The Dreyfus Affair (This Week in Jewish History)

The Degradation of Alfred Dreyfus by Henri Meyer. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
The Degradation of Alfred Dreyfus by Henri Meyer. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Wrongly accused of espionage, Captain Alfred Dreyfus was sentenced to Devil’s Island on the basis of remarkably tenuous evidence. May critics, including the famous writer Emile Zola, argued that Dreyfus was unfairly charged simply because he was a Jew in the French army. As evidence mounted that another officer was guilty, the Dreyfus Affair exposed the persistence of pervasive and deep-rooted antisemitism, questioning how effectively Jews were accepted in French society a full century after they were first emancipated.

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Who Was Josephus? Fall 2013 Lecture Series in Jewish History Resumes This Week

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Photo: Aryeh Abramson looks out over Iroquois Falls, Ontario, Canada, where he spent the Sukkot vacation visiting his grandparents.

Captured by the Roman General (and later Emperor) Vespasian while defending the Galilee, Josephus ultimately turned against his coreligionists and served as an advisor to the forces besieging Jerusalem during the first Roman-Jewish War. His first-hand observations of the destruction of the Temple and the collapse of Jewish sovereignty are an exceptionally important source for Jewish history–but are they reliable? Taking the name of his Roman patrons, he went on to a brilliant literary career as a prolific apologist for Judaism, but do his later works compensate for his affiliation with the Romans?

The Fall 2013 lecture series in Jewish History is scheduled to resume this Wednesday evening at 8:30 pm, Young Israel of Bal Harbour, 9592 Harding Avenue. The lectures are free and open to the community.

Jews, Lepers and the Black Death (This Week in Jewish History)

Jews Burned to Death in Strasbourg, c. 1349. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Jews Burned to Death in Strasbourg, c. 1349. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The summer of 1321 was plagued with rumors that Jews had entered into a conspiracy with lepers (some versions also included Muslims) to poison the wells of Europe, resulting in mass hysteria and mob violence. King Philip V was eventually able to quell the movement, but it resurfaced twenty years later in a much more potent form as the Black Death swept through Europe.

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The Pale of Settlement (This Week in Jewish History)

Emil Flohri, "Stop Your Cruel Oppression of the Jews" (1904).  Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Emil Flohri, “Stop Your Cruel Oppression of the Jews” (1904). Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Officially banned in 1479, no Jews lived in the Russian Empire until Tsarina Catherine II conquered a major portion of Polish territory, instantly inheriting the largest single concentration of Jews in the world. Under her rule the Pale of Settlement was established, determining the region where Jews were allowed to reside, however tenuously, until the 20th century.
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The Jews’ Oath vs. Rothschild (This Week in Jewish History)

Lionel Nathan de Rothschild by Moritz Daniel Oppenheim (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Lionel Nathan de Rothschild by Moritz Daniel Oppenheim (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

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In 1847, the citizens of London elected its first Jew, Lionel de Rothschild, to the House of Commons. Rothschild, however, refused to take the Christian oath required of all members, and resigned without taking his seat in Parliament. He was immediately reelected a second and even a third time until the Jews’ Disabilities Act was passed on July 23, 1858, allowing Rothschild to represent Londoners without sacrificing his Jewish principles.

Janusz Korczak: Hero to Children in the Warsaw Ghetto (This Week in Jewish History)

Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Source: Wikimedia Commons.

 

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Beloved for his children’s stories, Henryk Goldszmidt wrote under the pen name Janusz Korczak.

A lifelong advocate for children’s rights, he ran an orphanage in Warsaw that was world-famous for his innovative pedagogic techniques.

Imprisoned in the Warsaw ghetto during the Nazi occupation, he continued to serve in this capacity until the terrible order to deport the Jews to the Treblinka death camp in August 1942. He refused all offers of personal rescue, choosing rather to remain with his young charges right to the very end.

 

The Pogroms of 1881-1884: This Week in Jewish History

 

Immigrants approaching Statue of Liberty. Photo by Edwin Levick, Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Immigrants approaching Statue of Liberty. Photo by Edwin Levick, Source: Wikimedia Commons.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgGrfEL3ssk]

For a larger discussion of the five historical narratives, please see my article The end of intimate insularity: new narratives of Jewish history in the post-Soviet era, in Acts of Symposium “Construction and Deconstruction of National Histories in Slavic Eurasia,” originally delivered at Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan, on July 10–13, 2002.

 

 

Isaac Bashevis Singer: Singer in the Shtetl, the Shtetl in Singer (2004 lecture)

Isaac Bashevis Singer. Source: MDCarchives cropped by Beyond My Ken, Wikimedia Commons.
Isaac Bashevis Singer. Source: MDCarchives cropped by Beyond My Ken, Wikimedia Commons.

This is a lecture I delivered at the University of Central Florida back in October 2004 (my hair was quite a bit darker and, well, there).  Found the CD when I was cleaning out some old files. There’s a PPT that goes with this lecture, and I’m going to try to find a way to post it.  Anyway, this is the summer, so I won’t be sending out too many new lectures, thought I would add this one as well.  Isaac Bashevis Singer (1902-1991) was a Nobel Laureate for Literature, the first Yiddish writer to receive this distinguished award.  He was also a resident of my current home in Surfside, Florida. Hope you enjoy it!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCR4kVEniOo]

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