Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Passover products circa 1842

Here's a nice ad for Passover products from 1842, under the rabbinic supervision of Rabbi Solomon Hirschell (1862-1842). From the Voice of Jacob.

British wine!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

"Adam and Abraham, not "Odam and Afroom" - on an 18th century attempt to prove the correct Hebrew pronunciation tradition

This is really cool. This is a leaf from a manuscript called Sukkat David. It's a notebook of David Franco Mendes, 18th century Hebrew writer and poet of Amsterdam. He is best known (to me, anyway) for being a close friend and disciple of Rabbi Moshe Haim Luzzatto when the latter lived in Amsterdam, and also for being one of the original Meassefim, a contributor to the first periodical of the Berlin Haskalah, where he contributed poems and biographical articles about gedolei yisrael.

This excerpt is from an essay where he is trying to prove that the correct pronunciation of the קמץ is that of the Sephardim (A) and not the Ashkenazim. He offers several proofs, one of which is the way names like Adam and Abraham are transliterated in Greek letters in Josephus, which he points out, is from the last days of the Temple. Being this old, this is a proof that the A pronunciation is correct, while the pronunciation of the Ashkenazim as - wait for it - Odam and Afroom is not.

Check out the other proofs. It's on page 29.

I learned of this page in Berger, Shlomo. "Remus, Romulus and Sephardic Jews in Amsterdam." Studia Rosenthaliana (1992): 38-45, but finally the manuscript has actually been digitized by the amazing Ets Haim Library. Much valuable material can be gleaned from this manuscript and the wealth of others on this site.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

On Solomon Dubno's library

The Freimann-Sammlung digital library at the University of Frankfurt recently added some fantastic bibliographies, including this important one - the catalog that was prepared for the 1814 auction of Solomon Dubno's library (link).

For those who want to make inferences about contents of libraries, his includes Hameasseph, in case anyone is wondering (p. 46, 57.)

Here is the title page.

Can you help me? (No $!)

Reader request: 

If you go to Columbia University, or Harvard or Yale and you are a fan of this blog (sounds so swell-headed, but what can I say?) it is possible you could give me a hand in supporting scholarship. So if this is you, please email me ( db min9@aol .com ) and I will tell you how you can help, ask for it, and you can decide if you'd like to do so. No pressure before, during, or after. Responses themselves are highly appreciated.

Many thanks!


The stone in question

Many thanks to Michael Brocke for his cogent remarks on my post on a gravestone from Regensburg (link). Michael followed it up by sending me a photograph of the stone, with some additional remarks on the name and date.

He informs me that after the expulsion of the Jews from Regensburg in 1519 this stone, as many others, were appropriated as trophies. I don't think you can see it so well in the picture, but he says that below the inscription is the coat-of-arms of the new 'owner.'

Thursday, January 16, 2014

On an interesting gravestone from 1463

I was looking through a book called Das jetzt Anno 1723 lebende Regensburg... which is, as you surmise, about the history of Regensburg. I noticed at the end it has a number of transcriptions of gravestones in the Jewish cemetery. All are worth looking at, but here is one that caught my interest, because it calls the young woman "הבחורה." At first I thought that could have been a transcription error - there are others - and it may have actually said "הבתולה." I think this usage is interesting. Perhaps it was common, but I've not come across it before. In any case, another stone in the book, for a married woman, uses it; Justina bat Rabbi Schelomia, which one imagines, was the 15th century diminutive of Shelomo, eshet Rabbi Menachem.

Here is my translation:
Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night (Jer. 8:23)
On the passing of the modest lass ("בחורה"), Miss Gutrut,
Daughter of Rabbi Jacob Halin, [her] slumber was requested from Heaven*, on Friday,
The 24th of Kislev (Dec. 15), in the year
224 (1463)
*If I got that right.

It is worth noting that the verse in Jeremiah ends with the phrase "for the slain of the daughter of my people," so one wonders if it was left off because Miss Gertrude died of natural causes or if, to the contrary, this verse was chosen because she was, indeed, slain.

One final note. Another grave, from 1540, is from a woman named Blume (that's how the German translator understood it) and here is how it is written in Hebrew letters: פלומא.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

On decrees concerning rabbinic ordination from 1603

In 1603 rabbis in Germany[1] held a synod in Frankfurt, where they enacted takkanot. The takkanot were translated into German (three separates ones, according to Rabbi Marcus Horovitz[1]) since, in the prior century, various rabbinic synods were treated highly suspiciously by the non-Jews. 

Many of these takkanot are of interest (such as #6, which comes down harshly against coin counterfeiting and the forging of debt documents, stating that much harm has come to the Jews because of this, and decreeing both herem and turning counterfeiters over to the king). But I want to highlight #5, because I came across a summary of it in English in a book from only a few years later, which is interesting to see.

Here is the text of the takkana, as printed by Horovitz. It concerns the manner in which rabbis can be ordained in Germany (and, incidentally, we see that the term bahur was used even for a young married man).

And here is how it is summarized in Purchas his Pilgrimage, v.5, (London 1626).[3] As you can see, he refers to this very takkana, enacted by the "Chief RR [=rabbis] of Frankford":

Since Purchas, in his attempt to explain the Jewish forms of ordination then in vogue, the titles Morenu, Chaver, and Bachur, relates them to the Christian university degrees of Doctor, Licentiate and Bachelour, I thought it worth highlighting an interesting couple of sentences from Abarbanel's commentary to Mishna Avot that I was recently looking at (link). He writes that in Spain and the places of its exiles, they did not ordain rabbis, following the old practice not to ordain outside of the and of Israel. He continues as follows:

"But after arriving in Italy I found there a widespread custom to ordain one another. I saw that the Ashkenazim had all been ordained, and ordained others, as rabbis, and I do not know who gave them permission to do so. [I thought] perhaps they had followed the gentiles in making themselves Doctors."

And since we mention Italy, here is how Rabbi Leon Modena described ordination in his Riti (1650 English translation:

[1] Obviously not in the modern sense. For example, Takkana 12 concerns printing, and refers to Basel, then a major center of Hebrew printing, and juxtaposes it with "or another city in Ashkenaz." Basel, in Switzerland, was in "Germany."
[2] Die Frankfurter rabbinerversammlung vom jahre 1603, p. 5. See also Louis Finkelstein Jewish Self-Government in the Middle Ages, Chapter 8, on the 1603 Frankfurt synod and the takkanas.
[3] The full title of this book, by Samuel Purchas, is: Purchas his Pilgrimage. Or Relations of the World and the Religions Observed in all Ages and Places Discovered, from the Creation unto this Present. And since this continues for a paragraph, here is the title page:

Thursday, January 09, 2014

A 21st century responsum - the Shabbos Blettel asks if it is permitted to lie on a school's internet questionnaire

One of the more interesting, creative works I've seen in the past couple of years is the Shabbos Blettel, which is an incredible (mostly) Yiddish periodical published online.

After a hiatus, there is a new issue (#11) and it contains the following responsum concerning the question of whether or not it is permitted to lie on a Chareidi school's questionnaire about technology use. These invasive questionnaires are increasingly standard, requiring parents to respond. But with only one kind of answer acceptable, parents who own devices such as smartphones generally feel compelled to answer untruthfully, or invite scrutiny that they do not need. Currently, these questionnaires mostly rely on some form of the honor system (with caveats). So, is it permissible to lie?

Here is the responsum:

Here is a link to a pdf of this responsum: link

And to the entire issue: link

Monday, January 06, 2014

A beautiful translation of a Gordon poem; a guest post

I would like to post this wonderful free translation of the first part of Yehuda Leib Gordon's 1875 poem Kotzo Shel Yud. This was originally posted by my talented friend הערשי at Kave Shtiebel, and he gave me permission to post it here:

Jewish wife, who shall know your life?
It comes in the dark, and leaves no mark
Your joys and your anguishes, your hopes and your wishes
In your heart born, and in your heart worn

The world and all the pleasure
For others to treasure
The life of the Jewess a perpetual grind
Forever in her house confined
Bear, deliver, rear, and litter
Bake, and make, and wither

So what if you’re blessed, beauty you possessed
A heart refined, a keen mind
Study is bane, beauty vain
Talent a defect, knowledge abject

Your voice is crude, your hair lewd
You are naught, a goatskin filled with blood and rot
The Serpent’s pest, in you rests

Like the infected, by your own kin rejected
From scholarship, and from the house of worship
In the houses of merriment, you but lament

Good you don't master, the tongue of you ancestor
Thus you are barred, from the Lord’s yard
And you don't hear, the blessing the jeer
“Lord we bless, for not creating us a lass”

Like the heathen and the slave you are rated
Like a hen to breed fated
A heifer threshes, milk gives the cow
What use is it with knowledge to endow?
Why waste time you to rear
Those who follow your counsel in hell will sear

Not only has God closed your womb
Took your husband in your bloom
The cream of your days you while through
But you await your husband’s brother to pull his shoe

On your fathers bed you most grieved
From his inheritance nothing received
They deprive you not only the material
But keep from you the ministerial
For themselves commandments two forty eight
Only three for poor you, said the cheapskate

You are miserable so, Jewess!
You crave to know, to live, but alas
God’s sprout, wilting in drought
Not by sun rays dry, but away from the eye
Fertile soil, bearing luscious fruit with toil
For want of plow, grows weed now

Ere you matured into a conscious soul
You were thrust into a motherly role
Before they taught her, to be a daughter
She married, and her own children carried

Wed him, have you even met him?
Love him, aye; have you cast an eye?
You’re loved, what? Wretched, you know not
Love is apart, from the Jewish heart?

Forty days before, her mother bore
Her match-maker, destined her taker
What good will it do, to take a view
What will it add, to see the lad?

What’s love? Our mothers knew not
We shall not put off, our sister a slut
Head furled, face shrouded in veil
Hair curled, to the razor avail

Why have you eyed, who stands by your side
Whether crippled or bald, whether young or old
It’s all to the same use, you don’t get to choose
Your father will accord, he is your lord
Like chattel sold, from hold to hold

Are they like Aramites to inquire, after the girl’s desire?
As a maiden, your father is your warden
Your husband you please, under his auspices.

Your husband knows no art, he is not skilled
Never planted a vineyard, nor a house built
When the dowry is drawn
The family spawn
He sets looking for a trade
Dejected and dismayed
With options few, he has no clue
He runs away in the night, and leaves you chained in plight.

This is the story, of the Jewess’ glory.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

"This is the story of the uncovering of the hair of Jewish women..."

This is a fascinating anecdote I came across in R. Chizkiya Feivel Plaut's biography of the Chasam Sofer included in his Likutei Chever Ben Chayim (link).

The story, as told to the author by Rabbi Daniel Prosstitz (a close friend of the Chasam Sofer) takes place in 1785, when the 23 year old Moses Sofer accompanied his rebbe Rabbi Nathan Adler on his journey to Baskowitz, where he was to become rabbi. When in Vienna, they stayed in the home of a wealthy man, Reb Nathan Arnstein - who was none other than the banking giant Adam Isaac von Arnstein (1715-1785).[1] Rabbi Nathan Adler has sent young Moshe out on some errand, and when he returned, he stumbled into a room where the host's daughter-in-law was sitting, bareheaded, having her hair done in a "frisiere" - her hair was being styled. Fuming, the boy berated the hostess, "Is this how a married Jewish woman goes?" Not surprisingly, she told her husband's father that if the guests are not thrown out immediately then she was going - to Berlin, to her father's home. (Her father was Daniel Itzig (Jaffe) in Berlin, an interesting personality in his own right, how maintained a Beit Midrash in his home, which luminaries such as the Peri Megadim frequented.)

So - and one imagines this part of the story is either imagined in the retelling, on behalf of the kind man who hosted great rabbis, or was meant to soften the blow to the guests - Nathan Adam von Arnstein approached them, thanked the young man for chastising his son's wife, and asked them if they would remove themselves to another apartment of his, a better one, so that his wife would not travel on the holiday, as it was Pesach.

Concludes the teller, Rabbi Plaut, go check if Reb Nathan Arnstein has any Jewish descendants! And this is the story of the uncovering of the hair of Jewish women...

The woman? Fanny von Arnstein, whose Wikipedia page says "In 1814, Fanny von Arnstein introduced a new custom from Berlin, hitherto unknown in Vienna: the Christmas tree."

This, presumably, is what the young Chasam Sofer found, when he wound up in the wrong room:

[1] Actually, Fanny's husband was Nathan Adam von Arnstein - I assume that in the story the son and father's names were confused.

On fundraising for fake, or at least unknown, yeshivas and institutions in 1924

This fascinating article by Rabbi S. Felix Mendelsohn discusses a fundraising letter for a "Yeshivah Rabbi Akiba Eiger" of which it wasn't entirely clear if it actually existed. But even if it did, the point was that the provenance of the institution which was "unauthorized and superfluous" was simply unknown and suspect. Mendelsohn is particularly perturbed that 29 names of officers and directors are listed on the stationary, 6 being rabbis, and not one of them was known. And he also cannot forgive the name - Yeshivah, rather than Yeshivath.

From the Sentinel May 15, 1924.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The rise of Kashrut observance noted in 1935

This interesting note is from the Telling It In Gath column by Rabbi Louis I. Newman in the Sentinel, a Jewish newspaper based in Chicago (4.11.1935 issue).

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The ban on the pietistic activities of Rabbi Nosson Adler of Frankfurt

A friend wanted to see the actual writ of excommunication against Rabbi Nathan Adler of Frankfurt. Here it is.

And here's a very high res image (click for full size):

See Rachel Elior's article on R. Nosson Adler (here), which describes the circumstances and includes a transcription of the text, with notes.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Lithuania in New York - a rabbinic visit to Syracuse in 1929

Here's a notice about Rabbi Baruch Ber Leibowitz's visit to Syracuse in July 1929, with his son-in-law R. Reuven Grozovski.

Their portrait appeared in the Syracuse Herald in July 1926 as well:

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

An imaginary portrait of the Ramchal as a young man

I mocked up this whimsical portrait of Rabbi Moses Hayyim Luzzatto to hang up in your Sukkah. Sadly, no true portrait of this personality exists - I took some (some??) poetic license in imagining him. This actually is a Northern Italian youth, albeit one born 200 years before Ramhal. Something about his face made him seem appropriate, even if the clothes aren't. The other elements are... at least from the 18th century.

Gut yontif, Chag sameach!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Beards and beardlessness in Italian Jewish history, Pt. II

See Part I.*

Here's a beautiful depiction of prayer for the sick, captioned by Psalm 34:23, and one imagines, of contemporary Italian Jews. This is from Imre Lev (Asti 1852, a compendium of prayers translated into Italian by Rabbi Marco Tedeschi (1817 - 1869), future Chief Rabbi of Trieste.

Note the facial hair on many of the men, even though Italian Jews had long been known for being clean-shaven (and obviously some did grow beards). I think in the mid-19th century beards had been making a fashionable comeback, and that is the likely explanation. c.f. the facial hair on Ohev Ger Luzzatto, a young man born in 1830, as compared to his father born in 1800. Ohev Ger (below) died in 1854, around this time. 

And here is Tedeschi himself, incidentally, also a student of Shadal. By the look of the man, this is presumably in the 1860s (and see here, for another portrait of him in canonicals):

See here for an earlier post about how the German fashion of growing facial hair was perceived in England in 1848.

* Hope it holds up!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Contemporary Hasidic audodidactism

This is an incredibly interesting and poignant audio piece by Frimet Goldberger about the thirst for education among Chasidim, and how they overcame - and are still overcoming - hurdles to get it. 

Great interview material, and all I can say is that I wish I could hear the uncut interviews with each subject. It's less than 20 minutes, and really left me wanting much more. A must listen. Really.

It is an audio piece, so be sure to listen and not just read the summary.

PS I was inspired by this - this was absolutely worth coming out of hibernation for. I will be back to regular posting. Really.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A baal shem and his bochurim

I'll be back. But I'm taking a break from my break to post this incredible photo (I'd never seen it) of R. Elia Guttmacher. Terminus post quem - 1874.

This photo appears in Rev. Samuel Marcus Gollancz's Biographical Sketches and Selected Verses (London 1930).

Thursday, July 04, 2013

The synagogue on the skyline of lower Manhattan, 1770

This is a map of the houses of worship and some other principle buildings in New York. #12 is "Jew's Synagogue." It refers to Shearith Israel, then in its Mill Lane location, which it occupied from 1730 to 1834.

A Christian's concern for the bad example Christians set for the Jews, 1798

Here's an interesting letter printed in the Beauties of the Evangelical Magazine. The writer, "Erastus," says that he engaged a young Jewish woman in conversation about the Hebrew language - itself interesting - and was shocked by her "occasionally taking God's name in vain," albeit in English. This surprised him, for he knew that the Jews venerate God's name so much that they substitute another name (Adonay, Lord) even in reading their own scripture. Her reply: "The Christians do so."

Oh, this answer stung. So his letter is about how Christians should be careful not to be a poor example to the Jews, and that Christians should show the reality of their faith by obeying the 3rd Commandment!

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A rabbi, a priest and a minister walk into an audience with Napoleon...

Recently I was in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and I saw this portrait of Napoleon. Evidently, he enjoyed pageantry and symbolism.

Here is an anecdote about the time the rabbi of Dusseldorf went to pay his respects to Napoleon. As you can see, the old rabbi was supported by a Catholic priest and a Protestant minister in, what the writer suspects, was a symbolic gesture for Napoleon's benefit:

This incident occurred in 1811, and as the rabbi of Dusseldorf was, at the time, R. Judah Leib Scheur (d. 1821, age 87), then he must have been about 77 - not 100 as depicted here.

Using tefillin and a Roedelheim siddur to establish bona fides among a 'Lost Tribe' in China circa 1839. Allegedly.

Suppose you were trying to establish contact with a newly discovered colony of Jews deep in China, close to Tibet, in 1839. How would you establish a connection? By pulling out your Roedelheim siddur and putting on tefillin, obviously.

At least that's the story in what most certainly is a fake, but most interesting, letter printed in the Archives Israélites in 1868. Sent in by a man calling himself Jacob Elsaesser (of Alsace), it purports to be an account of the encounter just described. "Elsaesser" writes that in 1835 his friend Adolphe Stempfel, who had been studying to be a rabbi, fell on hard times. As a result he joined a British ship to Calcutta (in a time when many youths in similar circumstances were going to America, adds the Elsesser). During the time of the First Opium War the British discovered a community of Jews deep in China. Reports made it to Calcutta, and a wealthy Jewish merchant there sent Stempfel (you know, if he ever existed) to China to make contact with them. Elsaesser sent the Archives Israélites a letter purporting to be written by Stempfel back to his patron in Calcutta. It printed the letter in three parts. Here's an excerpt:

In the first part, he describes a river that he thought may have been the Sambation. In this, the second part:
"Barely did I hear the cracking of the bamboo floors in the morning, when I put into action my plan. I got into the corner of my room and without saying a word I put on my phylacteries and opened a Rodelheim siddur. I wished you had been here to see this: my host seemed stunned, his face in a stupor. He fixated on my phylacteries and prayer book. He obviously did not expect to find a coreligionist in the garb of a Western barbarian. I enjoyed his surprise, until finally I smiled. He touched my phylacteries and addressed me, but I couldn't understand him. So I replied to him with feeling "Yehudi." He repeated the word and happily shook his head to indicate that he understood me. Unfortunately he could not reply to even the simplest Hebrew words that I addressed him with, which the most simple Alsatian Jew would have understood."
It continues, how the Chinese Jew fetched the rabbi, they exchanged "Schalem-Alechems" and had a very nice, spirited conversation in Hebrew. According to Stempfel, the rabbi said that they are descendants of the Ten Tribes of Israel carried into captivity, and that these Chinese Jews (=Israelites) are shepherds. Stempfel expressed surprise that they are not traders, and hilarity ensues.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The press coverage of the 'first Chasidic rebbe in America,' 1893

Rabbi Eliezer Chaim Rabinowitz, (1845-1916) of Jampol, progenitor of the Skolye Hasidic dynasty, and known as the 'first Hasidic rebbe in America' visited these shores in 1890.

By 1893 he had a congregation of some kind in New York, where visitors petitioned him for prayers, advice and remedies. The New York Herald discovered this and sent a reporter (and an artist) to investigate. Not surprisingly, it portrayed him as a fraud. (Even if it is too long to capture your interest to read, scroll down to see the sketches and the facsimile of one of his handwritten remedies.)

My thanks to Azriel Graber for identifying the rebbe in this piece for me, as well as for his fascinating historical research and conversations I have had with him.

Here is the story, with a follow-up in the Herald, and reaction in the Jewish press to follow in a separate post:

Monday, June 17, 2013

A schoolmarmish interpretation of a verse about harlotry in 1650

I think this is highly amusing. 

First, the background: Plica polonica (Polish plait) was a strange hair disease that was common well into the 19th, and even the 20th century. Basically, it involved the tangling, "felting" of long, dirty hair, but it was much more than dreadlocks - the hairs themselves became engorged and filled with a kind of liquid or pus. According to medical descriptions, it emitted a foul odor. Doctors were divided as to whether it was a condition caused by poor hygiene, or something else, such as drinking foul water. As the name it was known by, "Polish plait," indicates, it was far more common in eastern Europe. Since hygiene was so poor all over Europe, that it was so common in Poland  would have seemed to indicate that there was something unique about Polish conditions - and it wasn't poor hygiene alone - that caused it. It was also observed to grow in animals in Poland, but not elsewhere.

In addition, there were superstitions attached to this condition. The people believed that a Plica was a supernatural phenomenon and the growth of one did not indicate a health problem, but on the contrary - it indicated the relief of a health problem. Growing one was lucky, it meant you had an illness but were getting better. The people who grew them did not want to cut them off, and since it was seen as having magical properties, people rubbed things into their hair - honey, dirt, etc. - to try to induce the formation of one. Although it became closely associated with Poland (and discussions of the Plica make appearances in rabbinic literature), and it could obviously be found wherever hygiene was lacking, there are apparent references to it even in Shakespeare, where it is called an elflock. In one issue of the Philosophical Transactions from 1746, there is an article about an English country woman born in 1645, and her Plica polonica, which she had grown beginning at age 14. So despite the stereotype, it could be found all over Europe. 

Thus, the background. In 1650 a clergyman named John Trapp published a commentary on the Book of Proverbs.

Commenting on the verse in chapter 7, verse 10, "And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of a harlot, and wily of heart." Trapp gives the following comment and mini-sermon:

Trapp means to explain the Hebrew for "attire of a harlot, the "שִׁית זוֹנָה." He explains that this is a kind of tightly fitted, plaited garment. He then cites the Latin of Lavater, referring to something plaited, which he glosses are pleated garments or plaited hair. This is "the attire of a harlot." But since in Latin "plaited" is "plica," since Lavater wrote "vestitus in quo plica," this reminds Trapp of the dreadful condition Plica polonica. This has nothing at all to do with the verse. But since he is talking about the attire of a harlot, a sinful way of dressing, since the word sounds the same, he cannot resist bringing this up:

"Let such take heed to the plica polonica; that dreadful disease."

This has nothing to do with anything, but it probably could strike revulsion and fear in the heart of the reader, just as Trapp intended.

I am reminded, and friends I showed this too are reminded, of various teachers who moralized in precisely this associative way. So here is John Trapp, teaching a verse in Proverbs, 350 years ago, the way I've been assured some teachers try to spread the value of tznius in contemporary schools.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

One of those unimpressed synagogue visitors, 1721

This page is an account of one English visitor to a synagogue in 1721. As you can see, he was bewildered by  the men keeping their hats on, no kneeling, calling out to get a pinch of snuff, worshipers coming in an hour, two and more late, the disharmony between some praying, some singing [prayers], and some talking of business.

Note the expression "he [who held the Torah] sat him down on his A----se with his Hat on his Head." "A----se" is, of course, "Arse." In 1721 the word was not yet the vulgarity it is today, (hence its use in a text like this), but was already emerging as an impolite word - hence the modest use of hyphens. In the prior century, in many texts the word was used normally and not considered particularly vulgar at all. But as David Crystal writes (The Story of English in 100 Words), as polite euphemisms for buttocks increased, primarily in the 18th century, the rudeness level of this word increased.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

A group of New York Jewish merchants apply for Denizenship in 1712

This is the Application for Denizenship (I made that title up) to Queen Anne of Great Britain for Nathan Simpson and Samuel Levy, on behalf of themselves and Moses Levy, Moses Michalls [sic], Moses Hart and Mordica [sic] Nathan. The fellows were Jewish merchants in New York who "found themselves lye[ing] under many difficultys in their Trades as Merchants for want of being free Denizens," so they filed this petition.

Simson and Levy ask "that they may pertake of your Majestys Royall favour to be made Denizens of Great Britain and esteem'd as such..."

Included are several recommendations. For example, one Joseph Levy writes that they "are very well known to severall of the best Jews in London" and are "deserving of her Majestys favor."

Another is from Lord Cornbury, the Earl of Clarendon, the - I do not make this up - transvestite former governor of New York. He writes that the men "are Persons well-known to me, they are of the Jewish Nation and were (and I suppose still are) considerable traders in New York" - at the time he was governor - and they "behaved themselves as good Subjects ought to doe all which I most humbly certify."

לשנה הבאה בני חורין - A Haggadah for a Federal penitentiary

Here's some pages out of a most interesting Haggadah, or perhaps parts of a Passover program, produced for Jewish inmates at the federal prison in Fort Dix. Definitely worth a look.

I made the PDF, but the images come from here.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Ex-Kaiser Wilhelm on the Controversy Between Christianity and Judaism, 1926

Here's something interesting. An article - actually, compiled from a written correspondence - in English by the ex-Kaiser Wilhelm II. The topic: that the Jews simply won't accept the divinity of Jesus, and that is an unbridgeable gap. Note his written text (in English) on p. 5 (660), about Moses Mendelssohn.


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