Israeli-controlled land in exchange for peace with Arab nations. Zionist rights defend their rights to land and prefer a government based strongly on Jewish religious traditions.

Advocates of the Zionist movement see it as an important effort to offer refuge to persecuted minorities and reestablish settlements in Israel. Critics, however, say its an extreme ideology that discriminates against non-Jews.

For example, under Israels 1950 Law of Return, Jews born anywhere in the world have the right to become an Israeli citizen, while other people arent granted this privilege.

Arabs and Palestinians living in and around Israel typically oppose Zionism. Many international Jews also disapprove of the movement because they dont believe a national homeland is essential to their religion.

While this controversial movement continues to face criticism and challenges, theres no denying that Zionism has successfully bolstered the Jewish population in Israel.

What is Zionism?: Vox Media.History of Zionism: is Zionism?: Studies An Anthology: The History of Zionism: Jewish Virtual Library.British Palestine Mandate: History and Overview: Jewish Virtual Library.Mandatory Palestine: What It Was and Why It Matters: TIME.The continuing decline of Europes Jewish population: Pew Research Center.Is a Left Zionism Possible?: Dissent.

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Zionism - HISTORY

Bnai Brith |

Posted By on September 22, 2018

B'NAI B'RITH , international Jewish organization committed to the security and continuity of the Jewish people and the State of Israel; defending human rights; combating antisemitism, bigotry, and ignorance; and providing services to the community on the broadest principles of humanity. Its mission is to unite persons of the Jewish faith and to enhance Jewish identity through strengthening Jewish family life and the education and training of youth; broad-based services for the benefit of senior citizens; and advocacy and action on behalf of Jews throughout the world.

Although the organization's historic roots are in a system of fraternal lodges and units (chapters), in the late 20th century, as fraternal organizations were in decline throughout the U.S., the organization began evolving into a dual system of the traditional payment of dues, with an expectation of active participation, and the pattern more common to other contemporary organizations affiliation by contribution. In 2004, the organization reported a membership of more than 215,000, with members in 51 countries and a U.S. budget of $20,000,000. Approximately 85 percent of the membership is in the United States. Although membership was historically limited to men, in 1988 a resolution admitting women to membership passed overwhelmingly and the organization although still predominately male includes men and women (see below).

B'nai B'rith was founded in Aaron Sinsheimer's caf on New York's Lower East Side on October 13, 1843, by a group of 12 recent German Jewish immigrants led by Henry Jones. The new organization represented an attempt to organize Jews on the basis of their ethnicity, not their religion, and to confront what Isaac Rosenbourg, one of the founders, called "the deplorable condition of Jews in this, our newly adopted country."

True to their German heritage, the founders originally named the organization Bundes Bruder (Sons of the Covenant) to reflect their goal of a fraternal order that could provide comfort to the entire spectrum of Jewish Americans. Although early meetings were conducted in German, after a short time English emerged as the language of choice and the name was changed to B'nai B'rith. In the late 20th century, the translation was changed to the more contemporary and inclusive Children of the Covenant.

The organization's activities during the 19th and 20th centuries were dominated by mutual aid, social service, and philanthropy. In keeping with their concerns for protecting their families, the first concrete action of the organization was the establishment of an insurance policy awarding the widow of a deceased members $30 toward funeral expenses and a stipend of one dollar a week for the rest of her life. To aid her children, each child would also receive a stipend and, for a male child, the assurance he would be taught a trade.

Many of the earliest achievements are believed to represent firsts within the Jewish community: In 1851, Covenant Hall was erected in New York as the first Jewish community center in the U.S.; one year later, B'nai B'rith established the Maimonides Library, also in New York, the first Jewish public library in the U.S.; immediately following the Civil War when Jews on both sides were left homeless B'nai B'rith founded the 200-bed Cleveland Jewish Orphan Home, said to have been the most modern orphanage of its time. Over the next several years, the organization would establish numerous hospitals, orphanages, and homes for the aged.

The organization lays claim to the distinction of being the oldest service organization founded in the United States. In 1868, when a devastating flood crippled Baltimore, B'nai B'rith responded with a disaster relief campaign. This act preceded the founding of the American Red Cross by 13 years and was to be the first of many domestic relief programs. That same year, the organization sponsored its first overseas philanthropic project, raising $4,522 to aid the victims of a cholera epidemic in what was then Palestine.

In 1875, a lodge was established in Toronto, followed soon after by another in Montreal and, in 1882, by a lodge in Berlin. This is believed to be the first instance of a Jewish organization founded on American soil being carried back to the lands from which its founders had migrated. Membership outside the U.S. grew rapidly. Soon, lodges were formed in Cairo (1887) and in Jerusalem (1888 nine years before Herzl convened the First Zionist Congress in Basel); the latter became the first public organization to hold all of its meetings in Hebrew.

After 1881, when mass immigration from Eastern Europe poured into the United States, B'nai B'rith sponsored Americanization classes, trade schools, and relief programs. This began a period of rapid membership growth, a change in the system of representation, questioning of the secret rituals common to fraternal organizations, and the beginning of a nearly century-long debate on full membership for women. In 1897, when the organization's U.S. membership numbered slightly more than 18,000, B'nai B'rith formed a ladies' auxiliary chapter in San Francisco. This was to become B'nai B'rith Women and, when B'nai B'rith gave full membership rights to women in 1988, to break away as an independent organization, Jewish Women International (see below).

In response to the *Kishinev pogrom in 1903 President Theodore Roosevelt and Secretary of State John Hay met with B'nai B'rith's executive committee in Washington. B'nai B'rith President Simon Wolf presented the draft of a petition to be sent to the Russian government protesting the lack of opposition to the massacre. Roosevelt readily agreed to transmit it and B'nai B'rith lodges began gathering signatures around the country.

In the first two decades of the 20th century B'nai B'rith launched three of today's major Jewish organizations: the *Anti-Defamation League (adl), Hillel, and the B'nai B'rith Youth Organization (bbyo), Later they would take on a life of their own and varying degrees of autonomy.

In 1913, when it was apparent that antisemitism was not to be limited to the European continent, B'nai B'rith established the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith (adl). The immediate impetus was the false arrest, unfair trial (reflecting the most profound of antisemitic sentiments on the part of the jury), conviction and lynching of Leo *Frank, president of the Gate City, Georgia, B'nai B'rith lodge.

The adl has become one of the preeminent forces for strengthening interreligious understanding and cooperation, improving relationships between the races, and protecting the rights and status of Jews.

In a pattern that was to be followed by other members of the B'nai B'rith "family," adl has evolved into an autonomous organization which, though formally a part of B'nai B'rith and strongly embraced by the organization, is virtually independent and is self-sustaining today.

The 1920s saw a growing concern with preserving Jewish values as immigration slowed and a native Jewish population of East European ancestry came to maturity. In 1923, Rabbi Benjamin Frankel, of Illinois, established an organization on the campus of the University of Illinois to provide both Reform and Orthodox Sabbath services, classes in Judaism, and social events for Jewish college students. Two years later, he approached B'nai B'rith about adopting this new campus organization. B'nai B'rith sponsorship of the Hillel Foundations enabled it to grow into a network that today has more than 500 campus student organizations in the United States and other countries.

From the early 1970s onward, funding for Hillel was increasingly coming from Federations and with funding a request for greater control and accountability. Although B'nai B'rith continued to support Hillel, in the mid-1990s it became a new independent organization, Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Youth.

At virtually the same time as Hillel was being established, Sam Beber of Omaha, Nebraska, presented B'nai B'rith with a plan in 1924 for a fraternity for young Jewish men in high school. The new organization was to be called Aleph Zadik Aleph in imitation of the Greek-letter fraternities from which Jewish youth were excluded. In 1925, aza became the junior auxiliary of B'nai B'rith.

In 1940, B'nai B'rith Women adopted its own junior auxiliary for young women, B'nai B'rith Girls, and, in 1944 the two organizations became the B'nai B'rith Youth Organization (bbyo).

bbyo provides informal Jewish educational and social programs in the United States and Israel designed to provide opportunities for youth from all branches of Judaism to develop their own Jewish identity, leadership skills, and personal development.

At the beginning of the 21st century, bbyo growth required expanded outside funding. Following the pattern of Hillel, bbyo secured independent, philanthropic funding and with it came the requisite shift of control to the funders. B'nai B'rith remains the largest single institutional contributor to the new organization, bbyo, Inc.

B'nai B'rith has also been involved in Jewish camping for more than half a century. In 1953, B'nai B'rith acquired a 300-acre camp in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains. Originally named Camp B'nai B'rith, the facility would later be named B'nai B'rith Perlman Camp in honor of the early bbyo leader Anita Perlman and her husband, Louis. In 1976, a second camp was added near Madison, Wisconsin. Named after the founder of aza, the camp became known as B'nai B'rith Beber Camp. Both camps function in dual capacities as Jewish children's camps and as leadership training facilities, primarily for bbyo.

In 1938, in response to rampant employment discrimination against Jews, B'nai B'rith established the Vocational Service Bureau to guide young people into careers. This evolved into the B'nai B'rith Career and Counseling Service, an agency that provided vocational testing and counseling, and published career guides. In the mid-1980s, the program was dissolved or merged into other community agencies.

To cope with a shift of American Jewry to the suburbs and a corresponding sense of assimilated comfort, in 1948 B'nai B'rith established a department of Adult Jewish Education (aje). It would later become the B'nai B'rith Center for Jewish Identity. aje launched a series of Judaic study weekends (called Institutes of Judaism) held in retreat settings and supplemented by informal neighborhood study programs. It also began an aggressive program of Jewish book publishing; a quarterly literary magazine, Jewish Heritage; and a lecture bureau booking noted Jewish scholars and performers for synagogues and other institutions. All but the lecture bureau were largely phased out in the 1990s, and the organization today focuses on program guides for local Jewish education programs and annual sponsorship of "Unto Every Person There is a Name" community recitations of the names of Holocaust victims, usually on Yom ha-sho'ah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.

B'nai B'rith publishes B'nai B'rith Magazine, a full-color quarterly the oldest continuously published Jewish periodical in the United States (since 1886) and regional newspapers reporting on organizational activities, B'nai B'rith Today. In the late 1990s and the early 21st century, the organization ventured into new technologies with the launch of a website,; an online 24-hour Jewish music service,; the first Jewish magazine to be broadcast on satellite radio, B'nai B'rith World Service; and the Virtual Jewish Museum,, a resource for educators, students, and others seeking international Jewish art resources.

From its earliest days, a hallmark of the organization's local efforts was service to the communities in which members reside. In 1852, that meant raising money for the first Jewish hospital in Philadelphia. In the 21st century, these community service efforts range from delivering Jewish holiday packages of meals and clothing to the elderly and infirm to distributing food and medicine to the Jewish community of Cuba.

In 1973, the organization turned what had formerly been an exhibit hall at its Washington, d.c., headquarters into the B'nai B'rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum. The museum includes an extensive collection of Jewish ceremonial objects and art and features the 1790 correspondence between President George Washington and Moses Seixas, sexton of the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island. In 2002, the collection moved with the organization to new headquarters in Washington.

With the aging of the American Jewish population, service to seniors became a major focus with the first of what was to become a network of 40 senior residences in more than 25 communities across the United States and more internationally making B'nai B'rith the largest national Jewish sponsor of housing for seniors. The U.S. facilities built in partnership with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (hud) provide quality housing to more than 6,000 men and women of limited income, age 62 and over, of all races and religions. Residents pay a federally mandated rent based upon income.

In 2001 B'nai B'rith opened its first venture in what is anticipated to be a broader range of housing options for seniors. Covenant at South Hills (near Pittsburgh) is a life-care community offering a range of services at market rate enabling residents to live independently for as long as possible and receive additional health care and supportive services on site should the need arise.

The beginning of the 21st century also saw the senior service program expand and become a Center for Senior Services, providing advocacy, publications, and other services to address financial, legal, health, religious, social, and family concerns for those over 50.

B'nai B'rith involvement in international affairs dates to the 1870s when antisemitism, accompanied by a rash of pogroms, reached new heights in Romania. Through the influence of B'nai B'rith, the American government was induced to establish a U.S. consulate, and a former B'nai B'rith president, Benjamin Peixotto, was appointed the first consul. B'nai B'rith funded much of the mission. Although he could not totally solve it, Peixotto's work was credited with mitigating the problem.

By the 1920s, B'nai B'rith membership in Europe had grown to 17,500 nearly half of the U.S. membership and by the next decade, the formation of a lodge in Shanghai represented the organization's entry into the Far East. This international expansion was to come to a close with the rise of Nazism. At the beginning of the Nazi era, there were six B'nai B'rith districts in Europe. Eventually, the Nazis seized nearly all B'nai B'rith property in Europe.

B'nai B'rith Europe was re-founded in 1948; members and representatives from lodges that had survived the Holocaust attended the inaugural meeting. In 2000, the new European B'nai B'rith district merged with the United Kingdom district to become a consolidated B'nai B'rith Europe with active involvement in all institutions of the European Union. In 2005 B'nai B'rith Europe comprised lodges in more than 20 countries, including formerly Communist Eastern Europe.

In response to what later become known as the Holocaust, in 1943 B'nai B'rith President Henry Monsky convened a conference in Pittsburgh of all major Jewish organizations to "find a common platform for the presentation of our case before the civilized nations of the world." During the four years which followed, the conference established the machinery that saved untold numbers of lives, assisted in the postwar reconstruction of European Jewish life, and helped spur public opinion to support the 1947 partition decision granting Jews a share of what was then Palestine.

Just prior to the creation of the State of Israel, President Truman angry at pressure being placed upon him from Jewish organizations closed the White House doors to Jewish leaders. B'nai B'rith President Frank Goldman convinced fellow B'nai B'rith member Eddie Jacobson, long-time friend and business partner of the president, to appeal to him for a favor. Jacobson convinced Truman to meet secretly with Chaim *Weizmann in a meeting said to have resulted in turning White House support back in favor of partition, and ultimately to recognition of the statehood of Israel.

B'nai B'rith was present at the founding of the United Nations in San Francisco and has taken an active role in the world body ever since. In 1947, the organization was granted non-governmental organizational status and, for many years, was the only Jewish organization with full-time representation at the un. It is credited with a leading role in the un reversal of its 1975 resolution equating Zionism with racism.

B'nai B'rith's ngo role is not limited to the un and its agencies. With members in more than 20 Latin American countries, the organization was the first Jewish group to be accorded ngo status at the Organization of American States (oas) and has been at the forefront advocating on behalf of the cause of democracy and human rights throughout the region. B'nai B'rith's role in Latin America dates back to the turn of the 20th century and grew considerably with the influx of Jewish refugees from Nazi Europe.

In 1999, when one of the last living Nazi commandants, Dinko Sakic, was arrested in Argentina, B'nai B'rith was a leader in efforts to extradite him to Croatia to stand trial for commanding the infamous Jasenovac concentration camp in Croatia.

In addition to its advocacy efforts, B'nai B'rith maintains an extensive program of community service throughout Latin America. In 2002, this took the form of responding to the economic disaster that struck much of Latin America by distributing in cooperation with the Brother's Brother Foundation over $31 million of critically needed medicine, books, and supplies to Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Venezuela.

In addition to founding Jerusalem Lodge in 1888, life in Israel has been a prime focus for the organization. Among B'nai B'rith's most noted contributions were the city's first free public library, Midrash Abarbanel, which became the nucleus of the Jewish National and University Library; the first Hebrew kindergarten in Jerusalem; and the purchase of land for a home for new immigrants, the village of Moza near Jerusalem. When, in 1935, B'nai B'rith donated $100,000 to the Jewish National Fund to buy 1,000 acres, the act signaled to the world that America's oldest and largest Jewish organization was concretely supporting a continuing Jewish presence in what was then Palestine. In 1956, B'nai B'rith became the first major American Jewish organization to hold a convention in Israel.

B'nai B'rith is one of the few major Jewish organizations headquartered in Washington, d.c., not New York. That became a fateful horror on March 9, 1977, when, in what was, at the time one of the worst terror attacks in America, seven members of the Hanafi Muslim sect took over the B'nai B'rith Headquarters, the Islamic Center, and Washington, d.c.'s city hall. For 39 hours, 123 hostages were held on the top floor of the B'nai B'rith building. The building was ransacked, its ground floor museum stripped, personnel shot and beaten some severely, some who never recovered from the psychological shock.

The Hanafi terrorists had targeted the three Washington buildings in revenge for the slaying of their leader's family members by Philadelphia Black Muslims. B'nai B'rith was targeted because the judge in Philadelphia was Jewish. The takeover was ended after the intervention of the ambassadors from three Muslim countries Pakistan, Egypt, and Iran convinced the terrorists to surrender to police.

The symbolism of B'nai B'rith as synonymous with anything Jewish was an ironic tribute to the organization's reputation a synonym found in jokes of comedians, on tv game shows, and in the world of politics. In 1981 on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Senator Ernest Hollings derisively referred to then-Senator Howard Metzenbaum (who is Jewish) as "the senator from B'nai B'rith." For many years, when the biennial B'nai B'rith Convention was held during presidential election years, it became a presidential forum as Republican and Democratic candidates vied for Jewish support.

Although B'nai B'rith remained the most widely recognized name in the Jewish community, from the late 1970s B'nai B'rith saw its membership in lodges and units declining as young people in suburbia felt less of a need to meet with other Jews in a non-religious setting.

B'nai B'rith responded on two fronts. Drawing upon its widely recognized name and respect within the community, the organization turned to direct mail fundraising. At much the same time, confronting the reality that Jewish fraternal groups in the U.S. were unlikely to grow, yet unable to ignore the role lodges and units still played in many communities, the leadership transformed the program to meet contemporary needs. The most far-reaching changes came in 1996, under the leadership of President Tommy Baer, when traditional U.S. districts were eliminated in favor of smaller, locally oriented regions focusing on community-based programs.

Because the sociological changes taking place in the U.S. were not evident in Europe, Israel, and Latin America, the existing structure of fraternal lodges was left intact and, particularly in Latin America, the most influential members of the Jewish community are members of B'nai B'rith.

The restructuring was completed in 2004 with a new approach to governance adopted under the direction of President Joel S. Kaplan and past president Seymour D. Reich. Under this plan, a number of leadership structures were drastically revised to enable the organization to operate more efficiently. The outmoded international convention, which focused on organizational business, was eliminated in favor of new, program-oriented meetings featuring briefings, cultural events, etc. and designed to appeal to a broader spectrum of the membership.

[Harvey Berk (2nd ed.)]

B'nai B'rith Women began with an auxiliary woman's chapter in 1897; the first permanent chapter was founded in San Francisco in 1909. As more women's auxiliaries to B'nai B'rith formed, the women pressed for official recognition but were refused. Only two non-voting female representatives were allowed at Grand Lodge meetings. During World War i, the auxiliaries' activities expanded into cultural activities, philanthropy, and community service. B'nai B'rith women served in hospitals, settlement houses, offices, and factories, and drove ambulances. The women also started their own fund for the relief of Jews in Europe. By the beginning of wwii, bbw's membership had jumped to over 40,000 members, and it produced its first monthly publication, B'nai B'rith Women. In 1940, a Women's Supreme Council was formed to coordinate districts and chapters from national headquarters and Judge Lenore Underwood Mills of San Francisco was elected the first national president. The Council helped organize early girls' chapters of B'nai B'rith into B'nai B'rith Girls (bbg), appointing Anita Perlman as chair. During wwii, bbw chapters were again involved in volunteer and philanthropic work, as well as assisting military servicewomen, and providing aid to refugees and orphans. After the war, bbw's efforts turned to projects in the developing State of Israel, educational programs dedicated to combating prejudice, and supporting Hillel foundations on university campuses.

In 1953, women delegates were allowed to vote for the first time at the B'nai B'rith Supreme Lodge convention, and in 1957 the women, who numbered 132,000 in North America, and had 41 chapters abroad, formally changed their name to B'nai B'rith Women. The feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s influenced bbw to advocate for women's healthcare, abortion rights, and the image of women in the media. bbw endorsed the Equal Rights Amendment in 1971 and participated as an ngo in the first un World Conference for Women in 1975.

In the late 1980s, bbw engaged in a power struggle with B'nai B'rith International (bbi) over its status as an autonomous organization. In 1988, bbi finally admitted women as full members, but bbw passed a resolution to remain distinct. bbw declared full independence in 1995 and changed its name to Jewish Women International while retaining a relationship with B'nai B'rith and its "family members": bbyo, Hillel, and the Anti-Defamation League. In the early 21st century jwi, with a membership of approximately 75,000, defines its mission as championing self-sufficiency for women and girls through education, advocacy, and action with a special focus on preventing violence, children's well-being, and reduction of prejudice. jwi publishes Jewish Woman magazine in print and online.

[Mel Berwin (2nd ed.)]

B'nai B'rith Canada prides itself on being the largest Jewish voluntary organization and the largest individual Jewish membership organization in Canada. As such it bills itself as the "independent voice of the Jewish community, representing its interests nationwide to government, ngo's, and the wider Canadian public."

The history of B'nai B'rith Canada reflects both the changing patterns of growth, development, and sophistication of the Canadian Jewish population, on the one hand, and the global issues facing Jews throughout the world, on the other. The first B'nai B'rith Lodge in Canada was chartered in Toronto in 1875. Originally an offshoot of American B'nai B'rith founded in New York in 1843, the Toronto Lodge folded in 1894. As the largely immigrant Jewish population in Canada exploded from about 16,000 in 1901 to more than 156,000 in 1930, B'nai B'rith in Canada was revitalized as it helped immigrant Jews in Canada retain communal relationships outside of the synagogue while easing their integration into Canadian society. First rechartered as a branch of a U.S. district in 1919, in 1964 it became an autonomous Canadian district, District 22.

Now the largest secular Jewish membership organization in Canada, B'nai B'rith at first focused its efforts on expanding its network of lodges beyond Montreal and Toronto to smaller centers across Canada. In 2005 there were 45 established lodges in seven provinces. (B'nai B'rith in British Columbia still remains aligned to the West Coast U.S. district.) B'nai B'rith Canada continues to provide its members a robust social environment together with programs of mutual aid, social service, and philanthropy. In 1923 B'nai B'rith organized the first Canadian branch of Hillel, the Jewish university student organization, and shortly after, opened its first summer camp for Jewish children. These initiatives were followed over the years with a wide variety of community service initiatives, including the establishment of seniors' residences, the distribution of holiday baskets, organized visitations to the ill, and general fundraising for Jewish and community causes.

While B'nai B'rith Canada never lost a voluntary community focus that combines direct member services, community social service, support for youth, fundraising, and sports, after gaining its independent district status under B'nai B'rith International, B'nai B'rith Canada began to assert itself as a representative organization of the Jewish community. Whether, as in the past, partnering with the Canadian Jewish Congress and other Jewish organizations on various community relations and Israel-related initiatives, or, as more recently, striking out on its own, B'nai B'rith has been an active presence in defense of Jewish and human rights. Beginning with its human rights arm, the League for Human Rights (originally affiliated with the American B'nai B'rith's Anti-Defamation League), and more recently through a second body, the Institute for International Affairs, B'nai B'rith Canada maintains a wide-ranging program of Jewish advocacy, including public education campaigns, political lobbying, liaising with government, and monitoring of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel propaganda and organizations in Canada and internationally.

Through its League for Human Rights, B'nai B'rith Canada continues to focus on exposing and combating antisemitic activity in Canada. In the past this has included intervention in the courts and at human rights tribunals on a variety of matters relating to antisemitic hate groups and individuals. The League was significantly involved in supporting the hate propaganda prosecutions of Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel and Alberta teacher James Keegstra in the 1980s. Following the lead of its American sister organization, in 1983, the League also initiated an annual "audit" of antisemitic incidents taking place across the country. Recently, in order to both assist victims as well as improve the tracking of such behavior, the organization established a 24/7 "anti-hate hotline." The 2003 Audit reported 584 incidents, a 27.2% increase over the previous year.

A further aspect of the League for Human Rights' work has been to promote the study of the Holocaust in Canada. This work has been hallmarked since 1986 by the organization's Holocaust and Hope Educator's Program through which a select group of teachers from across Canada take part in a multifaceted program of lectures, visits to the sites of the Holocaust, and personal contact with survivors.

The Institute for International Affairs monitors and responds to issues relating to Jewish communities around the world. An important aspect of this work is to inform and educate the broader Canadian community on issues relating to Israel. Through fact-finding missions, public education, attendance at international conferences, and outreach to other groups, the Institute both advocates in support of Israel and works to inform Canadians on Israel-related matters. Included in this task is a program of political action, informing political leaders at all levels of government and the media of the significance of these issues from the perspective of the Canadian Jewish community.

[Alan Shefman (2nd ed.)]

E.E. Grusd, B'nai B'rith: The Story of a Covenant (1996); M. Bisgyer, Challenge and Encounter (1967); O. Soltes, B'nai B'rith: A Covenant of Commitment Over 150 Years (1993); A. Weill, B'nai B'rith and Israel: The Unbroken Covenant (1998); M. Baer, Dealing in Futures: The Story of a Jewish Youth Movement (1983). b'nai b'rith women: L.G. Kuzmack, "B'nai B'rith Women," in: P.E. Hyman and D. Dash Moore (eds.), Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, vol. 1 (1997), 16267; "Jewish Women International," at:; "B'nai B'rith Youth Organization: The History of bbg," at:

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Hasidism: Between Ecstasy and Magic (Suny Series in Judaica …

Posted By on September 21, 2018

Idels book has broken new ground in the study of the mystical Judaism of Eastern Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. By applying what he calls the panoramic approach, in contrast to the existentialist approach of Buber and the historicist approach of Scholem, Idel has been able to illuminate the phenomenon of Hasidism in all its complexity and diversity. Rather than focusing on any one immediate aspect of Jewish mysticism, Idel proposes to understand Hasidism as the aggregation of multiple streams, including magic, theosophic kabbalah, and ecstatic kabbalah. By applying Idels orientation one can appreciate the complex fabric woven by the Hasidic masters from previous mystical sources. His book is provocative and stimulating. Elliot R. Wolfson, New York University

The author succeeds in broadening our understanding of Hasidism through clarifying its relations to phenomenological models that are typical of earlier stages of Jewish mysticism. As a result of Idels vast knowledge of mystical and philosophical literature, he is able to demonstrate and clarify the extent that Hasidism is dependent on non-Lurianic schools of Kabbalah. Thus, Hasidism emerges as an important stage in Jewish mysticism, rather than as a mere reaction or result of historical and social forces such as Sabbatianism.

"Idel focuses on one of the most significant, yet little understood developments in the history of Jewish thought and religion. His close study of ecstasy and magic will be essential for all those who are in any way interested in this area.

The book is full of brilliant insights concerning the meaning of key concepts and practices in early Hasidism." Miles Krassen, Oberlin College

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Hasidism: Between Ecstasy and Magic (Suny Series in Judaica ...

This Hasidic Mom Biked 50 Miles To Help Sick Kids | | Jew in …

Posted By on September 20, 2018

While Hasidic women are commonly seen pushing children filled strollers, some of them, like Chumi Borenstein, push themselves to great heights on bikes to help sick children in need. Bike 4 Chai, perhaps the biggest biking fundraiser in the Tri-State Area, is taking place today and tomorrow, raising millions of dollars and increased awareness for children battling cancer and other serious diseases. With over $9.6 Million raised so far for this years event, the Chai Lifeline Bike-a-thon is known for rallying together Orthodox Jewish men and boys from all over the world. They run the gamut from Modern Orthodox to Yeshivish to Hasidic, and all are there for the purpose of riding 180 miles through New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York over two days. Its sister event, Tour de Simcha, unites Orthodox Jewish women with a similar goal. The latest incarnation of Tour de Simcha raised over $1.2 Million for Camp Simcha, a summer camp for families needing a respite from their struggles with childhood illness.

Chumi Borenstein is a Gur Hasidic mother of two, a full-time assistant, and notary public, who put aside her other duties to don a bike helmet and ride for charity.Borenstein had the inspiration to join Tour de Simcha randomly. Last year, it popped up on my feedat the time I had been working full-time for a year, I had two kids, I needed to do something that was just for meand I also needed to exercise. She went out and bought a bike five and a half weeks before the event a 75-mile ride for which most people had been training for months. I just went to the park and trained every single day for five weeks. Once I did that, I was hooked.

While her husband was all for her participation, some of his family was uncertain about it. Due to stringencies within the Hasidic community in which Borenstein lives, there was a similar reaction when she started to drive a car. There were just a few people that we didnt tell until they found out. We just didnt want to [take] any risk. Biking is the same thingthe way I dress when I bike may not be what people approve of. People are worried that you cant be fully tznius while youre biking, but thats not true.

Borenstein rides with leggings and a skirt, and has never had an issue with tznius or mobility when she rides. Aside from her husbands positive response, many of her friends were inspired to get on the bike too. Additionally, she has received a lot of positive feedback in her fundraising efforts. For all the negative there has been double positive. While she picked and chose very carefully to whom she campaigned, it has become easier. I dont like asking people for things. I keep it between me and my friends. I reached out to my fathers communityTheres much more support over there. I reach out to where I know there is support.

That accepting community where Borenstein grew up is in Glasgow, Scotland, where her father was the rabbi and she grew up surrounded by all kinds of Jews. When she married her husband, she moved to Boro Park. My parents are from Manchester. At the time the Glasgow Kollel had the best offer for him so they moved up therewith the idea that they would go for a couple of years and then move back to Manchester. A year after they moved there, the shul there need a chazzan and he moved into that role and eventually the role of rabbi. That was 27 years ago. Borenstein grew up with an open mind about athleticism. Anything that was acceptable was fine so long as we were tznius at the same time. Even in her current community, she sees a more open-minded change occurring for the good. Boro Park has definitely changed. People are accepting more and the younger crowds are not so boxed in. In terms of the youngest crowd, Borenstein gets great support from her children. My son is five. He thinks its great. He tells all his teachers my mommy bikes hes my little supporter.

Last year, Borenstein was able to ride 50 out of the 75 miles and his hoping to go further each time she participates. Borenstein is thrilled to be a part of something that brings together Orthodox women from all different communities and viewpoints. Its a big mix of people involved: [Sefardim from] Deal, a lot of Lakewood Yeshivish ladies. Its a really big mix. With that diversity comes differences in the attire they wear to bike as well. Youll have loads of people with tichels and 3/4 sleeves as people with shorts and short sleeved t-shirts. The feeling of achdus, togetherness, that comes from the experience is the highlight of the event. Youll ride along next to someone. It doesnt matter to you if theyre Hasidish or Yeshivish or not frum at all. Were all doing something for the same cause and were all in it together. When it comes to that, labels and tagsit doesnt make a difference.

The experience has given her a deeper appreciation for all kinds of Jews. At the end of the day, whatever you are, theres always something youre working on. Theres always something youre trying to get better at, to change, to do something for yourself. Everyone has their own life, whether its easy or hard, were all tackling something.

A former Hollywood script editor, Jerusalem event planner, non-profit fundraiser and professional blogger, Sara Levine is an accomplished writer and editor. After graduating from USC's School of Cinematic Arts, her first screenplay was well-received by story executives at major studios. As a journalist, her articles have been published internationally in popular magazines and websites. With over 18 years experience as a story consultant, her notes and critiques on novels and scripts have been used to select and improve material by top studios, networks, agencies and writers in Hollywood and beyond. She is currently at work on her first novel.

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Posted By on September 19, 2018

Ashkenaz (Heb. ) refers to a people and a country bordering on Armenia and the upper Euphrates; listed in Genesis 10:3 and I Chronicles 1:6 among the descendants of Gomer. The name Ashkenaz also occurs once in Jeremiah 51:27 in a passage calling upon the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz to rise and destroy Babylon. Scholars have identified the Ashkenaz as the people called Ashkuza (Ashguza, Ishguza) in Akkadian. According to Assyrian royal inscriptions the Ashkuza fought the Assyrians in the reign of Esharhaddon (680669 B.C.E.) as allies of the Minni (Manneans). Since the Ashkuza are mentioned in conjunction with the Gimirrai-Cimmerians and the Ashkenaz with Gomer in Genesis, it is reasonable to infer that Ashkenaz is a dialectal form of Akkadian Ashkuza, identical with a group of Iranian-speaking people organized in confederations of tribes called Saka in Old Persian, whom Greek writers (e.g., Herodotus 1:103) called Scythians. They ranged from southern Russia through the Caucasus and into the Near East. Some scholars, however, have argued against this identification on philological grounds because of the presence of the "n" in the word Ashkenaz. In medieval rabbinical literature the name was used for Germany.

The name Ashkenaz was applied in the Middle Ages to Jews living along the Rhine River in northern France and western Germany. The center of Ashkenazi Jews later spread to Poland-Lithuania and now there are Ashkenazi settlements all over the world. The term "Ashkenaz" became identified primarily with German customs and descendants of German Jews.

In the 10th and 11th century, the first Ashkenazim, Jewish merchants in France and Germany, were economic pioneers, treated well because of their trading connections with the Mediterranean and the East. Jewish communities appeared in many urban centers. Early Ashkenaz communities were small and homogeneous. Until Christian guilds were formed, Jews were craftsmen and artisans. In France, many Jews owned vineyards and made wine. They carried arms and knew how to use them in self-defense. The Jews of each town constituted an independent, self-governing entity. Each community, or kahal, established its own regulations made up by an elected board and judicial courts. They enforced their rulings with the threat of excommunication. The Ashkenazim generally shied away from outside influences and concentrated on internal Jewish sources, ideas and customs.

Ashkenazim focused on biblical and Talmudic studies. Centers of rabbinic scholarship appeared in the tenth century in Mainz and Worms in the Rhineland and in Troyes and Sens in France. Ashkenazi scholarship centered around oral discussion. Sages focused on understanding the minutiae of the texts instead of extracting general principles. The most famous early teacher was Rabbenu Gershom of Mainz. Some of his decrees, such as that forbidding polygamy, are still in existence today. The first major Ashkenazi literary figure was Rashi (Solomon ben Isaac of Troyes, 1040-1105), whose commentaries on the Bible and Talmud are today considered fundamental to Jewish study. The tosafists, Ashkenazi Talmudic scholars in northern France and Germany, introduced new methods and insights into Talmudic study that are also still in use. Early Ashkenazi Jews composed religious poetry modeled after the fifth and sixth century piyyutim (liturgical poems). While prayer liturgy varied even among Ashkenazi countries, the differences were almost insignificant compared to the differences between Sephardi and Ashkenazi liturgy.

While Ashkenazi Jews occasionally experience anti-Semitism, mob violence first erupted against them an the end of the 11th century. Many Jews were killed in what Robert Seltzer calls a "supercharged religious atmosphere." Many were willing to die as martyrs rather than convert.

In the 12th and 13th centuries, many Ashkenazi Jews became moneylenders. They were supported by the secular rulers who benefited from taxes imposed on the Jews. The rulers did not totally protect them, however, and blood libels cropped up accompanied by violence. In 1182, Jews were expelled from France. Ashkenazi Jews continued to build communities in Germany until they faced riots and massacres in the 1200s and 1300s. Some Jews moved to Sephardi Spain while others set up Ashkenazi communities in Poland.

The center of Ashkenazi Jewry shifted to Poland, Lithuania, Bohemia and Moravia in the beginning of the 16th century. Jews were for the first time concentrated in Eastern Europe instead of Western Europe. Polish Jews adopted the Ashkenazi rites, liturgy, and religious customs of the German Jews. The Ashkenazi mahzor (holiday prayer book) included prayers composed by poets of Germany and Northern France. In Poland, the Jews became fiscal agents, tax collectors, estate managers for noblemen, merchants and craftsmen. In the 1500-1600s, Polish Jewry grew to be the largest Jewish community in the diaspora. Many Jews lived in shtetls, small towns where the majority of the inhabitants were Jewish. They set up kehillot like those in the Middle Ages that elected a board of trustees to collect taxes, set up education systems and deal with other necessities of Jewish life. The Jews even had their own craft guilds. Each kahal had a yeshiva, where boys over the age of 13 learned Talmudic and rabbinic texts. Yiddish was the language of oral translation and of discussion of Torah and Talmud. Ashkenazi scholars focused on careful readings of the text and also on summarizing legal interpretations of former Ashkenazi and Sephardi scholars of Jewish law.

Ashkenazim focused on Hebrew, Torah and especially Talmud. They used religion to protect themselves from outside influences. The Jews at this time were largely middle class. By choice, they mostly lived in self-contained communities surrounding their synagogue and other communal institutions. Yiddish was the common language of Ashkenazi Jews in eastern and central Europe. With the start of the Renaissance and religious wars in the late 16th century, a divide grew between central and eastern European Jews. In central Europe, particularly in Germany, rulers forced the Jews to live apart from the rest of society in ghettos with between 100 and 500 inhabitants. The ghettos were generally clean and in good condition. Eastern European Jews lived in the shtetls, where Jews and gentiles lived side by side.

In the 1600s and 1700s, Jews in Poland, the center of Ashkenazi Jewry, faced blood libels and riots. The growth of Hasidism in Poland drew many Jews away from typical Ashkenazi practice. After the Chmielnicki massacres in Poland in 1648, Polish Jews spread through Western Europe, some even crossing the Atlantic. Many Ashkenazi Polish Jews fled to Amsterdam and joined previously existing communities of German Jews. Sephardim there considered the Ashkenazim to be socially and culturally inferior. While the Sephardim were generally wealthy, the Ashkenazim were poor peddlers, petty traders, artisans, diamond polishers, jewelry workers and silversmiths. As the Sephardim became poorer in the 18th century, the communities became more equal and more united.

The Jewish community in England also changed in the 1700s. It had been primarily Sephardi throughout the 1600s, but it became more Ashkenazi in culture as growing numbers of German and Polish Jews arrived.

By 1750, out of 2,500 Jews in the American Colonies, the majority was Ashkenazi. They were Yiddish-speaking Jews from Holland, Germany, Poland and England. The first Jews were merchants and traders. Since then, Ashkenazi Jews have built up communities throughout the United States.

By the end of the 19th century, as a result of Russian persecution, there was massive Ashkenazi emigration from Eastern Europe to other areas of Europe, Australia, South Africa, the United States and Israel. Ashkenazim outnumbered Sephardim everywhere except North Africa, Italy, the Middle East and parts of Asia. Before World War II, Ashkenazim comprised 90% of world Jewry.

The destruction of European Jewry in World War II reduced the number of Ashkenazim and, to some extent, their numeric superiority over Sephardim. The United States became the main center for Ashkenazi Jews.

Over time Ashkenazim and Sephardim developed different prayer liturgies, Torah services, Hebrew pronunciation and ways of life. Originally, most Ashkenazim spoke Yiddish. Ashkenazi and Sephardi tunes for both prayers and Torah reading are different. An Ashkenazi Torah lies flat while being read, while a Sephardi Torah stands up. Ashkenazi scribes developed a distinctive script. One major difference is in the source used for deciding Jewish law. Sephardim follow Rabbi Joseph Caros Shulhan Arukh. The Ashkenazim go by Rabbi Moses Isserles, who wrote a commentary on the Shulhan Arukh citing Ashkenazi practice. There are differences in many aspects of Jewish law, from which laws women are exempt from to what food one is allowed to eat on Passover. Today, many of the distinctions between Ashkenazim and Sephardim have disappeared. In both Israel and the United States today, Ashkenazim and Sephardim live side by side, though they generally have separate institutions.

In Israel, political tensions continue to exist because of feelings on the part of many Sephardim that they have been discriminated against and still dont get the respect they deserve. Historically, the political elite of the nation have been Ashkenazim; however, this is gradually changing. Shas, a religious Sephardi party, has become one of the most powerful in the country and individual Sephardi politicians now hold powerful positions. Moroccan-born David Levy, for example, has served as foreign minister and, in July 2000, Iranian-born Moshe Katsav was elected president.

An international team of scientists announced on September 9 2014 that they had come to the conclusion that all Ashkenazi Jews are descended from an original group of about 350 individuals who lived between 600 and 800 years ago. These people were of Middle-Eastern and European descent. The analysis was done by comparing the DNA data of 128 Ashkenazi Jews with the DNA of a reference group of 26 Flemmish people from Belgium, and then working out which genetic markers are unique to people of Ashkenazi descent. The similarities in the Ashkenazi genomes allowed the scientists to identify a base point from which all Ashkenazi Jews descend. According to the scientists, this effectively makes all modern Ashkenazi Jews 30th cousins, stemming from the same population almost 800 years ago. This discovery may help medical professionals treat genetic diseases, because diseases like Tay Sachs and certain types of cancers are more prevalent in the Ashkenazi Jewish population. In order to treat these diseases doctors will now have a better idea of where to sequence an individuals genome to test for disease succeptability. This discovery also effectively disproves the idea that Ashkenazi Jews were descended from Khazars who converted to Judaism during the 8th or 9th centuries C.E.

E.A. Speiser, Genesis (Eng., 1964), 66; U. Cassuto, A Commentary on the Book of Genesis, 2 (1964), 192; EM, 1 (1965), 7623 (incl. bibl.). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: W. Holladay, Jeremiah, 2 (1989), 427; P. Briant, From Cyrus to Alexander (2002), 39.

Sources: Yehoshua M. Grintz, Ashkenaz, Encyclopaedia Judaica. 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.Butnick, Stephanie. Study Says All Ashkenazi Jews Are 30th Cousins, Tablet Magazine. September 10, 2014.Ausubel, Nathan. Pictorial History of the Jewish People. New York: Crown Publishers, 1953.Dimont, Max. Jews, God and History. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1962.Seltzer, Robert. Jewish People, Jewish Thought. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1980.

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Central Synagogue – Wikipedia

Posted By on September 17, 2018

Central Synagogue (Congregation Ahawath Chesed Shaar Hashomayim)[3] is a Reform synagogue located at 652 Lexington Avenue, at the corner of East 55th Street in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. It was built in 1870-72 and was designed by Henry Fernbach in the Moorish Revival style as a copy of Budapest's Dohny Street Synagogue.[6] It has been in continuous use by a congregation longer than any other in the state of New York,[4][7][8] and is among the oldest synagogue buildings still standing in the United States.[9]

The building was designated a New York City landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1966[4] and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.[1] It was then designated a National Historic Landmark in 1975.[5][7]

On Wednesdays at 12:45p.m. a docent conducts a free tour, which begins at the front entrance.

The Ahawath Chesed congregation was founded in 1846 on Ludlow Street in Manhattan by German-speaking Jews from Bohemia. It merged in 1898 with Congregation Shaar Hashomayim, which was founded by German Jews in 1839 on Albany Street.[4][2][10] The combined congregation bought the lot at Lexington Avenue and East 55th Street and engaged Henry Fernbach, the country's first prominent Jewish architect, to design it.[3]

The dramatic style of the building was the subject of much debate during the construction. Some felt its excess would inspire envy and stand in the way of assimilation.[11]

After a fire in 1886, the building was restored by Ely Jacques Kahn.[3]

The building was restored in the original style after an accidental fire in August 1998,[12] which occurred just as a major renovation was being completed.[2][10] The fire destroyed the roof and its supports. During the fire, the firefighters' sensitivity for the building saved all but the central pane in the rose window that dominates the eastern (Lexington Avenue) wall. Marble plaques on the north wall of the foyer honor the firefighters of the 8th Battalion of the New York City Fire Department. The restoration of the building was supervised by Hugh Hardy of Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer.[2] Hardy restored some details to the interior that Ely Jacques Kahn had removed in the earlier restoration in 1886. The recent restoration was completed on September 9, 2001[3]

Although the brownstone exterior is "the finest extant example of the Moorish Revival style in New York City", the plan of the interior is Gothic in nature. The exterior is dominated by two octagonal towers topped by globular domes, as well as by the rose window of geometric design. A small row of arches just below the cornice, at the roof line, adds to the richness of the facade. The north facade, on East 55th Street, features six stained-glass windows framed by Moorish arches.[4][2] The interior is "stenciled with rich blues, earthy reds, ocher, and gilt Moorish, but distinctly 19th century American."[3]

Sensitive to the evolving interests and needs of the Reform Judaism community, Central Synagogue explores both traditional and alternative modes of prayer. In addition to daily morning minyan, Shabbat, holiday services, and celebrations of lifecycle events, the synagogue offers "Tot Shabbat" for children, and healing and community services.

Source: [10]

The entrance to the synagogue (2012)

Moorish Revival detail, south tower of the Central Synagogue (2011)

The onion dome and star at the top of one of the towers (2012)

A detail of the interior (2010)

The Coffey Community House at 123 East 55th Street, around the corner from the synagogue (2017)

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Central Synagogue - Wikipedia

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