Modern Jewish History - Maurice Harris




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.

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.


NOTES AND REFERENCES:


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?