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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

Mordecai Manuel Noah: How Buffalo almost became the gateway to the Promised Land

By Michael Feldberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | In the Niagara River between Buffalo, New York and Canada sits Grand Island. On a pedestal at Grand Island Town Hall sits a cornerstone engraved with the central Sh'ma prayer in Hebrew and the following inscription:

ARARAT

A City of Refuge for the Jews

Founded by Mordecai Manuel Noah in the month of Tizri 5586

Sept. 1825 and in the 50th Year of American Independence

What was this place, Ararat, and who was Mordecai Manuel Noah?

Born in Philadelphia in 1785 to German-Jewish and Sephardic parents, Noah pursued simultaneous careers in journalism and politics. At age 26, Noah petitioned Secretary of State Robert Smith to grant him a consular position, with a not-so-subtle reminder that the appointment of a Jew to the diplomatic corps would favorably impress Jewish voters and "prove to foreign powers that our government is not regulated in the appointment of their officers by religious distinction." Noah was subsequently appointed as consul to Riga and then Tunis. Later, Noah was elected sheriff of New York City, appointed surveyor of the city's port and made a judge of its Court of General Sessions. His position as editor of six different secular New York newspapers over the years assured him of a platform.

In the Ararat project, Noah's service to world Jewry and his personal advancement came together as he proclaimed the Zionist future. Noah declared in 1818, "Never were prospects for the restoration of the Jewish nation to their ancient rights and dominion more brilliant than they are at present. There are seven million of Jews . . . throughout the world . . . possessing more wealth, activity, influence, and talents, than any body of people of their number on earth" . . . "they will march in triumphant numbers, and posses themselves once more of [Palestine], and take their rank among the governments of the earth." In 1820, he began private negotiations to purchase Grand Island, then completely undeveloped, as a temporary "New Jerusalem" where Jews could safely await repossession of their ancient Holy Land.

Grand Island stood where the Erie Canal, then under construction, would enter the Niagara River. Noah hoped to attract Jewish merchants and bankers from France and Germany who would see the commercial opportunities in the project and Eastern European Jews who sought farmland. After five years, Noah finally raised the funds to purchase a portion of the island for his colony.

Had Noah simply sought to re-sell land on Grand Island to his co-religionists, he would have differed little from other land speculators of his time. However, Noah had far more grandiose ambitions than mere profit, as the inaugural ceremonies at Ararat revealed.

To accommodate the large inaugural crowd, Noah rented a Buffalo church. Cannoneers fired a salute and Seneca Chief Red Jacket arrived by boat (Noah was convinced that America's Indians were the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel). Then Noah made his theatrical entrance. Historian Jonathan Sarna describes Noah's dramatic garb: "Resplendent in a Richard III costume, complete with a gold medallion neck chain - all lent by the Park Theater- Noah assumed his role as [self-proclaimed] 'Judge of Israel.'" After an ecumenical service led by a Protestant minister, Noah issued his "Proclamation to the Jews," which established Ararat as a city of Jewish refuge, proclaimed the government of "the Jewish Nation 'under the auspices and protection of the constitution and laws of the United States of America' and declared Noah's status as a 'Judge of Israel.'" Noah called on each Jew in the world to be taxed "three sheckels of silver" to support the government of the Jewish Nation, and for the Paris Jewish Consistory to elect a Judge of Israel every four years - after Noah had finished his self-appointed term.

Noah's presumption caused a firestorm of protest and ridicule, not least from some fellow Jews. Isaac Harby, a Jewish newspaper editor in Charleston, accused Noah of arrogating the role of the authentic Messiah, who some day would "lead [the Jewish people] to New Jerusalem and not to New York." The secular press labeled Noah an opportunistic land speculator attempting to defraud his co-religionists of their savings.

In the end, Ararat failed to attract any settlers. Apparently, in a democratic society with an open frontier, no European or American Jew felt the need to live as Noah's colonist. Because he could not afford recruiters abroad, Noah's colony had little chance of attracting European Jewry. Worse, the grand rabbi of Paris ridiculed Noah's plan. Before the end of 1825, Noah was advising his friends not to invest in Ararat; in 1833, his share of unpopulated Grand Island was sold to a timber investor.

All that remains of Noah's Zionist dream today is Ararat's cornerstone. Despite the fiasco, Noah continued as an influential spokesperson for American Jewry. Almost 175 years later, much of his vision has come to fruition. Noah's assertions that a Jewish nation must be reestablished in the Holy Land and that America must play a special part in that restoration foreshadowed the role of American Jewry in the twentieth-century development of Jewish nationhood.


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



Previously:

How the credo of American Jewry took hold
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