This Week in Jewish History

Jacob Frank and the Burning of the Talmud

One of the more colorful false messiahs in Jewish history, Jacob Frank made a career of conversion–first to Islam, then to Christianity, all the while leading a neo-Sabbatean movement that emphasized antinomian “purification through transgression.” His appeal to the Church in 1757 resulted in a modern-day disputation over the Talmud, and ultimately the burning of tens of thousands of precious ...

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The Martyrs of Mumbai

Pakistani terrorists attacked the Chabad House in Mumbai, India, on Wednesday, 29th of Heshvan, 5769 (26 November 2008). Part of a concerted attack that killed 179 and wounded hundreds, they murdered the young Chabad emissaries running the house, Rabbi Gavriel and Mrs. Rivky Holtzberg. Their infant son, who turned two the day after his parents were brutally killed, was heroically ...

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Hannah Szenes: Poet-Martyr of the Resistance

Hannah Szenes was a young Hungarian Jewish woman who joined the resistance in 1943, parachuting into Nazi-occupied territories with British support. She was captured and tortured, but did not divulge secret information on her colleagues. Her poetry, including the classic “Blessed is the Match,” survive and add to her legacy. E-mail subscribers: Please note that posts today are automatically sent ...

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Vladimir Ze’ev Jabotinsky (1880-1940) was one of the most influential political thinkers in the first half of the twentieth century, founder of the Revisionist movement.

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The Dreyfus Affair

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 ...

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Pope Gregory I and the Jews

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. E-mail subscribers: Please note that posts on ...

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Jewish Children Forced Into the Tsar’s Army

Reeling from the humiliating defeat of the Crimean War, the Russian Empire decides its policy of forcibly conscripting Jewish boys into military service is counterproductive, and finally abandons the cruel decades-old policy of taking underage children into thirty-one years of military training and service. E-mail subscribers: Please note that posts on Friday are automatically sent out on Shabbos. This function ...

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Jews, Lepers and the Black Death

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 ...

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