Situated in the south of Jerusalem, the project benefits from one of the city’s most prestigious and desirable locales, nestled in a particularly attractive area between the Talpiot neighborhood and the green groves of Kibbutz Ramat Rachel.
Unless otherwise indicated all quotes are from “The Damascus Affair of 1840 and the Jews of America” by Joseph Jacobs, Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society (1893-1961); 1902; 10, AJHS Journal, available at www.ajhs.org/scholarship/adaje.cfm.
Anyone familiar with Jewish history knows of the blood libels that have been used against Jews for centuries.
The first recorded instance of a blood libel against Jews was in the writings of Apion, who claimed that the Jews sacrificed Greek victims in the Temple of Jerusalem. After this, there are no existent records of the blood libel against the Jews until the 12th century legend surrounding William of Norwich, first recorded in the Peterborough Chronicle. The libel afterward became an increasingly common accusation. In many subsequent cases, anti-Semitic blood libels served as the basis for a blood libel cult, in which the alleged victim of human sacrifice was venerated as a Christian martyr. Many Jews were killed as a result of false blood libels, which continued into the 20th century, with the Beilis Trial in Russia and the Kielce pogrom in post-World War II Poland.[i]
In 1840 the Jews of Damascus were accused of ritual murder. Damascus (and all of Syria) was at this time controlled by Mohammed Ali, pasha of Egypt, and the governor of Damascus was Sherif Pasha, an Egyptian Arab.
On Feb. 5, 1840, Father Thomas, originally from Sardinia, and the superior of a Franciscan convent at Damascus, disappeared with his servant. This monk, who practised medicine, was very well known in the Jewish and Mohammedan quarters, as well as among the Christians. Some days previous he had had a dispute with a Turkish muleteer, who had heard him blaspheme Mohammed, whereupon the Turk is reported to have said: “That dog of a Christian shall die by my hand.” Upon Thomas’ disappearance the French consul at Damascus, Ratti Menton, who was an enemy to the Jews, following the advice of certain monks, instituted investigations in the Jewish quarter; and the governor, Sherif Pasha, pretending to act merely in accordance with the friendly relations existing between the governments of Louis Philippe and Mohammed Ali, aided the French consul in a culpable way.
A confession was extorted by torture from a Jewish barber named Negrin, and eight of the most notable Jews, among them Joseph Lañado, Moses Abulafia, and Farhi, were imprisoned and tortured. Their teeth and beards were pulled out, they were burned, and finally tempted with gold, to persuade them to confess an imaginary crime. Lañado, a feeble old man, died under this treatment. Moses Abulafia became a Mohammedan in order to escape the torture. In spite of the stoic courage displayed by the sufferers, Sherif Pasha and Ratti Menton agreed on the guilt of the accused in view of the words resembling a confession that had escaped them in their agony. While Ratti Menton published libels against the Jews in French and in Arabic, Sherif Pasha wrote to his master, Mohammed Ali, demanding authorization to execute the murderers of Father Thomas. In the mean time the populace fell upon the synagogue in the suburb of Jobar, pillaged it, and destroyed the scrolls of the Law.[ii]
Jewish communities in Europe and America held public meetings protesting this treatment of the Jews of Damascus, and mediators were sent to Egypt to meet with Mohammed Ali. Finally, on August 28, 1840 Ali was convinced of the innocence of the Jewish prisoners. Nine of the original thirteen were released on September 6. The other four had succumbed to the horrors of imprisonment and torture.
Response of American Jewry The response of U.S. Jews to the accusation of ritual murder in Damascus marked the first time American Jewry publicly became involved in a matter of importance to the honor of world Jewry.
About the Author: Dr. Yitzchok Levine served as a professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey before retiring in 2008. He now teaches as an adjunct at Stevens. Glimpses Into American Jewish History appears the first week of each month. Dr. Levine can be contacted at email@example.com.
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Jews, wake up! Stop educating the world and start educating yourselves.
The lessons conform to the sensitivities and needs of the Orthodox community…
The program took on special significance as it marked not only the first anniversary of Rebbetzin Kudan’s levayah but also the 27th yahrzeit of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson, a”h.
It captures the love of the Jewish soul as only Shlomo Hamelech could portray it – and as only Rabbi Miller could explain it.
Erudite and academic, drawing from ancient and modern sources, the book can be discussed at the Shabbos table as well as in kollel.
I’m here to sit next to you and help you through this Purim with three almost-too-easy mishloach manot ideas, all made with cost-conscious paper bags.
Kids want to be like their friends, and they want to give and get “normal” mishloach manos stocked with store-bought treats.
Whenever he did anything loving for me, I made a big deal about it.
“OMG, it’s so cute, you’re so cute, everything is so cute.”
A program that started with a handful of volunteers has grown exponentially to include students from a wider array of backgrounds.
Tutor. Counselor. The doctor too,
Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with you.
I happen to believe that for a couple to spend a few years in kollel is a wonderful way to start a marriage.
Penn wrote the following to a friend in England: “I found them [the Indians of the eastern shore of North America] with like countenances with the Hebrew race; and their children of so lively a resemblance to them that a man would think himself in Duke’s place, or Barry street, in London, when he sees them.”
The special charm of these letters is their immediacy and authenticity of emotion and description.
There were many who believed that some North America Indians were descended from Jews.
One might think to attribute the crudeness of the calendar to the fact that it was produced by a frontier community unable to calculate a more precise table.
“Throughout his life, he observed Tisha B’Ab as the Nahalah (anniversary) for all of his relatives who were murdered, as this is the national Jewish day of mourning.
Practically to his last days the patriarchal founder was at his office almost daily and took an active interest in all matters connected with the business.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/glimpses-ajh/american-jewry-and-the-1840-damascus-blood-libe/2011/11/02/
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