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In this issue
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 Hebrew came to Yale

By Michael Feldberg

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Email this article | Few Americans have heard of Rabbi Haim Isaac Carigal, but every Yale University graduate has seen the evidence of his influence over the history of that institution. Because of Carigal's relationship with Yale's fifth president, Reverend Ezra Stiles, in 1777 Hebrew became a required course in the freshman curriculum.

Many colonial-era American Christians had a respect for — even a fascination with —the Hebrew language and Jewish religion. In part, their interest stemmed from a belief that the Hebrew Bible, which they dubbed the "Old Testament," laid the ground for the Christian "New Testament." Educated American Christians, especially New England clergymen, assumed that an accurate reading of the Old Testament was best done in its original language. By the 1720s, it was possible to study Hebrew at Harvard College under the tutelage of Professor Judah Monis.

The philo-Semitic attitudes of many New England Christian ministers led to early interfaith relationships between Christian and Jewish clergy. Perhaps the best of documented these is that between Reverend Stiles of the Second Congregational Church in Newport, Rhode Island and Rabbi Carigal, who resided in Newport for six months in the spring and summer of 1773. The two men developed a friendship that personally influenced Stiles and turned him into a Hebrew scholar. What we know of Rabbi Carigal comes to us mainly through the writings of Reverend Stiles, who kept a detailed diary of their six-month friendship. Carigal matched the 18th century's archetype of the "wandering Jew." Born in Hebron, Palestine in 1733, Carigal became a rabbi at age seventeen. At age 19, he traveled to Egypt, and Turkey; in 1757, he toured Italy, Austria, Bohemia, Germany, the Netherlands and England. Between 1761 and 1764, Carigal visited Curacao, Amsterdam, Germany and Italy before returning to Hebron. He visited France and England in 1768, Jamaica in 1771, and Philadelphia, New York and Newport in 1772 and 1773. We do not know with certainty why Carigal traveled so often; most likely it was to raise funds for the religious Jews of Hebron.

Stiles first encountered Carigal at the Newport synagogue when Carigal presided over a Purim service in March 1773. Stiles recorded that Carigal "was dressed in a red garment with the usual Phylacteries and habiliments, the white silk Surplice; he wore a high fur cap, had a long beard. He has the appearance of an ingenious and sensible man." Impressed by Carigal, Stiles returned to the synagogue to hear him lead Passover services four weeks later, an event about which Stiles wrote copiously, including the fact that on his shaved head Carigal wore "a high Fur Cap, exactly like a Womans Muff, and about 9 or 10 Inches high, the Aperture atop was closed with green cloth." Stiles described the singing at the service as "fine and melodious."

Stiles invited Carigal and Aaron Lopez, a leading Newport Jewish merchant, to visit his home on March 30, 1773. Stiles and Carigal struck up a remarkable friendship. Stiles records no fewer than 28 meetings with Carigal before the latter departed for the Caribbean in September of that year. The topics of their conversations ranged widely through kabbalistic mysticism, the nature of Hebrew and Arabic languages, the question of which language Moses wrote in, the relationship between Turks and Jews in Palestine; ancient coins and books, circumcision among Coptic Christians, the coming of the Messiah and numerous other subjects.

During this period, Carigal tutored Stiles intensively in Hebrew. Stiles already had a basic knowledge of the language; by the time Carigal departed from Newport, Stiles and he were exchanging lengthy letters in Hebrew. Stiles began translating major portions of the Hebrew Bible into English. Carigal was elected rabbi of Congregation Kaal Kodesh Midhi Israel in Barbados. He and Stiles continued corresponding until Carigal's death there in 1777. In that same year, Stiles was called to Yale to become its president; a year later, he became the school's first Semitics professor. While the Revolutionary War had forced the postponement of Yale's commencement since 1776, in September 1781, the ceremonies were held -although "in constant fear that they will be interrupted by the Enemy" — and Stiles delivered an address in Hebrew, Aramaic and Arabic.

A Yale student wrote in 1788, "The President insisted that the whole class should undertake the study of Hebrew…For the Hebrew he possessed a high veneration." As it turns out, Stiles's prescription was not popular and by 1790, he modified his edict: "From my first accession to the Presidency ... I have obliged all the Freshmen to study Hebrew. This has proved very disagreeable to a Number of the Students."

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Michael Feldberg is the director of the American Jewish Historical Society. Comment by clicking here.


The Making of a Jewish Citizen

© 2005, Michael Feldberg