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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

How the credo of American Jewry took hold

By Michael Feldberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | "All who preserve a single soul . . .it is as if he preserved an entire world." — The Babylonian Talmud


The earliest collective action by American Jews on behalf of their overseas brethren came in 1840, in response to a false "blood libel" charge in Damascus. That spring, in the ancient capital of Syria, an Italian friar and his Muslim servant mysteriously disappeared. The Capuchin order of monks charged that Jews had kidnapped and ritually murdered the two men to fulfill a supposed Jewish injunction that non-Jewish blood be used in making Passover matzoh. Under torture, two "witnesses" named several prominent Damascus Jews as the "killers." The accused were arrested, tortured and sentenced to death. Knowing the suggestibility of child witnesses, local officials then seized 63 Jewish children to compel them to "reveal" where the blood was hidden.


Word of these outrages reached the United States in the summer of 1840. American Jews were dismayed that the ancient blood libel — the charge that Jews were ritual murderers — had reared its ugly head. What was American Jewry, so few in number and weak in international influence, to do? While the English and French Jewish communities sent delegations to the Ottoman Sultan protesting the treatment of Damascus's Jews, American Jewry — numbering no more than 15,000 individuals scattered across a vast nation — had no national organization or recognized leader to speak for it. American Jewry had no experience at presenting a united front on any issue of national or international moment.


Rabbi Isaac Leeser of Philadelphia, America's leading traditionalist rabbi, joined by communal leaders from other major American cities, filled the breach. Leeser helped organize public rallies, meetings of synagogue congregations and committees of correspondence in New York, Philadelphia, Richmond and Cincinnati, among other cities. The rallies called on President Martin Van Buren to intervene on behalf of the Jews of Damascus.


The American Jewish petitions argued that "the moral influence of the Chief Magistrate of the United States would be, under Heaven, the best aid we could invoke for the protection of our persecuted brethren under the Mohammedan domain." The New York protesters did "most emphatically and solemnly deny as well in our own name as in that of the whole Jewish people, that murder was ever committed by the Jews of Damascus, or those of any other part of the world, for the purpose of using the blood or any part of a human being in the ceremonies of our religion."


Van Buren ordered American diplomats in Constantinople and Alexandria to inform Ottoman officials of the "horror" felt by all Americans at the "extravagant charges strikingly similar to those which, in less enlightened ages, were made pretexts for the persecution and spoliation of these unfortunate people." Van Buren cited America's liberal institutions, which "place upon the same footing, the worshipers of G-d, of every faith and form." American values compelled him to protest "in behalf of an oppressed and persecuted race, among whose kindred are found some of the most worthy and patriotic of [American] citizens."


Bowing to pressure from the governments of the United States, Britain and France, Pasha Muhammed Ali, Ottoman overlord of Syria, ordered an end to the torture and confinement of Jewish prisoners and instructed Damascus officials to protect the city's Jewish community. The American ambassador helped Sir Moses Montefiore secure from the Ottoman Sultan an imperial decree in November declaring that the blood libel had "not the least foundation in truth" and that Jews "shall possess the same advantages and enjoy the same privileges" as his other subjects, especially the free exercise of their religion.


American Jewry had experienced its first taste of successful united action on behalf of its brethren overseas. Rabbi Leeser expressed the thinking of many American Jews of that time, as well as the spirit of the Babylonian Talmud, when he observed: "As citizens we belong to the country we live in; but as believers in one G-d, as the faithful adorers of the Creator, as the inheritors of the law, the Jews [of other lands] are no aliens among us, and we hail the Israelite as brother, no matter whether his home be the torrid zone, or where the poles encircle the earth with impenetrable fetters of icy coldness." These words remain the credo of American Jewry to the present day.


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Michael Feldberg is Director of Research for the American Jewish Historical Society. Comment by clicking here.



Previously:

Lincoln's fight for Jewish chaplains
Meet the Orthodox Jew who laid groundwork for scientific development of ordnance that undergirds America's current world leadership
Meet Paul Revere's pal, the Orthodox Jew who played a key role in laying Boston's cultural and business infrastructure
An all but forgotten Colonial doctor who put his Jewish values before his life
‘I am a Jew, I am a Republican and I am poor’
Vindication of an American Jewish Patriot
Mordecai Sheftall and the Wages of War
Haym Salomon: The rest of the story
Francis Salvador: Martyr of the American Revolution
How Hebrew came to Yale
The Making of a Jewish Citizen

© 2006, Michael Feldberg