Benjamin Disraeli: Jewish-born Prime Minister of England

Benjamin Disraeli. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Benjamin Disraeli. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Baptized at age 12 as the result of his father’s dispute with a synagogue, Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) rose to prominence as a novelist and politician, serving several times as England’s Prime Minister.  Colorful and flamboyant, Disraeli dismissed his antisemitic critics by emphasizing, rather than downplaying, his Jewish origins.

The Beilis Affair of 1911-1913 (This Week in Jewish History) by Dr. Henry Abramson

Mendel Beilis via Wikimedia Commons.
Mendel Beilis via Wikimedia Commons.

The discovery of the mutilated body of a young boy in Kiev led to the false arrest of a Jewish laborer named Mendel Beilis. Ignoring the argument of investigating officers, the Russian government under Tsar Nicholas II pressed ahead with the prosecution of Beilis, arguing that the boy was murdered as part of a Passover-related Jewish plot. After two years’ imprisonment, Beilis was freed by a Ukrainian Jewry that could not be persuaded to agree with the Russian prosecutor. Part of the This Week in Jewish History series by Dr. Henry Abramson.

“Purimfest 1946:” Julius Streicher and the Ten Sons of Haman (This Week in Jewish History)

Germans read Streicher's propaganda. Sign reads "With The Sturmer Against the Jews." Source: Bundesarchiv via Wikimedia Commons.
Germans read Streicher’s propaganda. Sign reads “With The Sturmer Against the Jews.” Source: Bundesarchiv via Wikimedia Commons.

In October of 1946, ten Nazi defendants were hung on gallows erected by the International Military Tribunal. One of the most notorious, the propagandist Julius Streicher, uttered the phrase “Purimfest 1946” moments before his death, unconsciously echoing a mysterious passage in the Biblical book of Esther itself. Fascinating footnote in Jewish History!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMhqEiu1p4s

The Incident at Inmestar (This Week in Jewish History)

Obliterating Haman's Name, early 18th century. Public domain: Jewish Encyclopedia via Wikimedia Commons
Obliterating Haman’s Name, early 18th century. Public domain: Jewish Encyclopedia via Wikimedia Commons

Murder on Purim? That’s the charge of Socrates Scholasticus, whose lone account of an alleged Purim celebration that got out of hand in the year 415 has become part of the historical record, for good or ill.  Although the validity of the accusation is highly questionable, the incident at Inmestar had a larger impact centuries later as the myth of ritual murder gained popularity in medieval Europe.

Johann Eisenmenger and the Talmud

Title Page of Entdeckes Judenthum.
Title Page of Entdeckes Judenthum.

Posing as a would-be convert to Judaism, Johann Andreas Eisenmenger studied Rabbinic literature for 19 years before publishing a massive two-volume denunciation of the Talmud called “Judaism Revealed” in 1711. His defamation of Jews and Judaism has been the foundation of much antisemitic diatribe for the last three centuries. Part of the Jewish Biography as History series by Dr. Henry Abramson.

Nicholas Donin: The Dimensions of Medieval Jewish Self-Hatred

12th c. Depiction of Hell by Herrad of Landsberg. Note demons throwing Jews (with conical hats) into boiling vats, lower left. Via Wikimedia Commons.
12th c. Depiction of Hell by Herrad of Landsberg. Note demons throwing Jews (with conical hats) into boiling vats, lower left. Via Wikimedia Commons.

Nicholas Donin was an erstwhile Talmudic scholar who converted to Christianity and made a career of denouncing the Talmud. His charges, brought before the Pope, resulted in a massive destruction of priceless Jewish manuscripts in Paris, 1242. Part of the Jewish Biography as History lecture series by Dr. Henry Abramson.

Pope Gregory I and the Jews (This Week in Jewish History) Dr. Henry Abramson

15th century bust of Gregorius I Maximus by Hans Bilger. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
15th century bust of Gregorius I Maximus by Hans Bilger. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Pope Gregory I (“the Great”) was one of the most influential Church leaders of the medieval period. His policy on the treatment of Jews in Christian Europe, known by the Latin phrase “Sicut Judaeis,” instituted an official if ambivalent position that lasted from the sixth century to the beginnings of the modern era.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCrtem4ZVkQ]

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)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kN8iccSp3K0]

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.

Jews and the First Crusade: This Week in Jewish History

 

Massacre of Jews during the First Crusade, from an illuminated French Bible. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Massacre of Jews during the First Crusade, from an illuminated French Bible. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05BoUSa3iG8]

This Week in Jewish History: The Jewish Badge

Jewish Man in Worms, Germany, 16th c. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Jewish Man in Worms, Germany, 16th c. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/Jy2-LRkZVqk]

This is a new experiment, suggested by Elya at TorahCafe.com: a weekly, 3-minute “This Week in Jewish History” mini-lecture.  I’m trying it out, let me know what you think!

Please click here for the refined, edited version from TorahCafe.com.