Modern Jewish History - Maurice Harris

The End of the Middle Ages

General Survey.

The story of the Jew from the sixteenth century, to be told in this concluding volume, is not as tragic as his history in the Middle Ages. The gleams of the Inquisition fires have died down. Massacres are far rarer, though there will be some. Europe turned the corner with the Reformation and the Printing Press. Where there is persecution at all, it is by oppressive legislation rather than by slaughter. The Jews still experience a Dark Age, somewhat of their own making; but we shall see it followed by an era of emancipation both political and religious.

As the world to-day presents different degrees of civilization, so the status of the Jews varies with their environment. The Orient, in spots, still depicts the suppression of the individual, characteristic of antiquity. Eastern Europe was largely mediaeval in its attitude towards the Jew, certainly till the World War's close. The West alone shows the freedom of modernity. But we shall see, in all lands, that social prejudice persists even when legal disability is removed.

We saw the Jews expelled from England in 1290, from France finally in 1394, from Spain in 1492, from Portugal in 1557, from German states and separate localities at various times. On the other hand we saw them settling in Poland in the eleventh century, in Turkey and in South America in the sixteenth. We shall now witness their settlement in Holland, their re-settlement in England, their gradual entrance or re-entrance into most lands, and their large immigration to the United States.


Not only the map, but also the spirit of Europe changed in the fifteenth century. The Absolute Church and the "Holy Roman Empire" were steadily disintegrating, both as facts and as beliefs. Italy had led the way in a new attitude towards the world, a fuller freedom, a joy of living. The Renaissance — the rebirth of literature, art and science — was one of its expressions. To this the Medicis of Florence contributed a large share.

The revival of learning awakened a new appreciation for the classics of antiquity hitherto stigmatised as "pagan." In this feeling of greater freedom in thought and outlook men broke away from the thraldom of old notions of the world as a place of hopeless sin and ceased to regard its culture with suspicion. The term Humanism is given to the new spirit. It was applied technically to the revived interest in Greek and Latin writings, — litterae humaniores — i.e., the literature that dealt with man rather than with God. So it stood in contrast to the old scholasticism and the writings of the monks that dealt with God rather than with man.

But in its larger sense it not only concerned literature, but every sphere of human activity. It practically asserted — as against the old tyrannies of Church and of State — man's right to know and to be.

In science it led to new discovery and invention. In government it rung the knell of the old despotisms. In Christianity it brough the Reformation. This wave of light did not reach all lands at the same time. Italy led the advance in literature and art; Germany in religious reform; France in political freedom.

The new awakening reached Israel accidentally; that is if there are any accidents in history. Let us say, rather "All chance, — direction that thou canst not see." About the year 1500 an ignorant apostate named Pfefferkorn was used by the Dominican Order to vilify and ultimately destroy the Talmud. Such things had been done before, in France; why not again? The monks forgot two things: first, that it is not always safe to repeat an experiment, and secondly, that it was two hundred and fifty years since twenty-four carloads of Talmuds had been burnt in Paris. The world had advanced since then.

The Jews dared to protest. This only brought new pamphlets of abuse from the Dominicans through Pfefferkorn urging their expulsion from Germany. He obtained from Emperor Maximilian permission to examine all books in Jewish possession and to confiscate those he deemed injurious. But here even the local archbishop intervened. It was not to be such plain sailing as in the "good old days." Both sides now appealed to the Emperor and a great German scholar, John Reuchlin, was chosen to investigate the charges against Jewish books. Little did the Dominicans realize that in the choice of this noble-hearted Christian — a great Humanist — not only would their immediate purpose be defeated, but new events would grow out of it that would shake up all Christendom and prepare the way for the modern era of freedom and light.


None better fitted than Reuchlin for this task. He was prominent in the Humanist Movement mentioned above. He was also a Hebrew scholar — one of the very few in the Christian world. Through the wavering of the Emperor and the intrigues of Pfefferkorn and his allies, the incident dragged; but through this very delay it came to be known to a widening circle and grew into a German and later into an international affair.

Reuchlin answered the question for which he had been engaged, "Was it advantageous to the Church to burn Jewish writings" with a decisive negative. He showed that Jewish commentaries were indispensable to the theologian. He further claimed that Jewish Kabala rather favored Church doctrine. As for the Talmud, the real bone of contention, he said most of its detractors were ignorant of it — therefore instead of burning, they should study it. Burning is no argument. He advised in conclusion that Hebrew professorships should be established in the universities.

Furthermore, in behalf of the Jews, he asserted that as subjects of the Holy Roman Empire they were entitled to its protection and that not being Christians, they could not be treated as heretics.

The astounded Dominicans issued a printed rejoinder, slandering Reuchlin and charging him with being bribed by Jews to defend the Talmud. But he, also availing himself of the printing press, wrote a vigorous rejoinder, thousands of copies of which were issued at the Frankfort Fair. The eyes of the people were opened to many things. A public opinion on religion began to find expression. The Dominicans might intrigue further to injure Reuchlin. the Talmud, and the Jews. They did. But their cause was lost. Pope Leo X., not a very good churchman, but a man of culture, ordered the Talmud to be printed instead of being burnt this time.

The Reformation.

Events were moving fast. The Reuchlin Humanists became an international party. The Talmud dropped out of the dispute but not till it had created a public opinion, prepared now to express itself on the fundamentals of Christianity. Cardinal Egidio wrote to Reuchlin, "We are not defending the Talmud but the Church."

The decline of Catholicism through the corruption of its clergy has been already dwelt upon in 'History of the Mediaeval Jews' and need not be dwelt on again. Huss had been burnt then. But it was as hard now to burn men as books. The Renaissance marked a general intellectual awakening. Thinkers were beginning to lose faith in some Romish doctrines, and also in the Pope's spiritual supremacy. In Italy it simply brought an era of negligent scepticism. But Germany was too earnest to rest in any such demoralizing position. The study of Hebrew and Greek, now fostered by the Humanists, was bringing a truer understanding of the Bible; and the new art of printing was bringing the Scriptures to the people at large. They could get their religion at first hand now and think out certain things for themselves.


Martin Luther next emerges as the most prominent figure in the Christian Reformation that ultimately followed. He translated the Bible into German aided by the commentaries of some Hebrew scholars; for it was a cardinal principle of the new teaching that not the Pope, but the Bible, was the infallible religious authority. With great bravery he defended his attitude at the Imperial Diet of Worms, but unlike poor Huss, he had powerful friends at court. Even then, it would have gone hard with him, had not Emperor and Pope been at odds. So that we find the Emperor defending Luther in order to thwart the Pope. Apart from that, times were riper for a change. Reformers all over Europe were annulling old church regulations, changing the form of worship and advocating the marriage of priests. Gradually this reformed Christianity that "protested" against Catholicism grew into a distinct and separate church — Protestantism. But this was not fully established in the countries in which we find it now, till bitter warfare had arisen that rent all Christendom. Even then through the rise of a new order called Jesuits, Catholicism regained much lost ground. But this was all later than Luther's day.

What was his attitude towards the Jews? At first, under Humanist influence, he was kindly, hoping now at last to convert them to Christianity under its improved form. So he says of their previous persecution:

"I would rather have been a pig than a Christian; they treated the Jews as if they were dogs, not men. The Jews are the best blood on earth through whom alone the Holy Spirit gave the Holy Scriptures to the world. My advice is that we treat them kindly — not driving them by force, prohibiting them from working amongst us and forcing them to be usurers."

But when in later years he found that this program did not bring them to the fold; that, on the contrary, the new movement having shaken the faith of some in the Trinity, Jews were even daring to convert such to Judaism, his rage knew no bounds. All the slanders against them he had denounced in others, he now voiced himself; and all the harsh treatment he had condemned in others, he himself now advocated. So the aged Luther, pestered by disease and disappointed at the slow progress of the movement in one direction and the daring rationalism of the extreme wing in another — vented all his bitterness on the Jews. He urged that their synagogues and houses be burnt, their books confiscated, their rabbis silenced. They should be driven into rough shelter, prohibited from travelling and their money taken from them to maintain their own apostates. They were to be forced to hard labor and to be treated without mercy.

These hard words were remembered against them in later days in Germany. So while Protestant lands became henceforth on the whole the havens of the Jews, the new Church instituted some restrictions and exclusions of its own.

The Reformation and the Jews.

Apart from the fostering of the study of Hebrew, the establishment of professorships in this language, and the translation of the Bible into all European tongues, the new movement but slightly affected the Jews. Just because Judaism had not suffered the corruption of the Church, so it could not now enjoy this healthy reaction. Yet it rather needed revival too, for the Jews were now passing through an era spiritually and poetically barren. Philosophy was banned and mysticism encouraged. Instead of learning that in unity is strength, the Jews were losing their opportunities by intense individualism; each little group maintaining its separate institutions instead of communally combining for great service. Religious education of women was more neglected than ever. There were no savage massacres now, but neither were there noble martyrdoms. It seemed as though it were easier for the Jew to die for his Faith than to live for it.

The change of the religious faith of half the Christian world was not achieved without bloodshed. The international wars that followed lasted thirty years. During the Thirty Years' War (from 1618 to the treaty of Westphalia, 1648), Jews suffered, of course: so did all classes, whether Protestants or Catholics. If some Jewish communities were destroyed, again others remained untouched. They might have been completely let alone, had they decided to hold passively aloof. But here and there their sympathies were generously aroused on behalf of friendly neighbors, leading them voluntarily to endanger themselves in a cause not their own. When it came to finding the "sinews" for this war both sides mulcted the Jews. But it was better to sacrifice treasure than blood.

Persecution by Legislation.

One of the latest instances of the old form of persecution occurred in 1614 before the Thirty Years War.

One Fettmilch in order to spite the authorities, made a raid on the Jewish quarter of Frankfort-on-the-Main. Its property was destroyed and about fourteen hundred souls forced into banishment. The next year, in spite the magistracy, Jews were expelled from Worms. The fact that in both instances to embarrass the government, malcontents must be cruel to the Jews with whom they had no quarrel, gave the insurgents small concern. Yet, in both places, the higher authorities brought back the Jews within a year of their expulsion. The Emperor hanged Fettmilch and fined the city of Frankfort. Law and order were beginning to prevail and a sense of justice to be recognized, even toward the Jew.

But though persecution by massacre was nigh over, persecution by legislation continued during the seventeenth century. Jews were admitted into the Mark of Brandenberg (later to become the great kingdom of Prussia), the time of stay was limited and the cost high. The official year of admission to Berlin was 1671. Hamburg had not yet opened its doors except to a few rich "Schutzjuden" i.e., under special protection of the head of the State, at a thousand marks annually. Others lived there like Maranos of old Spain. Local expulsions were not quite over and were here and there put into operation during a wave of fanaticism. Such an expulsion did occur in Vienna as late as 1670.

In other German states Jews were just tolerated and that was all. Their scattered communities, chiefly in Prague, Frankfort and Worms, had humilitating restrictions imposed upon them. So the outcome of the Reformation for the Jews, was a little disheartening.


The Reformation and the Hebrew Bible:—The study of the Hebrew Scriptures (called by the Church the "Old Testament") part cause and part consequence of the Reformation, led to some disturbing revelations. It was pointed out to despotic monarchies that the Old Testament made the people the source of power. The Hebrew prophets always championed the rights of the humble masses; while the words of the New Testament "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and unto God that which is God's," was taken as an endorsement of absolute monarchy.

Luther in his later intolerant stage, was chagrined that the Jewish Jubilee restoring the family homestead, (Leviticus xxv) and the Jewish anti-slavery laws (Exodus xxi) should win the approval of some of his own clergy.

Unitarianism:—The reading of the Bible now encouraged by the Protestant movement brought to the attention of some Christians that the Old Testament gave no sanction to the cardinal Christian doctrine of the Trinity; so a new Christian sect denying it arose who called themselves Unitarians. Jews should be reminded that the essential distinction between modern Judaism and Unitarianism cannot be too strongly emphasized. They differ historically, ceremonially and sentimentally. To the Unitarian, Jesus is still idealized above normal man. See sermons by American Rabbis — Harris, Vol. I. — Unitarianism and Judaism.

Elias Levita:—Levita was the founder of modern Hebrew grammar and was called to fill the Hebrew chair in France, the land that had. banished the Jews three times and had burned the literature he was now asked to teach! He was teacher of Cardinal Egidio. He thus writes of his pupil:

"I swear by my Creator that a certain Christian Cardinal Egidio, my pupil for ten years, came to me and kissed me, saying 'Blessed be the God of the universe who has brought thee hither. Now abide with me and be my teacher, and I shall be to thee as a father and support thee in my house and bear all thy wants.' Thus we took counsel together 'iron sharpening iron'. I imparted my spirit to him and learned from him excellent and valuable things that are in accordance with truth."

Luther based the translation of the Bible, not on the Latin translation called the Vulgate, accepted by the Catholic Church but on the original Hebrew. He was aided by notes taken from Rashi's Commentary.

The Jews contributed their share towards the general fostering of learning, in the establishment of great printing houses, from whose presses, general as well as Jewish classics were issued.

Protestantism:—In his three lectures on "Times of Erasmus and Luther" (Short Studies in Great Subjects) James Anthony Froude says:

"The Reformation broke the theological shackles with which most minds were fettered. It set them thinking and so gave birth to science. The Reformers also, without knowing what they were about, taught the lesson of religious toleration. They attempted to supersede one set of dogmas by another. They succeeded with half the world; they failed with the other half. In a little while it became apparent that good men without ceasing to be good, could think differently about theology; and that goodness therefore depended upon something else than the holding of orthodox opinions."

Court Jews, (Schutz-Juden):—This was a term applied to some wealthy men of large commercial interests whom the rulers in Germany and Austria of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries made use of as their financial agents and purveyors in time of war. In a sense they are the historic successors of the Jewish state treasurers of earlier centuries. They were excused from wearing the badge and had greater freedom of residence than the rest of their brethren.

"Renaissance." Article Encyclopedia Brittanica, 9th edition, vol. xx. Read in particular from p. 388, the relation between Humanism and the Reformation.

"Reuchlin" and "Pfefferkorn," Hirsch,. Q. R., Vol. iv., and viii.

Lecky, History of European Morals, Vol. ii; p. 119. Emanuel Deutsch, The Talmud, J.P.S.A., pp. 13-16. "Bible Translations". E., Vol. iii. For a picture of the Fettmilch riots see Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. v.

Themes for Discussions:— (a) Why did the rise of Protestantism create a new attitude of the Christian toward Judaism? (b) Why did Reuchlin imagine that the Kabala favored Christian doctrine?

Development in Torah and Kabala

The Italian Ghetto.

So far the general status of the Jews in Europe; now let us survey their condition in separate lands. Let us turn our attention first to Italy and Turkey.

Although Italy was the home of the Renaissance and although this land became modern earlier than any other in Europe, the comparatively favorable status of its Jews underwent an unfavorable reaction. This began under Popes Paul IV and Pius V and VI. Paul IV reintroduced the yellow badge and in 1554 established the Ghetto of Rome. But Venice had already set the example in 1516 of thus crowding the Jews into a few unhealthy streets and we may add, out of all handicrafts. Italy it may be remembered was not one nation, but was composed of several states.

Simon Luzzatto, Venetian rabbi and literateur (1590-1663) found it necessary to write a treatise in defense of Jews and Judaism. He showed to the prejudiced Venetian patricians what valuable service their presumed Jewish rivals were rendering in retaining for Venice the trade of the Levant (lands on Eastern coast of the Mediterranean) for it was fast passing into the hands of English and Dutch. He pointed out that the Jews contributed wealth to the State, gave employment to thousands and fostered local industries.

He further showed that their learning, their religiousness, their hospitality, self-denial and patience made them desirable subjects.

But prejudice is ever blind. From 1550 to 1597 the Italian Jewish story is one of local expulsions; chiefly from papal states, i.e., provinces ruled by the Popes. But those exiled from southern Italy found a refuge in Turkey, as did their Spanish co-religionists nigh a century earlier. Here they were politically and religiously unfettered. Venice now met its day of reckoning; for the Jews showed their capacity for commerce by taking the wholesale trade of Turkey and the collection of customs largely in their hands. From this vantage ground, the "merchants of Venice" now found their most dangerous competitors among those whom they had mocked and spurned on the Rialto. But the doom of Venice was foreshadowed by the discovery of America and when in consequence the Mediterranean, controlled by this leading commercial State, gradually lost its importance as the chief highway for the trade of the world.

Jewish Statesmen in Turkey.

From the time when Turkey settled in Europe and overthrew the Eastern Roman Empire in 1453, it more and more became a Jewish center of gravity. Constantinople had thirty thousand Jewish souls and forty-four congregations in the sixteenth century. Through this "open door" of Turkey came a great man — Joseph Nasi. Born in Portgual about 1500, he settled successively in Antwerp, Venice and Constantinople. In each place his wealth and genius for finance singled him out for distinction; but not till he reached Turkey could he openly live the Jewish life. Insofar his history was characteristic of many. In the Porte (Turkey) he attained a position of state as influential as that of Ibn Nagrela or Chasdai Ibn Shaprut in the golden days of Spain.

Venice, that had imprisoned his aunt, the cultured Donna Gracia, and confiscated her wealth, had now to release both her and her property at his dictation as Turkey's representative. In this case, the Venetians were the Shylocks and Joseph Nasi, the "Daniel come to judgment." How the tables had turned! It was at his urgency too that Turkey wrested Cyprus from Venice. The European nations so recognized his influence that William of Orange appealed to him to aid the Netherlands and the Protestant cause by persuading Turkey to enter into war with Philip II of Spain (though no war followed). Through him the Emperor of Germany sought a treaty of peace with Turkey. Austria and Poland were suitors for his "good offices." Such was his power that France, refusing to pay money borrowed from the Nasi family, he was allowed to seize French vessels in Turkish waters, and to sell their cargoes to repay his debt. As further mark of favor the Sultan gave him some neighboring islands and made him Duke of one of them — Naxos.

Nasi, showing himself also a patron of Jewish scholarship and a warm ally of his co-religionists, Tiberias in Palestine was given into his hands for Jewish colonization. Although late in life shorn of his power, (the favor of princes is capricious) the favorable status of Turkish Israel remained unchanged.

Still more remarkable was it that Nasi should be succeeded in this prestige by yet another co-religionist, Solomon Ashkenazi. Born in Italy in 1520, he first won distinction as physician to the King of Poland. Settling later in Constantinople, he was the power behind both the Sultan and his vizier. It was he who virtually placed Henry of Anjou on the Polish throne. In 1574, unwilling Venice was forced to receive him with appropriate honors as Turkey's ambassador in signing a treaty of peace. In fact, it was through his intercession that Venice was induced to revoke its decision of banishment of its Jews.

How dramatic the contrasts had always been in the history of the Jew! From behind the throne of one land he dictates terms to another that spurned him. Here exalted to the peerage and given lands, and there not allowed to own a foot of soil and degraded with the yellow badge.

Turkey was then a safe haven for harassed Jews; it is a pity that they did not make of it something more. For though rich and at ease, our brethren at Constantinople in no way emulated the intellectual achievements of earlier Spain. The reason is partly to be sought in the less favorable national background. For the Turks showed neither the energy nor the love of culture that had distinguished the Moors of the Peninsula. The Turks were a very different race from the Arabs, though they accepted the Moslem religions from them. Turkey soon reached the anti-climax of slothful inactivity. It became an enervated nation ruled by favorites, with intrigue and assassination the all too familiar associations of the Court. So it did not offer the best atmosphere for the intellectual life.

Karo's Shulchan Aruch.

Let us now turn to the inner life of the Jew. While Jewish refugees bent on commerce, sought refuge in European Turkey, those desiring a religious atmosphere turned their steps to Asiatic Turkey. It was a mystic Judaism that they sought in which visions of the speedy advent of the Messiah played a large part. But that was just the environment congenial; to Joseph Karo whom we are now to consider. Born in Spain in 1488, after many wanderings he finally settled in Safed then a safer Palestinian refuge than Jerusalem. He will always be remembered as the final codifier of Jewish Law for which his extensive studies and scholarly patience made him chief authority. These vast researches first presented in a profound work were finally summarized and simplified into a popular book called Shulchan Aruch (The Spread Table). This name explains its purpose. It is based on the Code of Law of Asheri and follows the same four divisions. But it included all later law development up to Karo's day through Responsa (written decisions) of individual rabbis. Issued just at the time when the printing press was being used to disseminate Jewish literature, it was very widely distributed and moreover, printing gave to this digest a kind of finality. The press stopped the fluidity of the oral law and thus it impeded further progress in Jewish observance. Crystallization had been the tendency ever since the Talmud was committed to writing.

The Shulchan Aruch was valuable in that it brought uniformity into divergent Jewish practice. Though some of its injunctions suit only mediaeval conditions, it has continued to be the final authority for the orthodox Jew.

To find out a particular religious practice the individual does not go to the Talmud, which would be a wild search at best, but makes the Shulchan Aruch his guide. It was further amplified by Moses Isserles of Poland, with whose commentary it is usually printed. Its form is that of a code to master, not a religious work to inspire. For the moral principles scattered through it are lost in vast ceremonial minutiae. Through such a code unformity is obtained, though at the expense of religious spontaneity. Judaism must be based on law, but we do not need detailed laws for every turn in human experience. When opportunity to express individual needs is suppressed, religion may degenerate into cut-and-dried forms and formulas.

Most mediaeval scholars were either legists or mystics. Karo was both. In his versatile nature were combined the systematic routine of the classifier and the imaginative phantasy of the dreamer. The Mishna was to him first a cold book of law, and secondly an angelic personification that whispered counsel in his dreams.

Mysticism Again.

The sixteenth century Jew was becoming more and more steeped in the mysticism of Kabala, and the dreamy Orient offered a favorable environment. Its most renowned exponent in Safed of this time was Isaac Luria, the influence of whose life and teaching brought many disciples. A quaint but beautiful teaching of his was that the world's purification can be hastened by a union of souls, i.e., a weak living soul can be strengthened by union with the worthier soul of one departed! The Zohar was now regarded like the canon of Scripture; Kabalism became more and more fantastic. Spiritualism, metempsychosis, marvel and exorcism of devils now preponderate in the mystic literature of the day.

In the previous volume we have endeavored to present Mysticism and Kabala at their best. But these wild enthusiasts of the second half of the sixteenth century were dangerous guides for the people at large. From Palestine the mystic wave spread through Turkey to all the lands of European settlement, "darkening counsel without knowledge". It was the enemy of healthful thought and even began to affect the moral tone of Jewish life. So while Christendom was emerging from its intellectual Dark Ages, the Jews in a sense were entering theirs.

Sabbathai Zevi.

The mania reached its climax with the appearance of Sabbathai Zevi as Israel's Messiah. He was born in Smyrna. Asia Minor. This youth was as beautiful as Absalom. At first a sincere Kabalistic dreamer, the dazzle of a crown soon turned his head. His extravagant claims stirred a ripple all over Europe. For a time his crusade and large following were the subject of comment on its exchanges. Some Christians caught the fever and looked for the millenium. He kept the whole Jewish community of Turkey and its surroundings in a ferment from 1650 to 1676 and demoralized it, both in belief and conduct. His heretical influence extended to the introduction of a new synagogue ritual embodying his worship. Even when this weak and vacillating creature to save himself became a convert to Mohammedanism — aye even after his death — the delusion of his semi-divinity persisted. "Sabbatianism" became a cult injurious both to Judaism and the Jew.

A notorious adherent of Sabbatian Kabalists was Jonathan Eibeschutz (1690-1764) of Crakow, a strange mixture of good and evil. This rabbi and writer on Talmudic law, distributed talismans and amulets (Kemiath) inscribed with Zevi's name, and the tetragrammaton, (four lettered name of God), supposed to drive off spirits and to heal diseases. A new controversy now arose in Israel between Rabbanites and Kabalists in which the worthy and scholarly Rabbi Jacob Emden figured.

Jacob Frank, born in Podolia about 1726, went to yet further blasphemous extremes in starting an abortive movement named after himself. He was altogether an adventurer, playing with religion to serve his own selfish ends, assuming at times the role of Messiah. Yet even King Augustus III of Poland was deceived into endorsing him. Just as Zevi saw a way out of his difficulties by adopting Islam, so Frank saved himself by adopting Christianity.

Both movement appealed to the less intelligent Jews of Poland and the East; but that meant a very vast number. The Frankist faction was the lowest watermark reached by the Jews, as outgrowth of the Sabbatian heresy.

How foreign all this to the simplicity and rationalism of classic Judaism.


Shulchan Aruch:—The Law of Israel. The reader is referred to a work of this name as a popular presentation of the spirit of the Shulchan Aruch, by Bernard Abramowitz, 3 vols. Hebrew and English, New York, 1902.

Lippman Heller (1600) who flourished in Vienna, wrote a commentary on the Mishna called "Tosephoth Yom Tob" which is sufficiently important to be always printed with each copy of the Mishna.

Dembitz, Service in Synagogue and Home, pp. 42-43. See also Index. J.P.S.A.

Kabala:—Abrahams, Jewish Literature, 238-242.

Karo and Luria:—One should read Schechter's appreciation of these men in Studies in Judaism, second series, article "Safet" and Graetz' depreciation, in the abridged translation of his History, Vol iv., from p. 612 and Vol. v from p. 51, to obtain different points of view. J.P.S.A.

The semi-expiatory character of the Seventh Day of Tabernacles, known as Hoshana Rabba ('The Great Salvation") with its attendant mysticism, dates from Luria's time.

Sabbathai Zevi:—Zangwill, Dreamers of the Ghetto, "The Turkish Messiah". J.P.S.A.

Amulets:—See Abrahams, Jewish Life in the Middle Ages, pp. 182, 289, 290.

Students of the Law:—Azarya Dei Rossi flourished in Italy about 1550. Unlike so many who studied the Talmud to the exclusion of Philo, Josephus and Hellenistic literature generally, Dei Rossi in his "Light of the Eyes" brought them into direct relation. But unfortunately while Dei Rossi's works were shunned, Luria's were devoured.

A great polemic work in defense of Judaism was written by a Polish Karaite, Isaac Troki, 1533-94, called Chozek Amunali (Faith Strengthened), and translated in many tongues. An English translation of this excellent work was made by Mocatta in 1851, London.

Ghetto:—For the original meaning of this term and for the history of varied Jewish quarters, see Old European Jewries, Phillipson, J.P.S.A.

Theme for Discussion:—Elaborate the good and evil of imposing specific ceremonial obligations for every occasion of daily life.

Manasseh Ben Israel.

Netherlands severed from Spain.

Jews began to settle in the Netherlands before these lands came into the possession of Spain. So when the "New Doctrine" as Protestantism was called, took root in the "Low Countries" the Jews made common cause with the dissenters against the Catholic dominance of Spain. The Inquisition was introduced and the same revolting methods were resorted to here to suppress Protestantism, that had been used against the Maranos of Spain and Portugal. In France King Charles IX, in the interests of Catholicism did not hesitate to plan the St. Bartholomew Night massacre in 1572, to eradicate the Huguenots, as the Protestants were called there. It was the story of the Albigenses over again.

The inhuman Duke of Alva and his fitting master, Philip II of Spain did their best, which was their worst, to coerce the Dutch to their will, but they failed. Egmont and Horn were among the martyrs to the cause. Under the brave William of Orange, they threw off the Spanish yoke and established the Dutch Republic. The Union of Utrecht, 1579, acknowledged the United Provinces of the Netherlands. William of Orange became Stadt-holder. Americans should appreciate to the full this struggle for independence and this "father of his country". Did not their own Pilgrim Fathers set out from free Holland? Terrific experience had taught William to make toleration one of the pillars of the new State.

Jews Admitted into Holland.

So Jewish refugees from Portugal found here a refuge, and in this free land thousands of Neo-Christians returned to the Jewish fold. Amsterdam, styled the "Northern Venice" was for the time being their new Jerusalem. They made themselves further welcome by transferring to their new home their trade with the East Indies. In conjunction with their brethren settled in the West Indies, they extended trans-Atlantic enterprise.

Scholars came to Holland as well as merchants and transferred the Torah as well as doubloons. Some of the refugees were professional men who brought with them five centuries of Spanish culture. So love of scholarship was yet another reason that made their immigration desirable; for appreciation of learning was the spirit of the times, and Holland was one of the scholarly centres. Maranos of the third generation had not forgotten their Judaism, though like their brethren of ancient Alexandria, they had forgotten their Hebrew. But by importing rabbis and learned men, such as Saul Morteira, Isaac Aboab and David Pardo, they were enabled to found schools and later still a rabbinical college. From this college they sent forth rabbis to the new communities in South America.

Manasseh ben Israel.

From this academy came forth Manasseh ben Israel. Born in 1604 (one year after the death of Queen Elizabeth of England), his father escaped the clutches of the Inquisition and reached Amsterdam with him in 1605. Not a profound scholar, he became a very broad and versatile one. Though a linguist and an orator, and well versed in sacred and secular literature, he eked out but a scant living between preaching and printing. He wrote many books, but his greatest production was his "Vindiciae Judaeorum," a work defending Israel against its detractors, which takes rank with Josephus' "Contra Apion." Hebrew was becoming a favorite study of Christian savants and they turned to Manasseh as guide. But like Abarbanel, another man of varied rather than deep learning, he attained pre-eminence in the field of action rather than in that of thought. Abarbanel had striven to prevent Jews being expelled from Spain. But Manasseh ben Israel won international renown by undertaking to secure the re-admittance of the Jews into England — banished since 1290.

To make clear why this was a propitious time to plead for their return, a word must be said to explain some peculiar anomalies in the spirit of the age. It was an era, following the great upheaval of the Reformation and its Thirty Years War, of great Messianic expectation. This carried with it a reaction of sympathy and even appreciation of the much persecuted people of Israel. The study of the Scriptures now encouraged revealed them so much more clearly as the source of the ethics and main beliefs of the Church. The study of the Prophets from the Christian point of view showed that the fate of the Jews was bound up with Christendom's hopes for the second coming of their Messiah. Manasseh and his co-religionists, all more or less tinged at this time with Kabalistic mysticism, were also awaiting the speedy advent of the Messiah, in the sense in which the Synagogue interpreted that hope.

Such was the temper of Protestant Holland and also of Protestant England. The English Puritans were now in the ascendancy with Oliver Cromwell, the uncrowned king. Puritanism stood for simplicity and liberty in religion. It was from the Old Testament rather than from the New that the Puritans chose their standards of conduct; from Hebrew heroes their warriors took inspiration. The Puritan note at this moment was an approach towards Judaism. Many works were written in behalf of the Jews and of their share in the Messianic Kingdom soon to dawn.

At this psychologic moment Manasseh came to England to plead for the readmission of his people. The reason he urged, voiced the mystic expectations of both Judaism and Christianity at this hour. What was it? The Messiah's advent was not ripe till the dispersion of the Israelites was complete. They were now, said Manasseh, settled in every land — except England! So their admission there might decide the Messiah's imminent arrival. Strange though this argument seems to us, it mirrored many of the fantastic opinions of the pamphlet literature then flooding the land and was quite likely to appeal to Cromwell.

Manasseh's first argument then was spiritual, his second material. A progressive mark of the times was the growth of commerce. To control the West Indian colonial trade was part of Cromwell's imperialistic ambition. International trade was largely in Jewish hands. Settled in Brazil in America, and in Italy and Holland in Europe, Cromwell was made to see through Manasseh, that the Jews controlled the trade of the New World in gems, wines, oil, indigo and cochineal. For such men of enterprise to settle in England and to bring their means and commerce with them, could only redound to the advantage of the country. So Cromwell invited Manasseh ben Israel to come to England and press his claims in person. He came in 1655 and his brethren in all lands regarded him as their representative.

He presented his cause, which included an apologia, a defense of his people. This was later developed into the work above referred to in which he answers every slander against Israel. It is the best product of his pen.

Cromwell appointed a commission to consider whether it was lawful to readmit the Jews into England, and if so, on what conditions. Popular feeling ran high on both sides — some opposition coming from Royalists and Catholics. If previously much had been written in favor of the Jews, now pamphlets were circulated to their detriment. But when the Dutch expressed alarm that they might lose their Jewish settlers, they were unconsciously offering to England the very best argument in their favor.

What was the result of Manasseh's able defense? In spite of a pension from Cromwell, he returned disspirited, thinking he had failed. On his way home he died, perhaps of a broken heart.

Jews readmitted into England.

As a matter of fact, like Elijah of old he was more successful than he realized. While no official law was promulgated announcing the readmission of the Jews, Cromwell — fearing that to force the issue might defeat it — let it be quietly understood that they would not be debarred. Some Maranos in England now dropped their Catholic mask. In 1657 they were allowed to acquire a Jewish burial ground. So while it is hard to fix on any date as that of their readmission, English Jews have chosen February 4, 1657, as the date of resettlement.

Had Manasseh ben Israel lived but a few years longer, he would have seen Jews coming to England in King Charles II's reign and the establishment of a strong Sephardic community that ultimately outrivalled that of Amsterdam.


Christian Appreciation of the Jew:—The change of front towards the Jew seen in the English Puritan was also visible on the continent. The "outcast of God" became "God's chosen". The marvel of Israel's survival was compared to the burning bush. The enthusiasm of some even carried them into the Jewish fold. A stimulus for Hebrew learning followed.

Father Richard Simon, a Frenchman and as appreciative of Jewish literature as Reuchlin, wrote "The Critical History of the Old Testament."

William Surenhusius, a Dutchman, translated the Mishna and its commentaries.

Basnage wrote "The History of the Religion of the Jews."

Charles XI of Sweden, despatched scholars to investigate the Karaites. Appreciation came from Denmark and Augsberg.

Eisenmenger's two volumes of slander were suppressed for forty years—though later it became the encyclopedia and arsenal of Judeophobe.

For appreciation of Jews in fiction, the reader is referred to "Adventures of Ferdinand", Tobias Smollett, and "The Jew" a drama by Richard Cumberland, both of the 18th century. In this connection, belonging to the 19th century, the following may be mentioned: "Israel Among the Nations" Anatole Leroy-Beaulieu, trans, by Frances Hellman (Putnam's 1895), Macaulay's "Essay on the Disabilities of the Jews"; George Eliot's Essay "Hep! Hep!" in her "Theophrastus Such", as well as her novel "Daniel Deronda"; also Pere Hyacinth's "Tribute Paid to Israel" in 1891. (Sept. 27th) 'on the centennial anniversary of the emancipation of the Jews by the Constitutional Assembly. "It was a day that witnessed the reparation of a long and cruel injustice. . . . We are Christians and as such we must not forget that it was from Israel's bosom that we have sprung."

Another Catholic, Le Monde, paid a tribute to them.

Buxtorf:—The Buxtorfs, father and son, contributed much toward the further knowledge of biblical and rabbinic Hebrew. Just a century elapsed between the birth of the father and the death of the son, 1564-1664. Both gathered large Hebrew libraries and held in succession the Hebrew professorship in the University of Basel. From their pens we have Hebrew and Chaldaic grammars and lexicons. The elder — the pioneer of rabbinic studies among Christians, edited a Hebrew Bible with rabbinic commentaries. In their case love of Hebrew did not imply approval of Hebrews, and the elder entered into the mania of the age — the conversion of Jews to Christianity.

Delitzsch:—The 19th century furnishes a similar instance of Christian father and son interested in Hebrew learning, Franz and Friedrich Delitzsch. The contributions of Franz Delitzsch (1813-1890) toward biblical and general Hebrew literature are very great. He also became an ally of the Jews, defending them against slanders and exposing the calumny of the "Ritual Murders". This friendliness has not been shown by his son Friedrich, the Assyriologist, still living, who would rob the Jew of priority and leadership in giving to the world religious and ethical ideas.

Manasseh ben Israel:—Manasseh ben Israel's Mission to Oliver Cromwell, by Lucien Wolf; Macmillan, 1901.

Mr. Wolf made the discovery that a community of crypto-Jews had been living in England since Charles I's days as Spaniards and that the disguise was naturally thrown off when England made war with Spain in 1656. It was then learnt that there was no law against their stay in England, for their banishment in 1290 was a royal edict, not an act of Parliament. Thus the right was won for the Jews already there to remain in England. This prepared the way for Manasseh's plea that additional Jews be admitted.

The commercial importance of the Jews at this time is thus summarised by Mr. Wolf: "They controlled the Spanish and Portugese trade. They had the Levant trade largely in their hands. They had helped to found the Hamburg bank and were deeply interested in the Dutch East and West Indian Companies. Their command of bullion too was enormous and their interest in shipping was considerable".

Manasseh ben Israel's Mission to Oliver Cromwell, Lionel B. Abrahams, /. Q. R., October, 1901.

The Conciliator of apparent Contradictions in Holy Scripture, by Manasseh ben Israel. Translated by Lindo; Glasgow, Oppenheim & Co.

Isaac da Fonseca Aboab. Kayserling, "First Jewish Author". American Jewish Historical Society publications, Vol. v, p. 125.

These A. I. H. S. publications are recommended to those who wish to follow further the persecutions of the Jews in South America, particularly vols, iv and vii.

"England and the Lost Ten Tribes," Hyamson, J. Q. R., vol. xv. See "Soul is Likened to the Moon," translated by B. Halper in Post-Biblical Hebrezv Literature, J.P.S.A.

Theme for Discussion:—Contrast the Jews with the Puritan. For this purpose read "Puritan and Hebrew." J. Q. R., Vol. iii.

Spinoza and His Contemporaries

In the comparative quiet that followed the tragic persecutions of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the Jews took heart again to cultivate the intellectual life. We have seen that in the East this took the form of mysticism — carried here and there to dangerous excess. We shall now see the West, particularly Italy and Holland, developing a rationalistic school that here and there shades off into scepticism.

Uriel Acosta.

The stories of Acosta and Spinoza are characteristic illustrations of the latter. Uriel Acosta was born in Portugal in 1590, a century after the Jews were expelled from Spain. Although brought up as a Christian — for he was not even a Marano except by descent — his inherited Judaism reasserted itself. With the burning zeal of a convert he sacrificed means and position for religion. He won over all his family to the new faith — or shall we say the old — and they fled to Amsterdam, where they could worship the God of Israel without disguise. Thus far the story might be duplicated by thousands.

But Acosta was a thinker who formed an ideal conception of Judaism that he failed to find in actuality among his co-religionists in Amsterdam. He wanted a biblical, he found a Talmudic Judaism. It was the old cry of the Sadducee and the Karaite, "back to the Scripture."

He issued a volume boldly expounding his reform views and endeavored to conform his life to them. The time was not yet ripe for the individual to regulate his life in accordance with his personal religious views. But in all times refusal to conform to prevailing custom invites difficulties. Acosta was excommunicated by the Synagogue. Yearning for the companionship of his brethren, he made some concessions to the current rites and became reconciled to the community. But in the meantime his mind had advanced a step further. The Bible did not altogether meet his needs. He discerned the distinction between Natural Religion, that comes from unaided reason instinctive in the human heart, and Revealed Religion, that is a supernatural revelation of the divine will to chosen prophets and seers. The latter he denied, yet it was the accepted view of all creeds, Christian as well as Jewish, at that time.

This attitude led to his being renounced by his family and friends. So there he stood alone, spurned and deserted. But his was not a nature that could live a life of isolation. To escape this intolerable situation, he submitted to a public, humiliating penance; here the Synagogue may have been unconsciously influenced by methods of the Inquisition. But a reaction immediately followed; he felt he had been false to himself. So broken and embittered, he committed suicide. Whom shall we blame, the man or the age?

Baruch Spinoza.

Baruch Spinoza was a man more vigorous in mind and more sterling in character. He was born in Amsterdam in 1632, and received a thorough Jewish training from philosophy to Kabala and a thorough secular training in Latin and the sciences. Aboab and Manasseh ben Israel were among his teachers.

He early developed unorthodox opinions and estrangement from his family began. Summoned before the Beth Din, he openly avowed his rationalistic and free thinking views. The Jewish community, fearing that such daring skepticism might imperil the restricted rights, granted only on sufferance by the Dutch State, offered him a pension of one thousand florins annually, if at least he would not give public expression to his heterodox views. This he declined. So in self-protection the Amsterdam Synagogue excommunicated Spinoza at the early age of twenty-three.

But unlike Uriel Acosta, his peace of mind depended not on the companionship of his fellows and he was indifferent to their opinion. The Cher em (excommunication) did not affect his unruffled calm. A man of abstemious habits and few needs, he made a modest living as a grinder of lenses; but he wholly lived the intellectual life. He became a great thinker, whose writings concern not only the Jew, but the world.

He published most of his works anonymously, for he rather shunned than sought fame. One of his great productions was Tractatus Theologico-Politicus — a demand for freedom of thought and speech. It is one of the first pleas to separate Religion and State, — now a commonplace in American life and thought.

In his advocacy of freedom of conscience he writes: "What can be more fatal a step than to treat as enemies men who have committed no other crime than that of believing independently." He shows that such procedure makes either hypocrites or martyrs. It took the world long to learn this lesson. When this daring work first appeared, it roused a storm of condemnation.

Many disciples gathered about him, and he was consulted by scholars even at a distance. Yet he refused a Heidelberg professorship, lest that might shackle him.

He was one of the earliest to demonstrate the eternity and irrefragability of Nature's laws. He was likewise one of the first to examine the Bible in a critical spirit, placing it on the same plane with other literary products. Here he follows the footsteps of Ibn Ezra, (though more frankly), and Messer Leon. While his repudiation of the synagogue may have influenced his unfavorable estimate of Judaism, he notwithstanding, depicted the Jewish theocracy as an ideal state and the Hebrew prophets as ideal moralists.

His Philosophy.

His greatest work, "The Ethics", published after his death, has left a lasting influence on the world of philosophy. To understand it, one should have some acquaintance with the series of steps in philosophy up to his time. Let us endeavor to state it as simply as possible. The last word so far had been uttered by Descartes, who taught dualism; that is he recognized two distinct forces in the world — Mind and Matter. Now came Spinoza, who only recognized one Substance including both. He does not separate God from Nature. Such is styled a pantheist, (all is God.)

We must distinguish between the popular and the philosophic meaning of Substance. Philosophically it means a fundamental something which underlies all that is. Spinoza defines it as that which needs nothing else for its existence. It alone is actual — not only the cause of all being, it is itself all being. This one Substance is God.

Instead then of separating Mind and Matter as distinct realms, he makes them different attributes of the one God or Substance. Mind (in terms of Time) is expressed in Thought — (the ideal.) Matter is demonstrated in terms of Space — (extension.) We see both inseparably united in man, body, being material and soul ideal.

Individual things (called Modes) are related to the One Substance, as the waves of the sea to the sea itself. As these rippling waves constantly disappear, they have no real being. So it is with individual things — they are passing manifestations of God.

Man has no free will, for he is part of an endless series of conditioning causes. Yet knowledge makes him free to the extent that it enables him to adapt himself to external influences in a way adequate to his nature. This recalls a rabbinic saying "Submit thy will to God's, then His will will be thine."

The highest knowledge is to know God. The highest virtue is to love Him. To love God is to live in God. To love the perishable, to indulge the passions and emotions can only bring pain; therefore love the Infinite and the soul will enter into changeless joy.

At first the man was vilified and his work spurned as atheistic and dangerous. But after a century and a half of neglect, Spinoza was recognized as "the God-intoxicated Jew" and the father of modern thought. At different eras he influenced the thought of Leibnitz, Lessing, Goethe, Hegel and through them philosophy in general. In modern times from Berthold Auerbach down, Jews have been among his most appreciative expounders.

Yet this man who revolutionized philosophic thought and anticipated political liberty, lived but forty-five years, dying of consumption in 1677. He lived the simple life without consciously being an ascetic. His nature was singularly free from the evils that disturb the common mortal, jealousy, passion, luxuriousness, ambition. Wealth and high office were offered to him. He declined both; called an unbeliever, he really was a saint. He had the courage of his convictions and as he taught, so he lived.

Some Italian Rationalists.

Two earlier Italian contemporaries of Spinoza were Joseph dei Medigo and Leo Modena. The former was a grandson of Elias dei Medigo and a wanderer like Ibn Ezra. He was a great scientist and a pupil of Galileo. Modena, a Venetian rabbi, had been a prodigy as a child and was a wonderfully versatile scholar. But while Spinoza was sure of his convictions and had the courage of them, both dei Medigo and Modena were unstable in character and neither realized fully the responsibility of scholarship. Yet both like Acosta, demanded a simplified Judaism. But the Synagogue was yet to wait more than half a century for religious reform.

Jewish Dramatists.

While writing of the Jews of Holland, a word should be said here of a comparatively new role of the Jewish writer, that of playwright. The rabbis in the past had opposed attendance at theatres and arenas on strictly religious grounds — for although the drama had at times been made the medium of exalted genius, there were again periods in antiquity when the associations of the theatre were often demoralizing. In the middle ages, however, in spite of rabbinic protests, many Jews did attend the theatre. Around the time when Spinoza flourished, Dutch Jews began to dramatize Bible stories, particularly Purim comedies. Some of these plays were written by exiles from the Peninsula in Spanish and Portugese. The Marano Antonio di Gomez was styled the "Jewish Calderon" (a Spanish poet and dramatist.)

In the 18th century Joseph da Silva of Portugal, though persecuted as Jew was hailed as dramatist. The historian Karpeles intimates that he was burned at the stake, a Jewish martyr, in Lisbon in 1739, on the very evening on which one of his comedies was played. Such tragic ironies so often have entered the checkered history of Israel.

While Jews produced dramas in all eras in the tongues of nations in which they lived, it was not till the 17th century that plays were written in Hebrew. Moses Zacuto of Amsterdam produced the "Foundation of the World" in 1642. It is the story of Abraham. Joseph Penza of the same city produced the "Prisoners of Hope" in 1673.

So while England was revelling in its Shakespearian era, Holland was developing a Dutch drama. Most of the Hebrew plays of the 17th and 18th centuries were similar to the "Morality Plays" of that day. Classic dramas were also translated into Hebrew.

Moses Chaim Luzzatto.

This mystic of Italy, who touched again the strings: of Halevi's lyre wrote Hebrew dramatic poems. "Samson and the Philistine" the "Tower of Victory" and "Praise to the Righteous". They are allegories. He has been called the father of modern Hebrew. Here is a quotation from his masterpiece "Praise to the Righteous," (The Struggle between Truth and Falsehood):

"Truly our eyes are deluded, for eyes of flesh they are. Therefore they change truth into falsehood, darkness they make light, and light darkness. An accident suffices to distort our view of tangible things; how much more do we stray from the truth with things beyond the reach of our senses. See the oars in the water. They seem crooked and twisted. Yet we know them to be straight."

Luzzatto was also an ardent Kabalist and a member of a Zohar Society in his native town of Padua. The reading of the Zohar was imposed on its members with all the sanctity of a Scripture; no profit must be obtained from it other than spiritual advantage of Israel; a stranger was honored and "acquired merit" by being permitted to read a portion.


Uriel Acosta:—A tragedy of this name was written by Gutzkow. It has been translated into Hebrew by Solomon Rubin and into English by M. Meyer, of New York. See also chapter by this name in Zangwill's Dreamers of the Ghetto.

Baruch Spinoza:—Spinoza's intense monotheism is traceable to his Jewish instincts. Before he turned to Descartes, he had been a devoted student of Maimonides, Gersonides and Chasdai Crescas. (See "Crescas and Spinoza" by Prof. D. Newmark, Year Book Central Conference of American Rabbis, vol. xviii).

But Spinoza's One Substance "in whose negative abyss everything individual is buried" is far from satisfying the yearnings of the soul after the living God.

W. H. White, "Works of Spinoza", English translation, Macmillan.

H. M. Elwes, "Works of Spinoza", English translation, Bohn's Philosophic Library, 2 vols., London, George Bell..

Freudenthal, Sein Leben u. seine Lehre, Stuttgart, Fromman, 1904.

Freudenthal, "History of Spinozism," /. Q. R. vol.viii.

J. A. Froude, Article "Spinoza", Short Studies on Great Subjects, Scribner.

H. H. Joachim, Study of the Ethics, Oxford Clarendon Press.

J. Royce, "Spinoza", Library of the World's Best Literature.

"A Maker of Lenses". Zangwill's Dreamers of the Ghetto. J.P.S.A.

Ernest Renan, "Leaders of Christian and Anti-Christian Thought".

Jewish Dramatists:—The Jew has been a frequent type in the drama, from Barrabas and Shylock to Fagin and Svengali. Most of these delineations may be classed with the persecution of the Jew in literature.

Very many plays have been produced in Yiddish in the 19th century.

Karpeles, "The Jewish Stage" in Jewish Literature and Other Essays, J.P.S.A.

Abrahams, Jewish Life in thi Middle Aqes, Chap xiv. J.P.S.A.

Moses Chaim Luzzato, Dr. Abram S. Isaacs, Modern Hebrezv Poet, (N. Y. 1878). See essay I. Landman, Year Book C.C.A.R, Vol. xvii. See "Dialogue between Understanding and Uprightness" (Luzzatto), trans. Halper, Post-Biblical Hebrew Literature, J.P.S.A.

Slouschz in The Renaissance of Hebrew Literature (ch. i, J.P.S.A., 1909) from which the translation on p. 52 is taken.

Themes for Discussion:— (a) Should the Synagogue still claim Spinoza as a Jew? (b) Discuss the versatility in Jewish character and genius as demonstrated in the two contemporaries, Sabbathai Zevi, the Messianic adventurer and Spinoza, the philosopher.

The Passing of Poland and the Rise of Russia

Vaad of the Four Provinces.

We have seen that Poland became a haven for the Jews from the time of the first Crusade, 1098, and that they supplied to that country the need of a middle and commercial class. While clerical persecution began to disturb their security at the end of the fifteenth century, their condition in Poland was never as hapless as it had been in German States. Then came Protestantism, bringing with it a wave of liberalism, which somewhat brightened the Polish outlook again. Although through the activity of the Jesuits, Catholicism regained its sway, yet the occasional oppressions that followed were not sufficiently severe to prevent Poland's continuing to be a growing centre of Jewish settlement.

From the seventeenth century it contained more Jews than any other land, Turkey not excepted. As the latter was the centre of the Sephardim (Spanish and Portuguese), so the former became the centre of the Ashkenazim (German). In spite of occasional bursts of animosity and slanderous charges of ritual murders, Polish Jews were largely left to themselves and to their own local administration. So their status there was somewhat akin to that of old Babylonia. Old privileges that had been taken away were nearly all restored again. So they were freer here than in any land outside of the Porte both as to choice of occupation and place of residence. Of their own accord they lived apart with little concern in the interests of their surroundings. This by the way was not an unmixed good and Jews in Poland are suffering from it today.

What was the character of this separate life led by Polish Israel? It was an intensely Jewish life. From Poland now "went forth the Law." The rabbis were not only their spiritual but also their secular guides; for the Talmud as law and as literature, of which they were the chief European authorities, was made the concern of daily life. It also formed the content of the curriculum of their schools (Yeshibath), making their training intensive, though one-sided. The frequent unfriendliness of their surroundings explains in part their indifference to secular studies without making this neglect less regrettable. To foster Talmudic study, poor students were given free maintenance. The Yeshiba methods imparted a manner, style and gesture that became characteristic of Polish Jews. Talmudic' study became a kind of religious ritual, a virtue in itself. In a sense it usurped the place of the Bible, though its training was a mental discipline rather than a religious impetus. Further, Talmudic scholarship gave social standing and took the place of wealth.

The Jews of the four provinces — Little Poland, Greater Poland, Russia and Lithuania (the last united to Poland in 1659), were organized into separate Jewish communities, each known as a Kahal. Representatives of these met two or three times a year in a sort of congress styled the Vaad. These conferences were more regular than the occasional Synods of earlier days and the questions they considered covered a wider sway.

Their work was judicial, administrative and legislative. They became permanent courts of appeal for all practical needs. Thus the rabbis, granted local jurisdiction by the Government, could divorce as well as marry and were enabled through the Vaad to settle differences without resorting to the outside authorities. This constant exercise of legal discrimination made them keen lawyers but marred somewhat their religious function and value. The historian Graetz asserts that it also vitiated their ethical sense. This may be too sweepingly severe. Certainly it may be said that economically the prudent, sober and industrious Jews of Poland supplied a needed human complement to the somewhat unsteady Polish nationality.

The Cossacks.

All went well until they came in fatal contact with a new racial group. To some refugee outlaws known as Cossacks, colonies were granted in the Ukraine and Little Russia, that they might ward off attacks of Tartars and Turks. They were followers of the Greek Church, i.e., that form of Christianity that had prevailed in the Roman Empire of the East overthrown by the Turks in 1453. The Jesuits, who justified any kind of means for furthering Catholicism, made life hard for them. This was intensified by the burdensome taxes imposed by the Polish nobility.

Unfortunately the Jews were made farmers of these taxes and even of the Church revenues. The tax-collector had always been unpopular since hoary antiquity. The Jews were now regarded as the oppressors of the tax-payers of Poland, just as they had been considered many centuries earlier by the English and French. This very tax-farming had been forbidden by a decree of the far-seeing Yaad in 1557, but it seems to have been disregarded. To make matters worse, the Jewish collectors rather arbitrarily lorded it over the hard pressed Cossacks; for tax-farming carried certain powers with it. Alas, a day of reckoning came! Other people might wrong Jews with impunity, but if Jews dare wrong others, terrific must be the retribution. Terrific was it here. For the Cossacks rose, under the ruthless leader Chmielnicki, in rebellion against the Poles. This was around 1648, just as the Thirty Years War was closing. Next the Russians, claiming the Cossacks as subjects, proclaimed war against Poland. Chmielnicki now made common cause with them. The old score against the Jews was at last to be repaid with interest. The Poles were defeated and a terrific massacre of the Jews began. They remained staunch to the Polish cause and bravely loyal to Judaism, when the desertion of either would have brought them reprieve.

In the peace that followed the Jews were banished from the Cossack settlements, their places later taken by the Russians. At the hands of their former tributaries, the Cossacks, Poland suffered severely enough; but when Sweden turned its powerful arms against this much harassed land, it suffered more severely still. This was from 1655 to 1658. Yet it went hardest of all with Polish Jewry.

The Chassidim.

Poland, still the Jewish centre of gravity, evolved another religious sect — the Chassidim. This name, meaning pious, had once been taken by a group in ancient days, who interpreted the law w T ith extreme severity and rigidly lived up to their high standards. But these latter-day saints did not express their piety by extreme obedience to the Law. In fact, just as Kabalism was an escape from the dry formulas of rabbinic law through the fantasies of mysticism, so this neo-Chassidism was yet another attempt to escape stereotyped ceremonialism and rabbinic casuistry through emotion.

In times of political unrest people often seek salvation through religious enthusiasm, occasionally carried to the extreme of frenzy. It will be recalled that in Judea's darkest day under Roman oppression there had appeared a rapid succession of would-be saviours styled Messiahs. The demoralization of Polish Jewry that followed the Cossack persecution and the Swedish invasion offered a favorable environment for some new religious movement. Chassidism ultimately supplied the need.

Its founder was Israel Baal Shem, who flourished about 1740. The second name is rather a title, "Master of the Name" (of God). From Kabalistic times those versed in magical use of the name of God composed of the four Hebrew letters YHVH, were supposed to be able to perform miracles. So the title conveys in part the nature of his activity. He was regarded as a healer — exorcising disease, not by medicine but by prayer. But the masses that followed him were won rather by his simple sincere and lovable personality. With unquestioning faith they accepted his teachings.

What were they? It has already been intimated at the opening of this chapter that the movement he founded was a protest against rabbinism; among other things a protest against its pinning all faith to learning and legal lore. As against the rabbinic dictum, En Am-haarete chasid ("An ignorant man cannot be pious") one of Baal Shem's disciples taught "Where there is much study there is little piety". Here was revolt indeed against the hierarchy of the Polish Yeshibath.

Now to come to his more positive teaching. He laid great emphasis on the omnipresence of God. This he carried to a pantheistic extreme, almost identifying God with Nature. He, rather than Spinoza, should have been called "the God intoxicated".

Like the Kabalists he believed profoundly in prayer and in its power to influence the divine will. But such prayer must not be the body's craving for boons, but the soul's yearning for exaltation in communion with its Maker. This implied a state of ecstacy usually attained through wild gesticulation. The Chassid then sought fulfilment of religion not in learning but in faith; not in asceticism but in cheer. Humility should mark his relation to others, optimism his outlook on life, song its expression. The unlettered and the women-folk, the two less esteemed classes, were among his most enthusiastic followers. Naturally his movement did not take such a strong hold in the north Polish centres of learning, as among the southern village folk of Podolia and the Ukraine. Like the Essenes, the Chassidim affected frequent ablutions and white clothing, especially on the Sabbath.

So far, here was a genuine religious revival, a turning from the rut of legal formulas to spiritual sources. But the best of the movement ended with the death of its founder. Israel Baal Shem's mantle did not fall on any disciple's shoulders.

The theory developed that only to a few was given the power of complete communion with God, which carried with it miraculous gifts. Such a one was called a Zaddik (righteous). Soon we see a series of men, claiming to be Zaddikim and gaining the worship of the credulous masses, who came to them with rich gifts to work wonders on their behalf. "Wonder-working rabbis" they were called. Here was temptation for the unscrupulous adventurer to pose as a Zaddik and gain at once wealth and allegiance. Starting then as a needed protest against the casuistic legalism of the Academies that dried up religious emotion — Chassidism soon degenerated into a worship of wonder-working Zaddikim by the unintelligent masses, who looked upon them as mediators between God and man and who sought the cheerful serenity taught by Baal Shem, through artificial stimulants.

The movement at first rapidly spread through Eastern Europe. The breaking up of Jewish centralization in Poland through the disbanding of the Vaad, aided its propaganda. Rut it met with opposition both from the rabbinites on the one side and of rationalists on the other. Though it declined in numbers as well as in spiritual force, it still has tenacious life, even to this day.

Partition of Poland.

Poland had been declining ever since the Jagellon dynasty ended in 1572, when the crown became elective. Since its dual defeat a century later it was more and more at the mercy of its avaricious neighbors. At last Prussia, Austria and Russia decided to seize the weak State and divide it among themselves. The partition occurred in three stages — the first in 1772, the second in 1793, the third in 1795. In this way Prussia acquired Posen, Austria obtained Galicia, while to Russia there fell the prime spoils of "White Russia" Lithuania and Courland. Poland as a nation was wiped off the map. Most of the Polish Jews found themselves under Muscovite Russian rule. What was this to mean? A mere change of masters, as when Greece conquered Persia twenty-one centuries earlier? It took long before the significance of the change dawned upon the Jews and upon the world.


A word should here be said about this country and its people.

Russia was comparatively a late comer into the family of nations. Jewish settlements even preceded theirs. Some Jews settled to the south east of what was later Russia, as early as the Babylonian Exile (600 B.C.) it is said. Small groups drifted in from that time on. Later still many more came from the eastern half of the Roman Empire and became sufficiently numerous and influential to convert a people known as the Chazars located there.

The Russians who now arrived in vast numbers and took possession of this East European area, were a Slavic people from Asia made up in part of Mongolians and Tartars. They established centers in Kieff and Moscow. A generation before Columbus discovered America, Ivan III, the first to be called Czar, consolidated the kingdom.

Here as in early Poland Jewish settlers helped develop its resources; nor was their lot in those early days altogether an unhappy one, but their attempts to make proselytes to Judaism was put down with an iron hand. Ivan IV, deservedly styled "The Terrible" drowned those whom he did not succeed in baptizing.

Then came the Romanoffs in 1613 (seven years before the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth.) As the Slavs extended their conquests over what came to be called White Russia and the Ukraine, many Israelites were brought under their sway. Their's was a checkered career with occasional gleams of light.

A new era began for Russia when Peter deservedly styled "The Great" mounted the throne in 1682. This Czar reformer, it is said, broke through a window into Europe. That is, he endeavored to bring something of Western enlightenment into his barbaric country though the civilization he brought was but skin deep. Although he shared some of the prevalent prejudice and misconceptions about the Jews, he was not ill disposed toward them. In time of war he prevented their massacre. Indeed, it may be put down almost as a dictum that a Russian monarch enlightened in dealing with his subjects in general, has usually been liberal toward the Jew. The reverse principle, alas, alike holds true; and, when Peter was succeeded by three narrow minded Queens, Catherine, Anna and Elizabeth, the Jews naturally suffered in consequence of their bigotry, for they were women of the Spanish Isabella type who persecuted Israel on strictly religious grounds.

Their lot was certainly better under the broader minded Catherine II (1762-1796). They were given more freedom in the observance of their religion, in their places of settlement, and in their occupations. When it came to seeking further civic rights, their inability to speak the language of the country put them at a disadvantage. The bulk only understood Juedisch-Deutsch.

Under Catherine began Poland's partition. This made Russia ultimately the home of the larger half of the Jews of the world. A Jewish problem was henceforth presented in that country. In 1791 Catherine II sought to solve it by instituting the 'Tale of Settlement' — i.e., that portion of Russia wherein Jews might reside. Its area has varied under different Czars. Roughly, it covered about one-twenty-third of the Russian Empire. (See map of Pale.) Again, Jews were allowed residence in some places not included in the Pale. But restrictions increased. The tendency grew to forbid to the Jews anything not granted by special law.

The Nineteenth Century.

They experienced a change for the better in the beneficent reign of the fair-minded Paul I, who extended citizenship to the Jews of Courland and stopped the previous practice of expelling them from the towns; scholars, artisans and farmers were exempt from all disabilities. This liberal policy was continued under Alexander I (1801-1825). He raised Russia to the first rank among European States. Hisj policy has been styled that of Enlightened Absolutism. But a reaction set in under his successor, Nicholas I (1825-1855); this meant forced baptisms into the Church and forced conscriptions into the army. Even the plan to give the Jews a broader education and to turn many to agriculture was vitiated by the avowed purpose of undermining their religion thereby. Heavy taxation, expulsion from villages, especially of those dwelling along the border, and local tyrannies all tended to the impoverishment of the Russian Jews. This oppression by the government had the further damaging effect in that it fostered the attitude of contempt for the Jews in the minds of the people at large and widened the gulf between Jew and Gentile.

But a new order of things began under the enlightened and beneficent sway of Alexander II, who will always be gratefully remembered by mankind as the liberator of the twenty-two million serfs in 1861. He organized his government on liberal lines and introduced many humane reforms. This was reflected favorably in all industries, in the advance of science, and in a freer press. He was the monarch who abolished corporal punishment, introduced trial by jury and the local Zemstvos, that is, district assemblies. Liberal to Russia in general, it naturally followed that he was benignant towards his Jewish subjects. He opened the elementary and high schools to them, and permitted their scholars, artisans and wholesale merchants to settle outside the Pale, under some limitations; though his officials often evaded his kindly intent. The Jews on their part encouraged more liberal education, and produced quite a literature in pure Hebrew and in Russian.

Among other notable scholars we may mention Daniel Chwolson, an Orientalist, who though he left the Jewish faith, remained a staunch ally of the Jewish people. Much of his scholarly research was given to expose the slander of the Blood Accusation; in defending the Talmud against its detractors; in demonstrating the groundlessness of the charge that the Jews crucified Jesus. He further brought his researches to bear to show the superiority of the Jewish race.

Abraham Harkavy, famous historian and philologist, did much to promote culture among his brethren.

Furthermore, the Russian Jews began to identify themselves more closely with Russia's welfare. On the other hand, following the royal example, Russian society likewise evinced a more liberal attitude toward Israel, thus encouraging the spread of general culture among them. This kindly sway of the man whom Disraeli called the most benevolent prince that ever ruled in Russia, was quietly solving the Jewish problem. To come into more congenial relation with their surroundings, Jews were dropping those exclusive customs that kept them aloof from their fellow countrymen, and were entering socially and intellectually into the great world.


Alas, in 1881 the bomb of an anarchist brought the career of this enlightened Czar to an untimely close. For alarmed at the spread of liberalism, he, yielding to his illiberal advisers, had begun to show a restrictive tendency toward the end of his reign. His son, Alexander III, a thorough-going reactionary, turned back the hands on the dial of time. All the privileges granted by his predecessor were removed, and the tragic history of modern Russian Jewry now began. His policy was endorsed and re-enforced by Pobiedenotseff the Procurator General of the Greek Church, a second Torquemada, with his Panslavic program ( complete dominance of the Slavic Church and the Slavic race). He brutally voiced Russia's proposed solution of the Jewish problem as follows: One-third would be forced to emigrate, one-third would be forced into the Church and the rest reduced to starvation. King and priest together made life intolerable for the Russian Jews. The reign began with a series of pogroms (riots) against the Jews, secretly fomented by the government and aided by the military and police. The purpose was to divert the popular antagonism away from the Czar — once more in history the Jew was made the scapegoat. In nearly two hundred places homes were destroyed, families ruined and many slain. This treatment roused the indignation of the entire civilized world.

The Barbaric May Laws.

In May, 1882, a series of harsh laws against the Jews were put into operation. Except a minute percent, they were excluded from high schools and universities. They were gradually excluded from all civil posts and all public offices, and were not allowed to hold landed property. Most cruel of all — on summary notice, they were expelled from the villages and forced into towns, — thus creating a Pale within the Pale, This meant the ruin of millions. This inhuman law, local officials still more inhumanly administered. A converted Jew or Jewess could by entering the Church, be freed from marriage and enter into an alliance with an Orthodox Christian. Children of the age of 14 could join the Church without parental permission. Converts to Christianity received monetary compensation, thus placing a premium on apostasy. Jews conducting divine worship in their homes without permission, were to be punished by law. In addition to the ordinary taxes, Jews were further to be taxed on all meats slaughtered according to Jewish ritual, on their Sabbath lights, or house rents, on profits of their factories and on their clothing. All Jews of the age of 20 should serve five years in the active army and thirteen in the reserve, but no Jew could become an officer or even an officer's servant. Alexander died unrepentant in 1894.

Nicholas II, his successor, superstitious and vacillating, was at the mercy of adventurers. Under his rule, the same repressive policy was continued down to this twentieth century and further expulsions were carried out. Violent pogroms broke out against the Jews that began in Kishineff in 1903, in Homel in the following year, and continued intermittently in other places until they reached Bialystok. Thus the Russian Jews, reduced to poverty by legislation, were thankful when they were not massacred. Public opinion forced the calling of a Parliament — the Douma — but it meant little for the people and less for the Jews.

When the Russian people, suffering under tyrannical restrictions, asked for a constitution, which was finally given, they were deliberately told that the Jews were really at the bottom of all their troubles. This resulted in inciting the ignorant masses to further pogroms in the first week of November, 1905. The casualties were over 2,100 and the money loss exceeded $25,000,000. Some 37,000 families were tragically affected.

A sturdy few changed privation into opportunity by turning from trades to handicrafts and agriculture. Some were aided by the benevolence of their co-religionists throughout the world in various ways. Others have solved their lot by leaving this country of Egyptian darkness and emigrating to more enlightened lands, to Western Europe, to Great Britain and her colonies, to South America, and chiefly to the United States. But this nineteenth century survey brings us rather ahead of our story.


Poland:—"History of the Jews in Poland and Russia,'' 3 vols., S. M. Dubnow, trans, by I. Friedlander, J.P.S.A.

Jewish Dialects:—Juedisch-Deutsch: This was a mixture of old High German dialects with some Hebrew words.

Ladino:— This common speech of Turkish Jews was a mixture of Spanish w T ith Hebrew. By the same process, some Russian and some English words have crept into the Yiddish of today. This is more fully treated in a later chapter.

Chassidim:—Schechter, Studies in Judaism, J.P.S.A., 1st Series.

Persecution of Russian Jews:—Pamphlet, J.P.S.A., Persecution of the Jews from Kishineff to Bialystok, Jewish Year Book, Vol. 5667, J.P.S.A.

Themes for Discussion:— (a) Show the influence of environment on religion in the kinds of Judaism developed in Turkey, in Poland and in the latter day Orient. (b) Why have Jews so often developed variants of the languages in their lands of settlement?

Moses Mendelssohn

The last paragraphs in the preceding chapter brought us ahead of our story and near to the present time. Let us turn again to the 18th century and to the Jews of Germany. Germany was still but a geographical expression including many independent States. Our story takes us to the most powerful of them all, Prussia.

Early Struggles.

It is not unusual to begin the life of Moses Mendelssohn with the year 1743, when as a hunch-backed, stuttering boy of fourteen, a bundle of clothes on his back, he knocked at the Rosenthaler gate of Berlin. This Talmud Bachur came not "to seek his fortune", but to sit at the feet of his old teacher, Rabbi Frankel. His hunger for learning was greater than his hunger for bread — and both at first were indifferently satisfied. His whole intellectual equipment when admitted to Berlin, was an ability to read the rabbinic commentaries of the Scriptures and to speak Juedisch-Deutsch. Yet, with a book picked up here and there — to buy which he often denied himself food — with an occasional hint from an occasional friend, he groped his way through the avenues of knowledge. His rabbinic training as a mental discipline stood him in good stead. He learnt successively German, Latin, French and English, and later Greek, taking in mathematics through a Hebrew T translation of Euclid's Geometry. Then he sailed gradually into the higher realms of thought, studying philosophy from the Greek Plato down to the English Locke. This was all done in the hours stolen from his leisure, when his daily work as a silk-mercer's clerk was over. Later in life a partnership in his employer's business gave him ampler ease and opportunity to indulge his love of learning.

Knowledge finds its own. He was soon a welcome member in a cultured group that met in a "coffee-house". An acquaintance with chess was a passport too. Thus he came to know Lessing, one of Germany's literary geniuses. That friendship marked an epoch in his life. For Lessing put into print the "Philosophic Conversations" of the modest scholar who would not have sought publicity for himself. Germany awoke to find that the Ghetto had given another teacher to the world.

Soon this man whose mother tongue was a corrupt patois, was teaching German style to the German. He dared rebuke King Frederick the Great for slighting the language of his country; for he preferred French and Voltaire. In spite of this daring, which may be but a legend, he was made a "Court Jew". Not his superior philosophy, but his superior diction, won for his essay the Royal Academy of Science prize, with Immanuel Kant, greatest modern philosopher, as one of his competitors.

"Phaedon," — Immortality.

But he also became a religious teacher to the sceptical world of the eighteenth century. It was this son of Israel who revived the waning faith in the immortality of the soul, thereby carrying out the Jewish mission to "bring light to the Gentiles." He paraphrased Plato's "Phaedo," a dialogue on the subject, and further developed the theme. Accepting God's existence as a postulate without further proof, his chief arguments are:

  • If the body (matter) does not perish, but passes into other forms, surely the soul that dominates the body is imperishable.
  • We find this immortal belief implanted in our being and we cannot conceive that God would deceive his children by imbuing them with a false hope.
  • He followed up this demonstration with the inference, so much needed in that sceptical hour, that life is a charge, not an absolute possession; therefore man has no right to extinguish it; for an almost pagan irresponsibility towards life was prevalent in some circles in the 18th century.

Mendelssohn, who had never seen the inside of a university, had now won a European reputation. He was called the modern Socrates and litterateurs crowded his salon. His home became to many a literary center and to some even a shrine.

Jew and Christian.

As a consequence of this work, one of his admirers, Lavater, a Swiss clergyman, dedicated to him his "Proofs of Christianity" actually expecting Mendelssohn to endorse it. So little was Judaism understood, it was not supposed that Mendelssohn's views could be those of the Synagogue. Lavater's challenge was a temptation to cut his associations with the Ghetto, its restrictions and its humiliations and enter untrammeled into the Gentile world. But Mendelssohn was not only a great mind, he was a great soul. He did not even seek to save the situation by a policy of silence. He replied to the invitation to enter the Church to this effect:

"Of the essentials of my Faith I am so indisputably assured that I shall ever adhere to it. The doctrines of the despised Judaism are more consistent with reason than those of Christianity. For it consists of natural religion supplemented by certain statutes."

Mendelssohn as Emancipator.

The reply brought out quite a pamphlet literature and Mendelssohn's courage made him more esteemed than ever. But he now turned his attention to his own people. He was destined to be their emancipator both from without and from within.

In Mendelssohn's day the milder persecutions of badge, Ghetto. Leibzoll (body tax), religious prejudice, economic exclusion and social contempt, had done their best to bemean the Jew, making him abject in spirit. His language, manners, dress, and modes of livelihood were so many makeshifts. We have seen that his religion had become for the most part a Talmudic training, tempered by Kabalistic mysticism. The realm of general culture was a terra incognita. In fact all secular study was rigidly prohibited. Naphthali Herz Wessely, Mendelssohn's worthiest disciple (who later carried on his emancipating work) thus describes the state of education among the Jews of the eighteenth century:

"They are ignorant of the rules of Hebrew, of the beauty of its diction and its poetry. Much less are they acquainted with the languages of the people among whom they live; some can neither read nor write them. The construction of the globe, the events of history and the principles of civil law, of natural and scientific philosophy, are altogether hidden things to them. They are not properly acquainted with the fundamental principles of their Faith: nor are they taught morality or psychology in their schools."

We may add to all this, that economic restrictions kept the masses in poverty.

Internal Emancipation.

Mendelssohn sought the renaissance of Israel in two directions — cultural and religious. Culture was to come through the open avenue of a modern language — German, and in awakening in the Ghetto Jew an aesthetic sense. The religious regeneration of "the people of the book" must come from "the Book." The Bible had never been consciously neglected; but it had been lost in its own Talmudic elaboration. He therefore served both ends by translating the Pentateuch into German. Hebrew letters made the alien forbidden tongue less offensive. His commentary to the text, in which Wessely assisted, opened many doors of knowledge. A paraphrase of the Psalms followed. In spite of his safeguards, some of the elders looked at it dubiously, but it was hailed by young Jewry. Thus Mendelssohn's translation of the Bible had almost as great an influence on the Jews as Luther's on the Christians. It gave birth to a band of Jewish authors who gradually learned to write, not in corrupt "Hebrew-German," but in pure Hebrew and in pure German. These Hebrew writers were called Measscfim (collectors). Their contributions were issued through a periodical "Ha-Meassef"; the subjects included literature generally, in prose and poetry, science, biography and history.

External Emancipation.

Thus the inner cultural emancipation was begun. The outer, political, was aided by Lessing's "Nathan der Weise." This great drama was among other things a plea for the legitimacy of Judaism and Mohammedanism as against the Church that claimed the monopoly of truth and virtue. So Lessing skillfully chooses his heroes from the despised cults. Nathan, the hero, is his friend Mendelssohn; Saladin was one of the noblest of Moslems.

Communities in surrounding lands now sought Mendelssohn to plead through him for the removal of their disabilities, for he was the most influential Jew of the age. He found he could best serve them through his powerful friends. So at his instigation his distinguished ally, Dohm, as daring as Lessing, produced a work on "The Civil Amelioration of the Condition of the Jews," in 1781. The times were propitious:

  • Montesquieu had pleaded for the Jews in his "Spirit of the Laws," and other Frenchmen were soon to follow.
  • Naturalization had already been granted to the Jews by the English in their American colonies.
  • The enlightened Joseph II of Austria allowed the Jews to take up handicrafts and agriculture; — (to think they should ever have been denied!) He also established Jewish schools.

Mendelssohn's own plea was put in the form of a work called "Jerusalem, or Ecclesiastical Powers and Judaism" — in 1783. It was a plea for civil rights based on the philosophic ground that as belief cannot be commanded, the State should grant the widest liberty of thought and speech in religion and should sit in judgment only on the deeds of men. Here he showed the influence of Spinoza with whose philosophy, however, he did not agree. He called Judaism, not a revealed religion, but a revealed legislation. To place emphasis on duties rather than on beliefs has always been a characteristic of Judaism.

When Mendelssohn died in 1786 at the comparatively early age of fifty-seven, he had created an epoch in Jewish history. His career exemplifies true genius. In spite of physical drawbacks, poverty, social exclusion, political disability from without, and intellectual restrictions within — he broke through all barriers, sectarian, social and cultural, and he became one of the teachers of Europe, a founder of a new school of disciples and of literature, and the religious and political emancipator of his people.

Solomon Maimon.

A contemporary and disciple of Mendelssohn was Solomon Maimon. His autobiography is valuable, not only for the revelation of his intellectual development "from Polish ignorance to pure philosophy" but also as a faithful picture of his times. Here we have depicted the savage cruelty of the Polish nobility and soldiery together with the savage ignorance of the Polish peasantry. Among the Jews we have revealed the repulsive cheder (school-room), the narrow exclusion of secular studies, and languages, the prevalence of superstition, the abuses of the Chassidim, the asceticism and the idealism of the pious and the grinding poverty of the great majority.

As with Mendelssohn, Maimonides' More Nebuchim "Guide to the Perplexed" was Maimon's emancipator, hence his adopted name. His keen mind grasped at once the errors in the philosophy of Leibnitz and Wolf and he was able to expound the English philosopher Locke at a first reading. He also discovered that the theory of Spinoza was not atheistic but rather the reverse — acosmic, i.e., denial of existence of the world rather than of God.

Yet this vigorous intellect achieved nothing beyond his autobiography. He remained an intellectual vagabond and he failed because he lacked — character. His very scepticism was part of his defect of soul. He throws a helpful sidelight on the nature of Mendelssohn — his own moral reverse. He shows the "Jewish Socrates" a Hillel in his calm, a stoic in his strength of denial. We see again in Maimon's pages Mendelssohn's mental depth, his impatience with trifles, his sympathetic imagination and his inherent philanthropy.


Mendelssohn and Lessing:—Mendelssohn and Lessing, the David and Jonathan of literature, stimulated each other, where less noble natures might have found cause for rivalry. Lessing fed the poetic and artistic side of Mendelssohn; Mendelssohn fostered the philosophic in Lessing and materially aided him in his difficulties.

Immortality:—The Jew is sometimes charged with disbelief in immortality. But against, the current view that the Jewish Scriptures do not teach a future life, the following texts may be cited: Daniel xii, 2, 3; Ecclesiastes xii, 7; Isaiah xxv, 8 and xxvi, 19; Proverbs xii, 28 and xxiii, 18; Psalm xlix 16; Psalm xvi, 10, 11; Psalm xvii, 15; Psalm cxvi, 3 — 9; also in the Apocrypha: Wisdom of Solomon, i, 15; fi, 23; iii, 1 to 5; iv, 1; viii, 13 and 17; xv, 3. The Rabbinic writings are saturated with belief in the Resurrection and Immortality and it forms the thirteenth article of Maimonides' creed. Many references will also be found in the Jewish Prayer Book. See Montefiore — J. Q. R., Vol. xii, 372; vol. xiv, 96.

Mendelssohn's "Jerusalem":—The statement that Judaism is a legislation, not a creed, has led to the inference that Mendelssohn denied dogmas to Judaism. This he partially corrects in a letter to Herr Elkan (Monatschrift, Leipsic, 1859). His contention rather was that the dogmas of Judaism were such as would appeal to rational minds — to those inherent religious instincts called natural religion.

See in this connection Schechter, Studies in Judaism, First Series — "Dogmas of Judaism," J.P.S.A., also Matthew Arnold, Literature and Dogma. Ch. i.

"Jerusalem," by Isaac Lesser, The Occident, Vol. ix, 1851.

Translations — Mendelssohn's "Introduction to Pentateuch," and Wessely on "Education," Hebrew Review, London, 1859.

See Karpeles' Jewish Literature and other Essays, on Jewish society in the time of Mendelssohn.

Abrahams' Jewish Literature, Ch. xxi.

Meassefim:—Renaissance of Hebrew Literature. Ch. ii, Slouschz, J.P.S.A., 1909.

Maimon, by Murray; Translation of his Autobiography, Cupples and Hurd, Boston, 1888.

Themes for Discussion:— (a) Has Judaism dogmas? What is the distinction between a creed, a doctrine and a dogma? Show how Judaism diverges from Christianity in its attitude towards dogma. (b) Discuss "the Story of the Three Rings" in Lessing's "Nathan der Weise".

Religious Reform
The Post-Mendelssohn Era.

Although Wessely, Mendelssohn's poet disciple, took up the thread of his master's work in furthering the study of the Bible and the pursuit of general culture and modern tongues, he met much opposition from the elders, who had not yet outgrown the prejudice that secular learning was in a sense sinful. But the young followed him, though at first stealthily.

The reforms of the Mendelssohn school involved a revival of pure Hebrew as well as the cultivation of German and French. So while establishing academies and publishing secular books for Jewish use, societies for Hebrew culture were launched and Hebrew magazines were issued to reawaken a literary sense. The new school produced some enthusiastic disciples. The times, if not the school, produced Marcus Herz, physician, philosopher and scientist, and Fanny Itzig, who established a literary salon in Vienna.

Culture and its Perils.

Mental emancipation was not without its dangers. Once the gates were opened, some, lured by the dazzle of the great world, wandered too far and never returned. "Liberal" views degenerated into sceptical views; and when bigoted state laws excluded Jews, unless baptized, from public posts and professions, involving social exclusion also — some in this sceptical frame of mind — crossed that "Rubicon." David Friedlander, who sought a sophistical compromise of Jewish monotheism with Church conformity, was a typical instance.

Naturally it was the intellectuals who were most exposed to this temptation, for they most felt the Ghetto fetters and most chafed against Ghetto exclusion. There was such a chasm between their cultural and their legal standing! Some even turned against their? own untutored brethren, and judging only by the crude externals, came to regard them with something of the same prejudice that was exhibited by Gentiles. Some went so far as to despise all Jewish traditions.

This was the backwash of emancipation. It was too sudden to be healthy. Every good may have its drawbacks. But the only cure for liberty's abuse is further liberty. Israel un-Ghettoed, could be saved to itself only by a triple process: First, by a religious reform or simplification that would bring the synagogue more in accord with their newer spiritual need; second, by political emancipation that would bring their secular status in harmony with their intellectual outlook; and thirdly, by a truer knowledge of themselves and their heritage, that would give a deeper appreciation of their dignity and their mission. All of these were to come.

In the meantime emancipation brought havoc in its extreme reaction and, strange to say, the children of Mendelssohn were the first victims. Dorothea in an ecstacy of romanticism, drifted into the Catholic Church; the cultured Henrietta followed her footsteps later; Abraham advised his son Felix, the famous musician, to accept Christianity as an expediency, and to adopt the name of Bartholdy. The Berlin salon of Henrietta, wife of Marcus Herz, and that of the equally gifted Rachel Levin, brought Jewish youth into close social contact with the Gentiles before they were ready for it, and many estrangements from Jews and Judaism followed. The whole atmosphere of these salons, brilliant though they were, was unhealthy, for they reflected the religious scepticism and the moral decline of Germany in general. It was a trifling age that played with religion and with life.

Prussia witnessed many apostasies from Judaism. But some of the converts experienced a change of heart later in life. Rachel Levin, who entered the Church and became the wife of Varnhagen von Ense, confessed on her death bed that her Jewish birthright, once despised as a misfortune, she would not now willingly lose.

Heinrich Heine.

Among those who drifted from the fold was Heinrich Heine. He reluctantly submitted to baptism with his family's approval for it was the only condition on which he could practice the profession of law. He was perhaps Germany's greatest lyric poet. He also won literary fame through his essays in French, for his checkered career was passed in two countries. He lived a sad and not a very long life, marked by adversity and suffering. He concealed a nature gentle and considerate, under a scoffing exterior. For he carefully spared his mother all knowledge of his wasting illness and had a separate copy of his later poems printed for her from which all allusion to his malady had been carefully expunged. His poems have been translated by Emma Lazarus. Here is one, a sonnet to his mother:

"I have been wont to bear my forehead high —

My stubborn temper yields with no good grace,

The king himself might look me in the face,

And yet I would not downward cast mine eye.

But I confess, dear mother, openly,

However proud my haughty spirit swell,

When I within thy blessed presence dwell,

Oft am I smit with shy humility.

Is it thy soul, with secret influence,

Thy lofty soul piercing all shows of sense,

Which soareth, heaven-born, to heaven again?

Or springs it from sad memories that tell

How many a time I caused thy dear heart pain,

Thy gentle heart, that loveth me so well I"

It is interesting to note that he confesses a sincere contrition for having relinquished his Jewish birthright for worldly advance. He writes:

"I do not make a secret of my Jewish allegiance, to which I have not returned, because I have never abjured it. I was no apostate from aversion to Judaism. Even symbolically I do not consider baptism of any importance, and I shall only dedicate myself more entirely to upholding the rights of my unhappy brethren. But, nevertheless, I find it beneath my dignity and a taint upon my honor, to allow myself to be baptized in order to hold office in Prussia. I understand very well the Psalmist's words: 'Good God. give me my daily bread, that I may not blaspheme thy name!'"

Elsewhere he says: —

"Now I perceive that the Greeks were only handsome youths, but the Jews have always been powerful men. I am proud of the fact that I am a descendant of those martyrs, who have given a God of morality to the world, and who have thought and suffered on all the battlefields of thought. They are the 'Swiss Guard' of deism.

"Jews may console themselves for the loss of Jerusalem and the Ark of the Covenant; these are trifling when compared to the Bible; that indescribable treasure they have saved from the wreck of the Roman Empire. I owe the reawakening of my religion to that holy book."

But these later reflections belong rather to the second, the synthetic stage of the post-Mendelssohn era. For we must consider now in detail the three different means above referred to by which the Jews were to be saved from the dangers of emancipation. In this chapter we will only consider the first, religious reform.

Religious Reform.

The early steps towards religious regeneration had to be negative. First, by exclusion; this implied the severing of certain foreign growths, not intrinsically Jewish but which had come to adhere to Judaism in its different lands of sojourn, like barnacles to a ship; such were folk-customs, that had become ceremonials, ancient superstitions and Kabalistic phantasies. The next progressive achievement was simplification. This was attained by lessening the unwieldly ceremonial that threatened to smother the spiritual essentials of Judaism; and, by somewhat abbreviating the ritual that had grown too bulky by including some material not appropriate for a prayer book. The third step, elucidation, making clear what was obscure, was partly attained by recital of some prayers in the vernacular (language of the country). There went with these modifications certain external improvements that might be styled the aesthetic — more decorum in the Synagogue and more dignified recital of its service and the reforming of mourning customs. Reform in doctrine was to come in the second stage, and will therefore be later considered.

Who was responsible for this new departure? Although Mendelssohn did not found, yet we may say he was the father of this posthumous child. Enlightenment prepared the way. Therefore, it began in Germany, his field of activity. The first person actually to introduce a reform service was Israel Jacobson. This included the use of the vernacular, a choir, and the rite of confirmation of girls and boys on Pentecost, the Festival of the Giving of the Decalogue, supplementing the older (though not very old) Bar-Mitzvah, i.e., calling boys to the Law. In 1818 the first Reform "Temple" was opened in Hamburg. This congregation held its own in spite of the opposition of Isaac Bernays, at this time the one notable Jew of the "orthodox." This term was now used to differentiate the conservatives from the progressives.

Like Karaism of the eighth century, Reform had the good effect of stimulating the Orthodox to sanction and encourage secular studies.

So far, the first branch of the Jew's triple need — the religious. Second, the intellectual, and third, the political, will be treated in the next two chapters.


Converts:—Die Juedischen Franen: Kayserling, from p. 197, describes in detail the story of the brilliant Jewish women whose salons were the intellectual centers of Germany and most of whom abjured the Faith of their fathers.

Die Familie Mendelssohn: This work consists of family letters and diaries compiled by Hensel, which give us an insight into the religious uncertainty that followed the emancipation. — Berlin, 1879.

Romanticism:—The function of Romanticism at its best was to reinfuse poetry and mystery into life. Its votaries supposed that this would be attained by a revival of mediaevalism which explains in part why some Jewesses succumbed to Catholicism, the mediaeval Faith. Fichte, in the philosophic, and Goethe in the literary world, are the virtual fathers of this movement in another aspect of it, in that they both reached a new importance of the individual even as against law and convention. Its pernicious extreme was reached by Schlegel, who taught that "the poet's caprice is the supreme aesthetic law." Ultimately the Romanticists became the enemies both of spiritual and political freedom.

Themes for Discussion:— (a) Give some examples of Reform by exclusion and by simplification. (b) Was the opening of the "Ghetto" gate a loss to the Jew or gain?

Intellectual Emancipation
Israel Learns to "Know Himself"

We have seen how vital it was that the emancipation — begun by Mendelssohn — in order to be a boon and not a menace should be followed up by giving to the Jew a truer knowledge of himself and of his heritage.

The early group of post-Mendelssohns sought the solution of their problem outside of Judaism. Many abandoned the Faith, simply because they did not know it. They knew not its grand historic background, its varied literature, its philosophy, not even the treasures hidden in its ritual. They knew only its excrescences, though the removal of these had begun. They regretted their birthright because they had not surveyed it. They hastened to exchange "old lamps for new," not seeing that the only virtue of the new was its glitter, while in the old alone burned the mystic flame.

Leopold Zunz.

The first to unearth the treasure of Israel's literary greatness was Leopold Zunz. "No star sets but another rises," said a Jewish sage. Mendelssohn died in 1786, Zunz was born in the same land in 1794. As delicate in physique as his predecessor and materially as poor, he had the same determination to conquer all realms of learning. A great linguist, as well as a great mathematician, he was not only able to decipher knowledge in many tongues and in musty manuscripts, but his systematic mind and broad grasp enabled him to survey the whole field of Jewish literature, co-ordinate it from its entanglements and trace its origin and development throughout the long past, and finally, assign its place among the literatures of the world. This vast work was styled "The Science of Judaism" and we may call Zunz its founder. Revealing the richness of rabbinic literature, he demanded its recognition by scholars as a university study. We need not be surprised that it had been ignored through ignorance or prejudice by Gentiles, when it was neglected even by its own heirs.

Therefore in order to adapt the Jews to the world of culture, they were now entering, and especially to appeal to young men, Zunz, while still a student and tutor, organized with others the "Verein fuer Cultur der Juden," a society to promote Jewish science and culture, and published a magazine for its dissemination, known as the "Zeitschrift fuer die Wissenschaft des Judenthums." Neither society nor magazine lived long, yet long enough to sow the seed in many waiting souls.

Zunz eked out but a precarious existence, at times as journalist, at times as preacher or teacher. "Art is long" and appreciation, especially of pure learning, is slow. To think that this versatile scholar who could have worthily filled three university chairs, at one time sought occupation even as book-keeper; to think that seeking such, he should have failed! Even as preacher, though gifted with eloquence and diction, Prague did not appreciate him and Darmstadt rejected him!

Undeterred, he went on with his studies, though to prosecute them he had to visit the libraries of many lands. For he was an original scholar who always went to the sources. By critically examining the varied writings of rabbis, poets and preachers, he was able to get at the philosophic foundation of Judaism. His genius enabled him to disclose not only their writings, but their life, and their life through their writings. If, for example, he writes on Rashi, he is able to reconstruct Rashi's times and reveal to us the environment of French and German Jewry of the eleventh century.

History Extracted from Ritual.

His first volume, Chapters on the Divine Service of the Jews, is the most important work of the nineteenth century in the realm of Judaica. Yet it formed but one division of the complex work he planned. Its wide scope will be better understood when it is remembered that since Israel had lost its land, the synagogue was the center of its life; therefore much historic information is compressed in its Prayer Book for those who can find the key. So, to tell the story of the development of the divine service is to tell the story of the Jew; this Zunz really does. The work involved an enormous amount of miscellaneous reading, enabling him to throw sidelights on the divergent rites and customs of different places and times and the historic reasons behind them.

He shows that from the beginning the synagogue had a threefold function. It was the place for prayer, for Bible study and for the sermon. The second developed into the third, for the expounding of the Scripture led up to that homiletic instruction known as Midrash (moral lesson). He discloses to us how this vitally important pulpit education varied with the different needs of different times. In dark days, like those of the Crusades, expulsions and massacres, its function was to instil comfort and to deepen faith. In controversial days, as in the forced public disputations of Spain, it offered weapons for theological defense. At times of laxity it turned to moral exhortation. The Midrashic expounders often demonstrated genius and their drashas (sermons) became a medium of literary activity and of ethical and ritual instruction.

His second great work was Literature and History of Synagogue Poetry, and presents the next stage in his general subject of the Science of Judaism. On superficial survey, this book may seem little more than a catalogue of the piyyutim (liturgical poems) of the mediaeval synagogue. If it were that only it would be of priceless value in resuscitating these literary treasures and unearthing names hitherto unknown. He mentions nine hundred of these poets of the Prayer Book! But he further determines their chronology, their historic association and the life of suffering and rejoicing Israel behind them. Through his translations some of the Synagogue-poems were given to the world. Altogether, he demonstrated the contribution of Jewish culture to civilization.

In this work occur those renowned words quoted by George Eliot in Daniel Deronda, that really summarize his whole plea for Jewish recognition:

"If there are degrees in woe. Israel has reached the highest rung; if endurance of sufferings and patience with which they are borne ennoble, then the Jews take their place side by side with the highest in all lands. If a literature is called rich in the possession of a few classic tragedies, what shall we say to a national tragedy lasting for fifteen hundred years, in which the poets and actors were also the heroes."

Learning and Liberty.

Zunz pleaded not only for literary recognition of the Jew but also, like Mendelssohn, for their political emancipation. We shall see how he co-related them. Recognition came at last to Zunz's years of patient service; he became the recognized intellectual leader of scattered Israel abroad, and was chosen as their local secular representative at home. None better fitted than he to be a communal leader to reorganize the German Jewish community, and he was often its mouthpiece in pleading for removal of their disabilities in the critical period round 1848, to be treated later. He asked of the European powers "not rights and liberties, but right and liberty." He became an Elector both in the Prussian legislature and in the German Diet.

He strikes a new note when he connects disenfranchisement of Jews with their ignorance of their literature and history, for he says:

"The neglect of Jewish science is connected with the civil disabilities of the Jews. By a more comprehensive mental culture, a more profound knowledge of their own affairs, the Jews would have achieved a higher degree of recognition of their rights; many an ill-advised step of the legislature and many a prejudice against Jewish antiquity were the immediate consequences of the abandoned condition in which Jewish literature has been plunged. Although publications against the Talmud and the Jews shot up like mushrooms, there existed no book whence statesmen might have drawn advice. No professor lectured on Judaism and Jewish literature, no academy offered prizes therefor . . . Legislators and authors had to follow the mendacious authorities of Eisenmenger and his ilk. . . . The physical and communal life of Jewish congregations is provided for by hospitals and asylums; but religion and science, civil freedom and intellectual progress require schools and seminaries."

He might well have quoted Hosea, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge."

He personally demonstrated how the knowledge of his traditions can change the political status of the Jew in the instance of the law relating to the Jewish oath. When a Jew was to take an oath in the Court, all sorts of humiliating conditions were imposed to frighten him. Why? Because of a wrong supposition that Jews treated oaths lightly. Zunz, by his great historic research, was able to reveal to the Christian world the sacred and binding character of the oath among Jews. In consequence, perhaps of this disclosure, the degrading customs attending a Jewish oath were abolished in Prussia in 1869 as they had gradually been abolished in other lands since Mendelssohn's first protest and Cremieux's later successful effort. (The French Court declared the oath unconstitutional in 1846).

He demonstrated elsewhere that "thought is strong enough to vanquish arrogance and injustice, without arrogance and injustice." He pleaded not only as Jew for Jew, but like Heine and Boerne, as patriotic German for German unity, but unlike these, without sacrifice of his ancestral faith.

It was comparatively late in life that an appointment came to him as director in a "School for Teachers." This at least removed the anxiety of self-support and gave him more opportunity to prosecute his) diverse studies. One of his later productions was the editing of a Bible translation. For this, none better fitted than he. He was a Bible critic of the modern school. He demonstrated the composite authorship of many of the Bible books, the lateness of some of the Psalms, the higher historic value of Kings than of Chronicles. All Jewry participated in celebrating his ninetieth birthday; and when he died, in 1886, he was mourned throughout the whole Jewish world.

Historians and Seminaries.

Among those who aided or followed Zunz in vindicating the dignity of Israel's past were his co-worker Jost, who produced a "History of the Jews"; Nachman Krochmal, who made the Talmud yield him a post-exilic history; Solomon Rapaport, who told Israel's story in biography; Samuel David Luzzatto, poet and philologist, who! illumined the Spanish period; and Salomon Munk of France, who, by opening up the Arabic sources, threw further light on Jewish medical activity.

So the good work went on and Israel came to know itself and to respect itself, though there were some renegades still. A natural outcome of this Jewish renaissance was the establishment of a Seminary in Breslau in 1854 for the training of rabbis. Its teachers were all men famous as leaders of conservative Judaism — Graetz, author of The History of the Jezvs, Zacharias Frankl, the leader of what we might call progressive orthodoxy, Jacob Bernays, philologist and professor at the university of Bonn, the son of Isaac Bernays, chief rabbi of Hamburg, and Manuel Joel, a pioneer in Jewish religious philosophy, who showed the great influence of Jewish philosophy on Christian scholastics. Other seminaries followed.

So a new literary era among the Jews was launched, not philosophic like the Alexandrian, nor legalistic like the Babylonian, nor poetic like the Spanish; but critical, the aroma of modernism. It unearths and sifts the old treasures rather than adding new.

Reform's Second Stage.

The Reform movement also took on a new lease of life. In its first stage it had been superficial and external. In this, its second stage, it was based on a more philosophic foundation; and included a distinct attitude towards life. Mendelssohn had given the impulse to the first stage without being of it, by instituting Bible study in the vernacular and by encouraging secular education and decorum in worship. Zunz fathered the second stage likewise without being of it, by treating Scripture as literature in a modern critical spirit; and by demonstrating that Judaism was a gradual development, that its law was an evolution, not a product of one moment crystallized and finished (as its presentation in the Pentateuch might lead one to suppose), but rather that it is a continuous tradition. Let us consider some of these reforms in beliefs, duties and rites:


The most decided respect in which Reform differs from Orthodoxy, lies in its explanation of religion on rationalistic lines. It explains inspiration and prophecy as normal experiences of the spirit. It interprets Revelation as a gradual disclosure of God and His will without the need of the supernatural. Thus the miracles of the Bible are given natural explanations and the Bible itself regarded as a human production. According to Reform interpretation then, the early history of Israel contained in the Bible begins, as all histories, in oral tradition, growing more authentic as it advances in time. The theories of some of the Bible writers on natural science show the limitations of a far off age. But the Reform school reminds us, that this does not affect the validity of its moral truths. Its spiritual message to man persists through all; and is independent of later discovery of natural law.

The man who best voiced these views and was the actual leader of this second stage of Reform was Abraham Geiger, 1810-1874. For its furtherance he established both a journal and a school. He demonstrated that the aim of Reform Judaism was to establish harmony between law and life.

The Messiah and the National Restoration.

An important doctrinal change made by the Reform leaders clusters around Israel's future outlook. Orthodox Judaism regards the suppression of the Jewish nation and Israel's dispersion as punishment and tragedy to be righted only by a restoration to the Holy Land under the leadership of its Messiah-King, there to revive the old national life with Temple, priesthood and sacrifice; this to be followed by the world's acceptance of monotheism and humanity's regeneration. The Reformer treats the dispersion not as a temporary exile, but as part of the divine plan, whereby Israel, God's witness, might carry His message to the people of the earth. Not by a national restoration, through a personal Messiah, not by miracle at one grand moment, but gradually and normally, and in the world's midst can Israel, if loyal to its Sinaitic call, bring about the fulfilment of the prophetic hopes of a purified society "knowing God". This ultimate day it calls "the Messianic time". The Reform ritual therefore eliminates all prayers for restoration of nation, sacrifice or priesthood. It lays new emphasis on Israel's relation to mankind, and its responsibility for their spiritual welfare.


Reform gives larger place to woman in religious life. She is counted in the Minyan (quorum) for divine worship and is given the privilege of reciting the Kaddish for the departed. Therefore, she does not sit aloof in a gallery at the divine service. Girls share equally with boys the rite of Confirmation on the Feast of Pentecost.

It further diverges from Orthodox Judaism in denial of the resurrection of the body; but unites with it in affirming the immortality of the soul.


Reform does not make the sharp distinction between biblical and talmudic law drawn by the Karaites, but it distinguishes in both codes between laws that are political and local, fitting the civilization of a particular age, and on the other hand, such as are universal and moral. Among the former it classes agricultural, sacrificial, dietary, Schechita and divorce laws. Injunctions as to tephillin (phylacteries), worship with covered head, the separation of the sexes and customs of the Orient generally, — such it does not deem binding. The latter, the universal and moral, would include such institutions as the Sabbath, the sacred days, the moral codes and the humanitarian and ethical precepts in biblical and rabbinic law. The tendency of Reform generally has been to simplify and lessen ceremonial and treat it as subordinate to the ethical; as a symbol that feeds the emotional and the religious side of life. So its divine services are briefer, its ritual less complex; its prayers partly in Hebrew and partly in the vernacular.

These reforms did not come about at once, nor without bitter controversy with the conservative wing. They were evolved gradually by the fathers of the movement and were given sanction by a series of Conferences, at Brunswick in 1844, at Frankfort in 1845 and at Breslau in 1846.

It will be seen that Germany was its home. But it was transplanted to America with the German immigration. Its fathers here were David Einhorn, Samuel Hirsch and Isaac M. Wise. Rabbinic Conferences were continued in America. One was held in Philadelphia in 1869, another in Pittsburgh in 1885. The Central Conference of American Rabbis, later inaugurated, will be more fully described in a later chapter.

Some of the chief decisions of the several Conferences in addition to those already specified were the following: Introduction of English prayers; reading the Law in a triennial cycle or in an abridged form; the use of the organ at the regular divine service of the Synagogue; abolition of the "second day" of the Holy Days and Festivals; lessening the severity of mourning customs and the complexity of marriage customs; making less stringent the conditions of admitting proselytes — and thus encouraging proselytism; abandonment of Chalitza (permit from a brother-in-law to widow to remarry); non-recognition of a rabbinic divorce {get); introduction of Sunday services.

James Darmesteter.

Among those who revealed to Israel their own spiritual treasures was James Darmesteter. Though he drifted from Judaism, like Heine, he returned to it in spirit in his deep and deepening appreciation of the Hebrew Scriptures.

Born in France in 1849 of humble parentage, he already showed in boyhood that remarkable linguistic gift that ultimately won for him the Prix d'Honneur. He devoted the best of his life to the literature of the East. He translated the Zend Avesta into French and English and added a commentary. He was made Professor of Persian in the College of France and Professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes. In the midst of voluminous technical productions, this versatile scholar found time to write exquisite poetry. After Renan's death "he was regarded as the most distinguished scholar of France. " He had an intense appreciation of the Hebrew Prophets. Here are some quotations from his Prophets of Israel:

"The prophet is the man possessed of God, and through whom the will of God is revealed to men. . . . W hat is unique in Jewish prophecy is that it became the all-powerful weapon, not of charlatans and of fools, but of those inspired, in whom the mind and the conscience of modern humanity found their first successful and lasting expression. The work of these prophets survives in a hundred pages of the Bible and — in three religions."

"The century following after Elijah gave birth to a new phenomenon; a god became the instrument of morality."

"The Eighth b.c.e. century, that culminated in this movement, is one of the great epochs in the history of the human soul. ,,

"These ancient words, fierce and violent have more vitality at the present time, and answer better to the needs of modern souls, than all the classic masterpieces of antiquity."

"Amos and Hosea dream only of moral salvation for Israel and the chosen people. . . . What Isaiah sees, is Israel saved, and saving the world. In the midst of nations given over to brutal games,, he dreams for Israel the ascendancy of noble example and of the ideal. He sees a day coming, at the end of time when . . . throngs of people shall come saying: 'Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Israel, that he may teach us of his ways, and that we may walk in his paths. For from Zion shall go forth instruction, and from Jerusalem the word of the Eternal.' The decisive word is launched, a universal religion is founded."

"If Jeremiah had allowed himself to perish at the time of the destruction (of the Temple) . . . humanity would have missed the sound of words which can still save her, and which have consoled her for twentysix centuries. The Decalogue and the Sermon on the Mount could never have emanated from Babylon, nor from Athens or Rome. Jeremiah displayed the unparalleled heroism of fighting against his country false to herself, for the benefit of a future country which was not yet born, and which as yet existed only in his heart and in that of some disciples. "

"The sufferings of Israel transformed by triumphant ^prophecy, are no longer, as at the time of Jeremiah and of militant prophecy, the expiation of her faults . . . they are the price of salvation of the human soul. Jehovah had placed his spirit in Israel, through her to acquaint the nations with justice. It is therefore not in vain that Israel suffered, that she was despised and rejected of men, a people of sorrows, acquainted with suffering. Sent by the Lord to preach his word, she was not rebellious, and recoiled not from the stain of sorrow. She gave her back to those that struck her, her cheek to those that insulted her, and hid not her face although reviled and spat upon. As the lamb that is led to slaughter, as the sheep is dumb before the shearer, she opened not her mouth, and therefore she shall not die. Men believed her stricken of God, whereas it is to reclaim them from their sins that she was afflicted; it was for their salvation that she was chastised. And she neither grows weary nor discouraged, that justice may be established upon the earth; and the far-off islands await her instruction. Jehovah makes Israel the legislator of nations; the nations that know her not shall hasten to her. She shall lead the stranger to her holy mountain; for the house of Jehovah shall be called a house of prayer for all people."

"The prophets were the first to utter this cry (of human conscience projected heavenward) and they did so for all time."

"Eight centuries before Lucretius, the God of the shepherd, Amos, exclaims: 'From your offerings of fat beasts I turn away my eyes. . . . But let righteousness gush forth as water, and justice as a never-failing stream."

"The religion of the twentieth century . . . will arise out of the fusion of prophecy with science."


Jewish Historians:—Krochmal was born in Galicia in 1785. Like his earlier contemporary Mendelssohn, he too lived in an environment that treated secular study as sin. His "Guide to the Perplexities of the Time" treats Jewish, History philosophically. See Schechter's Studies in Judaism. J.P.S.A.

Weiss wrote a History of Jewish Tradition in Hebrew.

Steinschneider's historic sketch of Jewish History is a work as monumental in its way as Zunz's magnum opus.

Solomon Rapaport, 1790-1867, an Austrian rabbi, was Krochmal's more famous pupil. He was renowned for Hebrew lore and Western culture.

Jost's History of the Jews has been eclipsed by that of Graetz. The latter is, so far, the classic historian of the Jews. English readers are referred to an English condensation of his work in five volumes issued by the Jewish Publication Society of America. The index volume contains a memoir of the author.

Jewish Seminaries:—See "History of the Jews in Modern Times" by Max Raisin, p. 11, for more detailed biographies of their founders.

Reform Judaism:—A Reform movement was launched in England in 1840, but on Karaite lines, i.e., rejection of rabbinic law. This has been recently followed by a more progressive undertaking known as "The Jewish Religious Union of Liberal Judaism," instituted by Claude G. Montefiore, author of Liberal Judaism and Hellenism, Macmillan, 1903.

Jewish Encyclopedia, articles "Reform Judaism," "Piyyutim," and "Rabbinic Conferences."

Reform Movement in Judaism, D. Philipson, Macmillan.

"Jewish Theology" K. Kohler, Macmillan.

Ludwig Phillipson issued a periodical "Allgemeine Zeitung des Judenthums," which carried far the Reform message. Geiger and Holdheim:

Geiger may be better understood by contrasting him with that other great reformer, Samuel Holdheim. The latter was an iconoclast and like all radicals, swept aside some precious institutions in his vigorous crusade against the obsolete and the outworn. He would have abandoned Hebrew altogether from the ritual. Geiger's reform was more synthetic. Like Zunz, he viewed religion not as something isolated, but as one of the forces of civilization, and, like them, never a finished product, but perpetually progressing in harmony with the laws of the universe. Reforms must therefore be natural and organic — no violent breaks with the historic past.

Jewish Humanists:—The Renaissance and Humanism are mentioned in the opening chapter of this work. A French savant, Nahoum Slouschz, in telling the story of the literary movements of modern Jewry, speaks of a "Jewish Renaissance" and a "Jewish Humanism." The Renaissance of Hebrew Literature, translated from the French by Miss Henrietta Szold.

He uses the term "humanism" (Haskalah) to indicate that modern Hebrew is made the vehicle of every phase of human thought. This new school of Maskilim (intellectuals) are the logical successors of the German Meassefim. In chap, iii, he says:

"The rabbinical students themselves were the first representatives of humanism in Lithuania. They became as ambitious in cultivating the Hebrew language and studying the secular sciences presented in it, as in ' searching out and examining the Talmud. Sprung from the people, living its life and sharing in its miseries, separated from Christian society by a barrier of prescriptions that seemed inseparable to them,, the earliest of the Lithuanian litterateurs vitalized their young love for science and Hebrew letters with the disinterested devotion that characterizes the idealists of the Ghetto in general."

It must be added that the tone of these Russian writers is very pessimistic.

Among notable men of this Hebrew Renaissance school was Asher Ginzberg. His nom-de-plume was Achad Ha'am (one of the people). A magazine edited by him is the focus of Jewish Hebrew literature of many lands. We may include Bialik, the Hebrew poet, and Perez, the writer of Stories of the Ghetto, translation J.P.S.A.

Yiddish:—Juedisch Deutsch, as the name implies, was mediaeval German, intermixed with some Hebrew words in daily usage. It later grew into a distinct language and includes words culled from many tongues. It is the mother tongue of most Jews of Eastern Europe. Its earliest literature consisted of Bible translations, stories from the Midrash, Talmud and Kabala, as well as fables, folk tales and songs. A Yiddish translation of the Pentateuch appeared as early as 1540. Since Mendelssohn's day it has become the medium for all forms of literature, philosophy, poetry, fiction and drama and a vehicle for Jewish journalism in Eastern Europe and in the Ghettoes of the Western world.

Elijah Gaon:—Born in Vilna in 1720, he was the ablest Jew that Poland produced. The title "Gaon" which we might translate "his Excellency" implied that he was regarded as a great authority on Jewish law. He, in Russia, did work corresponding to that which Mendelssohn and Zunz did in Germany, transforming the old Talmudic educational method. (See Studies in Judaism, first series, chap, iii, Schechter, J.P.S.A.)

Haskalah Movement — Jacob Raisin, J.P.S.A.

Leon Gordon, by A. B. Rhine, J.P.S.A.

Jewish Oath — Israel Among the Nations, p. 28, Leroy Beaulieu, Putnams.

Leopold Zunz:—Karpeles, Jewish Literature, J.P.S.A. N. Krochmal:

Schechter, Studies in Judaism.

Samson Raphael Hirsch, a leading Conservative:

Drachman, Nineteen Letters of Uziel, Funk & Wagnails Co.

Heller, Year Book Cent. Conf. of Am. Rabbis, vol. xviii, p. 179. Cincinnati. (Each "Year Book" consists of the proceedings of an annual convention).

Theme for Discussion:—Zunz belonged to the rational school of Bible critics, why, then, was he not a Reform Jew?

Political Emancipation

The French Revolution.

We are now to consider the third requisite of the modern Jew, political emancipation. It began in France where The Revolution brought rapid fulfilment to Mendelssohn's dreams.

The rise of the French people against their tyrannic kings and the numerous tax-exempt nobles and clericals, was long a-brewing. The discontent began in the seventeenth century under Louis XIV, styled "le grand monarche," whose oppressive war taxes and prodigal court undermined the national prosperity. During the eighteenth century, Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot and others sowed the seeds of revolt through their writings. The next king, the profligate Louis XV, robbed the people of the last shred of respect for royalty and his exactions brought their long suffering miseries to the breaking point. When the weak, though well-meaning Louis XVI mounted the throne, he could no longer stem the tide. America's fight for independence about this time, was meanwhile spreading republican ideas, and its triumph brought further encouragement. In 1789 the king was forced to convene the "States General." This was quickly followed by the organization of the "National Assembly." The opposition of the king led to the formation of the National Guard both in Paris and in the provinces. The Assembly abrogated feudal privileges and instituted the equality of human rights.

The improvement in the Jewish status kept pace with all these progressive movements. Abbe Gregoire and Mirabeau took up the Jewish cause. The latter issued a work upon "Mendelssohn and the Political Reform of the Jews." Both pleaded specifically for the Jews as well as for the whole French people, in the National Assembly.

Soon the Bastile prison was seized by the revolutionists, the king taken prisoner, and the nobility were fleeing in all directions; some renounced their titles and threw in their lot with the common people. Jews showed their patriotism in sending deputies to the National Assembly and in joining the National Guard. They also translated the Bible into the language of the country — French. (Bible translation always marked an epoch in Jewish history from the Greek Septuagint to Mendelssohn's German Pentateuch.) When in this same year of rapid change, 1789, the law for religious freedom was passed, it included the Jews; for theoretically their disabilities were removed in the declaration of the rights of man. In 1790 all special Jewish taxes were rescinded. In 1791 followed the abrogation of anti-Jewish laws and Jewish equality was legally confirmed by the Assembly.

In 1793 the king and queen were guillotined and the French Republic set up with "Liberty, Equality and Fraternity" as its watchwords. Then followed the Reign of Terror with is orgy of blood. Terrible revenge did the people exact for centuries of wrong. In 1794 the established religions were suppressed; temples of Reason replaced sanctuaries of divinity; immortality was denied; and a tenth day Sabbath replaced the seventh day of Scripture. Then the frenzy subsided. A brilliant young general, Napoleon Bonaparte, who was winning plaudits for France against its many enemies, restored order. The excesses subsided, but the Republic remained.


Napoleon now carried a French army across the Continent to spread the mission of republicanism and to overthrow the old thrones and the old tyrannies. In 1795 he transformed Holland into the Batavian republic and made various conquests in Italy and Germany. He deposed the provisional government of France with a high hand and succeeded in being appointed Chief Consul. Later, ambition lured him to forsake his republican mission and to covet a crown. Caesar, rather than Washington, was his ideal. So, in 1804 we find him Emperor. While he did much to improve his country, this backward step violated its democratic ideal.

But in all lands that his conquering arms reached, Jewish disabilities were removed, including the obnoxious poll-tax of most German states. Westphalia granted the Jews complete freedom and equality. Baden granted civil rights, and the Hanseatic towns — Lubeck, Bremen and Hamburg — unwillingly followed. Napoleon decided to examine thoroughly the status of French Jews. Therefore, in 1806, he summoned a Council of One Hundred and Fifty Jewish notables to bring Jewish laws in agreement with French obligations. The French, as ignorant as most nations of Jewish customs and ethics, learnt with surprise from this gathering, that occidental Jews did not permit polygamy; that they accepted the State law of divorce as valid; that intermarriages, though not approved by the Synagogue, were treated as legally binding; and that Jews regarded France as their country and the French as their brethren. This prepared the way for the summoning of a Jewish Sanhedrin.

The French Sanhedrin.

It was quite in keeping with the spectacular Napoleon, who revived the old Roman Empire with himself as Emperor and his son crowned King of Rome, to reopen this ancient Jewish legislature and give it his patronizing supervision. It was to be composed of seventy-one members (the original number), two-thirds rabbis and one-third laymen. It was convened in 1807 and passed the following regulations, some of which were but the putting of the voluntary replies of the Assembly of notables into legal form.

  1. The non-Israelitish monotheist to be regarded as a brother.
  2. Jews must defend and serve their country.
  3. Agriculture and handicrafts to be encouraged, as demanded by Jewish law.
  4. The practice of usury to be forbidden.
  5. Monogamy the only form of marriage to be recognized.
  6. Intermarriage to be treated as binding, though not to be accompanied by a Jewish ceremony.
  7. A civil marriage must precede the religious.
  8. A Jewish divorce must be preceded by a civil decree.

There were not many Jews in France, fifty thousand in all. This was in consequence of the frequent French expulsions. Of these, twenty thousand were in Alsace and were comparatively recent immigrations from German provinces. These were not looked upon quite as French Jews and Napoleon did not grant to them all the freedom and privileges allowed to the older Jewish settlers in the other parts of France. For although the granting of liberty and equality was not a special consideration for Jews, but a logical consequence of the revolutionary doctrine, it was found that the prejudice of centuries could not be wiped out in a moment, by law.

Napoleon's Downfall Brings Reaction.

Napoleon's decline began with his disastrous campaign in Russia in 1812, where his victory was his worst defeat. Enemies, taking courage, arose on all sides, and he was forced to abdicate in 1814. The royal house was restored, and all France's newly acquired lands were restored to their original rulers. Although Napoleon returned to France in 1815 with an army and reigned for a hundred days, yet the united armies defeated him finally at Waterloo, June 18, 1815. He was exiled to St. Helena and the Bourbon dynasty was again restored and continued till 1830.

Naturally this reacted unfavorably on the Jewish status. Bavaria and Saxony had retained the old restrictions through all the revolutionary changes. Austria had not even abrogated that cruel and demoralizing rule that only the eldest son in each Jewish family should be permitted to marry! They certainly would not better the Jewish status now.

While Frankfort had grudgingly granted a few privileges and destroyed its Ghetto, after the exile of Napoleon, the Ghetto was reinstituted. Prussia disenfranchized its Jews. Some German towns attacked their Jewish residents, some exiled them. That they had shed their blood for their respective fatherlands was forgotten; that their blood was not Teutonic only was remembered. Rome reinstated the Pope, who reinstated the Inquisition and drove back the Jews once more to the Ghetto on the Tiber. Only France, with monarchy restored, allowed the recently granted Jewish rights to remain.

The Teutomania crusade with its shibboleth, "Germany for the Germans," not only revived the old restrictions, but engaged virulent pens to revive the old slanders. Here they met their match. Two sons of Israel of literary fame arose as apostles of liberty and leaders of young Germany — Heinrich Heine and Ludwig Boerne. Their trenchant and convincing words silenced the calumnies. Alas, as already narrated, they belonged to that sceptical group who sought through baptism, the privileges they could not obtain as Jews. More deserving our appreciation was Gabriel Riesser, (1806-1863), the jurist who showed how to fight for Jewish emancipation in Germany without leaving the Jewish fold.

But France, the land of surprises, had yet another in store. A revolution in 1830 dethroned the Bourbons and elected Louis Philippe king by popular vote. All remaining inequalities between Jew and Gentile were removed. Judaism was placed on equal footing with Catholicism and Protestantism in receiving State aid. This same year witnessed the emancipation of Jews in Belgium.

Growth of Jewish Rights.

The kaleidoscope shook once more in 1848 and France was a Republic again. But this famous year saw revolution spread over the whole continent. With the general wave of liberalism the status of the Jews became a fairly tolerable one, and they were gradually admitted into the Parliaments of the reconstructed States.

So in this pivotal year of "Sturm and Drang," Sweden, Denmark and Greece granted freedom to their Jews, and in 1850 Prussia removed the disabilities against them. Lagging Austria, after several setbacks and disappointments, finally let down the bars in 1867) ?> and united Germany in 1871.

From '48 on, the Italian States removed Jewish disabilities, one by one. Rome under the rule of the Pope stubbornly resisted longest. By the year 1870 when all these separate Italian States including the Papal, were merged in one united Italy, the Jewish status was that of emancipated subjects throughout the land. The Roman Ghetto fell and with it all remaining Jewish restrictions. As an indication of later liberality, Ernesto Nathan was twice elected Mayor of Rome. Luzzatto has served as Premier of Italy.

Their advance in England was slow but steady. Some civil rights were granted on Queen Victoria's accession to the throne in 1837. Moses Montefiore, the philanthropist, was made Sheriff of London and later knighted. In 1858 Jews were admitted to Parliament without having to take the oath "on the true faith of a Christian." But this rite had been granted in the English colony of Canada twenty-six years earlier. In 1871) ?> Jews were taking university degrees. In 1885 Rothschild was made a peer and admitted to the House of Lords. Since then many Jews have been raised to the Peerage. Sir Samuel Montagu became Lord Swaythling, Sir Marcus Samuel became Lord Bearsted, Sir Matthew Nathan is governor of Queensland, six Jews are Privy Councillors, nineteen are Baronets and twenty-eight, Knights. Many have been Lord Mayors of London and Mayors of other cities.

Some Jews have served in recent years in the Cabinet. Herbert Samuel was made Postmaster General before he became High Commissioner for Palestine; Sir Edwin Montagu was Secretary of State for India; Sir Alfred Mond is Minister of Health. The most notable appointment is that of Rufus Isaacs, first knighted, next made Attorney General, then Lord Chief Justice. Finally raised to the Peerage as Earl Reading, he was made Ambassador Extraordinary to the United States and is at present serving as Viceroy of India.

Not till 1873 did all the Cantons of Switzerland grant complete Jewish emancipation, induced perhaps by the urgency of the United States. Even Spain and Portugal whose cruel expulsions form the most tragic chapter in Jewish history came to their sober second thought. Portugal, after some opposition, reinviting them as early as 1821, and Spain as late as 1868. But few took advantage of these offers. Nemesis here inflicted poetic justice. Having economically ruined their own lands by driving out Jews and Moors, the commercial retrogression of these priest-ridden countries offered no allurement for Jewish return.

Balkan States.

A word as to the Jewish status in the Balkan States. Some of these countries had been part of the larger Turkish Empire and its Jews, descendants of the Spanish and Portuguese who took refuge there in the 16th century. By the Berlin Treaty of 1878 and largely through the energy of England's ambassador, Benjamin Disraeli, the political equality of the Jews in these provinces on the Danube — Servia, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Roumania — was guaranteed. Servia was most hearty in fulfilling its promises and the earliest of all to give political rights to the Jews. Bulgaria at times followed the hostile example of Russia. But Roumania, where the largest number of Jews resided, treated these promises as scraps of paper from the first.

Though emancipation of the Jews was one of the conditions of the independence granted to Roumania, it evaded its promise to the Powers with regard to the Jews by a cunning subterfuge. It classed Jews as "aliens not subject to alien protection," though the settlement of some Jews is earlier than that of the Roumanians themselves! To this official attitude was added an unofficial boycott and a series of repressive trade-laws. Further legislation debarred their children almost entirely from the schools. Whole families were expelled from the country districts, the expulsions carried out by a tyrannical police. Though denied common justice, the Roumanian Jew was forced to serve in the army, where he met yet further abuse. Life thus made impossible for the Jews in Roumania, they began emigrating. In 1892 their exodus reached the intensity of a flight.

In a remarkable letter to the United States' representative in Roumania — sent August, 1902, Secretary of State John Hay summarized the condition of the Jews in Roumania as follows:

"The condition of a large class of the inhabitants of Roumania has for many years been a source of grave concern to the United States. I refer to the Roumanian Jews, numbering some 400,000. The treaty of Berlin was hailed in view of the express provisions of its forty-fourth article, prescribing that in Roumania, the difference of religious creeds and confessions shall not be alleged against any person as a ground for exclusion or incapacity in matters relating to the enjoyment of civil and political rights, admission to public employments, functions and honors, or the exercise of the various professions and industries in any locality whatsoever, and stipulating freedom in the exercise of all forms of worship to Roumanian dependents and foreigners alike, as well as guaranteeing that all foreigners in Roumania shall be treated without distinction of creed, on a footing of perfect equality.

"With the lapse of time these just prescriptions have been rendered nugatory in great part, as regards the native Jews, by the legislature and municipal regulations of Roumania.

"Starting from the arbitrary and controvertible premise that the native Jews of Roumania domiciled there for centuries are 'aliens' not subject to foreign protection, the ability of the Jew to earn even the scanty means of existence that suffice for a frugal race has been constricted by degrees, until nearly every opportunity to win a livelihood is denied; and until the helpless poverty of the Jew has constrained an exodus of such proportions as to cause general concern"

The Balkan Wars, 1912-13 deeply affected the Jews living in the lands concerned. It meant that the Jewish community of Salonica of nearly 100,000 souls, passed from the negligent rule of Turkey to that of the less tolerant Greece. It also brought other Turkish Jews under the openly hostile kingdom of Roumania. But we shall presently see that the map of Europe and Asia was again to be changed with a re-distribution of sovereignties.

Ritual Murder and the Alliance Israelite

The need of closer Jewish cohesion had already been demonstrated in 1840 when a "Blood Accusation" arose in Damascus that roused all Europe. Some Jews, it was said, had slain a priest and his servant, and used their blood for the Passover. Since France was most closely concerned, two of its leading Jews came to the fore — Salomon Munk, the scholar, and Cremieux, the statesman; they were joined by Sir Moses Montenore. Magnificently did the English Parliament repudiate this calumny. Ultimately by the exposure of the true culprit, the complete exoneration of the Jews was achieved.

Later, in 1858 in Italy, a Jewish lad named Mortara was spirited away and secretly baptized by a Catholic domestic. The Roman Church persisted in its refusal to give him up. Then the Jews felt it was high time to organize their scattered forces in defense of their good names and homes. "In union there is strength". So in 1860 there was formed in France the Alliance Israelite Universelle. Its motto explains its purport: Kol Yisroel arovim zai lo-zai. (All Israelites are responsible one for the other.) It was a union of Jews in free lands to aid their brethren in lands of oppression. Corresponding organizations were formed in other countries later: the Anglo-Jewish Association in England, the Austrian Israelitische Allianz, and, in Germany, "Der Hilfsverein der Deutschen Juden." (A corresponding body, The American Jewish Committee, will be referred to in a later chapter).

All of these from time to time have exerted their united powers to combat persecution from without and to appeal to foreign governments when needful. They aid their brethren from within by establishing farm colonies, general and technical schools. They exercise their activity therefore chiefly in those lands where the status of the Jew is least hopeful both politically and intellectually, such as Asiatic Turkey, Abyssinia, Afghanistan, Persia and Morocco. The Alliance schools are bringing general enlightenment. That general enlightenment brings political emancipation had already been demonstrated by Zunz, whose career was outlined in the preceding chapter.

Jews and Liberalism.

The Jews who took an active part in hastening their own emancipation did much to further the cause of liberalism for all peoples. We might speak of this as one phase of the Jewish mission. Heine and Boerne already mentioned, together with the journalists Hartmann and Saphir were the leaders in that progressive movement known as "Young Germany." Still later, Lasker led the liberal group in Germany. In the later revolutionary party in France, Cremieux was in the foreground.

Furthermore, we find Jews in those advance movements concerning economics and industrial relations. David Ricardo, born in England in 1792, a versatile scholar, became an authority on economics. His chief work which became a standard, was the "Principles of Political Economy and Taxation" He advocated many progressive movements for the public welfare, — free trade, savings banks, old age pensions, profit sharing, as well as religious liberty.

Ricardo's iron law of wages led another Jew, Karl Marx, daringly to attack the entire theory of modern industrialism in his monumental work "Das Kapital." He may be regarded as the father of modern socialism, as in a spiritual sense we may call the Hebrew prophets the fathers of ancient socialism. Ferdinand La Salle espoused its cause in Germany but his brilliant career was cut short by an early death.

The Jew in Commerce and Finance.

The Jew confined, in his occupations up to modern times, to trading, and compelled to live in towns, — by this very stress of necessity, some became experts as financiers. (Though the Jew's influence here has been somewhat overstated recently by a German professor named Sombart.) A century ago Jews were very active in the great Fairs on the Continent, notably that of Leipzig. These were distributing centers of business. The wide dispersion of the Jew further enabled them to establish international connections. Controlling in this way large funds and sources of supply, they were occasionally able to finance governments.

An instance of that kind is that of Samson Gideon in the 18th cenutry, who aided the Prime Minister of England in restoring public credit after the collapse of the "South Sea Bubble". He became a financial advisor of the government and consolidated the national debt, raised a loan for it, reducing its rate of interest.

The Sassoons, London and Bombay bankers, have aided the building up the industries of the East. But in addition to docks and factories, they have done much for philanthropy and education.

The most remarkable instance of financial genius was the house of Rothschild. In the 18th century Mayer Amschel Rothschild of Frankfort, was agent for the Landgrave of Hesse Cassel. When the fortunes of war compelled this local ruler to flee, his wealth was entrusted to Rothschild's son, Nathan, the genius of the family. He took it to England and with it aided that Government. Through this and other monies entrusted to him for investment, he was able to aid Great Britain during all the Napoleonic campaigns. He thus established the London branch of this firm.

Other branches in addition to the one in Frankfort, were established in Paris, in Vienna and Naples. In this way the five brothers became the medium through which the Governments of Europe issued their loans, for some thirty years, amounting to three quarters of a billion dollars. Other Jewish banking houses of great influence, though of less note, followed. But financial leadership largely passed from their hands after 1848. Since that time, we have been more concerned with the Rothschilds as philanthropists, both in England, France and Austria.

Jews in Literature and Science.

In addition to many gifted men mentioned throughout this book, for the completeness of the record, a word or two should be said of some who have contributed lustre to the Jewish name.

Israel Zangwill, a humorist and novelist. He has shown himself a sympathetic interpreter of Jewish life, particularly in his Ghetto stories. Deeply concerned in the past reputation and future welfare of his people, he has portrayed with his powerful pen Jewish ideals in a group of articles entitled "The Voice of Jerusalem." This forms an important contribution to Jewish apologetics.

George Brandes of Denmark, also deserves mention here. He is the author of Main Currents in 19th Century Literature, and is one of the foremost men of letters today. Sir Sidney Lee is the best English authority on Shakespeare and was knighted when he completed editing the Encyclopedia of National Biography. Sir Israel Gollancz is professor of literature in Kings College, London.

It is regretable that the language in which Bialik's poems are written leaves them unknown to the Gentile world. Lazarus L. Zamenhof, born in Russia in 1857, conceived the idea of a universal language based on existing modern tongues, that he calls Esperanto. Equally enterprising was Julius Reuter of Germany who, about 1848, devised an international News Agency for the use of all newspapers. He so far succeeded that it became the center for gathering news of events happening all over the world.

Henri Bergson, the philosopher, has uttered one of the last words on man's conception of the universe. He points out that knowledge can come to us through our intuition as well as through our intellect. We are, he tells us, of the very life which we try to define. In his chief work, "Creative Evolution" he teaches us that we are ever recreating the world as we triumphantly march onward.

In the domain of science, William Herschell, the astronomer, won a high place as the discoverer of the planet Uranus. He fixed the position of 2500) ?> nebulae and identified 209 binary stars —"He doubled the boundaries of the previously known solar system."

Albert Einstein startled the world with a new theory of light and motion. His hypothesis modifies somewhat Sir Isaac Newton's law of the attraction of gravitation. Albert A. Michaelson, whose researches bring endorsement to those of Einstein, was born in 1852 and became a noted professor of physics. His achievements in this field have won honors for him by learned bodies throughout the world. He received the Nobel Prize in 1907. (As many as five Jews have won Nobel prizes in science.) He discovered a new method of determining the velocity of light.

Sigmund Freud is the great authority on nervous emotions. He claims that no mental process or dream is accidental, but has a motive behind it. He discovered that neurosis, nervous troubles, were due to conflict between conscious and unconscious levels of the mind. He shows how mental diseases can be dissipated by bringing repressed complexes to consciousness and by directing sexual energy into cultural and ethical channels. His theory is known as psycho-analysis.

In this field of natural science, as would be expected, Jews have been contributors in the domain of medicine. Ehrlich discovered an anti-toxin for a disease of the blood, and Simon Flexner discovered a serum for the cure of spinal meningitis. Waldemar Haffkine, the bacteriologist, and an assistant of Pasteur, succeeded in combating the bubonic plague in India for which humanitarian service he has been decorated. We must not omit Aaron Aaronson, whose tragic death we all lament, and who discovered in Palestine the original wild wheat. This offers the possibility of reviving exhausted soils with roots gathered from Palestine.

Art and Statesmanship.

Turning now to the arts. In music, Meyerbeer, Halevy and Offenbach have won renown as composers. Some of the greatest violinists and pianists are of the house of Israel.

In art Josef Israels was one of the great artists of the Jews and of the world. Leo Bakst received the Nobel Prize for devising the artistic product that bears his name. In the realm of drama we may mention Fulda and Bernstein, the playwrights; Rachel and Bernhardt, Barnay 1 and Von Sonenthal, who earned eminence in histrionic portrayal. One of the most eminent jurists of England, predecessor of Sir Rufus Isaacs, was Sir George Jessel, first Solicitor General and later appointed Master of the Rolls in 1878.

In the domain of statesmanship and diplomacy we will mention first Jean de Bloch who advocated universal peace in his book on the "Future of War". This suggested to the Czar the project of the Hague Tribunal. Paul Hymans of Belgium, was chosen as the presiding officer of the Assembly of the League of Nations.

Luigi Luzzatti, a man gifted with an encyclopedic mind, was Professor of Public Law in the University of Rome, became Premier of Italy, and was chosen four times as Minister of Finance. Mention here should be made of Ira Nelson Morris, Ambassador to Sweden.

The last of this group is Walter Rathenau of Germany. In that most intricate of all economic problems, the solution of French-German reparation, his contribution may single him out by the historian of the future as one of the leading figures of our times. He is the son of a renowned father and was born in 1867. Directing his attention to science, his doctor's thesis was on the subject of the absorption of light by the metals. He later discovered a method for the production of chlorine and the alkalies by electrolysis. This versatile man found time for the study of philosophy and for general culture and had furthermore the gift of vision. Later he was recognized as authority on everything connected with economics and industrial life, for he was a financier and organizer as well as a scientist, and he developed to yet greater proportions the General Electric Company established by his father. This tremendous industry employed nearly 70,000 workers and had a capital of about two hundred million marks.

During the war Rathenau offered his services to his country in the domain of politics and established the raw material section of the War Office. After the war Chancellor Wirth made him Minister of Reconstruction. This brought his service in close relation with the Reparation problem. Maurice Samuel, his biographer, says "He is a remarkable mixture of the hard-headed practical man and the blazing idealist." In spite of the anti-Semitism raging in Germany his country could not afford to ignore his genius and he represented Germany at the Genoa Conference, and served as Foreign Minister. Unfortunately, his promising career was cut short June 14, 1922 by assassins, adherents alike of the Royalists and anti-Semites.

Many of these Jews who reached eminence through their intellectual gifts have, unfortunately, not been identified with the Synagogue, if not estranged from it, such as Marx and Ricardo, Rubenstein, the composer, and Professor Chwolson, Brandes and Bergson.

We mention them here as part of the story of the Jewish people. Although Benjamin Disraeli left the fold, like Heine, he was always passionately concerned in the welfare of those he continued to regard as his people. In his novels such as "Alroy" and "Tancred" he espoused their cause. It was he who said, "A Jew never ascended the scaffold except at an auto-da-fe. " He sought earnestly to safeguard Jewish interests in the Berlin Treaty.


French Revolution:—With the ready wit of "the wise woman of Tekoa," (II, Samuel, xiv, 2), a Jewess of Metz obtained permission for the community to bake the Matzoth on Passover, on the plea that they were symbols of liberty. This was an improvement on the "Ritual Murder" and the old slander that Matzoth were made with blood.

Montefiore, Cremieux, Munk:—The men whose energy saved Eastern Jews from the consequences of the Blood Accusation of 1840, all rendered other eminent services to Israel. Montefiore in 1846 influenced a Czar on behalf of the Russian Jews. In 1843 he obtained a "firman" from the Sultan of Turkey and in 1863 one from the Sultan of Morocco to ameliorate the condition of their respective Jewish subjects.

Think and Thank, by Cooper, (J.P.S.A.) is a story of Montefiore's childhood. The phrase formed the motto on his crest.

Cremieux, great Frenchman and great Jew, obtained the abolition of the More Judaico, the degrading oath that had to be taken by every Jew on entering a Court of Justice. In 1870 he granted French citizenship to all Algerian Jews.

Salomon Munk's researches in Arabic manuscript added much to Jewish literature. He induced Egyptian Jews to open communal schools. He discovered Ibn Gabirol behind Avicebron — the philosopher of Jewry behind the supposed scholastic of Christendom.

Blood Accusation and Jewish Ritual.—The most authoritative and exhaustive work on this subject is The Jew and Human Sacrifice, by Hermann L. Strack. Eng. translation, N. Y., Bloch Pub. Co.

Falashas:—This term meaning "exiles," is applied to the Black Jews of Abyssinia, discovered by the Alliance Israelite. "B'nai Israel" is the name taken by the Black Jews of India. They were raised from poverty and ignorance and altogether reclaimed by the Sassoon family. White and Black Jews in India number today 25,000.

Chinese Jews:—In the year 1900 some 140 Chinese Jews existed in Kai-Fung-Foo. They are the dying remnant of a once flourishing Jewish colony.

Jews began settling in China, certainly as early as 200 b.c. In their most flourishing period there were as many as 20,000 Jewish souls. They possessed an elaborate sanctuary — a combination of sacrificial Temple ana Synagogue for prayer. It contained — more or less complete — scrolls of the law and of many of the prophets and writings; also some books of the Apocrypha and prayer books.

Two marble tablets in their synagogue, dating from the early Middle Ages contained the history of their settlement. From these tablets we learn that they worshiped one God (Heaven) and avoided idolatry and superstition; they honored parents and reverenced ancestry. (Is it possible that the last may have been influenced by Chinese ancestral worship?) They read the law, observed all Jewish Festivals and the four fasts. The tablets further state that they were highly esteemed for their industry, reliability, integrity and patriotic loyalty to the Chinese dynasty.

They came in close commercial relations with their brethren of Persia, though they frequently intermarried with local Mohammedans and with Chinese.

Europe first learnt of these Chinese Jews in the 17th century through Catholic missionaries. But then their numbers had dwindled to less than 600 and their observance of Judaism was dying out.

To-day their Synagogue is in ruins and the impoverished community without rabbi or schools and, fulfilling but few Jewish observances, is rapidly disappearing. English and American Jews have made many attempts to aid them in recent years, but failed because of local political disturbance. But the European Jews now resident in Shanghai have taken up their cause and something may yet be done to revive their Jewish life.

Jews of Roumania:—American Jewish Year Book, 1901-2. Two articles by Dr. E. Schwarzfeld.

Here we learn that the history of Jewish settlement in the Roumanian areas dates from the time when the Romans first conquered Dacia. The history, though long, is uneventful, the quiet of Jewish life disturbed only by persecution through bigotory in time of peace and through savagery in time of war. In the sixteenth century Polish proselytes to Judaism took refuge in Moldavia and Wallachia. The Jews of Moldavia followed all the professions and crafts. At the end of the eighteenth century we find them taking active share in the affairs of the communities in which they lived, where they received equal rights with those of Gentile subjects. They showed their patriotism in the revolution of 1848, the artist, Daniel Rosenthal, being one of the martyrs. Chapter x of this article portrays the internal organization of the Jewish community and chapter xi gives a record of its literature.

The second article treats of the situation of the Jews of Roumania since the Treaty of Berlin in 1878.

Gabriel Riesser:—A tract on this subject gives also a good picture of the stormy times before 1848. Prof. G. Deutsch, Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, 1906.

The Alliance Israelite Universelle:—American Jewish Year Book, 1900-1. Article by Jacques Bigart.

This shows its dual service, political and educational, as outlined in its aims:

  1. To work everywhere for the emancipation and the moral progress of the Jews.
  2. To lend effectual support to those who suffer through being Jews.
  3. To encourage every publication intended to bring about this result.

Theme for Discussion:— Was Napoleon a genuine advocate of Jewish rights?


The entrance of the Jews into the Western Hemisphere began almost with the landing of Columbus at the newly discovered South America. Some were banished there as exiles, others fled to it as a refuge. Little groups of both these classes we find in Lima, Peru and Mexico. That story is told in the closing chapter of the preceding volume — History of the Mediaeval Jews.

Later some came voluntarily from countries that had established colonies in America; some came from Holland, bringing their rabbis and scholars with them. In Brazil we see them settling in Pernambuco. Others settled in Dutch and French Guiana and in the British West Indies such as Barbadoes and Jamaica.

Nor were their troubles always over when they set foot on the Western continent. The long arm of the Inquisition occasionally reached across the seas. But the Jews discovered that Holland was as tolerant as Portugal was oppressive, abroad as at home. Therefore, when Brazil passed from the Dutch to the Portuguese in 1654 the Jews resident there sought more hospitable settlements. So in this same year a small party of twenty-three Jews left Brazil and landed at New Amsterdam; for that was Dutch too. Peter Stuyvesant, Governor of the colony, following the "classic" precedent of bigotry, would have prevented their admittance. He therefore wrote to the directors of the Dutch West Indies Company in Amsterdam requesting that "none of the Jewish nation be permitted to infest New Netherlands." But the Home Government maintained the right of the Jews to settle, for it had already experienced the value of Jewish subjects both commercially and patriotically. This was the beginning of Jewish settlement in North America 268 years ago.

Early Settlements.

Among the first group of pioneers, one person stands out as distinctly as did Joseph among his brethren in the old Bible story. His name was Asser Levy. He first came into prominence by resisting the attempt to exclude Jews from the right and duty of defense of the colony; and insisted on his privilege to stand guard as a "burgher". His sterling character and general ability ultimately won for him the esteem alike of both Christian and Jew. He showed his liberality in lending money for the building of the first Lutheran Church in New York. The high repute of this pioneer Jew reached to the neigboring colonies.

Among others who distinguished themselves may be mentioned Dr. Nunez, a Marano, who escaped from the Portuguese Inquisition; Aaron Lopez of Newport, who established a community in Leicester, Massachusetts, and founded an academy there; Jacob Lombroso, a physician of the less tolerant Maryland colony.

But Puritan New England was too bigoted for the most part to admit the Jews! Hence their settlement there did not come till post-Colonial days. Yet it was while Puritanism was at fever heat and because of it, that England had readmitted the Jews. Many of these American colonies based their first constitutions largely on the Hebrew Pentateuch, — the colony of New Haven in 1638 and that of Massachusetts in 1641. But such ironic contradictions had always entered into the unique experience of Israel.

We must make an exception, however, in the case of the colony of Rhode Island, founded by the broad minded Roger Williams. So Jews settled in its chief town, Newport, then commercially a more important seaport than New York. In the 18th century some Jews found their way to the Carolinas amd to Pennsylvania. Others established a community in Savannah, Georgia. Isaac Minis was the first white child born in Georgia. Our brethren settled in Texas while it was still part of Mexico. Aaron Levy who established himself in Pennsylvania, founded the town of Aaronsburg, giving it a public square as well as donating the ground for a school and for a church.

By the time New Amsterdam became New York (1664), passing from the Dutch to the English, the number of its Jews had considerably increased. While there were at first some restrictions against Jews settled in the American colonies, against their engaging in retail trade, holding civil posts, and in some instances against their worshiping publicly, — such prohibitions were gradually removed through their dignified and determined stand. The English law with regard to that ran: "Admit all persons what religion soever, quietly to inhabit within the government." That meant the right of Jewish worship in public. They built their first synagogue in New York in 1729. The dedication of other synagogues and cemeteries later followed. As most of the early settlers were Sephardim (Spanish or Portuguese) the congregations they established were of that ritual. In 1729 they were permitted to take an oath without the addition of the words "on the true faith of a Christian."

Maryland most stubbornly resisted Jewish settlement and passed a law that whoever denied the Trinity should be put to death. It did not grant the Jew equal civic rights till 1825.

Corresponding struggles for civic rights and liberties were being made by our brethren who were settling in Canada. Time and again the Legislature there refused to admit Jews elected to its membership, because they declined to take an oath that violated their conscience. It was not until 1832 that that civic right was granted and they were admitted to the Canadian Parliament of Great Britain.

Judah Touro.

One of the families that took advantage of the tolerance of Rhode Island to settle in Newport, was that of Touro. Here was born Judah Touro in 1775. In 1802) ?> he settled in New Orleans which was still French territory; for it was not till the following year that the Louisiana Purchase went into effect. Opening a store here, his industry and genius rapidly won him prosperity. Soon his ships were on many seas and he acquired vast lands. But he showed his public spirit at the time of the defense of New Orleans by Andrew Jackson; he entered the ranks as a private soldier and was severely wounded. It was he, together with Amos Lawrence, who supplied the funds needed for the completion of the Bunker Hill Monument, each giving $10,000. A tablet telling of this munificent service was placed upon it, prepared by John Adams, Daniel Webster and other eminent Americans.

He aided in the emancipation of whatever negro slaves came under his supervision.

An instance of his wide reaching philanthropy was the purchase of a church mortgage about to be foreclosed and presenting it to the congregation. When he died his will provided half a million dollars for benevolent causes, which was an enormous sum in those days. It gave alms houses to New Orleans, aid to many Jewish congregations, contributed to hospitals and asylums and even provided homes for the poor in Jerusalem. His tombstone in Newport summarizes his character in this epitaph: "Inscribed in the book of philanthropy to be remembered forever."

A street and a park are named after him in Newport, his birthplace, and Longfellow has made memorable the cemetery (still maintained by his providing care) in his poem "The Jewish Cemetery at Newport":

'A hand unseen

Scattering its bounty like a summer rain

Still keeps their graves and their remembrance green'.

A further quotation gives us a glimpse of the checkered history of the Jew:

'The very names recorded here are strange,

Of foreign accent, and of different climes;

Alvares and Rivera interchange

With Abraham and Jacob of old times.

How came they here? What burst of Christian hate,

What persecution, merciless and blind,

Drove o'er the sea — that desert desolate —

These Ishmaels and Hagars of mankind?

They lived in narrow streets and lanes obscure,

Ghetto and Judenstrass, in mirk and mire;

Taught in the school of patience to endure

The life of anguish and the death of fire.'

The Revolutionary War.

The Jews in America had already showed their patriotism in volunteering their services in the French and Indian War. Then came the struggle with the mother country. In making their plea for independence it is notable that the public men of the colonies turned to the Hebrew Scriptures as authority for civic rights and liberties. Like the earlier Puritans, so now the Colonials were compared with oppressed Israel in Egypt, in their struggle for freedom.

When the colonies united in 1776 to wrest their independence from Great Britain, Jews were among those who worked, fought and died for its cause, giving to it money, supplies and men; though a few remained loyal to the royalists. Charleston raised a voluntary infantry corps, composed almost entirely of Jews. Among the distinguished patriots were Francis Salvador, of South Carolina, Major Benjamin Nones, of Philadelphia, distinguished for his bravery; Esther and David Hays of New York; also Rabbi Gershom Seixas, a trustee of King's college, now Columbia University, and the founder of a synagogue in Philadelphia. Of Jewish officers in the Revolutionary army, twenty-seven are specified, among them four lieutenant colonels, three majors and six captains. A chronicler writes:— "they were ever foremost in hazardous enterprise."

Patriotic Jews helped the cause in other ways, in supplying army needs and also in official service. Lieutenant Colonel David Franks in 1784 was sent on a peace mission to Europe and was later entrusted with confidential diplomatic tasks abroad. He was given a tract of land in recognition of his service in the Revolutionary War.

Haym Salomon in patriotically serving the colony's cause, suffered imprisonment by the enemy. He escaped and later was entrusted with the supervision of the finances of the colonies. When it was in dire straits he lent the Government $350,000. For this loan America is still his family's debtor.

When the victory came that ushered into being the United States, the Jew with his fellow countrymen hailed Washington as its first father and six different Jewish communities sent congratulatory addresses. In one of his replies he wrote:

"It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were by the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for happily the Government of the United States, w T hich gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support. . . . May the children of the stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants, while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig-tree and there shall be none to make him afraid."

The Constitution of the Federal Government now declared that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office of public trust under the United States." With Church and State now completely separated, the Jew in the republic has the same rights as the Gentile. For this provision was accordingly recognized in the separate laws of the different States of the Union.

Commodore Levy and Mordecai Noah.

Jews fought for their country in the war of 1812, notably Brigadier General Moses Bloomfield. Among others who served our country in this and in the Mexican War may be mentioned, Lieut. Henry Seeligson and General David De Leon, twice thanked by Congress for gallantry. The most distinguished was Uriah P. Levy, who began his naval career as a cabin boy. But alas, the prejudiced even in America could never forget that he was a Jew. He had fought his way in each step toward promotion through bitter religious bigotry. He was nobly jealous of the honor of his country and of his religion, and never allowed anyone to besmirch the one or ridicule the other. Occasionally he had to fight a duel in defense of his good name and that of his faith. As many as six different times he was court-martialed. This treatment made his checkered career not so dissimilar to that of Alfred Dreyfus of a later day. Like the latter he too was ultimately restored to his rank and completely vindicated, finally attaining the exalted position of Commodore. The esteem that he ultimately won, was shown on his visit to New York in 1834, when he was granted the freedom of the City. This epitaph occurs on his tombstone — "He was the father of the law which abolished corporal punishment in the navy."

An interesting figure of the early part of the 19th century was the versatile Mordecai Manuel Noah, an orphan boy starting with the humble trade of carver. He devoted his evenings to study and became a playwright, lawyer and statesman. Among the important positions he filled was that of Associate Judge of the New York Court of Special Sessions, High Sheriff and later, Surveyor of the Port of New York. As Consul to Tunis in 1813 he succeeded in rescuing some Americans from Algerian pirates in a manner that strengthened American prestige abroad.

Seeing the suffering of his brethren in Eastern Europe, he conceived the idea of a haven where their rights would be legally assured. So he will always be remembered for his romantic attempt to establish an American Zion on Grand Island, outside Buffalo. Though he purchased the land, which he named Ararat, dedicated it in 1825, and invited the Jews of the world to settle there, the project met no response and was abandoned. Yet, not relinquishing his ardor, he pleaded for the right of the Jews to demand settlement in Palestine. His discourse in 1844 delivered before a vast audience — an appeal to the Christians for this Jewish restoration — is the most remarkable of all his addresses. For in it he pointed out the duty of the Christian to help the Jew to acquire the Holy Land. If he lived today, he would see his dream in process of realization. In the midst of editing many journals, producing many popular plays and books and presiding as a judge, he contined a staunch pleader and worker for his co-religionists to the end of his life.


The Jew was making America his country. Enjoying its benefits, he was prepared to suffer in its cause. In all its great conflicts, he sent more than his quota of volunteers. David de Leon distinguished himself for his gallantry in the Mexican War; Alfred Mordecai, Major of Ordnance, aided it by scientific application of martial mechanism.

Many Jews responded to President Lincoln's call for recruits in 1861. That Lieut. Col Leopold Newman expressed desire to remain in front at the battle of Chancellorsville, where his foot was shattered, is one of many examples of dauntless bravery of Jewish soldiers. Leopold Blumenberg, of Baltimore, abandoned his business for the cause and became Major of a regiment he helped to organize. As Colonel, he was shot in the thigh at Antietam. Later, he was made Brevet-Brigadier General of the United States Volunteers.

Frederick Knefler enlisted as a private and became successively, Captain, Major, Colonel and Brigadier General. For meritorious service at Chickamauga he was promoted to the rank of Brevet-Major General. This is the highest rank attained by a Jew in the American Army.

Among a very long list of those who volunteered their services in the Civil War, special mention should be made of the following: Captain Frank Mayer, Captain Joseph B. Greenhut, a Gettysburg hero; Brevet Brigadier General Edward S. Salomon and Philip J. Joachimsen, founder of the Hebrew Sheltering Guardian Society. Lieutenant Colonel Israel Moses, surgeon; Captain Edward Wertheimer, Colonel Max Einstein, Captain and Brigadier Adjutant General Abraham Hart, Captain Nathan D. Menken, — all advanced for gallantry on the field. Sergeant Elias Leon Hyneman, shot on the field of battle, and Dr. Max E. Cohen, killed in heroic effort to save others.

Naturally, Jews in the South no less patriotically took up the Confederate cause. Adolph Proskauer, of Mobile, was four times wounded. Yet he lived to serve in the Alabama legislature and was president of a congregation. Captain Levi Myers Harby, who had served under the United States flag in the War of 1812, in the Mexican and Seminole Wars, enrolled in the Confederate navy, where he was made a commodore. Dr. Mark Cohen, of Charleston, was one of three soldiers who volunteered to hurl aside explosive shells thrown into the Confederate ranks. They sacrificed their own lives, but saved their company.

Judah P. Benjamin rose step by step by sheer force of intellectual vigor until he became a United States Senator, as well as the greatest orator of his day. When the South seceded, he became Secretary of War and later Secretary of State of the Confederacy. With the downfall of the Confederate cause, he settled in England, continued his legal practice there and ended his remarkable career as leader of the English Bar.

South and Central America.

South America covers an area of nine million square miles — that is three times the area of the United States, yet it has but a population of eighty million, consisting of white, Indian and negro.

Jews have been drifting to this Western continent ever since the days of its first discovery. Jamaica was perhaps the earliest important Jewish settlement in Central or South America. In the palmy days of Jamaica when it was an important trade center, that is, in the latter half of the eighteenth century, the Jews there were both numerous and influential and we are told that "its entire foreign and inter-colonial trade was in Jewish hands." Unlike the Spanish, the English abolished instead of introducing Jewish disabilities. This was the first English possession that took this tolerant step. Completely enfranchised in 1831, they soon occupied civil and military posts. In 1848 eight of forty-seven members of the Colonial assembly were Jews which, out of regard for them, adjourned on Yom Kippur. At that time there were some 2,500 Jews in Jamaica, but their numbers declined with the decline of the Island following a natural law.

While the early settlers in South America as in the North, came first as refugees, many of the later settlers came in the voluntary spirit of the emigrant, who, with a touch of adventure and a sense of enterprise, seeks fortune in a new land. So thus all through the nineteenth century our brethren from the Continent have found their way across the Atlantic. But the latest group of these in the Eighties hieing from Russia, were also victims of persecution. This latter migration to South America from the land of the Slav, paralleled a similar movement of Jewish emigrants to North America which will be told in the next chapter.

Argentina, an enlightened and progressive country, has the largest Jewish population. It has been called the "melting pot of South America." Essentially a white man's land, it is the second country of Latin America; with a population of nine million, it could accommodate seventy-five million. Its capital, Buenos Aires, is the fourth American city in the Western Continent. The fact that among its many periodicals some are published in Yiddish and Russian, is suggestive of its cosmopolitan character. Of its 110,000 Jewish inhabitants, over half live in the capital — the rest in the agricultural colonies. Here every kind of occupation is followed by our brethren from banking to stock raising, and among them will be found every type of artisan from the blacksmith to the baker.

Although Brazil is much larger than the United States, and has a population of 20,000,000, but 5,000 of these are our own brethren. Yet the Jews were the first to transplant the sugar cane from the Island of Madeira. Naturally the largest number today are found in the capital, Rio de Janeiro. One city, Para, chose a Jewish Mayor. Some in the more sparsely settled centers marry out of the faith, and are lost altogether to Israel.

Chili has but 500 of our brethren. Some of these may be descendants of the early settlers who lived as Maranos in the dark days. Commercially they are prosperous, but religiously, there is much left to be desired. Without the stress of the old persecution, many, alas, live Maranos in spirit today. — that is, they do not reveal their Judaic identity. No synagogue has been reared by them and only on the Holy Days of New Year and Atonement, do they, by assembling in the homes of some private individuals, remember their spiritual obligations.

This, unfortunately, is the story of many of the Jewish settlements in South American countries when they are of small numbers. What can we expect of Colombia when it has but 80 Jewish souls? It has no synagogue, but it possesses a cemetery. What volumes condensed in that summary! Naught to keep alive the Jewish spark and only a place to decently inter it when extinct.

Paraguay has 150 Jewish families. With two synagogues (one of them Portuguese) but with a single Rabbi, its religious spirit is kept alive but in a fitful way.

The record of the not quite 500 brethren in Venezuela is but a replica of other communities; nor is there a much different chronicle to give of our brethren in Panama, except to say that the older — that is, the native Jews, are the most important merchants; yet, Colon boasts of a synagogue which conducts services both on Friday evening and on Saturday. Panama City has two congregations and many philanthropic societies to take care of stranded Jews.

Central America being located nearer the tropics, contains but few Jewish men who are married. Those who are, send their children to the United States or to Europe to be educated; so there is no story of Jewish interest to be told of them. The unsettled condition of Mexico in recent years has not been favorable to Jewish activity; though there was a time when there were 15,000 Jews there.

The West Indies constitutes a chain of islands of which Cuba is the largest. At one time every island had Jewish settlers. But their numbers have dwindled during the last half century, partly due to unfavorable political conditions. Although a Jew was the first to set foot in Cuba over 400 years ago, there are but 1,000 there today. It was not until 1881 that they were legally permitted to reside there, and only since the close of the Spanish American War has a public Jewish service been allowed; yet, it was our brethren who largely developed its two great industries, sugar and tobacco in the early days. That Havana has a Y. M. H. A. today suggests the possibility that the Cuba of tomorrow may not have an unworthy Jewish story to tell.

The Dutch possession of Curacao was one of the first real Jewish communities in the Western hemisphere over 200 years ago. In 1654 many fled here from Brazil after the Portuguese had conquered it. It has a Reform as well as an Orthodox Synagogue. There were days when 2,000 of our brethren lived there. There are but 600 today, although these are persons of affluence and importance and the Queen of Holland appointed five Jews of the thirteen who make up the Colonial Council of Government.

A word should be said of our brethren in the United States, possessions of Latin America. While Jews are beginning to settle in Porto Rico — one being a Judge of the Supreme Court, and another the Assistant Attorney General — the acquisition is too recent for a history. America acquired the Virgin Islands from Denmark but five years ago, but the most important, St. Thomas, had about 500 Jewish souls there three quarters of a century ago who largely controlled its commerce.

No movement that has stirred Israel throughout the world but has touched South American Jewry at some point. Here and there one will meet Zionist Societies; at other places, local committees for participance in the "Jewish Congress" that was planned to be held here, but because of the war, was for a time abandoned, It was revived again in 1922.

South America is only at the beginning of its development. It has suffered under the backwardness of a Spanish regime which it has but recently shaken off. The awakening is yet to come! Probably our brethren may contribute their share in the upbuilding of new centers of civilization in this south-western hemisphere, and perhaps another great chapter in Jewish history will here be written.


Jews in America:—Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society, "Jews in the American Revolution/ ' vols, iii, iv, vi, xii. "Jews in Diplomatic Correspondence of U. S." vol. xv. "Jews in Maryland" and "Commodore Levy". Am. Jew. Year Book, 5663. "Jews in Latin America." Am. Jewish Year Book, 5678.

For "Victims of Inquisition in Mexico and Peru" see History of the Jews in America, Chap, iii, Peter Wiernik, Jewish Press Pub Co., New York.

The American Jew as Patriot, Soldier and Citizen, by Simon Wolf, edited by Louis Edward Levy, Brentano, 1895. It is a valuable document of painstaking research. It is the most complete answer to those who question Jewish patriotism. It contains long lists of names of Jews who have served their country in all the wars In which America has been engaged, and it is full of interesting data of Jewish prowess and exploits. We recommend it for those who desire fuller information of Jewish activity on the field of battle.

The Hebrews in America, Isaac Markens, New York.

Separation of Church and State:—The Constitution declared in 1887 — largely through the influence of Thomas Jefferson — that no religious test should be used as a qualification for public office. Later the first amendment was passed, declaring "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Individual States gradually adopted similar liberal provisions.

Uriah P. Levy, American Jewish Year Book, 5663. Gershom M. Seixas, Am. J. Y. Book, 5665.

Theme for Discussion:— Develop the subject — the better the Jew the better the American.

Jewish Achievement in the United States.

The first great wave of Jewish immigration was Sephardic (those coming from Portugal or Spain). The second wave was Ashkanazic (those coming from German and Austrian lands). Beginning in the 18th century it did not subside till the latter part of the 19th. Its members scattered South, East and West. With the growth of America these communities grew steadily in numbers in economic and intellectual importance and in civic value. The Jewish population in the United States estimated by Mordecai Noah in 1818, but 3,000, by 1848) ?> had increased to more than 50,000; and nearly a quarter of a million thirty years later.


Soon American Jewry began its contribution to literature.

Penina Moise, born in Charleston, S. C, in 1797, early showed a poetic gift. Like the novelist, Grace Aguilar, of England, her contemporary, she was a great sufferer; like her, too, a woman of unfaltering religious faith. Though Miss Moise lost her sight and fortune, she never lost her sense of humor and her cheer. She contributed many poems to the Jewish hymnal.

She was but a humble advance herald of her more gifted sister, Emma Lazarus. The genius of the latter developed at an early age; she received her first inspiration in the Civil War. The choice of her themes showed her a woman of wide culture; many were selected from the classics. Her translation of the poems of Heinrich Heine won her further renown.

But just as the Damascus slander stirred the Jewishness of Cremieux, hitherto aloof from the Synagogue, so the persecution of the Jews in Russia forty years later, stirred into life the Jewish soul of Emma Lazarus. She lent her gifted pen to the cause not only in verse but also in prose. The ideals of the Jew that had so far not touched her, from now on found in her a passionate advocate. She further enriched Jewish literature by translating, — from the original, but mainly from the German, — poems of Ibn Gabirol and Jehuda Halevy.

Her sonnet, "The Colossus" is inscribed on the portals of the Statue of Liberty standing in New York Harbor. Unfortunately, she died in her prime, but not before attaining literary eminence as Jewess and as American.

Poets of lesser magnitude have followed as well as essayists, journalists and novelists.

Jewish literature was further fostered by the Jewish Publication Society of America, founded thirty-three years ago in Philadelphia and flourishing still. It has issued 115 volumes including history, biography, essays, fiction and year books. Its most important production was Graetz' "History of the Jews" in five volumes, and a revised translation of the Bible. One of its founders and the chairman of its publication committee is Judge Mayer Sulzberger of Philadelphia. It was fortunate in having as its Secretary for many years, Miss Henrietta Szold, one of the most cultured Jewesses in America. A Jewish Publication Society was called into being in the early part of the 19th century and flourished for a few years.

The most notable Jewish work produced in America was the "Jewish Encyclopedia" in twelve volumes, planned by Dr. Isidore Singer, with Gentiles as well as Jews serving on its editorial board.

We may mention here the organization of the American Jewish Historical Society whose researches have adde valuable data to the records of Jewish life on the Western continent.

American Jews, like those of Europe, have also made contributions to arts and sciences. They have attained eminence in music, as composers, musicians, concert leaders and promoters of opera. In the drama, as stage managers, theatre builders and actors. They have contributed their share in astronomy and in medical discovery. They have rendered service in the fields of economics and sociology.

Following Gentile precedent, there have been established in America Young Men's and Young Women's Hebrew Associations. These have offered cultural and social opportunities to young people in the cities. The Jewish Chatauqua movement, established by Dr. Henry Berkowitz, was instituted to further Jewish education through correspondence, public assemblies and through publications.


The American Jewish community was soon large and influential enough for its voice to be heard in behalf of its oppressed co-religionists throughout the world. These appeals have not been without influence on presidents, cabinets, congresses and foreign diplomats. American Jews demonstrated benevolent activity in seeking to obtain the Jewish right of residence, in the '60's, in Switzerland and in the provinces of Turkey, and labored for passport rights in Russia and raised their protest against Russian barbarity, Roumanian expulsion and Moroccan persecution, and stretched helping hands across the seas to suffering Israel.

With the steady increase in numbers, relief of the poor is undertaken by large Jewish communities of America on a colossal scale. Nearly all the large cities have federated their charities to systematize their work and increase their resources. The last quarter of a century has been marked by the establishment of orphan asylums, hospitals, and sisterhoods; homes for the aged, for infants, for delinquents and immigrants; also by organizing agricultural colonies, farm schools and technical schools; likewise schools of philanthropy, for philanthropy has become a profession. The Settlement has become an important institution in American cities. Established in humbler localities settlements exercise a benevolent influence on the neighborhood and have been instrumental in introducing many social reforms.

In this connection we may mention the institution of Benevolent Orders, i.e., mutual benefit societies, somewhat on the Masonic pattern. Although instituted primarily for the benefit of their members, contributing dues to the sick and legacies to the family at death, the aim of aiding suffering Israel at home and abroad has been brought steadily to the fore by these orders. This is particularly true of the Independent Order of B'nai B'rith (Sons of the Covenant), founded in 1843. It has lodges all over the country and a number abroad, and a membership of about 40,000. A number of benevolent orders of less prominence have later come into existence, such as the Free Sons of Israel, and Independent Order of B'rith Abraham, the latter having a larger membership.

The third great influx of Jews to America was mostly Russian. It began with the expulsion of Jews from Russian villages in 1882. As the German wave had largely exceeded in numbers the Portuguese, so the Russian now exceeded the German.

The preponderating influence long continued in German hands, for many of the Russian immigrants were poor and needed setting on their feet in various respects, and their advent was followed by the establishment of new charitable and philanthropic societies and the enlarging of those already existing. But immigrants and their offspring are fast acquiring both means and prestige.

Still the complexity of the Jewish problem with growing numbers, made it necessary to call into being a new organization known as the American Jewish Committee. Just as in Europe, France had produced the Alliance Israelite Universelle, England the Anglo-Jewish Association, and Germany, the Hilfsverein der deutschen Juden, to safeguard Jewish interests in all lands, so this important organization is lending its valuable cooperation to look after the welfare of suffering Jews throughout the world and to plead for its right before the great Powers. Its President today is the communal leader, Louis Marshall.

Jacob H. Schiff was the most eminent philanthropist of American Jewry. He was head of a great banking house, and like the Rothschilds, influenced international movements. A man of profound judgment, his word on public questions was ever listened to with eagerness by distinguished men of affairs. A patron of learning, his benefactions have enriched many universities, particularly Harvard, Columbia and Barnard College.

But that which won for him the deepest veneration of the Jewish community has been his untiring service for the welfare of his co-religionists. He was the leader of American Israel for forty years in every philanthropic enterprise. The problem of persecutions abroad, of immigration to America, of charity federation, of the incurably sick, of the ignorant and the unfortunate, received a large portion of his time and thought as well as gifts from his munificence.

A staunch Jew, he did much for religious education. The presentation of the building for the Jewish Theological Seminary of Xew York gave new importance to that institution. At the same time, he contributed much to endow the Hebrew Union College for the training of rabbis of the Reform School. This brings us to the most vital field of Jewish concern.


We have seen that as soon as Israel settled in the New World, they established sanctuaries. They realized that "not on bread alone doth man live." In the midst of material success there was ever the idealizing touch. In the early years of the 19th century. Isaac Leeser was the first to introduce the custom of weekly sermons in the pulpit each Sabbath and was one of the first to issue a Jewish weekly paper, the Occident. His most important service was a translation of the Bible into English. He also translated the Sephardic liturgy and issued some text books. This industrious worker also laid the foundation of an orphanage and of a Jewish College.

Gradually there came from growing Israel, pamphlets, Jewish weeklies, volumes of sermons and catechisms, religious school manuals and new rituals in German and in English.

But it was not till later on in the 19th century that American Jewry felt the need of linking up its scattered communities. To Isaac M. Wise is due the credit of organizing in 1875 the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. This was composed of all the synagogues of the liberal wing. It meets bi-ennially in one of the large cities of the country. One of its offshoots is the Synagogue and School Extension. It publishes school literature and establishes religious schools as well as extension services in outlying places and in large cities. He also founded in connection with the Union, the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati for the training of Reform ministers. Up to this time most of the rabbis had hailed from foreign lands, and the majority preached in German. Here then was the beginning of an American Jewish ministry. American Israel is further indebted to the untiring energy of Isaac M. Wise for originating the Central Conference of American Rabbis. This important organization took the place of those rabbinic Conferences to which reference has already been made. They discuss at their annual conventions the religious problems that come before American Jewry and through it the effort is made to bring uniformity in Jewish ritual and practice. With this further end in view, it has issued a Union Prayer Book, a Union Hymnal, and a Union Hagada, also a Minister's Hand-book. It publishes an annual report of its proceedings.

The Orthodox Jews, who form the large majority, have followed the precedent of the Reform, in forming organizations on similar lines. Hence, the Union of American Orthodox Congregations, as well as the United Synagogue of America.

The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, established in 1885 in New York, trains rabbis for Orthodox and Conservative pulpits. It won special distinction when Solomon Schechter, reader in rabbinics at Cambridge, was chosen as its head. This remarkable man, in addition to his profound scholarship was gifted with a brilliant literary style. This made his "Studies in Judaism" and his "Aspects of Jewish Theology" very readable, for their diction as well as for their erudition. His best contribution to Jewish literature was his discovery in the Geniza at Cairo of fragments of the Hebrew text of Ecclesiasticus.

To complete this record, mention should be made of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary for the orthodox and a proposed Jewish Institute of Religion for the Reform; both in New York City.

The attempt to introduce a chief rabbi in the United States has not been successful, not harmonizing with the freedom and democracy of the American spirit.

Jewish Education.

Before the institution of the public school, or while it was still in its infancy, American Jews maintained parochial schools where both religious and secular instruction was imparted. Later, religion was taught in Sabbath Schools attached to the Synagogues.

Rebecca Gratz of Philadelphia, the Rebecca of Scott's "Ivanhoe," established the first Jewish Sabbath School in Philadelphia in 1835. Later Hebrew and the Bible were imparted in the Cheder (room) to the children of immigrant families. This mode of instruction imported from Eastern Europe was of doubtful value, either religious or educational. Far better were the Talmud Torah Schools (Study of the Law) which we find established in all cities where large numbers of the Orthodox Jews are found. But the Bureau of Education organized in recent years (New York) has greatly improved their curriculum and their methods of instruction. Distinction should be made between the religious school of the Reform congregations, meeting on Sundays, and that of the Conservative that meets two or three times each week as well; the additional time being spent in the study of Hebrew. Quite a revival has taken place in recent years in the cultivation of Hebrew, imparting it as a modern tongue and encouraging its use as a spoken language.

Women's Organizations.

The Council of Jewish Women was organized in Chicago in 1893 at the time of the World's Fair. Its motto, "Faith and Philanthropy" explains its dual function. It has branches all over the Union as well as junior auxiliaries. Its chief concern is the Jewish girl, particularly the newly arrived immigrant. The sick, the blind, the delinquent, also come under its care. It likewise conducts Bible classes, and mission schools. It is in touch with Women's movements throughout the land.

The Federation of Temple Sisterhoods is the women's adjunct of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, though of but recent origin. It is a union of the Ladies' Auxiliary Societies connected with most congregations. Its concern is with the Temple itself, fostering attendance at divine worship, providing a social factor to its members, and stimulating religiousness in the home. The Women's League of the United Synagogue of America serves a similar function for Conservative Judaism. Jewish women in America are taking a steadily increasing part in the conduct of communal affairs. They serve as trustees of congregations and are on the boards of philanthropic institutions.

Eminent Men.

Many prominent Jews have contributed important service to their co-religionists. Some have been called to posts of honor and responsibility. Among these we may specify the following: The many sided scholar Michael Heilprin was a confidant of Louis Kossuth while in Hungary and an anti-slavery champion in America as well as an untiring worker for Russian refugees. He believed that the Jewish masses would find their salvation in agriculture. His son Angelo Heilprin became famous as a naturalist.

Benjamin F. Peixotto was appointed by President Grant as Consul General to Roumania. He used his efforts to ameliorate the condition of the Jews there. His untiring zeal brought the wrongs of Israel to a focus and resulted in special protection being promised the Roumanian Jews at the Treaty of Berlin in 1878.

Oscar S. Straus was appointed Minister to Turkey and later Ambassador to the same country. He was the first Jew called to the Cabinet. The Portfolio given him by President Roosevelt was Commerce and Labor. He also served on the Hague Tribunal. His works, "Origin of the Republican Form of Government in the United States," "Roger Williams," and "Religious Liberty in the U.S." show the influence of Jewish teaching on America's struggle for independence.

It has come to be almost a precedent to appoint a Jew as Ambassador to Turkey, so in addition to Oscar Straus, this post has been filled by Solomon Hirsch, Henry Morgenthau, and Abram I. Elkus. In 1921, President Harding appointed Albert D. Lasker, Chairman of the Shipping Board, and in 1922, Rabbi Joseph S. Kornfeld, Minister to Persia, and Simon Brentano, Minister to Hungary. Six Jews have served in the United States Senate, — Judah P. Benjamin, David Levy Yulee, Benjamin F. Jonas, Simon Guggenheim, Joseph Simon, and Isidor Raynor. At different times twenty-nine Jews have been members of Congress and many will be found in both houses of State Legislatures. A number of Jews have been raised to the Bench; one, Louis D. Brandeis, is now serving on the United States Supreme Court. Our co-religionists, Simon Bamberger, was chosen Governor of the State of Utah, and Morris Alexander, of Idaho. When Washington was a territory, Edward S. Salomon, a Brigadier General of the Civil War, was appointed its governor.

During the World War, President Wilson summoned distinguished Jews to his Council.

Finally we might add the name of Samuel Gompers, who has been repeatedly chosen the head of the American Federation of Labor.

From these instances it is seen that in the United States faith is no ban to public office. The temptation of the weak in some continental lands to abandon their creed to obtain political or professional preferment does not exist here — at least in the same degree. Notwithstanding, we cannot blind our eyes to the fact that many, for all sorts of reasons, have drifted from the Synagogue to which reference has already been made. Living no longer aloof in Ghettos, either by compulsion or choice, Jews are thrown in ever closer association with their Gentile neighbors. Intermarriage is alarmingly on the increase. Some have affiliated with the Christian Science Church seeking it first as a fancied remedy for bodily illness and remaining in it because it appears to make some mystical appeal to their emotions. Others again (and many of these will be found among the manual working class) join radical groups and deliberately reject the established religions altogether. Between these on the one hand and the strictly observant on the other will be found many who are held to Judaism by a slender tie.

In a survey of this situation it should be realized that it is harder for a Jew to live a Jewish life in an environment foreign to his faith, than for the Gentile majority to conform to their respective Christian denominations, since American custom is naturally adjusted to the social and economic needs of the overwhelming majority; hence, the selection of Sunday as the weekly day of rest.

Average man moves on the line of least resistance. The Jew to live as a Jew, must flow against the tide. The difficulty of his status as man and Jew has been complicated, further, by general hostility, partly due to his persistent distinctiveness and his refusal to lose his individuality among the peoples about him. For emancipation, while it brought Jew and Gentile closer together, the contact also brought with it certain social repulsions, product of old prejudice and new rivalry, that it will require the discipline of broadening culture to dispel. Meanwhile, this ill will has finally focussed into an anti-Jewish movement that we will now consider.


In its attitude of hostility, Roumania had taken her cue not so much from Russia as from Germany. For, although by 1870, Germany had theoretically wiped out all restrictive legislation against Jews, laws had changed faster than feeling. In 1878 there arose a movement styled anti-Semitism, very similar in its venom to the Teutomania that followed Napoleon's fall. This treatment subtly implied that the Jew belonged to a foreign alien group. The mediaeval "hep, hep" had been raised against the Jew's religion; Teutomania was a crusade against him as a nationality; anti-Semitism discriminated against his race. Sceptical Germany shifted the grounds of complaint from Christian against Jew to Aryan against Semite.

Anti-Semitism included in its program the re-endorsement of many old charges and slanders against the Jews and while at first but an attitude of ill will, it grew into a distinct political party.

Bismarck had made use of the "Liberals" to obtain a united Germany. That attained, he threw them over for the Conservatives. By utilizing the anti-Semitic wave, he was able to discredit the Liberals, since Jews largely belonged to that party and its leader, Eduard Lasker, was a Jew. Feeling and ill-feeling ran high, at times reaching the stage of anti-Jewish riots and boycotts. The anti-Semites persisted in seeking through legislation to drive Jews from public posts and to prevent their immigration. They were base enough to revive the Blood Accusation, though clever enough to know it a slander. The movement spread to Hungary and Austria. Later it reached France and found expression there in anti-Jewish books and journals.

The persecution of Alfred Dreyfus falsely charged with treason, had a strong anti-Semitic foundation. His solitary confinement in a cage on Devil's Island, Guiana, from 1895-1899 stirred the whole civilized world. Our co-religionist Joseph H. Reinach, editor, scientist, author and statesman was the first and most insistent advocate of his innocence. Other eminent defenders were the novelist Emile Zola and Colonel Picquart. Largely through their efforts, Dreyfus was not only pardoned, but vindicated and restored to all his military honors.

In dissecting anti-Semitism, we usually find a mixture of three elements, reactionary monorchism as against democratic liberalism of the Jew: clericalism, as against rationalism, likewise advocated by the Jew; thirdly, militarism, as against Jewish peace ideals.

Many of the anti-Semitic charges are childish and must tax the credulity even of the most prejudiced. At times they depict the Jews in conspiracy against the human race. Yet the influence of anti-Semitism on the Jews has been in some respects salutary. It has roused the lethargic and indifferent and deepened the feeling of mutual responsibility.

Slander against the Jews reached its climax in the Twentieth Century in the deliberate fabrication of a story that the Jews had ever been and were still, in a conspiracy to overthrow Christendom; that they have been the secret cause of all revolutions and were planning through a mysterious organization known as the "Elders of Zion" to dominate the world. To substantiate this wicked charge these enemies of Israel forged a document which they called the "proceedings" of this Jewish body and then claimed that they had accidentally discovered it. This abortive calumny was first launched in Russia and used to divert the discontent of the masses from the autocratic government, to the Jew, — the perpetual scapegoat of the world's woes. Its publication led to many Jewish pogroms in Russia. This literary forgery was then translated and carried to Germany. It was then turned into English; but as it contained many attacks against Britain, these were carefully removed. In this form it was circulated in England and America under the title "The World's Unrest." A Jewish scholar, Lucien Wolf, exposed the entire fabrication and "The Times," the leading English journal, finally repudiated the charge. But still, periodicals are issued in many lands containing excerpts from this wicked and false charge, with the sole object of bringing discredit on the Jew and fomenting ill-will against him.

This situation has brought despair to some, but is a stimulus to others. This logically brings us to the consideration of a movement that has received the name of Zionism.


A recrudescence of prejudice and persecution at the close of the 19th century finding expression in antiSemitism, anti-alien legislation, pogroms and expulsions, has shifted Jewish population from eastern Europe to more western centers. But at the same time throwing the Jew back upon himself, it has deepened the Jewish consciousness and sense of responsibility.

On some it has had the further effect of reawakening a Jewish national sentiment and strengthening Jewish racial individuality. This state of mind has crystallized under the name of Zionism. This was at first a movement launched by Theodor Herzl, an Austrian litterateur, to establish a Jewish State in Israel's old home, Zion, by the friendly aid of the Great Powers. These ideas were embodied in a book entitled "Juden-Staat" issued in 1896, proposing that Palestine, or at least that part of it once known as Judea, should become a legally assured home, as a haven for the oppressed in despotic lands. But furthermore, the expectation was voiced that it might become the voluntary home of many Jews dissatisfied with their status in liberal lands, and who felt an awakening of a national sense of Jews, stimulated by the revival of national feeling for independence by many subject races in recent years in different parts of the world.

But long before the days of Theodor Herzl the desire for a Jewish State in Palestine found many exponents early in the 19th century even among the Gentiles, as a romantic idea, from Hollingsworth and Laurence Oliphant to George Eliot and Hall Caine. Among the Jews — these that fostered those aims called themselves Chovevi-Zion (Lovers of Zion) the chief of these being Moses Hess.

This movement might be called the advance herald fostering the national idea and promoting Jewish colonization, in the Holy Land. This was further encouraged by the historian Graetz and by the poet Emma Lazarus. Quite a literature grew around it. The actual founding of Colonization Societies as the next step in the movement, took practical effect as early as 1874.

It is important to distinguish between Israel's restoration to the Holy Land through the providence of God,—under the leadership of a Messiah King of the House of David, — a doctrine of Orthodox Judaism, and the Zionist project, which is a political and secular undertaking entirely distinct from the traditional beliefs of the Synagogue. Indeed, it was opposed by some Orthodox Jews (such as the Chief Rabbi Herman Adler and Lucien Wolf of England), who believed in the restoration only in a divine and miraculous way. At the same time, Zionism has been supported by some Reform Jews who had given up the Orthodox doctrine of a belief in a personal Messiah. Furthermore the movement is espoused by many who do not believe in Jewish nationalism, yet sympathetically and appreciatively encourage the development of the movement as a wondrous experiment in national revival.

But, on the whole, the movement at first met with intense opposition. For the most part from liberal Jews such as Claude Montefiore of England, scholar and philanthropist, and Dr. Kaufman Kohler, here, President of the Hebrew Union College.

So the line of cleavage is not only between Orthodox and Reform, but for the moment more intensely perhaps between Nationalists and anti-Nationalists. The latter, who are non-Zionists, accept only the nationalism of their respective fatherlands and claim to be Jews by religion. They recognize vividly the sentimental tie uniting them with their co-religionists, intensified by historic background and fifteen centuries of persecution. They differentiate between a Jewish race which they question, and the perpetuation of a Jewish type created through centures of segregation.

But the movement has rapidly grown in the teeth of much antagonism and has gradually won the adherence of many who at first opposed it. It is remarkable the enthusiasm it has awakened among its increasing votaries and the appeal it has made to many skeptics who had fallen out of touch with the Synagogue. Among these we may specially mention one of its leaders, Max Nordau, the litterateur.

To those unimpressed by its national aspect it makes appeal as a cultural movement. For it has revived Hebrew as a spoken tongue and has cultivated a knowledge of Jewish history and literature through its publication of books and pamphlets. Its further encouragement of Jewish art and folk customs has tended to strengthen Jewish individuality and has given new confidence to some of our brethren frankly to assert their Jewish affiliation, where before the tendency had been rather to keep it shrinkingly in the background.

The first Zionist Congress was called in 1897 in Basle. Such congresses met annually in some European city and the attendance grew successively larger. The movement has branches all over the world and vast sums have been raised for Palestinian restoration. It is divided into separate groups according to different interpretations of its purpose. On the extreme right there are the Mizrachi (Oriental), those who make the acceptance of Orthodox Judaism a sine-qua non of their adherence, on the extreme left the Poele Zion (Zionist workers), made up of radicals in the labor group, who would entirely dissever religion from Zionism. But while there are some Zionists then who do not observe Judaism, concerned with the people and not with the faith, — on the whole, it must be said that the tendency of the movement has been to bring many to the Synagogue and estrange none from it. Whatever our views, we cannot but be impressed by the idealism of those who for the love of the land of their fathers, are ready to settle in a country not rich in resources, at best, and wasted by centuries of Turkish neglect, when on the ground of mere material interest the United States, South America or the English Colonies are more alluring and offer fuller opportunity for worldly success.

The rapid march of events in the world at large has given a new aspect to the Zionist situation. This will be considered in the next, the closing chapters.


Emma Lazarus:—Her Jewish poems have been separately issued by the "American Hebrew," in a volume called "Songs of a Semite." She translated some poems of Heine, one of which is quoted in this volume.

The following verses not only illustrate the genius of our poet, but also show what has been done for the Russian emigrant in America.

"Since that day till now our life is one unbroken paradise We live a true brotherly life. Every evening after supper we take a seat under the mighty oak and sing our songs." Extract from a letter of a Russian refugee in Texas.

The hounded stag that has escaped the pack,

And pants at ease within a thick-leaved dell;

The unimprisoned bird that finds the track

Through sun-bathed space, to where his fellows dwell;

The martyr, granted respite from the rack,

The death-doomed victim, pardoned from his cell. —

Such only know the joy these exiles gain, —

Life's sharpest rapture is surcease from pain.

Strange faces theirs, where through the Orient sun

Gleams from the eyes and glows athwart the skin.

Grave lines of studious thought and purpose run

From curl-crowned forehead to dark-bearded chin.

And over all the seal is stamped thereon

Of anguish branded by a world of sin,

In fire and blood through ages on their name,

Their seal of glory and the Gentile's shame.

Freedom to love the law that Moses brought,

To sing the songs of David, and to think

The thoughts Gabirol to Spinoza taught,

Freedom to dig the common earth, to drink

The universal air — for this they sought

Refuge o'er wave and continent, to link

Egypt with Texas in their mystic chain,

And truth's perpetual lamp forbid to wane.

Hark! through the quiet evening air, their song

Floats forth with wild, sweet rhythm and glad refrain.

They sing the conquest of the spirit strong,

The soul that wrests the victory from pain;

The noble joys of manhood that belong

To comrades and to brothers. In their strain

Rustle of palms and Eastern streams one hears,

And the broad prairie melts in mist of tears.

Baron de Hirsch:—The story of American Jewish philanthropy would not be complete without a record of the benefactions of Baron de Hirsch (born in Munich, 1831, died in Hungary, 1896), one of the greatest financiers of Europe. In 1873 he gave to the Alliance Israelite Universelle one million francs for the establishment of Jewish schools in the Orient for general education, and a yet larger amount for trade schools and for Alliance work generally. Russia having refused his offer of a large grant to aid its Jewish subjects within the land itself, he decided to help them by emigration from it. He therefore established under English laws, the Jewish Colonization Association, placing £2,000,000 at its disposal. At his death he left it $45,000,000. After sending his agents all over the world, he chose Argentina as the most suitable land for agricultural colonies for emigrant Russian Jews. Largely because of these colonies there are 75,000 Jews in Argentina to-day.

To aid emigrants in the United States, he established in New York the Baron de Hirsch Fund with a capital of $2,500,000. Its benefits include aid in furthering transportation within America; education in the language of the country; the establishment of trade schools, and the institution of an agricultural colony in Woodbine, N. J. This developed into a Jewish town. This fund also assists the Jewish Agricultural and Industrial Aid Society, which . enables some Jews to buy farms and others to settle in less crowded parts of the country.

In 1891 he established under the Austrian government an organization which he subsidized with twelve million francs for the improvement of the condition of the Jews of Galicia by the establishment of elementary, handicraft, agricultural, professional, commercial and technical schools; also for needed support both of pupils and teachers.

His varied benefactions far exceed $100,000,000.

His wife, Baroness Clara de Hirsch, not only followed but also inspired many of his benefactions. At his death she augmented with her own fortune most of his philanthropic foundations. Her gifts were as widely international. In New York she established a Home for Working Girls. She gave and willed to benevolent causes $25,000,000.

(See Jews in Many Lands, Elkan Adler. J.P.S.A. "A Visit to Moiseville.")

Adolph Sutro, b. 1830, gave his immense estate for a park to the city of 'San Francisco, of which he was mayor.

Jews in Agriculture:—What Baron de Hirsch was to the Argentina Colony, Baron Edmund de Rothschild was in a smaller measure to the Palestinian Colonies. The Jewish Colonization Association aided both. Other agricultural colonies have been established in South Dakota, Louisiana, Oregon, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, aided by different Jewish Agricultural Societies. In this connection there has also been established by Dr. Joseph Krauskopf, the National Farm School at Doylestown, Pa. There also exists Jewish Farmers' Asociations.

A monthly, "The Jewish Farmer", in Yiddish and English, on the lines of advanced agricultural publications is published in New York.

(See Jews in Argentina, Article "Jews in Latin America" Amer. Jewish Year Book, 5678, p. 44.)

Zionism:—See volumes on this subject by Prof. Richard Gottheil and Horace Kallen.

Territorialism:—As a mere refuge for oppressed Jews in a legally assured home, Argentina, East Africa and Mesopotamia have been severally considered. With such hope in view Israel Zangwill has fathered a movement that he calls Territorialism — that is, any territory granting to the Jews political autonomy.

Penina Moise: American Jewish Year Book, 5666.

Solomon Schechter: American Jewish Year Book, 5677.

Jewish Americanization Agencies — Charles S. Bernheimer, Am. J. Year Book, vol. 23.

America and the Jew:—When Russian consuls refused to vise the passports of American Jews who wished to visit Russia, the United States Government abrogated its treaty with Russia, which had continued in force since 1832. For it was regarded as an infringement of their rights, not as Jews, but as Americans. (American Jewish Year Book, Vols. 5670, 5672.) The United States, at a much earlier day, had intervened to obtain better treatment for the Jews of Morocco. Her pleas on behalf of Jews in Switzerland and in Roumania, have already been mentioned.

Themes for Discussion:— (a) Contrast bigotry against the Jews in the Middle Ages with Anti-Semitism of modern times. (b) Show how American democracy has influenced the Synagogue.

The World War.

In July, 1914, the heir to the Austrian throne was assassinated by a Servian. Relations between those two nations had long been strained. Austria, one of the great powers, sent a threatening ultimatum to Servia, including certain drastic demands. Because Servia did not unconditionally accept them all, though she subscribed to most of the terms, Austria immediately declared war against her.

There were many complications involved in this declaration of war that affected most of the European nations and perforce drew them into it. The consensus of opinion was that Germany rather utilized the occasion as an opportunity for a war for territorial expansion, for which, with her wonderfully equipped military organization, she was splendidly prepared. She certainly waived aside proposals for an amicable understanding made by some of the other Powers. Germany at once espoused the cause of Austria and later persuaded Turkey and Bulgaria to follow her. Russia, on the other hand, immediately supported Servia and was followed by France. When Germany, in violation of an earlier compact, invaded Belgium to reach France more easily, England entered the war on the Servian side and was later joined by Italy. Japan and Portugal. This group of nations came to be known as the Allies or Entente, while the Austrian group were known as the Teutonic or Central Powers.

The war was waged with a savagery and a colossal destruction of life and property such as has never been witnessed in the experience of mankind. Xew devices of destruction were called into requisition, unknown in previous conflicts, the most abortive of these being poison gas. Unarmed towns were bombed from the air by aeroplanes and merchant ships were sunk at sea by submarines. Mighty fleets engaged in battle on the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Advancing armies carried devastation over Belgium and Northern France, over Russia and Poland, in Europe: and, throughout Armenia in Asia. The war reached the German colonies in China, the English and French colonies in Africa, and later came to include the Holy Land.

The United States long remained neutral. But her own freedom of action becoming involved, and feeling further that the liberties of small nations were in jeopardy, she entered the war in 1917 on the side of the Allies, to defeat the German powers.

Jewish Participance.

The Jews of all lands enrolled in the ranks of their respective fatherlands, emulating their fellow countrymen in deeds of patriotic fervor and heroic sacrifice. The participating countries utilized existing philanthropic organizations for promoting the religious and social welfare as well as fostering the morale of the soldiers in the training camps and on fields of battle. An association of this character formed bv the American Jews was known as the Jewish Welfare Board for Soldiers and Sailors. It pressed into service every Jewish community throughout the land, and collected vast sums to further the comfort of the brethren in the ranks. It trained men and women and sent them to the camps here and abroad to minister to the needs of the army. Colonel Harry Cutler was its president until his death. Special prayer books and abridged Bibles were prepared for the men in the camps and at the front.

It would be impossible to give in detail the record of Jewish soldiers who won distinction in the war. The reader is referred to articles on that subject for which reference is given in the notes at the end of this chapter. In the French estimate it is said that some 22,000 coreligionists lost their lives. The English casualties are estimated at 8,675; 1,105 received decorations and honors, and five were given the Victoria Cross. The gifted Jewish poetess, Alice Lucas, voiced these lines:

'For the Jew has heart and hand, our Mother England,

And they both are thine today —

Thine for life and thine for death — yea, thine forever!

Wilt thou take them as we give them, freely, gladly?

England, say!'

Some 200,000 to 225,000 Jews were in the American service, meaning four to five per cent of the United States forces. Jews exceeded their quota by at least one-third of America's four million men. There were nearly 40,000 Jewish volunteers; nearly 800 citations for valor by the United States and her Allies; of the 78) ?> who received the Congressional Medal of Honor, three were Jews. 130 Jews received the Distinguished Service Order; two won the French Medaille Militaire; 174 received the Croix de Guerre.

There were nearly 10,000 Jewish commissioned officers in the several branches of the service. There were 15,000 to 18,000 Jewish casualties, of whom 3,500 made the "supreme sacrifice."

The article in the American Jewish Year Book, to which reference is made in the notes, cites thrilling instances of daring. We can here report but two: the first, that of Sergeant Sidney G. Gomperts, who, "when his line was held up by machine guns, left his platoon and started with two soldiers through a heavy barrage. His companions killed, he continued in the face of direct fire, jumped into the machine gun nest, silenced the gun and captured nine of the crew."

Another, William Sawelson, hearing a wounded man calling for water, left his own shelter, crawled through machine gun fire to give the man water from his own canteen. He returned to his own shell hole to obtain additional water, when he was killed.

So far, we have no complete statement of the Jewish participance in the armies of the Teutonic powers. Information, however, has reached us that about 100,000 (16 per cent) German Jews participated in the war for the Fatherland. Of these, 80 per cent were in active service at the front. 12,000 were killed, 35,000 decorated, and 3,000 became officers.

Jewish Suffering in the War.

The bulk of the Jews residing in Eastern Europe in Russia and Austrian Poland were among the greatest sufferers. Their homes were repeatedly devastated by the advance and retreat of armies in the ebb and flow of battle. To the hostilities of the enemy in each case was added the old animosity against the Jew. Military slander further augmented their sufferings. Millions became destitute, thousands perished from privation and exposure and also by wanton massacre.

The munificence of their brethren in England and other lands did much to mitigate the suffering. Jewish relief committees were organized on a vast scale all over the world. Doctors and nurses were sent abroad together with food, medicines and clothing. Through these humane agencies, thousands of lives have been saved. Never in the chronicles of Jewry have such enormous sums been voluntarily contributed for philanthropy. American Jewry raised over fifty million dollars. They established centers for their distribution, sending men and women of training and experience so that money and gifts contributed could be dispensed in the best way. About forty such centers in three different continents were established for the distribution of these funds.

This relief had to be continued long after the war for the suffering outlasted the conflict that caused it. In addition to immediate succor and relief, the work of reconstruction and reclamation had to be undertaken to reestablish the communities and place the ruined people on their feet so that they might begin the struggle of life once more. Nor did the animosities die down with the declaration of the Armistice in 1918 or with the signing of the Treaties of Peace in 1919. Civil war broke out in Russia after the overthrow of the monarchy and between Russia and Poland after the latter had been made an independent nation.

The provisional Government that overthrew the Russian autocracy in 1917 was in turn overthrown by a radical group, which imposed on the land a Communistic Government involving a common ownership of all property. The party that seized the reins of power was known as the Bolsheviki. It intimidated its opponents by terrorism. Although but few Jews were among its promoters, all Jews were charged as its founders. Armies of reactionary leaders who tried to restore the Imperial Government were led by Petlura, Denikin, Balakhovich and Kolchak. They directed their savage attack against the Jews of the Ukraine, i.e., Southern Russia, where the bulk of our brethren resided, on the theory that they were the instigators of the Soviet Government. This was but an evasion and an excuse for robbing the Jewish population, and to gratify the glut for destruction, of an inhuman soldiery. Some 150,000 were killed; about the same number died of their wounds and of epidemics, and about a million more were plundered. We go back to all the tragedies of the Dark Age and fail to find so cold-blooded and colossal a massacre.

The attempt to make the Jew the scapegoat for the war and its miseries, and for some of its later tragic consequences was part of a new burst of antagonism against Israel that broke out in many places all over the world. Anti-Semitism was revived in Germany and Austria and in the hitherto tolerant Hungary, and it raged with a virulence more bitter than ever before. Poland marked its independence by immediately reviving the boycott and varied forms of persecution against the Jew. New slanders were now directed against long suffering Israel. Forgeries were deliberately fabricated, charging them with a secret conspiracy to dominate the world. All past revolutions were laid at their door. As already pointed out, this monstrous calumny started in Russia and by the name of the "Jewish Peril" swept through Europe and reached the United States.

The New Map of Europe and Asia.

The War's outcome has largely changed the geography of the Old World. To give in detail all the territorial changes and new boundaries defined in the treaties of peace would go beyond the province of this volume. It is important, however, that the general boundaries should be known. Broadly speaking, they are as follows:

  • Germany returns Alsace and Lorraine to France from which it had been taken in the war of 1870; Schleswig is restored to Denmark. The African and Chinese colonies 'are surrendered and Prussian Poland relinquished,
  • Austria was the land most completely dismembered, for it was largely made up of separate principalities, inhabited by distinct races. The new Austria is little more than the capital of Vienna, and its immediate surroundings, a territory about as large as the State of Maine. Hungary now becomes a separate country. Galicia is given up to the new Poland.
  • A new land has been formed called Czechoslovakia, which consists of Bohemia, Moravia and parts of Silesia and Hungary, Another new country created by the Treaty of Peace is called Jugo-Slavia. It includes the former kingdoms of Servia and Montenegro, together with parts of seven of the old Austrian provinces, and with a bit of Bulgaria. It lies, for the most part, on the Eastern border of the Adriatic Sea.
  • Roumania now includes Transylvania and Bukowina, taken from Austria-Hungary, and Bessarabia, from Russia.
  • Italy obtains the Trentino from Austria and some adjacent lands.
  • Russia loses Finland. Lithuania, Latvia and Esthonia. All of these become separate independent countries.
  • Poland, in the 18th century (see page 61) was partitioned between Austria, Prussia and Russia. These severed parts are all now brought together again as a new country, and form an independent Polish nation.
  • Greece acquires Thrace and some islands.
  • Turkey was largely shorn of its European area in the Balkan War of 1912 and 1913. It has still further shrunken by the peace terms of the World War. Little is left of European Turkey and much placed under special administration.
  • In Asiatic Turkey. Mesopotamia becomes an Arabian kingdom. Armenia is independent. Syria is placed under a French mandate and Palestine under an English.
  • Furthermore Danzig is a free and international city. Fiume is an independent state.

All of these political and geographical changes tremendously affect the status of the Jew. For example, the Jews in the territory transferred to Greece, may not receive as tolerant a treatment as had been granted them in Turkey from which it had been taken. The enlarged Roumania now includes in its inhabitants a number of our brethren that had lived under Russian rule. There is little choice between these two governments in their attitude of ill-will toward Israel. But although Roumania, since 1878 has evaded granting citizenship to its Jewish subjects, the latest news tells of rather a change of heart and gives hope for more tolerable conditions.

Our brethren in Lithuania are well satisfied with the kindly treatment under its new government. But we are most concerned with their status in the new Poland, for that is an area very densely populated by Jews. Those in Prussian Poland (Posen) and in Austrian Poland (Galicia) were more tolerantly treated than those in Russian Poland that represented the bulk. Now the new Polish nation that includes them all has begun its independent regime with an attitude deliberately hostile to the Jews. So grave were the complaints of persecution, that Mr. Lucien Wolf headed a commission sent out from England to investigate. The result of protests from many countries as consequence of the findings of this commission, has at last induced the Polish government to make life more tolerable for the Jews in its midst. It is now just beginning to realize that the active cooperation of this intelligent people would be of great value in its State councils.


But the most remarkable change for Israel is in Palestine. Just as soon as the English army under the leadership of General Allenby invaded this section of Turkish territory at the end of 1917. Great Britain issued an important state document through its minister of Foreign Affairs, Arthur Balfour. This pronouncement then declared that Great Britain looked with favor upon Palestine as a national home for the Jewish people, provided always that the rights of other peoples there resident would not be invaded and that the sacred places of all religions there located would be reverently safeguarded.

It might be well at this juncture to review briefly the history of Palestine from the time when Israel first entered it as settlers. It was here that they developed as a unique nation. It was here that under the guidance of those spiritual geniuses, the prophets, they developed that exalted religion that later parented other great Faiths of the world.

When David in 1048 B.C. took Jerusalem from the Jebusites it became the capital — the national center. When Solomon built the Temple there, it became a religious center. Isaiah called it the Holy City. That title it has never since lost. Judah was overthrown by Babylon, 600 B.C., its Temple destroyed and its people transported. But after a brief exile of half a century they were invited to return to their ancestral home and rebuild their Temple, and continued to live successively under Persian and under Greek rule, though granted local autonomy. When the Greco-Syrians attempted to interfere with their religious freedom, they threw off the yoke under leadership of the Maccabees, and in the year 142 B.C., they re-established Judean independence; this continued for 79 years. In this period, the rabbi gradually superseded the priest and the Law the Altar.

Then, all-absorbing Rome stepped in and made Judea one of its tributaries. When their rule became intolerable the Jew made a daring attempt to free their beloved land from foreign rule.

But Rome was the world. The attempt therefore was foolhardy but it was magnificent! Defeated in the year 70 A.D., and their Temple burned, this indomitable people resorted to the fortunes of war once more in the year 132. Here again they met defeat and the dispersion of the Jews through the world began.

The Jewish Faith taught in the Academies of the dispersion kept Israel a unit, and the hope of national restoration became a doctrine of the Synagogue. Prayers for the rebuilding of Zion saturated the Prayer Book. Two great religions built on its Scriptures and inspired by its prophets, rose to power — Christianity in the West, Mohammedanism in the East. Since the saviour of Christendom lived and died in Judea, and the prophet of Islam is said to have passed some time there, Palestine became a Holy Land for Christian and Mohammedan as well as for the Jew, and bitter wars, known as the Crusades were fought between these two creeds to win possession of its holy places.

Although Jewish scholarship and the Jewish center of gravity moved steadily from the Orient to the Occident, and the Academies of Spain succeeded those of Babylonia, yet they turned to Jerusalem in prayer and they looked toward it as an ideal. Jehuda Halevy made it the theme of his poems and he, like the philosopher Nachmanides, and many faithful sons of Israel since, attained their pious aim to end their days on the sacred soil.

In the meantime, the Crusade wars that began in 1099 continued on and off for some centuries with varied fortunes, though the Jews were often the victims. Jerusalem was under Christian rule from 1099 to 1187. Then, under the great Saladin, it became a Moslem city and with but the break of one year (1243) it has remained in Moslem hands almost to the present time. In 1517 Palestine was occupied by Ottoman Turks, a different race, but of the same Moslem creed. They held it for 400 years right down to 1917.

A few Jews have always lingered in this land of their fathers. We find Jewish weavers and dyers there in the Middle Ages. But settlers were few under the Turkish rule for this slothful government let it fall into neglect. Thus industries were discouraged and the soil of the land that once flowed with milk and honey, became arid and barren. As late as the year 1837 when Queen Victoria ascended the English throne, there were but 3,000 of our co-religionists in the Holy City. Since then they have filtered in slowly, but it was a poor colony supported by the bounty of their brethren abroad (The Chalukah). Some orange groves and vineyards were established through the generosity of Baron Edmund de Rothschild. Russian persecution brought an increase of numbers after 1881. In the year 1897 a railway was built from Jerusalem to Jaffa.

Then the Zionist movement was launched and a vigorous colonization set in. The cry was henceforth — Jerusalem, not a place for the old to die, but for the young to live; not charity, but self-support, their goal! The numbers of settlers rose rapidly from 30,000 in 1903 to 50,000 in 1910. Throughout Palestine, before the war, there were 86,000 Jews. Schools and hospitals were opened, crafts cultivated, plantations extended and new methods of agriculture introduced. The planting of the eucalyptus tree changed a marshy into a healthy soil. Then came the World War that destroyed much of these early beginnings and made inroads in the ranks of its settlers. Finally, on that historic date, December 10th, 1917, under the leadership of General Allenby, the Allied army entered Jerusalem and the Holy Land passed from Turkish hands.

When the British host, aided by the way, by the local Jewish battalions, finally made its triumphant entry into Jerusalem the following year, the promise to Israel was repeated. The activity of the Zionists in seeking the Holy Land as a legally assured home, largely influenced the British government in this humane decision. It took the earliest opportunity to fulfill its promise by appointing Sir Herbert Samuel as the High Commissioner of Palestine. Verily, history was repeating itself. It recalls the generous offer of king Cyrus of Persia when Palestine was included in its conquests, to exiled Israel, to settle once more in their old fatherland, and the appointment of Nehemiah as Governor. That was about 500 B.C.

Another precedent for this action of the British Empire is found later on when Judea was a Roman Province and the Emperor Claudius appointed the Jew Agrippa as king.

Many of our brethren are turning to the beloved home of their fathers. Stalwart young men and women called Chalutzim (pioneers) are leading the way and unflinchingly facing the hardships involved in preparing for settlement a land made arid by three centuries of Turkish neglect. Some of the Palestinian Arabs, who far outnumber the Jews, secretly encouraged by enemies of Israel, are expressing alarm at their arrival. Clashes have here and there occurred. But they have naught to fear and much to hope from the advent of enterprising Jewish settlers, who are going to make the country more valuable for them and more desirable as a permanent home.

Many American Jews are aiding the reclamation of Palestine by organizing companies for the financing of new industries. A Zionist fund for the same purpose is known as the Keren Hayesod. A Jewish university at Jerusalem is being planned, a technical school at Haifa, and an enlarged harbor at Jaffa. Furthermore, the railroad lines are being extended and an engineering project planned of creating water-power to install electricity by damming the waters of the Jordan.

Finally a provisional Constitution has been drawn up in London for Palestine, by the English Government. Its chief features are:—

The appointment of a High Commissioner and Commander-in-Chief upon whom will be conferred the necessary powers for execution of normal duties associated with such office, and for giving effect to the provisions of the Mandate accepted by Great Britain, at the request of the principal Allied Powers, for the general administration of the country, and the establishment of. a National Home for the Jewish people. He will also have authority to divide the country into districts for the convenience of administration, supervise the rights with regard to public lands, mines and minerals. Subject to the direction of the Secretary of State, the High Commissioner may appoint such public officers as he deems needful. For his assistance there will also be an Executive Council. There will be further constituted a Legislative Council, to establish ordinances, maintain peace, order and good government.

No ordinance shall be passed which shall restrict complete freedom of conscience and the free exercise of all forms of worship, save insofar as is required for the maintenance of public order and morals, or which shall tend to discriminate in any way between the inhabitants of Palestine on the ground of race, religion or language. The Legislative Council will consist of twenty-five members, some elected and others nominated. One of the nominated members shall be a Moslem, one a Christian, and one a Jew.

The Judiciary will consist of Magistrates' Courts, District Courts, Courts of Criminal Assize, Land Courts, a Supreme Court acting as Court of Appeals, and a Tribal Court. Furthermore, a Moslem Religious Court, a Jewish Religious Court, and a Christian Religious Court, with exclusive jurisdiction in matters relating to these respective creeds.

All ordinances shall be published in English, Arabic and Hebrew. The three languages may be used in debates and discussions in the Legislative Council.

The Rights of Minorities.

The change of national boundaries — the new States called into being by the terms of peace, has made necessary for the safeguarding of the rights of individuals suddenly brought under new political regime, special regulations with regard to the rights of minorities. These have been expressly formulated in separate articles or treaties made with each separate state. The treaties were all signed in the year 1919. The earliest in June at Versailles. It may be interesting to record that among the thirty-three signatories are some of our coreligionists; "Mr. Edward S. Montagu, one of the representatives of England; Mr. L. L. Klotz, representing France. The American statesmen who placed their signatures to these famous documents were President Woodrow Wilson, Robert Lansing, Henry White, E. M. House and Tasker H. Bliss.

These proceedings safeguarding the rights of minorities are of vital concern to the Jew. We will therefore specify those articles from the treaties that most affect them. Turn first to the treaty with Poland:

"Poland undertakes to assure full and complete protection of life and liberty to all inhabitants of Poland without distinction of birth, nationality, language, race or religion.

"All inhabitants of Poland shall be entitled to the free exercise, whether public or private, of any creed, religion or belief, whose practices are not inconsistent with public order or public morals.

"Differences of religion, creed or confession shall not prejudice any Polish national in matters relating r.o the enjoyment of civil or political rights, as for instance admission to public employment, function and honors, or the exercise of professions and industries.

"No restrictions shall be imposed on the free use by any Polish national of any language in private intercourse, in commerce, in religion, in the press or in publications of any kind, or at public meetings.

"Notwithstanding any establishment by the Polish government of an official language, adequate facilities shall be given to Polish nationals of non-Polish speech for the use of their language, either orally or in writing, before the courts.

"Polish nationals who belong to racial, religious or linguistic minorities shall enjoy the same treatment and security in law and in fact as the other Polish nationals. In particular they shall have an equal right to establish, manage and control at their own expense charitable, religious, and social institutions, schools and other educational establishments, with the right to use their own language and to exercise their religion freely therein.

"In towns and districts where there is a considerable proportion of Polish nationals, belonging to racial, religious or linguistic minorities, these minorites shall be assured an equitable share in the enjoyment and application of the sums which may be provided out of public funds under the State, municipal or other budget, for educational, religious or charitable purposes.

"Jews shall not be compelled to perform any act which constitutes a violation of their Sabbath, nor shall they be placed under any disability by reason of their refusal to attend courts of law or to perform any legal business on their Sabbath. This provision, however, shall not exempt Jews from such obligations as shall be imposed upon all other Polish citizens for the necessary purposes of military service, national defence or the preservation of public order."

The terms are similar and worded in almost identical language in the treaties with Austria, Jugo-Slavia, Czecho-Slovakia, Bulgaria, Roumania and Turkey. We further read in these documents that each country agreed "that the stipulations in the foregoing Articles so far as they affect persons belonging to racial, religious or linguistic minorities, constitute obligations of international concern and shall be placed under the guarantee of the League of Nations. They shall not be modified without the assent of a majority of the Council of the League of Nations. The Allied and Associated Powers represented on the Council severally agree not to withhold their assent from any modification in these Articles which is in due form assented to by a majority of the Council of the League of Nations."

This League of Nations, to which reference is here made, was part of the Treaty of Peace. Its ultimate purpose is by gradual disarmament to abolish war and encourage a union of all peoples; its further aims are the promotion of international commerce, for the improvement of laboring classes, for the stamping out of contagious, disease and for the prevention of certain crimes imperilling the lives and welfare of women and children. Some forty odd nations are included in the League, but the United States has not yet entered.

In spite of the terrible tragedies caused by the war, sad effect of which will continue through this present generation, — the war may result in salutary consequences some of which we are beginning to discern. Such are the disappearance of despotic monarchies and their replacement by more liberal forms of government; fuller rights of subject peoples; removal of abuses from oppressed peoples; the spread of democratic equality; the furtherance of emancipation of woman, particularly in the Orient; the more equable distribution of the products of the earth, and the larger participance of the workman in the fruit of his toil; less conventionality and more sincerity in morals; more simplicity in religious institutions and wider tolerance for any honest attitude of mind.

We are witnessing the emergence of new social standards of life. We are witnessing history in the making.

All of these issues slowly unfolding, will profoundly affect the Jew. In this series of manuals, we have seen the significant part he has played in the world's affairs from remote antiquity to the present day. His work is not yet over, nor his mission completely fulfilled. Israel still lives, a beneficent potency in the world, and he has. yet an important contribution to make in furthering the aims of liberty, righteousness and peace, and bringing to realization his spiritual ideals, cherished by his prophets in a far off day.


The Jewish Record in the World War:—Vol. 21 — American Jewish Year Book. Participance of the Jews of France — page 31. The Story of British Jewry in the War — page 98. Jewish Battalions and the Palestinian Campaignpage 120. American Jews in the World War — page 141.

The Peace Conference and the Rights of Minorities:—Vol. 22, American Jewish Year Book.

Jewish War Records compiled by Julian Leavitt for the American Jewish Committee.

The Jews Contribution to Civilization, by Joseph Jacobs— A. J. P. S.

Theme for Discussion:—Did Judaism and Christianity do their share in seeking to prevent the World War?



The following statistics have been taken from those compiled for the American Jewish Year Book edited by Harry Schneiderman, also from the English Year Book edited by Rev. Isidor Harris, M. A. They are almost in entire agreement; in cases where the numbers differ, those of the American Jewish Year Book have been followed. In some instances, no record has been available of Jewish population since those taken before the War.

NOTE: Some statistics are as early as 1911, others are the tabulation of 1920:

Jewish Population by Continent.

America 3,498,325
Europe 10,439,191
Asia 434,332
Africa 380,668
Australasia 19,415
Total 14,771,931

Jewish Population in the Americas

Canada 75,681
Cuba 2,000
Jamaica 1,487
Mexico 500
United States 3,300,000
Argentine Republic 110,000
Brazil 6,100
Dutch Guiana (Surinam) 882
Curacao 600
Venezuela 475

Jewish Population in Europe

Austria 200,000
Belgium 16,000
Bulgaria 45,000
Czechoslovakia 349,000
Cyprus, Gibraltar, Malta 1,445
Denmark 5,950
Finland 2,000
France 150,000
Germany 500,000
Greece 120,000
Hungary 450,000
Italy 43,000
Luxemburg 1,270
Netherlands 122,500
Norway 1,045
Poland 3,069,330
Roumania 1,000,000
Soviet Russia 200,000
Esthonia 7,500
Latvia 150,000
Lithuania 250,000
Ukraine 3,300,000
Jueo Slavia 100,000
Spain 4,000
Sweden 6,400
Switzerand 20,951
Turkey in Europe 75,000
United Kingdom 286,500

Jewish Population in Asia

Aden 3,747
Afghanistan and Turkestan 18,316
Dutch East Indies 10,842
Hong Kong and Straits Settlement 685
India 20,980
Japan 1,000
Palestine 85,000
Persia 40,000
Russia in Asia 76,262
Turkey in Asia 1 77,500
Australia 17,287
New Zealand 2,128

Jewish Population in Africa

Abyssinia 25,000
Algeria 70,271
Egypt 59,581
Morocco 103,712
Tripoli 18,860
Tunis 54,664
E. African Protectorate 80
Rhodesia 1,500
Union of South Africa 47,000

Jewish Population in the Principle Cities of the World

New York 1,500,000
Philadelphia 175,000
Chicago 250,000
Montreal 50,000
Buenos Ayres 100,000
Salonica 80,000
Lodz 150,000
Warsaw 357,521
Budapest 203,687
Bucharest 43,274
Vienna 175,318
Frankfort 23,552
Berlin 142,289
Constantinople 65,000
London 170,000
Rome 10,000
Jerusalem 55,000
Bombay 10,739
Cairo 28,000
Svdney 6,500

Berditchev, Ukraine has a Jewish population of 47,000. but the entire population of that town is 53,000, meaning 87%.


1506-16 Reuchlin, defender of the Talmud.
1517 Luther begins the Reformation.
1542 Jews banished from Prague.
1541-1613 David Gans, astronomer, associate of Kepler and Tycho de Brahe.
1612 Jews admitted to Hamburg.
1614 Fettmilch riots.
1618-48 Thirty Years' War.
1670 Jews expelled from Vienna.
1670 Jews admitted to the Mark of Brandenburg.
1728-86 Moses Mendelssohn.
1725-1805 N. H. Wessely.
1743-1812 Mayer Amschel Rothschild.
1754-1800 Solomon Maimon, Kantian Philosopher.
1780 Lessing and Dohra plead for Jewish rights.
1780 Joseph II, Austria, ameliorates Jewish Status.
1747-1803 Dr. Marcus Herz.
1764-1847 Henrietta Herz.
1771-1833 Rachel Levin.
1784-90 "The Meassefim," School of Hebrew writers.
1794-1886 Leopold Zunz, father of science of Judaism.
1858-1919 Kurt Eisner, Pres. Bavarian. Republic.
1922 W. Rathenau envoy of Germany to Genoa conference. Foreign Minister.
1575 William of Orange made Governor of the Netherlands.
1593 Jews admitted into Amsterdam.
1609 Spain acknowledges independence of Holland.
1604-57 Manasseh ben Israel.
1623 Uriel Acosta excomcomunicated.
1632-77 Baruch Spinoza, philosopher.
1642 Isaac Aboab and party settle in Brazil.
1657 Jews readmitted to England.
1657 Asser Levy obtains burgher rights.
1458-1549 Elias Levita, Hebrew Grammarian.
1516 Venetian Ghetto.
1555 Roman Ghetto.
1514-78 Azarya dei Rossi, Scholar.
1569-93 Jews admitted to Papal states and expelled again.
1650 flourished the critics, Leo di Modena, Joseph de Medigo.
1590-1663 Simon Luzzatto, litterateur.
1707-47 Moses Chaim Luzzatto, Poet and Dramatist.
1907-10 Ernesto Nathan. Mayor of Rome.
1784 France abolishes polltax, permits Jewish residence throughout France.
1789 Mirabeau and Abbe Gregoire write in advocacy of Jews.
1791 National Assembly grants civil rights to Jews.
1906 Dreyfus vindicated.
1907 State aid withdrawn from synagogue and church .
1919 Henry L. Bergson made member of Institute of France.


1638 New Haven colony adopts the Mosaic legal code.
1641 Colony of Massachusetts adopts Criminal Code of the Bible.
1654 Jews migrate to New Amsterdam.
1657 Jews established in Newport, R. I.
1664 J. under English rule in N. America.
1680 First Congregation organized in New York.
1729 First Synagogue built in New York
1733 Jewish settlement in Savannah
1740 Jews admitted to naturalization in American colonies
1756 Dr. Jacob Lombroso comes to Maryland
1776-81 Struggle for Independence. Jewish Patriots: Francis Salvador, Major Benjamin Nones, Esther and David Hays, Rabbi Gershom Seixas, Hayem Solomon
1776-1854 Judah Touro, Philanthropist.
1781-1868 Rebecca Gratz established first Sabbath school.
1785-1851 Mordecai M. Noah, publicist, statesman.
1792-1862 Uriah P. Levy, commodore.
1793-1870 Levy M. Harby, captain.
1787 Constitution decides public office without religious test.
1900 Death of Isaac M. Wise.
1905 Celebration 250th anniversary Jewish settlement in North America.
1916 L. D. Brandeis made Justice Supreme Court, U. S.
1848-1919 Adolph Marix, Rear Admiral U. S. Navy.
1917 Organization Jewish Welfare Board soldiers and sailors.
1921 Albert D. Lasker made head of Shipping Board.


1505-48 Sigismund I; restored old Jewish Privileges.
1520-1602 Solomon Ashkenazi, Court physician in Poland.
1572 End of Jagellon dynasty.
1533-94 Abraham Troki. "Faith Strengthened" refutes Christian theology.
1586 Vaad of the Four Countries.
1613 Beginning of Romanoff rule (Russia);
1636-37 Blood Accusations.
1648-58 Cossack Persecutions.
1659 Lithuania united to Poland.
1683-1725 Peter the Great (Russia).
1750 Chassidim, Sect founded by Is. Baal Shem.
1720-97 Elijah Wilna, Gaon.
1772 1st Partition of Poland.
1791 Pale of Settlement instituted by Catherine II.
1793 2d Partition of Poland.
1795 3d Partition of Poland.
1796-1801 Paul 1st grants Jewish Citizenship in Courland: forbids Jewish Expulsion from towns.
1903 Kishineff and Homel massacres.
1905 Anti-Jewish pogroms throughout Russia.
1905 Opening of Douma.
1917 Overthrow of Romanoff dynasty.
1917 Decree of Jewish emancipation.
1520-72 Moses Isserles, reedited Shulchan Aruch.
1520-1602 Solomon Ashkenazi, Statesman.
1534-72 Isaac Lurya, Kabbalist.
1554 Karo's Shulchan Aruch.
1566 Joseph Nasi, Duke of Naxos.
1665 Sabbathai Zevi proclaimed "Messiah."
1905 Celebration 250th anniversary of Whitehall Conference (to consider Jews' readmission).
1911 Opening Liberal Jewish Synagogue.
1913 Sir Rufus Isaacs, Lord Chief Justice of England.
1918 Earl Reading appointed Ambassador to U. S.
1918 Conquest Palestine by British army.
1920 San Remo Conference; confirms Balfour Declaration favoring Palestine as a Jewish home-land.
1920 Sir Herbert Samuel appointed High Commissioner for Palestine.
1921 Lord Reading appointed Viceroy of India.