Posts tagged Research and Reference Services
Posts tagged Research and Reference Services
Emancipation and the Jews of Metz, France
by David P. Rosenberg, M.P.A., Reference Services Research Coordinator, Center for Jewish History
“The means of making the Jews happy and useful? This is it: stop making them unhappy and useless. Give them, or rather return to them the right of citizens, which you’ve denied them against all divine and human laws.” This was Zalkind Hourwitz’s 1789 answer to an essay contest question posed by the Metz Royal Society of Arts and Sciences. The Society asked, “Are there means for making the Jews happier and more useful in France?” and Hourwitz answered with those words in his essay “Vindication of the Jews”—one of the three winning responses. (From A Jew in the French Revolution: The Life of Zalking Hourwitz by Frances Malino.)
Emancipation “has come to mean the liberation of individuals or groups from servitude, legal restriction, and political and social disabilities” (Encyclopaedia Judaica). Though United States was the first country to emancipate Jews, many scholars consider the emancipation of the Jews of France to be a turning point in Jewish history. The French Revolution led many to realize that depriving Jews of equality would undermine the principle of natural rights that helped revolutionaries to gain support during the conflict. Although it is worth noting that there was an upsurge in anti-Semitism after the emancipation of Jews in various places, it was an important change by all measures.
As S. Posner states in his 1939 article “The immediate economic and social effects of the emancipation of the Jews in France (on the occasion of the 150th Anniversary of the French Revolution)”: “it must be said that on the eve of the revolution the legal and economic situation of the Jews of France was characterized by the restriction upon their free movement and settlement, upon them engaging in arts and crafts and by special assessments imposed on them” (Jewish Social Studies, Volume 1, 1939) . As I wrote in my previous blog post on the Jews of Alsace-Lorraine, The Economic Status of the Jews in Alsace, Metz and Lorraine (1648-1789) points out several distinct aspects of the Jewish experience of Alsace, Metz and Lorraine.
In the 17th century, Jews were required to wear a “yellow patch or another distinguishing mark reserved for Jews… Jewish children were converted to Catholicism by force…” (p.29).
“They had to struggle to obtain permission for storing their merchandise and to have stable for their horses outside the ghetto limit”—perhaps one of the reasons geese were raised (p.43).
Like in other places, usury was common among the Jews of Alsace-Lorraine. They often gave loans to peasants struggling to pay taxes.
Jews themselves struggled to pay their taxes because they were levied disproportionately. For example, in Metz, Jews were 1/18th of the population but were forced to pay 1/6th of the capitation tax (p.71).
Professional licenses were more expensive for Jews. They had to pay over double the cost of equivalent licenses purchased by gentiles. In 1715, Jews were charged 2,100 as compared to 1,000 pounds in one example given (p.71).
Overall, “prior to 1789 the greatest part of Jews living in Lorraine were poor” (p. 68-9).
Some historians—such as Paula Hyman in “The Emancipation of the Jews of Alsace”—argue that change was slow: “…the pace of acculturation must be measured in generations, not years…Gradual social change cushioned the impact of emancipation on Alsatian Jews.” (p. 156). She argues that it was the Jews themselves in the generations after the revolution who had to define the significance of the change. “They had to define the relationship between the French and Jewish components of their identity and determine how much Jewish particularity was consonant with French universalism.”
However, the immediate impact of lifting restrictions cannot be understated when looking at the everyday lives of Jews. The striking change and groundwork for future growth of the Jewish people will be discussed during an upcoming event here at the Center for Jewish History.
"French and Jewish: Defining a Modern Jewish Identity in the 19th Century” on Monday, December 9.
“For the Jews of France, the attainment of citizenship in the early 19th century was far more than a political triumph. The transition from ghetto to emancipation heralded a major transformation in Jewish status, and nowhere was the metamorphosis more striking than in Metz. Looking at the Jews through the lens of French literature, politics, and religion, three scholars (Jay Berkovitz, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Lisa Leff, American University; Maurice Samuels, Yale University) will consider the far-reaching impact of Jewish emancipation on the meaning of being Jewish in the modern world.”
For more information on the Metz exhibit and related programs (including ticket information) visit metz.cjh.org.
by Elli Smerling, Reference Services Research Intern, Center for Jewish History
Official Jewish law requires 10 to be in attendance for communal prayer. Unofficial Jewish law requires that if 10 people are in a room, there must be food.
Every Jewish gathering, celebration or holiday revolves around food. You may ask: What about fast days? Well, they’re about food as well. Fact: Not eating food is just as much about food as eating it.
Americans like to eat too… I’m not talking about our bad reputations for unhealthy excess and obesity. Americans use food to celebrate. Though most of our holidays revolve around a grill (Memorial Day, Labor Day, Independence Day), one holiday really does come close to a Jewish celebration: Thanksgiving.
But this isn’t such a surprise. Some believe that the Pilgrims based the holiday on Sukkot. Known as the Feast of Tabernacles, this holiday predominantly occurs in the fall, for the Jews of the Northern Hemisphere. Like Thanksgiving, Sukkot is a time for giving thanks for a bountiful harvest. The holiday commemorates the 40 years the Israelites spent wandering the dessert and the fall harvest. It heavily revolves around meals, which are eaten in sukkot (temporary structures) to commemorate the structures used for shelter in the desert. These meals traditionally incorporate fall harvest vegetables, creating dishes appropriate for a Thanksgiving feast. It would be convenient for these holidays to fall together.
Instead, this year America’s signature Jewish holiday, Hanukkah, falls upon the most epic of American feasts, Thanksgiving. Hanukkah’s historic connection to Sukkot makes the holiday compatible with Thanksgiving. It commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple as a result of the Maccabean revolt. It is observed for eight days to celebrate the miracle of the oil lasting in the temple. The first celebration of this miracle, found in the Second Book of the Maccabees, describes this festivity coinciding with the observance of Sukkot. In essence, then, it is fitting for Hanukkah to fall on Thanksgiving, a holiday that resembles Sukkot.
Thanksgivukkah, as it is has become known, is a once-in-a-lifetime occasion. And what better way to celebrate “the American Feast” with Hanukkah than with food! As stated earlier, many dishes served on Sukkot resemble those of Thanksgiving, so they will fit quite well on the Thanksgiving table—including “Moroccan Pumpkin Soup with Chick-Peas” from Joan Nathan’s book Jewish Cooking in America (Nathan 128-129). Unlike Sukkot foods, Hanukkah treats place emphasis on oil. Fried delicacies such as potato latkes and jelly doughnuts are staples on this holiday.
Without doubt, families will be bringing traditional Hanukkah and Jewish dishes to the Thanksgiving table. They may even take it a step further by creating fusion recipes. Manischewtiz Company has created a whole website dedicated to the holiday with videos, e-cards, and recipes for the occasion. They are even holding a contest for best “Mashed Up Recipe.”
I decided to take on the challenge myself. I went through numerous resources in the Lillian Goldman Reading Room here at the Center for Jewish History to gain inspiration.
I found some interesting and helpful sources:
Page 86 of Jewish Cooking Boot Camp is dedicated to suggestions of toppings that could be put on potato latkes. Many of these toppings would be fitting for the Thanksgiving feast. In the picture below I have pointed out some of the suggestions that can be used to make your latkes more “harvesty.” Additionally, page 85 of the cookbook offered some quirky tips on latke making; they are also included below.
In Jewish Cooking In America, I discovered a recipe for “Curried Sweet Potato Latkes” on page 261. The recipe is a perfect use of traditional harvest vegetables eaten on Thanksgiving and fused with a Hanukkah favorite.
I was inspired by the topping options, and knew if I really wanted to go crazy, I would have to simplify my sweet potato latkes. I found some simpler recipes online and picked an awesome Thanksgiving topping, which lead me to this creation:
Sweet Potato Latkes with Marshmallow Topping
1 medium yellow onion, halved
1 large sweet potato, peeled
1 large russet potato, peeled
¾ cup panko bread crumbs
3 large eggs
¼ cup green onions, thinly sliced
¼ cup fresh parsley, minced
½ teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bag of marshmallow – large or mini
These can be baked or fried. If baking grease the baking sheet with butter or parve substitute to make them extra crispy. If frying use peanut or vegetable oil.
Grate onions and potatoes; drain and place into a large mixing bowl.
Add green onions, panko, eggs, salt and pepper into the mix.
Mix well and form into palm-sized round balls. Place on baking sheet and flatten.
Place in oven on 425 for 20 minutes each side. During the last 5 minutes of baking – turn to broil and place marshmallows on top of the latkes.
Heat a large pan and add 4 tablespoons of oil. Carefully drop sweet latkes into the pan to fry, turning when crisp. Put on paper towels to absorb excess oil. Place onto cookie sheet and add marshmallow on top. Broil for 5 minutes or until marshmallows have melted.
Enjoy hot, with cranberry sauce, apple sauce, or maple syrup.
Some Other Thanksgivukkah Ideas:
A Jelly Turkey:
Deep fried Turkey stuffed with cranberry jelly filling. Make sure to use enough oil to last 8 days.
Pumpkin flavored doughnuts stuffed with jelly filling.
Cranberry Apple Sauce:
What better way to top your latkes on Thanksgiving Day?
Pumpkin Hanukkah Cookies:
Pumpkin cookies can be made into Hanukkah cookies by using Hanukkah cookie cutters.
Manischewitz Cocktails (found in the Manischewitz Company Records here at the Center for Jewish History):
Try the Manischewitz Hi-Boy: Two to three jiggers of Manischewitz Concord Grape in a tall cup of ice with ginger ale and a slice of lemon.
Or try the Manischewitz Stinger:
Three parts Manischewitz Blackberry one part brandy.
by Aliza Schulman, Reference Services Research Intern, Center for Jewish History
This year, the first day of Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving, creating what has become known as Thanksgivukkah. The Internet it abuzz with shirts, hats and recipes celebrating this rare event. But just how rare is it? When was the last time it occurred, and when will it happen again? This post breaks down the complicated calendar issues that resulted in this exceptional holiday, Thanksgivukkah.
This year, Thanksgiving falls on November 28, the fourth Thursday of November and the first day of Hanukkah. Since the Jewish holiday starts at night, the first night of Hanukkah is after sunset on November 27th. This means that Jews all over America will be lighting their second Hanukkah candle at sunset on the 28th, Thanksgiving night; the very same night they will be having a delicious Thanksgiving dinner.
Due to the complicated history of Thanksgiving, there are different opinions about whether Thanksgivukkah has happened before in American history. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln established Thanksgiving as a national holiday, to be celebrated on the last day of November. (Before this, each state determined when Thanksgiving would be celebrated.) Using this barometer, the last time Thanksgiving fell on the first day of Hanukkah—meaning Jews lit two candles at their turkey dinner—was 1888. But in 1942, Roosevelt decided that Thanksgiving should be the fourth, not last, Thursday of every November. So, if we are going to calculate by the current standard of Thanksgiving, then the last time Thanksgiving occurred on any day of Hanukkah was….well, never.
Now, to address the question of if and when this wonderful holiday will ever occur again. Stephen P. Morse and Jonathan Mizrahi have both calculated this rare occurrence, resulting in a slight discrepancy. Stephen Morse calculates that according to the post-1942 change of Thanksgiving, 2013 is the one and only time Thanksgiving will ever fall on the first day of Hanukkah. And by one and only time, I mean that the next time this could possibly happen is in the year 79,043.
(Additionally, the next time Thanksgiving falls on any day of Hanukkah will be 2070 and 2165. Both of these Thanksgiving dates coinciding with the first night of Hanukkah, meaning the first Hanukkah candle will be lit at Thanksgiving dinner.)
Jonathan Mizrahi has a slightly different calculation, citing that the “Hanukkah will again fall on Thursday, 11/28…in the year 79,811.” Whether Mizrahi means the first day (lighting one candle) or second day (lighting two candles) of Hanukkah falling on November 28 remains unanswered from his blog. Either way, both dates of 79,043 (Morse’s date) and 79,811 (Mizrahi’s date) fall far in the future.
Lastly, we turn to the question of why. Why are the overlap dates of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving so few and far between? For this answer, we look at the two different types of calendars that determine these holidays. Hanukkah is determined by the Hebrew calendar, which works off the lunar cycle. Thanksgiving is decided by the Gregorian calendar, which is based off the sun. These two calendars are slowly drifting apart, at a rate of 4 days every 1,000 years. So in about 80,000 years, the calendars will be in sync again, resulting in another Thanksgivakkuh. (One major caveat that exists to this theory is that the Hebrew calendar requires that Passover be in the Spring, which means that it will have to be adjusted.)
So, whichever calculation you choose to subscribe to, it is abundantly clear that Thanskgivukkah 2013 is a rare and special day. However you choose to celebrate—with latkes with cranberry sauce or with fall-themed Hanukkah candles—enjoy and take lots of pictures to capture this historical moment in our lifetimes!
Translating Charles Darwin
by Melanie J. Meyers, M.S., Senior Reference Services Librarian, Special Collections, Center for Jewish History
November 24 was the 154th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin’s most famous work, The Origin of the Species. The full title of the work was On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, but this title was shortened for the sixth and subsequent editions. Charles Darwin—or Ṭsharlz Darṿin in Yiddish—wrote many other scientific books based on his extensive travels and observations, but Origin remains his most well-known work.
Here at the Center for Jewish History, we have a wealth of material by and about Darwin and his theories. We have copies of works such as The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs, The Expressions of Emotions in Man and Animals, and dozens of others including critical essays, biographies and collected letters. We also have copies of another famous Darwin work, The Descent of Man, in many different editions. The YIVO Library holds copies of Descent in both Yiddish and Russian, in addition to works discussing Darwin’s theories, written by Frederick Engels and translated into Russian. Both Leo Baeck Institute and The American Jewish Historical also hold works by and about Darwin, in both German and Yiddish. YIVO Library also holds what appears to be a complete set of Darwin’s works in English, published in New York by D. Appleton and Co. publishers. Appleton, founded in 1831, specialized in science books at moderate prices that were affordable for the layperson.
See above for pictures of The Descent of Man in Russian (courtesy of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research) and Yiddish (courtesy of the American Jewish Historical Society).
by Ilana Rossoff, Reference Services Research Intern, Center for Jewish History
This post is part of the Jews and Social Justice Series. To view all posts in the series, click here.
Since Israel’s emergence as an independent Jewish state, there have been few organizations to come out of Jewish communities in the United States that openly challenge Zionism or modern-day Jewish nationalism. Some ultra-Orthodox Jews, such as those belonging to the organization Neturei Karta, have rejected Israel as a Jewish nation on the basis of their belief that since the Messiah has not yet come to Earth, the Jewish nation should not exist in the historical Holy Land. Otherwise, few groups have come together under a non-Orthodox banner to express strong opposition to the Jewish state.
One group that did was the American Jewish Alternatives to Zionism, a small organization based out of Washington D.C. Between 1969 and 1988, it strongly criticized Israel’s actions with regard to Palestinians and explicitly rejected Zionism, in part on the basis of its presumption of global Jewry in the concept of the “Jewish nation.” American Jewish Alternatives to Zionism was founded by Elmer Berger, a rabbi once part of the Reform organization American Council for Judaism, which was the last remnant of anti-nationalism in American Reform Judaism.
The American Council for Judaism was formed by a group of Reform rabbis who split off from the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) in 1942. Their contention was that the CCAR, and Reform Judaism more broadly, was founded on the separation between national and religious identities, and the CCAR’s growth in support for Jewish nationalism and the formation of para-state Jewish agencies was a violation of this definitive principle of Reform Judaism. The American Council for Judaism firmly believed that American Jews were Jewish by religion, and American by nationality, and the two should not be confused.
Elmer Berg was still a young rabbi when he was one of the founders of the ACJ. He played a critical role in the organization as its first Executive Director. During his time in the organization, Berger underwent a different political evolution than his colleagues did. Even as he remained committed to opposing Zionism’s encroachment upon the American identification of Jews in the U.S., he also became increasingly concerned with Israel’s military actions and the plight of the Palestinians Arabs, particularly after the 1967 war.
As Jack Ross recounts in Rabbi Outcast: Elmer Berger and American Jewish Anti-Zionism, after great contention within the organization over Berger’s outspoken criticism of Israel’s actions during the war, Berger was voted out of the American Council for Judaism in 1968. The Council affirmed its position as concerned primarily with the impact of Zionism on “Americans of Jewish faith,” and not with events in the Middle East .
At the behest of the ACJ rabbis who had stood in Berger’s defense, Berger and others founded the new Jewish Alternatives to Zionism to serve as a vehicle for further writing and activism. Soon renamed American Jewish Alternatives to Zionism, the group was “established for religious and educational purposes” which would in part “giv[e] wider circulation to some of the views of others”—such as such as dissident Jewish-Israeli writers as well as some Arab and American writers—“who agree with our basic premises that enduring peace can be created in the Middle East only by the application of justice and equity” . The header of its second and all further reports summarizes its political beliefs at the founding of the organization:
[AJAZ’s] educational program applies Judaism’s values of justice and common humanity to the Arab/Zionist/Israeli conflict in the Middle East. In the United State we advocate a one-to-one human relationship between Jews and all Americans. In both areas of our concern we reject Zionism/Israel’s “Jewish people” nationality attachment of all Jews to the State of Israel. These political-nationality claims distort constructive humanitarian programs. They are inconsistent with American Constitutional concepts of individual citizenship and separation of church and state. They are also a principle obstacle to Middle East peace. Our program, we believe, helps advance peace in the Middle East. It also prevents Zionist/Israel from successfully achieving its legislated objective of reversing the integration of American Jews by “capturing the Jewish community” for its self-segregating “Jewish people” nationality attachment of Jews to the State of Israel .
For more on the history of this organization, check back for part 2 next Monday.
 Report #1, 1969, Page 3. Folder: Report #1-11. American Jewish Alternatives to Zionism archival collection, American Jewish Historical Society. The Electronic Finding Aid to the archival collection can be found here.
 Report #2, undated. Folder: Report #1-11. American Jewish Alternatives to Zionism archival collection, American Jewish Historical Society. The Electronic Finding Aid to the archival collection can be found here.