web analytics
November 27, 2014 / 5 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

The Twentieth Of Sivan


The Twentieth of Sivan, designated by sages in two different eras to be a day of fasting and commemoration, marks tragedies that befell the Jews of Europe in the Middle Ages up to the Holocaust and was, until the Second World War, communally observed by European Jewry.

The Twentieth of Sivan was originally declared a day of fasting and commemoration in 1171. Tragedy had struck the Jewish community of Blois, France. The blood libel, which had been leveled on several occasions in England, had made its way to France. A local Christian claimed he saw a Jew throw the corpse of a child into the river Loire. The corpse was never found, but the testimony was accepted.

The town’s approximately 40 Jews were arrested and offered the choice of baptism or death. Despite the threats and torture, they did not yield. On the twentieth day of Sivan, thirty-two Jews, seventeen of them women, were burned at the stake.

In a letter about this tragedy written by the rabbinic scholar Ephraim Ben Yaakov of Bonn, the Twentieth of Sivan was decreed by the greatest Torah sage of that era, Rabbeinu Meir Tam, as a fast day for Jews living in France, the Rhineland and England.

The letter states that Rabbeinu Tam wrote letters to Jewish communities declaring this day to be one of “atonement.”

The murder of Jews in Blois was followed by many similar tragedies. Blood libels would bring in their wake immense suffering and torment to Jewish communities throughout Europe. Many Jews migrated to Eastern Europe where they continued to observe the Twentieth of Sivan.

Eventually, the Jews of Eastern Europe would also be compelled to observe this date of remembrance.

In 1648, the Ukrainian nationalist and Cossack leader Bogdan Chmielnicki incited a rebellion against Poland, which ruled over the Ukraine, and Polish landlords. Chmielnicki’s forces, combined with their Tartar allies of Mongolia, routed the Polish army at Yellow River on May 19 and Hard Plank on May 26.

The Polish defeat was a disaster for Ukrainian Jews, who now faced a major catastrophe. Chmielnicki’s Cossacks continued to attack Polish forces and then unleashed their fury against the Jews of the Ukraine and surrounding areas. Entire Jewish communities were wiped out, and hundreds of thousands of Jews were murdered, severely wounded, or left to starve to death.

The first reported attack against a large Jewish community was in the city of Nemirov. Jews from surrounding villages had gathered there for refuge. As Cossack troops neared Nemirov, the Jews locked themselves inside the city walls. As the soldiers drew near they unfurled Polish flags to give the impression they were Polish troops coming to the rescue.

The Poles in the city were notified of the ruse and collaborated with the Cossacks in order to save their own lives. They told the Jews guarding the gates that the approaching soldiers were indeed Polish and that they should open the gates.

The Cossacks entered the city with drawn swords, and the slaughter began. More than six thousand Jews were martyred that day. After Nemirov the Cossacks attacked Tulshin, Polannoe, Ostrog and Zaslow.

In the winter of 1650, rabbinic and lay leaders known as the Council of the Four Lands gathered in Lublin and declared the Twentieth of Sivan, the day the city of Nemerov had been attacked, a day of fasting and commemoration for the many martyrs of the Chmielnicki pogroms.

Massacres by Ukrainian nationalists continued long after Chmielnicki’s death in 1657. A series of attacks in the eighteenth century, including the Gonta massacres of 1767-1768, resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Jews. Pogroms were again unleashed in 1881 and 1903.

In 1919, a civil war positioned Ukrainians in pursuit of independence against both the Red Army and anti-Soviet Russians. Once again Ukrainian Jewry was caught in the middle, suffering horrific massacres. More devastation was still to come; in the early 1940’s, Ukrainian nationalists eagerly assisted the Nazis in killing Jews.

The blood-libel massacre in Blois and the pogroms in the Ukraine were separated by some five hundred years, but Rabbi Yom Tov Lippmann Heller, also known as the Tosafot Yom Tov, declared that the Selichot prayers composed in commemoration of the victims in France in the twelfth century be recited as well for the victims of Chmielnicki.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Twentieth Of Sivan”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Ferguson, Missouri: rioting against racism, encouraging murder
The Foul Stench of the Ferguson Fallout
Latest Indepth Stories
Rabbi Maurice Lamm

Creativity without clarity is not sufficient for writing. I am eternally thankful to Hashem for his gift to me.

Golden presents a compelling saga of poor but determined immigrants who fled pogroms and harsh conditions in their homelands for a better life in a land of opportunity.

It seems to us that while the Jewish entitlement to the land of Israel transcends the Holocaust, the Jewish experience during that tragic time is the most solid of foundations for these “national rights.”

Too many self-styled civil rights activists seemed determined to force, by their relentless pressure, an indictment regardless of what an investigation might turn up.

Egypt’s al-Sisi is in an expansionist mood. He wants Israel’s permission to take over Judea and Samaria.

Cries of justice for Michael Brown drowned out any call for justice for Police Officer Daryl Wilson.

Cloistered captain Obama, touts his talents and has the temerity to taunt Bibi,his besieged ally

Former PM Ariel Sharon succinctly said, “the fate of Netzarim (Gush Katif) is the fate of Tel-Aviv.”

“What’s a line between friends?”

Unrest in YESHA and J’m helps Abbas and Abdullah defuse anger, gain politically and appear moderates

A “Shliach” means to do acts with complete devotion and dedication in order to help bring Moshiach.

The pogroms in Chevron took place eighty five years ago, in 1929; the Holocaust began seventy-five years ago in 1939; the joint attack of Israel’s neighbors against the Jewish State of Israel happened sixty-six years ago… yet, world history of anti-Semitism did not stop there, but continues until today. Yes, the primitive reality of Jews […]

“We don’t just care for the children; we make sure they have the best quality of life.”

“Why do people get complacent with the things they’re told?”

More Articles from Larry Domnitch
David Ben-Gurion publicly pronounces the Declaration of the State of Israel, May 14 1948, Tel Aviv, Israel.

Arab opposition to a Jewish State of any size was made known by word and deed in the form of terror

330px-Balfour_portrait_and_declaration

Rav Kook offered recognition to the British but not thanks; the British merely fulfilled its destiny

Germany’s The Jewish Faith newspaper ominously noted, “We Jews are in for a war after the war.”

Nearly two decades into the 20th century, Jews were suffering the horrors of pogroms, mass expulsions, starvation and disease in Eastern Europe while Jewish soldiers in various armies were enduring the carnage of the battlefield. Amid the horrors, however, a glimmer of hope appeared.

On November 11, 1918, at 11 a.m., an agreement signed between the Allies and Germany at Compiegne France, ended hostilities on the Western front and signaled the end of the First World War.

On the eve of the Six-Day War, Israel stood alone.

The events of June 1967 came just a decade after the 1956 Sinai Campaign waged by Israel, France and Great Britain to protect international passage through the Suez Canal.

Had Judge Richard Goldstone only issued a distorted litany of accusations against the Jewish state – dayenu.

Had the British government only issued an arrest warrant against Kadima leader and former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni – dayenu.

Last month, Israel lost a very close friend in Alexander Haig.

During his confirmation hearings in January 1981for the position of secretary of state, Haig reiterated his commitment to the existing U.S. policy of not dealing with the PLO or other Palestinians opposed to Israel’s existence.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-twentieth-of-sivan/2007/05/30/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: