Dohny Street Synagogue – Wikipedia

The Dohny Street Synagogue (Hungarian: Dohny utcai zsinagga/nagy zsinagga, Hebrew: Bet ha-Knesset ha-Gadol shel Budapesht), also known as The Great Synagogue or Tabakgasse Synagogue, is a historical building in Erzsbetvros, the 7th district of Budapest, Hungary. It is the largest synagogue in Europe and the second largest in the world.[1] It seats 3,000 people and is a centre of Neolog Judaism.

The synagogue was built between 1854 and 1859 in the Moorish Revival style, with the decoration based chiefly on Islamic models from North Africa and medieval Spain (the Alhambra). The synagogue’s Viennese architect, Ludwig Frster, believed that no distinctively Jewish architecture could be identified, and thus chose “architectural forms that have been used by oriental ethnic groups that are related to the Israelite people, and in particular the Arabs”.[2] The interior design is partly by Frigyes Feszl.

The Dohny Street Synagogue complex consists of the Great Synagogue, the Heroes’ Temple, the graveyard, the Memorial and the Jewish Museum, which was built on the site on which Theodor Herzl’s house of birth stood. Dohny Street itself, a leafy street in the city center, carries strong Holocaust connotations as it constituted the border of the Budapest Ghetto.[3]

Built in a residential area between 1854-1859 by the Jewish community of Pest according to the plans of Ludwig Frster, the monumental synagogue has a capacity of 2,964 seats (1,492 for men and 1,472 in the women’s galleries) making it the largest in Europe and one of the largest working synagogues in the world (after the Beit Midrash of Ger in Jerusalem, the Belz Great Synagogue and Temple Emanu-el in New York City).[citation needed] The consecration of the synagogue took place on 6 September 1859.

The synagogue was bombed by the Hungarian pro-Nazi Arrow Cross Party on 3 February 1939.[4] Used as a base for German Radio and also as a stable during World War II, the building suffered some severe damage from aerial raids during the Nazi Occupation but especially during the Siege of Budapest. During the Communist era the damaged structure became again a prayer house for the much-diminished Jewish community. Its restoration started in 1991, financed by the state and by private donations, and completed in 1998.

The building is 75 metres (246ft) long and 27 metres (89ft) wide.[5] The style of the Dohny Street Synagogue is Moorish but its design also features a mixture of Byzantine, Romantic and Gothic elements. Two onion domes sit on the twin octagonal towers at 43 metres (141ft) height. A rose stained-glass window sits over the main entrance.

Similarly to basilicas, the building consists of three spacious richly decorated aisles, two balconies and, unusually, an organ. Its ark contains various torah scrolls taken from other synagogues destroyed during the Holocaust.[citation needed]

The Central Synagogue in Manhattan, New York City is a near-exact copy of the Dohny Street Synagogue.[6]

The torah-ark and the internal frescoes made of colored and golden geometric shapes are the works of the famous Hungarian romantic architect Frigyes Feszl. A single-span cast iron supports the 12-metre-wide (39ft) nave. The seats on the ground-floor are for men, while the upper gallery, supported by steel ornamented poles, has seats for women. This synagogue is very different from other synagogues as it is the only one to have pipe organs and a cemetery.

Franz Liszt and Camille Saint-Sans played the original 5,000 pipe organ built in 1859.[7] A new mechanical organ with 63 voices and 4 manuals was built in 1996 by the German firm Jehmlich Orgelbau Dresden GmbH.[8] One of the most important concerts in the Synagogue’s history was in 2002, by the organ virtuoso Xaver Varnus. A crowd of 7,200 filled sanctuary seats and standing space, some four-hours before the concert,[citation needed] to hear the artists virtuosity.[9]

It was only in the 1990s, following the return to democracy in Hungary, that renovations could begin. The three-year program of reconstruction was largely funded by a US$5 million donation from Hungarian Jewish American Este Lauder and was completed in 1996.[10][11]

The Jewish Museum was constructed on the plot where Theodor Herzl’s two-story Classicist style house stood, adjoining the Dohny synagogue.[12] The Jewish Museum was built in 1930 in accordance with the synagogue’s architectural style and attached in 1931 to the main building. It holds the Jewish Religious and Historical Collection, a collection of religious relics of the Pest Hevrah Kaddishah (Jewish Burial Society), ritual objects of Shabbat and the High Holidays and a Holocaust room.

The arcade and the Heroes’ Temple, which seats 250 people and is used for religious services on weekdays and during the winter time, was added the Dohny Street Synagogue complex in 1931. The Heroes’ Temple was designed by Lzlo Vg and Ferenc Farag and serves as a memorial to Hungarian Jews who gave their lives during World War I.

In 1944, the Dohny Street Synagogue was part of the Jewish Ghetto for the city Jews and served as shelter for many hundreds. Over two thousand of those who died in the ghetto from hunger and cold during the winter 1944-1945 are buried in the courtyard of the synagogue.

It is not customary to have a cemetery next to a synagogue, the establishment of the 3,000 m2 cemetery was the result of historical circumstances. In 1944, as a part of the Eichmann-plan, 70,000 Jews were relocated to the Ghetto of Pest. Until January 18, 1945, when the Russians liberated the ghetto, around 8,000 to 10,000 people had died, although, one part of the deceased were transferred to the Kozma Street Cemetery, but 2,000 people were buried in the makeshift cemetery. In memory of those who had died, there is a memorial by the sculptor, Imre Varga, depicting a weeping willow with the names and tattoo numbers of the dead and disappeared just behind the Synagogue, in the Raoul Wallenberg Holocaust Memorial Park.[13]

The Raoul Wallenberg Emlkpark (memory park) in the rear courtyard holds the Memorial of the Hungarian Jewish Martyrs at least 400,000 Hungarian Jews were murdered by the Nazis.[14] Made by Imre Varga, it resembles a weeping willow whose leaves bear inscriptions with the names of victims. There is also a memorial to Wallenberg and other Righteous Among the Nations, among them: Swiss Vice-consul Carl Lutz; Giorgio Perlasca, an Italian man who, with a strategic escamotage, declared himself the Spanish consul, releasing documents of protection and current passports to Jews in Budapest without distinction (he saved five thousand); Mons. Angelo Rotta, an Italian Prelate Bishop and Apostolic Nuncio of the State of Vatican City in Budapest, which issued protective sheets, misrepresentations of baptism (to save them from forced labor) and Vatican passports to Jews, without distinction of any kind present in Budapest (saving fifteen thousand), who saved, with his secretary Mons. Gennaro Verolino tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews during World War II. Carlos de Liz-Texeira Branquinho a Portuguese diplomat, serving as Portugals Charg d’Affaires in Budapest in 1944, issued protective Passports to hundreds of Jewish families, altogether about 1,000 lives were saved due to his actions.[15]Carlos Sampaio Garrido the Portuguese Ambassador who resisted the Hungarian political police when the police raided his home arresting his guests. The Ambassador physically resisted the police and was also arrested but managed to have his guests released by invoking the extraterritorial legal rights of diplomatic legations; five of the guests were members of the famous Gabor family.

Dohny means tobacco in Hungarian, a loan word from Ottoman Turkish (duhn), itself borrowed from Arabic (dun). A similar Turkish loanword for tobacco is used throughout the Balkans (e.g. duhan in Bosnian).

Theodor Herzl in his speeches[16] and the Jewish Encyclopedia referred to the Dohny Street Synagogue as the Tabakgasse Synagogue. The Dohny Street Synagogue is also known under the name of the Tabak-Shul, the Yiddish translation of Dohny Synagogue.

On October 23, 2012, an Israeli flag was burned in front of a Budapest synagogue, reportedly by members of Jobbik, an ultranationalist Hungarian political party.[17][18]

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Dohny Street Synagogue – Wikipedia

Congregation Shevet Achim – Island Synagogue

is on Mercer Island! A Series of 7classes, Thursday Mornings, November 3rdthrough December 22nd 9:00 a.m. 10:00 a.m. (No class on Thanksgiving November 24th)

In the Social Hall at Island Synagogue Island Crest Way and SE 47th Street, Mercer Island

Zumba is perfect for everybody and every body. Zumba takes the “work” out of workout, mixing low- and high-intensity moves for an interval-style, calorie-burning dance fitness party. Once the Latin and World rhythms take over, you’ll see why Zumba Fitness classes are like exercise in disguise.

A total workout, combining all elements of fitness cardio, muscle conditioning, balance and flexibility, boosted energyand a serious dose of awesome!

Jessica is a choreographer, dancer, actor, singer, director and youth educator in musical theatre. Jessica received the 2014 Gregory Award (recognizing contributions to Seattle Theatre) for Outstanding Choreography; you may have seen Jessicas work recently in The Sound of Music at the 5th Avenue Theatre, and productions at Seattle Musical Theatre and Village Theatre. She has taught Zumba at Island Synagogue for a year.

Special early 7-class series rate is only $35(thats just $5 per class!) Drop-ins are $7 per class.

Congregation Shevet Achim – Island Synagogue

Jews for Jesus: Sharing Our Faith in Jesus as Messiah to our …

This year Hanukkah and Christmas collide. But what is the spiritual connection between the two holidays?

The Bible not only speaks of an end to this world, but also of a new beginninga new heaven and a new earth. While the Hebrew Scriptures allude to this new world, the New Testament describes it in great detail.

As a young rabbi, Isaac Lichtenstein (18251908) reprimanded a young man for showing him a Bible containing a New Testament, took the book from him, and put it on a corner shelf. Thirty years later Lichtenstein opened the bookand it changed his life.

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Jews for Jesus: Sharing Our Faith in Jesus as Messiah to our …

Synagogue – Wikipedia

A synagogue, also spelled synagog (pronounced from Greek , synagog, “assembly”, Hebrew: Bet Kenesset, “house of assembly” or Bet Tefila, “house of prayer”, shul, esnoga or kahal), is a Jewish house of prayer.

Synagogues have a large hall for prayer (the main sanctuary), and may also have smaller rooms for study and sometimes a social hall and offices. Some have a separate room for Torah study, called the Beith Midrash (Sefaradi) “beis medrash (Ashkenazi) (“House of Study”).

Synagogues are consecrated spaces used for the purpose of prayer, Torah reading, study and assembly; however a synagogue is not necessary for worship. Halakha holds that communal Jewish worship can be carried out wherever ten Jews (a minyan) assemble. Worship can also be carried out alone or with fewer than ten people assembled together. However, Halakha considers certain prayers as communal prayers and therefore they may be recited only by a minyan. The synagogue does not replace the long-since destroyed Temple in Jerusalem.

Israelis use the Hebrew term Beyt Knesset (house of assembly). Jews of Ashkenazi descent have traditionally used the Yiddish term shul (cognate with the German Schule, “school”) in everyday speech. Sephardi Jews and Romaniote Jews generally use the term kal (from the Hebrew ahal, meaning “community”). Spanish Jews call the synagogue a sinagoga and Portuguese Jews call it an esnoga. Persian Jews and some Karaite Jews also use the non-Hebrew term kenesa, which is derived from Aramaic, and some Arab Jews use kenis. Reform and some Conservative Jews use the word temple. The Greek word synagogue is used in English (and German and French), to cover the preceding possibilities.[1]

Although synagogues existed a long time before the destruction of the 2nd Temple in 70 CE, communal worship in the time while the Temple still stood centered around the korbanot (“sacrificial offerings”) brought by the kohanim (“priests”) in the Holy Temple. The all-day Yom Kippur service, in fact, was an event in which the congregation both observed the movements of the kohen gadol (“the high priest”) as he offered the day’s sacrifices and prayed for his success.

During the Babylonian captivity (586537BCE) the Men of the Great Assembly formalized and standardized the language of the Jewish prayers. Prior to that people prayed as they saw fit, with each individual praying in his or her own way, and there were no standard prayers that were recited. Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai, one of the leaders at the end of the Second Temple era, promulgated the idea of creating individual houses of worship in whatever locale Jews found themselves. This contributed to the continuity of the Jewish people by maintaining a unique identity and a portable way of worship despite the destruction of the Temple, according to many historians.

Synagogues in the sense of purpose-built spaces for worship, or rooms originally constructed for some other purpose but reserved for formal, communal prayer, however, existed long before the destruction of the Second Temple.[2] The earliest archaeological evidence for the existence of very early synagogues comes from Egypt, where stone synagogue dedication inscriptions dating from the 3rd century BCE prove that synagogues existed by that date.[3] A synagogue dating from between 75 and 50BCE has been uncovered at a Hasmonean-era winter palace near Jericho.[4][5] More than a dozen Second Temple era synagogues have been identified by archaeologists.[2]

Any Jew or group of Jews can build a synagogue. Synagogues have been constructed by ancient Jewish kings, by wealthy patrons, as part of a wide range of human institutions including secular educational institutions, governments, and hotels, by the entire community of Jews living in a particular place, or by sub-groups of Jews arrayed according to occupation, ethnicity (i.e. the Sephardic, Polish or Persian Jews of a town), style of religious observance (i.e., a Reform or an Orthodox synagogue), or by the followers of a particular rabbi.

There is no set blueprint for synagogues and the architectural shapes and interior designs of synagogues vary greatly. In fact, the influence from other local religious buildings can often be seen in synagogue arches, domes and towers.

Historically, synagogues were built in the prevailing architectural style of their time and place. Thus, the synagogue in Kaifeng, China looked very like Chinese temples of that region and era, with its outer wall and open garden in which several buildings were arranged. The styles of the earliest synagogues resembled the temples of other sects of the eastern Roman Empire. The surviving synagogues of medieval Spain are embellished with mudjar plasterwork. The surviving medieval synagogues in Budapest and Prague are typical Gothic structures.

The emancipation of Jews in European countries not only enabled Jews to enter fields of enterprise from which they were formerly barred, but gave them the right to build synagogues without needing special permissions, synagogue architecture blossomed. Large Jewish communities wished to show not only their wealth but also their newly acquired status as citizens by constructing magnificent synagogues. These were built across Europe and in the United States in all of the historicist or revival styles then in fashion. Thus there were Neoclassical, Neo-Byzantine, Romanesque Revival, Moorish Revival, Gothic Revival, and Greek Revival. There are Egyptian Revival synagogues and even one Mayan Revival synagogue. In the 19th century and early 20th century heyday of historicist architecture, however, most historicist synagogues, even the most magnificent ones, did not attempt a pure style, or even any particular style, and are best described as eclectic.

In the post-war era, synagogue architecture abandoned historicist styles for modernism.

All synagogues contain a bimah, a raised platform where the table of the rabbi is found.

The Torah Ark (Hebrew: Aron Kodesh ) (called the heikhal [temple] by Sephardim) is a cabinet in which the Torah scrolls are kept.

The ark in a synagogue is almost always positioned in such a way such that those who face it are facing towards Jerusalem. Thus, sanctuary seating plans in the Western world generally face east, while those east of Israel face west. Sanctuaries in Israel face towards Jerusalem. Occasionally synagogues face other directions for structural reasons; in such cases, some individuals might turn to face Jerusalem when standing for prayers, but the congregation as a whole does not.

The Ark is reminiscent of the Ark of the Covenant which held the tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments. This is the holiest spot in a synagogue, equivalent to the Holy of Holies. The Ark is often closed with an ornate curtain, the parochet , which hangs outside or inside the ark doors.

A large, raised, reader’s platform called the bimah () by Ashkenazim and tebah by Sephardim, where the Torah scroll is placed to be read is a feature of all synagogues. In Sephardi synagogues it is also used as the prayer leader’s reading desk.

Other traditional features include a continually lit lamp or lantern, usually electric in contemporary synagogues, called the ner tamid ( ), the “Eternal Light”, used as a reminder of the western lamp of the menorah of the Temple in Jerusalem, which remained miraculously lit perpetually. Many have an elaborate chair named for the prophet Elijah which is only sat upon during the ceremony of Brit milah. Many synagogues have a large seven-branched candelabrum commemorating the full Menorah. Most contemporary synagogues also feature a lectern for the rabbi.

A synagogue may be decorated with artwork, but in the Rabbinic and Orthodox tradition, three-dimensional sculptures and depictions of the human body are not allowed as these are considered akin to idolatry.

Until the 19th century, in an Ashkenazi synagogue, all seats most often faced the Torah Ark. In a Sephardi synagogue, seats were usually arranged around the perimeter of the sanctuary, but when the worshipers stood up to pray, everyone faced the Ark. In Ashkenazi synagogues, the Torah was read on a reader’s table located in the center of the room, while the leader of the prayer service, the hazzan, stood at his own lectern or table, facing the Ark. In Sephardic synagogues, the table for reading the Torah was commonly placed at the opposite side of the room from the Torah Ark, leaving the center of the floor empty for the use of a ceremonial procession carrying the Torah between the Ark and the reading table.

Orthodox synagogues feature a partition (mechitzah) dividing the men’s and women’s seating areas, or a separate women’s section located on a balcony.

The German Reform movement which arose in the early 19th century made many changes to the traditional look of the synagogue, keeping with its desire to simultaneously stay Jewish yet be accepted by the host culture.

The first Reform synagogue, which opened in Hamburg in 1811, introduced changes that made the synagogue look more like a church. These included: the installation of an organ to accompany the prayers (even on Shabbat, when musical instruments are proscribed by halakha), a choir to accompany the hazzan, and vestments for the synagogue rabbi to wear.[6]

In following decades, the central reader’s table, the Bimah, was moved to the front of the Reform sanctuarypreviously unheard-of[citation needed] in Orthodox synagogues. The rabbi now delivered his sermon from the front, much as the Christian ministers delivered their sermons in a church. The synagogue was renamed a “temple”, to emphasize that the movement no longer looked forward to the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem.[citation needed]

Synagogues often take on a broader role in modern Jewish communities and may include additional facilities such as a catering hall, kosher kitchen, religious school, library, day care center and a smaller chapel for daily services.

Since Orthodox Jews prefer to collect a minyan (a quorum of ten) rather than pray alone, they commonly assemble at pre-arranged times in offices, living rooms, or other spaces when these are more convenient than formal synagogue buildings. A room or building that is used this way can become a dedicated small synagogue or prayer room. Among Ashkenazi Jews they are traditionally called shtiebel (, pl. shtiebelekh or shtiebels, Yiddish for “little house”), and are found in Orthodox communities worldwide.

Another type of communal prayer group, favored by some contemporary Jews, is the Chavurah (, pl. chavurot, ), or prayer fellowship. These groups meet at a regular place and time, usually in a private home. In antiquity, the Pharisees lived near each other in chavurot and dined together to ensure that none of the food was unfit for consumption.[7]

During the 19th and early 20th century, it was fairly common for Jewish communities, particularly in Europe, to construct very large, showpiece synagogues. These edifices were intended not simply to accommodate worshipers, but to serve as emblems of Jewish participation in modern society. For this purpose, they were built to be not merely large, but architecturally impressive. Even small cities had elaborate synagogues of this type, albeit smaller than the synagogues of Vienna and New York. They are often designated as The Great Synagogue of…, or, in Russia, The Choral Synagogue. These notable synagogues include:

The dome of the Hurva Synagogue dominated the skyline of the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem for more than 80 years, from 1864 when it was built until 1948 when it was bombed.

The remains of the Hurva Synagogue as they appeared from 1977 to 2003. The synagogue has recently been reconstructed.

The interior of a Karaite synagogue.

Szkesfehrvr synagogue, Hungary (c. 1930s) The synagogue no longer exists, however, the memorial plaques were moved to a building at the city’s Jewish cemetery.

The Ohev Sholom Talmud Torah, the National Synagogue, is a wondrous example of mid-century modern architecture employing expressionist overtones, located in Upper 16th Street, Washington, D.C.

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Synagogue – Wikipedia

Sephardi Jews – Wikipedia

Sephardi Jews (Yahadut Sfarad) Total population 2,200,000 up to 16% of world Jewish population Regions with significant populations Israel 1.4 million France 300,000400,000 United States 200,000300,000 Argentina 50,000 Spain 40,000 Canada 30,000 Turkey 26,000 Italy 24,930 Mexico 15,000 United Kingdom 8,000 Panama 8,000 Colombia 7,000 Morocco 6,000 Greece 6,000 Tunisia 2,000 Algeria 2,000 Bosnia and Herzegovina 2,000 Bulgaria 2,000 Cuba 1,500 Serbia 1,000 Netherlands 600 Languages Historical: Ladino, Arabic, Haketia, Judeo-Portuguese, Berber, Catalanic, Shuadit, local languages Modern: Local languages, primarily Hebrew, French, English, Spanish, Turkish, Portuguese, Italian, Ladino, Arabic. Religion Judaism Related ethnic groups Ashkenazi Jews, Mizrahi Jews, other Jewish ethnic divisions, Samaritans, other Levantines, Assyrians, other Near Eastern Semitic people, Spaniards, Portuguese and Hispanics/Latinos

Sephardi Jews, also known as Sephardic Jews or simply Sephardim (Hebrew: , Modern Hebrew: Sfaraddim, Tiberian: Spraddm; also Y’hudey Spharad, lit. “The Jews of Spain”), are a Jewish ethnic division whose ethnogenesis and emergence as a distinct community of Jews coalesced in the Iberian Peninsula around the start of the 2nd millennium (i.e., about the year 1000). They established communities throughout Spain and Portugal, where they traditionally resided, evolving what would become their distinctive characteristics and diasporic identity. Their millennial residence as an open and organised Jewish community in Iberia was brought to an end starting with the Alhambra Decree by Spain’s Catholic Monarchs in the late 15th century, which resulted in a combination of internal and external migrations, mass conversions and executions.

Historically, the vernacular languages of Sephardim and their descendants have been:

More broadly, the term Sephardim has today also come to refer to traditionally Eastern Jewish communities of West Asia and beyond who, although not having genealogical roots in the Jewish communities of Iberia, have adopted a Sephardic style of liturgy and Sephardic law and customs imparted to them by the Iberian Jewish exiles over the course of the last few centuries. This article deals with Sephardim within the narrower ethnic definition.

The name Sephardi means “Spanish” or “Hispanic”, derived from Sepharad (Hebrew: , ModernSfard, TiberianSpr ), a Biblical location.[1] The location of the biblical Sepharad is disputed, but Sepharad was identified by later Jews as Hispania, that is, the Iberian Peninsula. Sepharad () still means “Spain” in modern Hebrew.

In other languages and scripts, “Sephardi” may be translated as plural Hebrew: , ModernSfaraddim, TiberianSpraddm; sefard or Spanish: Sefardes; Portuguese: Sefarditas; sefardita or Catalan: Sefardites; Aragonese: Safards; Basque: Sefardiak; French: Sfarades; Galician: Sefards; Italian: Sefarditi; Greek: Sephardites; Serbian: Sefardi; Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian: Sefardi; Bulgarian: Sefaradi; Turkish: Sefarad, Judaeo-Spanish: Sefaradies/Sefaradim; and Arabic: Safrdiyyn.

In the narrower ethnic definition, a Sephardi Jew is a Jew descended from the Jews who lived in the Iberian Peninsula in the late 15th century, immediately prior to the issuance of the Alhambra Decree of 1492 by order of the Catholic Monarchs in Spain, and the decree of 1496 in Portugal by order of King Manuel I.

In Hebrew, the term “Sephardim Tehorim” ( , literally “Pure Sephardim”) is used to distinguish Sephardim proper “who trace their lineage back to the Iberian/Spanish population” from Sephardim in the broader religious sense.[2] This distinction has also been made in reference to genetic findings in research on Sephardim proper in contrast to other communities of Jews today termed Sephardi more broadly[3]

The modern Israeli Hebrew definition of Sephardi is a much broader, religious based, definition that generally excludes ethnic considerations. In its most basic form, this broad religious definition of a Sephardi refers to any Jew, of any ethnic background, who follows the customs and traditions of Sepharad. For religious purposes, and in modern Israel, “Sephardim” is most often used in this wider sense which encompasses most non-Ashkenazi Jews who are not ethnically Sephardi, but are in most instances of West Asian origin, but who nonetheless commonly use a Sephardic style of liturgy.

The term Sephardi in the broad sense, thus describes the nusach (Hebrew language, “liturgical tradition”) used by Sephardi Jews in their Siddur (prayer book). A nusach is defined by a liturgical tradition’s choice of prayers, order of prayers, text of prayers and melodies used in the singing of prayers. Sephardim traditionally pray using Minhag Sefarad. The term Nusach Sefard or Nusach Sfarad does not refer to the liturgy generally recited by Sephardim proper or even Sephardi in a broader sense, but rather to an alternative Eastern European liturgy used by many Hasidim who are in fact Ashkenazi.

Additionally, Ethiopian Jews, whose branch of practiced Judaism is known as Haymanot, have recently come under the umbrella of Israel’s already broad Sephardic Chief Rabbinate.

The divisions among Sephardim and their descendants today is largely a result of the consequences of the royal edicts. Both the Spanish and Portuguese edicts ordered their respective Jewish populations to choose from one of three options:

In Spain, the Jews were only given four months from the time the decree was issued before the expiry of the set deadline. Under the edict, Jews were promised royal “protection and security” for the effective three-month window before the deadline. They were permitted to take their belongings with them except “gold or silver or minted money”. It has been argued by British scholar Henry Kamen, that “the real purpose of the 1492 edict likely was not expulsion, but compulsory conversion of all Spanish Jews. Yet in giving Jews a choice and three months to think about it, the plan backfired; many opted to leave the country rather than convert”,[4] which ultimately was to Spain’s detriment. Between a third to one half of Spain’s Jewish origin population opted for exile, many flooding into Portugal.

Foreseeing the economic aftermath of a similar Jewish flight from Portugal, King Manuel’s decree five years later was largely pro-forma to appease a precondition the Spanish monarchs had set for him if he wished to marry their daughter. While the stipulations were similar in the Portuguese decree, King Manuel then largely prevented Portugal’s Jews from leaving, by blocking Portugal’s ports of exit. This failure to leave Portugal was then reasoned by the king to signify a default acceptance of Catholicism by the Jews, and the king then proceeded to proclaim them New Christians. Actual physical forced conversions, however, were also experienced throughout Portugal.

Sephardi Jews, therefore, encompass Jews descended from those Jews who left the Iberian Peninsula as Jews by the expiration of the respective decreed deadlines. This group is further divided between those who fled south to North Africa, as opposed to those who fled eastwards to the Balkans, West Asia and beyond. Also included among Sephardi Jews are those who descend from “New Christian” conversos, but then returned to Judaism after leaving Iberia, largely after reaching Central and Northern Europe. From these regions, many would again migrate, this time to the non-Iberian territories of the Americas. Additional to all these Sephardic Jewish groups are the descendants of those New Christian conversos who either remained in Iberia, or moved from Iberia directly to the Iberian colonial possessions across what are today the various Latin American countries. The descendants of this group of conversos, for historical reasons and circumstances, were never able to formally return to the Jewish religion.

All these sub-groups are defined by a combination of geography, identity, religious evolution, language evolution, and the timeframe of their reversion (for those who had in the interim undergone a temporary nominal conversion to Catholicism) or non-reversion back to Judaism.

It should be noted that these Sephardic sub-groups are separate from any pre-existing local Jewish communities they encountered in their new areas of settlement. From the perspective of the present day, the first three sub-groups appeared to have developed as separate branches, each with its own traditions.

In earlier centuries, and as late as the editing of the Jewish Encyclopedia at the beginning of the 20th century, they were usually regarded as together forming a continuum. The Jewish community of Livorno acted as the clearing-house of personnel and traditions among the first three sub-groups; it also developed as the chief publishing centre.[improper synthesis?].

The relationship between Sephardi-descended communities is illustrated in the following diagram:

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Sephardi Jews – Wikipedia

Jewish Community of Thessaloniki … – Sephardic Studies

Jewish Community Of Thessaloniki

The monument in memory and honor of the fifty thousand Jewish Greeks of Thessaloniki, who met a horrible death in the nazi death camps, stands erected at the intersection of Alexandrou Papanastasiou and Nea Egnatia streets. It was unveiled by the president of the Republic Mr. Konstantinos Stefanopoulos on Sunday, November 23, 1997 CE. It was designed by the brothers Glid, and depicts the seven candled menorah and flames all entangled in a mesh of human bodies.

Menorah Monument

The Jews of Thessaloniki March Through Time

For more than twenty centuries, Thessaloniki was the shelter for the persecuted Jews of Europe. Uprooted throughout their long history from other historical centers of the Diaspora, they were transplanted in this city, creating a large and vibrant Jewish Community, indisputably one of the most important ones in the world, especially during the period 1492-1943.

Precise indications about the chronology of the first settlement of Jews in Thessaloniki are lacking. They may have arrived from Alexandria, Egypt, around 140 BCE. However, we do not possess any hard evidence that would have allowed us to nail down with certainty this event, that remains to this day, an unsolved historical problem.

The ancient Jewish Community of Thessaloniki constituted a typical example of a Judaic community in a Mediterranean urban center of the Hellenistic and Roman era. Its members were called Romaniotes. They adopted the Greek language, while retaining several elements of Hebrew and Aramaic, as well as the Hebrew script. Paul visited this community during the early formative years of Christianity. And it is in his travelogue, described in the Christian Acts of the Apostles, that we come across the first written proof of Jewish presence in the city.

According to tradition, the oldest synagogue in Thessaloniki was called Ets Ahaim (The Tree of Life). During the Ottoman era and intersection of the present-day Kalapothaki and Dimosthenes streets, near the city port.

During the Roman era, the Jews of Thessaloniki enjoyed wide autonomy. Later, after the East-West division of the Roman empire, certain Byzantine emperors cast their eyes on the Jews, imposing special taxation and/or restrictive measures on religious freedom and worship. A few attempts at forced conversion did not produce appreciable results, since even the ecumenical synods disapproved of the practice, stating repeatedly that Jews had the right to live in freedom and according to the laws and traditions of their religion.

Mid-Byzantine Thessaloniki flourishes in spite of wars in the region, as well as the successive raids of the Slavs and Bulgarians. Its population exceeds 100,000 inhabitants in the middle of the 12th century. Around that time (1159), Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela departs from Saragossa, Spain, on a long journey that will last more than 13 years. Upon arriving at Thessaloniki he notes: “After a two-day sea voyage, we arrive at Thessaloniki, a big coastal town, built by Selefkos, one of Alexanders four heirs. Five hundred Jews live here, headed by Rabbi Samuel and his sons, well known for their scholarship. Rabbis Sabetal, Elias, and Michael also live there as well as other exiled Jews who are specialized artisans.”

During the two following centuries, Thessaloniki was plagued by many misfortunes: its siege and destruction by the Normans (1185), its conquest by the Franks of the Fourth Crusade, and its subsequent occupation, first by the Epirus Principality (1244), and then by the Empire of Nikaia (1246).

Raids by Serbs, Bulgarians and Catalans followed, as well as the Zealots uprising (1342-1349), and its first conquest by the Turks (1387).

It is during that time (1376), that the first settlement of Ashkenazi Jews takes place in Thessaloniki. They arrive, persecuted, from Hungary and Germany, throughout the 15th century.

A small group of Jews from Provence will settle in Thessaloniki in 1394, while during the period of the Venetian rule (1423-1430), large numbers of Jews from mainland Italy and Sicily will also settle here, establishing new synagogues and creating, in turn, their own distinct communities.

In the early morning hours of Sunday, March 26, 1430, the army of Sultan Murat II appears before the city gates. Thessaloniki will capitulate after a three-day siege. Generalized looting, massacres, enslavement and deportations occur, perpetrated by the invading troops. Murat II will be forced to personally intervene, on behalf of the population, in order to put an end to the bloodshed. He will personally set free, at his own expense, many prisoners, and he will take measures for the revival and repopulation of Thessaloniki. To that end, he will resettle into Thessaloniki, Turks from Yiannitsa, as well as Christians to whom he grants certain privileges such as communal autonomy and various tax exemptions.

All of the above can be considered as pre-history of the Jewish presence in Thessaloniki. The pivotal point is the settlement of 15,000-20,000 Spanish (Sephardic) Jews after 1492, who will make a lasting and seminal contribution to the destiny of the Jewish Community, but also to that of the city as a whole. Those persecuted Jews found shelter in the capital of Macedonia, thus giving her a new profile for the future.

The event that sealed the fate of Spanish Jewry was the Reconquista, i.e. the bloody, step-by-step recovery of the Iberian peninsula into Christian hands, at the expense of the Arabs who were entrenched there since the beginning of the 8th century. The end of the Reconquista occurs on January 2, 1492, when the Arab state of Granada is conquered and dissolved forever. It is then that the political and economic circumstances that had in the past dictated the official policy of tolerance towards minorities and the absence of preferential treatment based on race or religion, seized to be operative, and that policy was immediately reversed. Ferdinand and Isabella now become Catholic Kings exclusively, whereas during the war years, they wished to be called King and Queen of three religions.

Thus dawns 1492, the fateful year for the Spanish Jews. A royal edict on March 13 of that year, forces all Jews to either convert to Christianity, or leave the country b the coming August at the latest. It is estimated that around 50,000 Jews were nominally baptized and remained in Spain. The rest, more than 250,000 strong, opted for the road to exile. Some went north, to France, England, the Netherlands. Others chose Italy or Northern Africa. However, the majority settles in areas under Ottoman jurisdiction.

Sultan Bayazit II, at the request of Chief Rabbi of Istanbul, Eliyia Kapsali, allowed their entrance into the realm, and ordered local commanders to extend a cordial and warm welcome, and to help them settle down.

Rare picture of the Cemetery in Thessaloniki (Salonika) before it was destroyed by the nazis during WWII

(Note the horizontal orientation of the tombstones)

(Click to enlarge)

Thus, the Spanish Jews, the Sephardim, will settle in all the large urban centers of the Ottoman Empire. Most of them, around 20,000 will perfer Thessaloniki, which still hadnt recovered from the destruction incurred during its conquest by the Turks. Maybe they were attacted to the citys strategic location as a key port in the Eastern Mediterranean. Alternatively, they may have been encouraged by the Sultan, seeking to re-populate the deserted city with a fresh, dynamic, urban population.

With their arrival, the deserted city wakes up from its torpor and gradually becomes again a first class financial center. Comparable to that of the Roman and Byzantine years. The Sephardim gave commerce a new push, and exploited the mines of the Gallikos river and those of Sidirokapsa. The first printing shop in Thessaloniki, around 1510, was established by the immigrants.

The century that followed the expulsion from Spain is also a cultural golden era. Thessaloniki becomes an important center of theological studies, attracting students from around the world, while giving rise to scholars of high repute, such as Rabbis, poets, physicians. Their reputation will spread across Europe. It is during that era, in 1537, that Thessaloniki will be honored with the title Mother of Israel, by Samuel Usque, the Jewish poet from Ferrara.

The fame of the community will attract other persecuted Jews who will seek refuge in its welcome embrace. Jews from Sicily and Italy, also persecuted by Ferdinand and Isabella, will follow the exiles of 1492.

Emmanuel, King of Portugal, will follow the example of Ferdinand and Isabella, a few years later. On December 5, 1496, he orders the Jews of Portugal to either convert or leave. The Exodus of the Portuguese Jews starts at the end of October 1497, and a large number head towards Thessaloniki. However, even the ones nominally baptized who stayed behind, the so-called Conversos or Maranos, will be forced into exile during the period between 1536 and 1660, victims of the purity of blood ideology (Limpieza de sangre).

New waves of refugees arrive during the 16th century, coming from Provence, Poland, Italy, Hungary, and Northern Africa. Until the end of the 17th century. It was very rare for a ship to dock at the Thessaloniki seaport without disembarking a few Jews, writes P. Riscal (J. Nehama).

Thus, Jews will prevail in numbers. In 1519, according to Ottoman archives, 1,374 Muslim families, along with 282 singles, in all 6,870 persons, inhabited Thessaloniki. The Christian population is comprised of 1,078 families along with 355 singles, to a total of 6,635 persons. The Jews number 3,143 families together with 530 singles, or approximately 15,715 persons.

The Jews will settle in the almost deserted neighborhoods of the area below Egnatia street, spanning the length from the Vardar square to the current Diagonios (crossroads of Tsimiski and P. Mela streets). Ottoman files record 16 Jewish neighborhoods since the beginning of the 16th century. There, the Jews will congregate separated into autonomous communities according to their place of origin.

The center of each community is the synagogue. In fact, it is not only a religious and administrative center, but also an indication of the tendency of each group of immigrants, to preserve its individuality and autonomy with respect to each other. However, the fluidity of the dividing lines between the communities, as well as the business activities that some of them undertake from the beginning of the 16th century onwards, and particularly in textile manufacturing, give birth to intense political infighting. The quarrels manifest themselves especially at times such as the election of the Rabbi or secular administrators, or when some notables seek to arbitrarily impose their own opinions.

Furthermore, the increasing business activities, as well as the fact that the various communities have to deal with the Turkish authorities, give rise to a growing need for a common front. Thus, the seed of the union of the independent synagogue/communities into one federation is planted. This federation is loose in the beginning, but gradually, conditions dictate a closer cooperation. An off spring of this unifying trend is the joint establishment of the Talmud Torah a Gadol synagogue-school, in 1520.

Sixteenth century sources inform us that light industry, especially textiles, is the main occupation of the majority of the Jewish immigrants imported production know-how and methods previously unknow in the region.

From 1515 onwards, the Ottoman State covers all its requirements in textiles for army uniforms from Thessaloniki Jewish textile manufacturers. Furthermore, it is agreed that, using these products as a medium of exchange, the poll tax levied on the community members, is paid in kind. Starting in 1540, the synagogues become themselves producers, employing their poor members as salaried workers. The profits from these business ventures are used for the maintenance of their charitable and educational institutions.

In 1568, a Community delegation to Constaninople, under the leadership of Moshe Almosnino, succeeds in securing a new Sultan edict, reconfirming all the written priviledges that were initially granted by Suleiman the Magnificent and were burned during the fire of 1545. Thereafter, the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki is treated as Musselnik, i.e. and autonomous administrative unit, reporting directly to the Sublime Porte. It also secures the right to acquire raw materials at prices lower than market prices.

Thus the Jews of Thessaloniki will enjoy a period of prosperity, that will not be curtailed before the beginning of the 17th century, with the discovery of the new sea routes, the decline of Venice, and the involvement of the Ottoman Empire in a succession of destructive military campaigns. As a consequence of the economic malaise, cultural decline will follow. It is during this period that biblical studies will decline in favor of mysticism in the form of the study of the Cabbala.

It is within this setting of mysticism and spiritual turmoil that Sabbetai Sevy of Smyrna (Izmir), appears in 1655 in Thessaloniki, declaring himself to be the long-expected Messiah, self-appointed King of Israel, and savior of the Jewish people. The appeal of his message will worry the Turkish authorities, causing his arrest and condemnation to death in 1666. Sabbetai Sevy is forced to convert to Islam in order to save his life. The Jews had been already split into those who believed in him, and those who considered him a crook and an imposter. The former, around 300 families, will follow him in defection, thus creating the peculiar social minority of Judeo-Muslims, that came to be known as Donmeh.

This group defection shook the community. Hundreds of families as well as professional guilds were split, making it impossible for the independent community-synagogues to function effectively and cope with the problem. The situation was further aggravated by the economic crisis, hindering the ability of the separate communities to support their cultural and welfare institutions. This gradually set off a process of integration, whereby the individual communities had to relinquish authority and rights to a more centralized federal governing body, in order to achieve better administrative control, and face the new challenges more effectively. Finally, around 1680, the small independent communities formally unite under the leadership of a single council comprised of three Rabbis and seven secular members.

Thus, it is apparent that the Jews managed to maintain their sense of communal organization and solidarity even during those years of material and cultural stagnation caused by the religious strives and divisions, the unfavorable economic circumstnces, and the oppression of the Yenitsars.

The Community will emerge from this Middle Age era to its Renaissance, around the middle of the 19th century. Material well-being and cultural awakening go hand-in-hand, influenced by the European Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, and the neocolonial campaigns of the European powers towards the East. The new trends and ideas take shape in the Haskala movement among the Jews, with intellectual ventures beyond the narrow confines of the biblical and post-biblical tradition, and towards the study of contemporary secular thought and art. This process of emancipation is further assisted by the new socio-political conditions prevailing in the Ottoman territories as a result of the Portes attempt to move away from medieval despotism, towards a new, modernized image. The Yenitsar body is dismantled in 1826, while for the first time, some civil rights are being granted to the non-Muslim constituents of the Empire, with the edicts (firmans) of Hati Humayan and Giulhade (1836 and 1854).

The increasing appearance of western industrial products will also contribute to the citys overhaul and expansion, transforming it into a city-agency of commerce and industry. Part of the Byzantine fortifications are torn down in 1869. The fires of 1890, 1896, and 1898 will offer the opportunity for an urban transformation. The burned down districts are being redesigned, narrow streets are widened, fresh running water is being introduced along with electricity and the streetcar, as well as the railroad, which from 1871 onwards, will connect Thessaloniki with Constantinople to the East, and Europe to the West. New infastructure works at the port are being inaugurated, modern banking institutions open to the public, and in 1854, the first modern industrial complex is created: the Allantini flour mill, owned by the Allatini family, Jewish immigrants from Italy. Jews own 38 out of the 54 commercial enterprises of the city, and constitute the overwhelming majority of its workforce.

Even though Thessaloniki retains its multinational structure, the demographic and financial superiority of the Jewish Community, will constitute one of its more distrinct features. By the end of the 19th century, Thessaloniki will number more than 70,000 Jewish souls, i.e. about half of the total population.

Social welfare is broadened and dispensed through modern charitable institutions, such as Matanoth Laevionim which provides student meals. Torah Umlahu supporting financially poor students and taking care of their eventual professional arrangement, the Allatini and Aboav orphanages, the Lieto Noah psychiatric asylum, the Baron Hirsch hospital (today the Ippocrates), the Bikour Holim health care institution, and, later, the Saul Modiano home for the elderly.

Education is reformed with the modernization of dozens of district schools and the traditional Talmud Torah school, and with the inauguration of the Alliance Israelite school in 1873. Jewish children constitute the majority within the numerous foreign schools.

Inside of the Jewish Primary School of Thessaloniki

The Community will receive thousands of refugees, victims of the pogroms in Czarist Russia. In 1891, housing them, along with the victims of the fire of 1890 (and later the fire of 1917) in the newly created neighborhoods of Baron Hirsch, Kalamaria, Rezi Vardar, etc. The first two above mentioned districts constitute the first attempt at modern city planing in Thessanloniki.

It is also interesting to note that the first newspaper to circulate in Thessaloniki in 1864, is the Jewish El Lunar, La Epoca will follow in 1875 and, later, La Imparciale, Le Progrns, Journal de Salonique, La Libertn, Opinion, L Independent, and the Zionist La Nation, El Avenir, Renacencia Judia, La Esperanza, Pro Israel, and others.

Continued on Page 2

This document was made available with the permission of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki [September 2000 CE]

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Jewish Community of Thessaloniki … – Sephardic Studies

State of Palestine – Wikipedia

Coordinates: 3200N 3515E / 32.000N 35.250E / 32.000; 35.250

The State of Palestine[i] (Arabic: Dawlat Filasn), also known simply as Palestine, is a de jure sovereign state[15][16] in the Middle East that is recognized by 136 UN members and since 2012 has a status of a non-member observer state in the United Nations which amounts to a de facto, or implicit, recognition of statehood.[17][18][19] The State of Palestine claims the West Bank (bordering Israel and Jordan) and Gaza Strip (bordering Israel and Egypt)[3] with East Jerusalem as the designated capital.[ii][4][5] Most of the areas claimed by the State of Palestine have been occupied by Israel since 1967 in the aftermath of the Six-Day War.[8]Its independence was declared on 15 November 1988 by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Algiers as a government-in-exile.

Since the British Mandate, the term “Palestine” has been associated with the geographical area that currently covers the State of Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.[20] General use of the term “Palestine” or related terms to the area at the southeast corner of the Mediterranean Sea beside Syria has historically been taking place since the times of Ancient Greece, with Herodotus writing of a “district of Syria, called Palaistine” in which Phoenicians interacted with other maritime peoples in The Histories.[21][non-primary source needed]

In 1947, the UN adopted a partition plan for a two-state solution in the remaining territory of the mandate. The plan was accepted by the Jewish leadership but rejected by the Arab leaders, and Britain refused to implement the plan. On the eve of final British withdrawal, the Jewish Agency for Israel declared the establishment of the State of Israel according to the proposed UN plan. The Arab Higher Committee did not declare a state of its own and instead, together with Transjordan, Egypt, and the other members of the Arab League of the time, commenced military action resulting in the 1948 ArabIsraeli War. During the war, Israel gained additional territories that were designated to be part of the Arab state under the UN plan. Egypt occupied the Gaza Strip and Transjordan occupied the West Bank. Egypt initially supported the creation of an All-Palestine Government, but disbanded it in 1959. Transjordan never recognized it and instead decided to incorporate the West Bank with its own territory to form Jordan. The annexation was ratified in 1950 but was rejected by the international community. The Six-Day War in 1967, when Egypt, Jordan, and Syria fought against Israel, ended with Israel being in occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, besides other territories.

In 1964, when the West Bank was controlled by Jordan, the Palestine Liberation Organization was established there with the goal to confront Israel. The Palestinian National Charter of the PLO defines the boundaries of Palestine as the whole remaining territory of the mandate, including Israel. Following the Six-Day War, the PLO moved to Jordan, but later relocated to Lebanon after Black September in 1971.

The October 1974 Arab League summit designated the PLO as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people” and reaffirmed “their right to establish an independent state of urgency.”[22] In November 1974, the PLO was recognized as competent on all matters concerning the question of Palestine by the UN General Assembly granting them observer status as a “non-state entity” at the UN.[23][24] After the 1988 Declaration of Independence, the UN General Assembly officially acknowledged the proclamation and decided to use the designation “Palestine” instead of “Palestine Liberation Organization” in the UN.[25][26] In spite of this decision, the PLO did not participate at the UN in its capacity of the State of Palestine’s government.[27]

In 1979, through the Camp David Accords, Egypt signaled an end to any claim of its own over the Gaza Strip. In July 1988, Jordan ceded its claims to the West Bankwith the exception of guardianship over Haram al-Sharifto the PLO. In November 1988, the PLO legislature, while in exile, declared the establishment of the “State of Palestine”. In the month following, it was quickly recognised by many states, including Egypt and Jordan. In the Palestinian Declaration of Independence, the State of Palestine is described as being established on the “Palestinian territory”, without explicitly specifying further. Because of this, some of the countries that recognised the State of Palestine in their statements of recognition refer to the “1967 borders”, thus recognizing as its territory only the occupied Palestinian territory, and not Israel. The UN membership application submitted by the State of Palestine also specified that it is based on the “1967 borders”.[3] During the negotiations of the Oslo Accords, the PLO recognised Israel’s right to exist, and Israel recognised the PLO as representative of the Palestinian people. Between 1993 and 1998, the PLO made commitments to change the provisions of its Palestinian National Charter that are inconsistent with the aim for a two-state solution and peaceful coexistence with Israel.

After Israel took control of the West Bank from Jordan and Gaza Strip from Egypt, it began to establish Israeli settlements there. These were organised into Judea and Samaria district (West Bank) and Hof Aza Regional Council (Gaza Strip) in the Southern District. Administration of the Arab population of these territories was performed by the Israeli Civil Administration of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories and by local municipal councils present since before the Israeli takeover. In 1980, Israel decided to freeze elections for these councils and to establish instead Village Leagues, whose officials were under Israeli influence. Later this model became ineffective for both Israel and the Palestinians, and the Village Leagues began to break up, with the last being the Hebron League, dissolved in February 1988.[28]

In 1993, in the Oslo Accords, Israel acknowledged the PLO negotiating team as “representing the Palestinian people”, in return for the PLO recognizing Israel’s right to exist in peace, acceptance of UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, and its rejection of “violence and terrorism”.[29] As a result, in 1994 the PLO established the Palestinian National Authority (PNA or PA) territorial administration, that exercises some governmental functions[iii] in parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.[30][31] In 2007, the Hamas takeover of Gaza Strip politically and territorially divided the Palestinians, with Abbas’s Fatah left largely ruling the West Bank and recognized internationally as the official Palestinian Authority,[32] while Hamas secured its control over the Gaza Strip. In April 2011, the Palestinian parties signed an agreement of reconciliation, but its implementation had stalled[32] until a unity government was formed on 2 June 2014.[33]

As envisioned in the Oslo Accords, Israel allowed the PLO to establish interim administrative institutions in the Palestinian territories, which came in the form of the PNA. It was given civilian control in Area B and civilian and security control in Area A, and remained without involvement in Area C. In 2005, following the implementation of Israel’s unilateral disengagement plan, the PNA gained full control of the Gaza Strip with the exception of its borders, airspace, and territorial waters.[iii] Following the inter-Palestinian conflict in 2006, Hamas took over control of the Gaza Strip (it already had majority in the PLC), and Fatah took control of the West Bank. From 2007, the Gaza Strip was governed by Hamas, and the West Bank by Fatah.

On 29 November 2012, in a 1389 vote (with 41 abstentions and 5 absences),[34] the United Nations General Assembly passed resolution 67/19, upgrading Palestine from an “observer entity” to a “non-member observer state” within the United Nations system, which was described as recognition of the PLO’s sovereignty.[18][19][35][36][37] Palestine’s new status is equivalent to that of the Holy See.[not in citation given][38] The UN has permitted Palestine to title its representative office to the UN as “The Permanent Observer Mission of the State of Palestine to the United Nations”,[39] and Palestine has instructed its diplomats to officially represent “The State of Palestine”no longer the Palestinian National Authority.[37] On 17 December 2012, UN Chief of Protocol Yeocheol Yoon declared that “the designation of ‘State of Palestine’ shall be used by the Secretariat in all official United Nations documents”,[40] thus recognising the title ‘State of Palestine’ as the state’s official name for all UN purposes. As of 14 September 2015, 136 (700170500000000000070.5%) of the 193 member states of the United Nations have recognised the State of Palestine.[36][41] Many of the countries that do not recognise the State of Palestine nevertheless recognise the PLO as the “representative of the Palestinian people”. The PLO’s Executive Committee is empowered by the Palestinian National Council to perform the functions of government of the State of Palestine.[42]

The State of Palestine consists of the following institutions that are associated with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO):

These should be distinguished from the President of the Palestinian National Authority, Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) and PNA Cabinet, all of which are instead associated with the Palestinian National Authority.

The State of Palestine’s founding document is the Palestinian Declaration of Independence,[6] and it should be distinguished from the unrelated PLO Palestinian National Covenant and PNA Palestine Basic Law.

The State of Palestine is divided into sixteen administrative divisions.

a. Data from Jerusalem includes occupied East Jerusalem with its Israeli population

The governorates in the West Bank are grouped into three areas per the Oslo II Accord. Area A forms 18% of the West Bank by area, and is administered by the Palestinian government.[48][49] Area B forms 22% of the West Bank, and is under Palestinian civil control, and joint Israeli-Palestinian security control.[48][49] Area C, except East Jerusalem, forms 60% of the West Bank, and is administered by the Israeli Civil Administration, except that the Palestinian government provides the education and medical services to the 150,000 Palestinians in the area.[48] More than 99% of Area C is off limits to Palestinians.[50] There are about 330,000 Israelis living in settlements in Area C,[51] in the Judea and Samaria Area. Although Area C is under martial law, Israelis living there are judged in Israeli civil courts.[52]

East Jerusalem, the proclaimed capital of Palestine, is administered as part of the Jerusalem District of Israel, but is claimed by Palestine as part of the Jerusalem Governorate. It was annexed by Israel in 1980,[48] but this annexation is not recognised by any other country.[53] Of the 456,000 people in East Jerusalem, roughly 60% are Palestinians and 40% are Israelis.[48][54]

Representation of the State of Palestine is performed by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). In states that recognise the State of Palestine it maintains embassies. The Palestine Liberation Organization is represented in various international organizations as member, associate or observer. Because of inconclusiveness in sources[55] in some cases it is impossible to distinguish whether the participation is executed by the PLO as representative of the State of Palestine, by the PLO as a non-state entity or by the PNA.

On 15 December 1988, the State of Palestine’s declaration of independence of November 1988 was acknowledged in the General Assembly with Resolution 43/177.[56]

As of 14 September 2015, 136 (700170500000000000070.5%) of the 193 member states of the United Nations have recognised the State of Palestine. Many of the countries that do not recognise the State of Palestine nevertheless recognise the PLO as the “representative of the Palestinian people”. The PLO’s executive committee is empowered by the PNC to perform the functions of government of the State of Palestine.[42]

On 29 November 2012,[34]UN General Assembly resolution 67/19 passed, upgrading Palestine to “non-member observer state” status in the United Nations.[36][37] The change in status was described as “de facto recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine”.[17]

On 3 October 2014, new Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lfven used his inaugural address in parliament to announce that Sweden would recognise the state of Palestine. The official decision to do so was made on 30 October, making Sweden the first EU member state outside of the former communist bloc to recognise the state of Palestine. Most of the EU’s 28 member states have refrained from recognising Palestinian statehood and those that do – such as Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – did so before accession.[57][58][59]

On 13 October 2014, the UK House of Commons voted by 274 to 12 in favour of recognising Palestine as a state.[60] The House of Commons backed the move “as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution” – although less than half of MPs took part in the vote. However, the UK government is not bound to do anything as a result of the vote: its current policy is that it “reserves the right to recognise a Palestinian state bilaterally at the moment of our choosing and when it can best help bring about peace”.[61]

On 2 December 2014, the French parliament voted by 331 to 151 in favour of urging their government to recognise Palestine as a state. The text, proposed by the ruling Socialists and backed by left-wing parties and some conservatives, asked the government to “use the recognition of a Palestinian state with the aim of resolving the conflict definitively”.[62]

On 31 December 2014, the United Nations Security Council voted down a resolution demanding the end of Israeli occupation and statehood by 2017. Eight members voted for the Resolution (Russia, China, France, Argentina, Chad, Chile, Jordan, Luxembourg), however following strenuous US and Israeli efforts to defeat the resolution,[63] it did not get the minimum of nine votes needed to pass the resolution. Australia and the United States voted against the resolution, with five other nations abstaining.[64][65][66]

On 10 January 2015, the first Palestinian embassy in a western European country is open in Stockholm, Sweden.[67]

On 13 May 2015, the Vatican announced it was shifting recognition from the PLO to the State of Palestine, confirming a recognition of Palestine as a state after the UN vote of 2012.[68] Monsignor Antoine Camilleri, Vatican foreign minister, said the change was in line with the evolving position of the Holy See, which has referred unofficially to the State of Palestine since Pope Francis’s visit to the Holy Land in May 2014.[69]

On 23 December 2015 the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution demanding Palestinian sovereignty over the natural resources in the Palestinian territories under Israeli occupation. It called on Israel to desist from the exploitation, damage, cause of loss or depletion and endangerment of Palestinian natural resources, the right of Palestinians to seek restitution for extensive destruction. The motion was passed by 164 votes to 5, with Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, and the United States opposing.[70]

In August 2015, Palestine’s representatives at the UN presented a draft resolution that would allow the non-member observer states Palestine and the Holy See to raise their flags at the United Nations headquarters. Initially, the Palestinians presented their initiative as a joint effort with the Holy See, which the Holy See denied.[71]

In a letter to the Secretary General and the President of the General Assembly, Israels Ambassador at the UN Ron Prosor called the step “another cynical misuse of the UN … in order to score political points”.[72]

After the vote, the US Ambassador Samantha Power said that “raising the Palestinian flag will not bring Israelis and Palestinians any closer together”.[73] US state department spokesman Mark Toner called it a “counterproductive” attempt to pursue statehood claims outside of a negotiated settlement.[74]

There are a wide variety of views regarding the status of the State of Palestine, both among the states of the international community and among legal scholars. The existence of a state of Palestine, although controversial, is a reality in the opinions of the states that have established bilateral diplomatic relations.[75][76][77][78]

The State of Palestine has a number of security forces, including a Civil Police Force, National Security Forces and Intelligence Services, with the function of maintaining security and protecting Palestinian citizens and the Palestinian State.

According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the State of Palestine had population of 4,420,549 people in 2013.[79] Within an area of 6,220 square kilometres (2,400sqmi), there is a population density of 731 people per square kilometre.[citation needed] To put this in a wider context, the average population density of the world was 53 people per square kilometre based on data from July 5, 2014.[citation needed]

Religion of Palestinians (est. 2014)

93% of Palestinians are Muslim,[80] the vast majority of whom are followers of the Sunni branch of Islam,[81] with a small minority of Ahmadiyya,[82] and 15% being nondenominational Muslims.[83]Palestinian Christians represent a significant minority of 6%, followed by much smaller religious communities, including Druze and Samaritans. Palestinian Jews, who are defined by the Palestinian National Charter And PLO as those “Jews who had normally resided in Palestine until the beginning of the Zionist invasion”, almost universally abandoned that identity and incorporated themselves into the Israeli Jewish population.

Tourism in the Palestinian territories refers to tourism in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In 2010, 4.6 million people visited the Palestinian territories, compared to 2.6 million in 2009. Of that number, 2.2 million were foreign tourists while 2.7 million were domestic.[84] Most tourists come for only a few hours or as part of a day trip itinerary. In the last quarter of 2012 over 150,000 guests stayed in West Bank hotels; 40% were European and 9% were from the United States and Canada.[85] Lonely Planet travel guide writes that “the West Bank is not the easiest place in which to travel but the effort is richly rewarded.”[86] In 2013 Palestinian Authority Tourism minister Rula Ma’ay’a stated that her government aims to encourage international visits to Palestine, but the occupation is the main factor preventing the tourism sector from becoming a major income source to Palestinians.[87] There are no visa conditions imposed on foreign nationals other than those imposed bythe visa policy of Israel. Access toJerusalem, theWest Bank, and Gazais completely controlled by the Government of Israel. Entry to the occupied Palestinian territories requires only a valid international passport.[88]

The communications infrastructure in the Palestinian territories is growing at a very rapid pace and continually being updated and expanded.[citation needed]

Water supply and sanitation in the Palestinian territories are characterized by severe water shortage and are highly influenced by the Israeli occupation. The water resources of Palestine are fully controlled by Israel and the division of groundwater is subject to provisions in the Oslo II Accord.

Generally, the water quality is considerably worse in the Gaza strip when compared to the West Bank. About a third to half of the delivered water in the Palestinian territories is lost in the distribution network. The lasting blockade of the Gaza Strip and the Gaza War have caused severe damage to the infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.[89][90] Concerning wastewater, the existing treatment plants do not have the capacity to treat all of the produced wastewater, causing severe water pollution.[91] The development of the sector highly depends on external financing.[92]

There are a number of newspapers, news agencies, and satellite television stations in the State of Palestine. News agencies include Ma’an News Agency, Wafa, Palestine News Network and the satellite television includes Al-Aqsa TV, Al-Quds TV, Sanabel TV.

Football is the most popular sport among the Palestinian people. Rugby is also a popular sport. The Palestine national football team represents the country in international football.

Articles relating to the State of Palestine

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State of Palestine – Wikipedia

Jews – Wikipedia

This article is about the Jewish people. For their religion, see Judaism. Jews Hebrew: (Yehudim) Total population 14.717.3 million[1] Regions with significant populations Israel 6,481,182[2] United States 5,300,0006,800,000[3][4] France 467,500[3] Canada 386,000[3] United Kingdom 290,000[3] Russia 183,000[3] Argentina 181,000[3] Germany 117,500[3] Australia 112,800[3] Brazil 94,500[3] South Africa 69,800[3] Ukraine 60,000[3] Hungary 47,700[3] Mexico 40,000[3] Netherlands 29,900[3] Belgium 29,800[3] Italy 27,600[3] Switzerland 18,900[3] Chile 18,400[3] Rest of the world 218,100[3] Languages

The Jews (/duz/;[11]Hebrew: ISO 259-3 Yehudim, Israeli pronunciation [jehudim]), also known as the Jewish people, are an ethnoreligious group[12] originating from the Israelites, or Hebrews, of the Ancient Near East.[13][14] Jewish ethnicity, nationhood and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation,[15][16][17] while its observance varies from strict observance to complete nonobservance.

Jews originated as a national and religious group in the Middle East during the second millennium BCE,[10] in the part of the Levant known as the Land of Israel.[18] The Merneptah Stele appears to confirm the existence of a people of Israel, associated with the god El,[19] somewhere in Canaan as far back as the 13th century BCE (Late Bronze Age).[20][21] The Israelites, as an outgrowth of the Canaanite population,[22] consolidated their hold with the emergence of the Kingdom of Israel, and the Kingdom of Judah. Some consider that these Canaanite sedentary Israelites melded with incoming nomadic groups known as ‘Hebrews’.[23] Though few sources in the Bible mention the exilic periods in detail,[24] the experience of diaspora life, from the Ancient Egyptian rule over the Levant, to Assyrian Captivity and Exile, to Babylonian Captivity and Exile, to Seleucid Imperial rule, to the Roman occupation, and the historical relations between Israelites and their homeland, became a major feature of Jewish history, identity and memory.[25][26][27][28][29][30][31][32][33][34]

The worldwide Jewish population reached a peak of 16.7million prior to World War II,[35] but approximately 6million Jews were systematically murdered[36][37] during the Holocaust. Since then the population has slowly risen again, and as of 2015[update] was estimated at 14.3million by the Berman Jewish DataBank,[3] or less than 0.2% of the total world population (roughly one in every 514 people).[38] According to the report, about 43% of all Jews reside in Israel (6.2million), and 40% in the United States (5.7million), with most of the remainder living in Europe (1.4million) and Canada (0.4million).[3] These numbers include all those who self-identified as Jews in a socio-demographic study or were identified as such by a respondent in the same household.[39] The exact world Jewish population, however, is difficult to measure. In addition to issues with census methodology, disputes among proponents of halakhic, secular, political, and ancestral identification factors regarding who is a Jew may affect the figure considerably depending on the source.[40] Israel is the only country where Jews form a majority of the population. The modern State of Israel was established as a Jewish state and defines itself as such in its Declaration of Independence and Basic Laws. Its Law of Return grants the right of citizenship to any Jew who requests it.[41]

Despite their small percentage of the world’s population, Jews have significantly influenced and contributed to human progress in many fields, including philosophy,[42]ethics,[43]literature, business, fine arts and architecture, religion, music, theatre[44] and cinema, medicine,[45][46] as well as science and technology, both historically and in modern times.

The English word Jew continues Middle English Gyw, Iewe. These terms derive from Old French giu, earlier juieu, which had elided (dropped) the letter “d” from the Medieval Latin Iudaeus, which, like the New Testament Greek term Ioudaios, meant both Jews and Judeans / “of Judea”.[47]

The Greek term was originally a loan from Aramaic Y’hdi, corresponding to Hebrew: , Yehudi (sg.); , Yehudim (pl.), in origin the term for a member of the tribe of Judah or the people of the kingdom of Judah. According to the Hebrew Bible, the name of both the tribe and kingdom derive from Judah, the fourth son of Jacob.[48]

The Hebrew word for Jew, ISO 259-3 Yhudi, is pronounced [jehudi], with the stress on the final syllable, in Israeli Hebrew, in its basic form.[49] The Ladino name is , Djudio (sg.); , Djudios (pl.); Yiddish: Yid (sg.); , Yidn (pl.).

The etymological equivalent is in use in other languages, e.g., yahd (sg.), al-yahd (pl.), and ban isrl in Arabic, “Jude” in German, “judeu” in Portuguese, “juif” in French, “jde” in Danish and Norwegian, “judo” in Spanish, “jood” in Dutch, “yd” in Polish etc., but derivations of the word “Hebrew” are also in use to describe a Jew, e.g., in Italian (Ebreo), in Persian (“Ebri/Ebrani” (Persian: /)) and Russian (, Yevrey).[50] The German word “Jude” is pronounced [jud], the corresponding adjective “jdisch” [jyd] (Jewish) is the origin of the word “Yiddish”.[51] (See Jewish ethnonyms for a full overview.)

According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition (2000):

It is widely recognized that the attributive use of the noun Jew, in phrases such as Jew lawyer or Jew ethics, is both vulgar and highly offensive. In such contexts Jewish is the only acceptable possibility. Some people, however, have become so wary of this construction that they have extended the stigma to any use of Jew as a noun, a practice that carries risks of its own. In a sentence such as There are now several Jews on the council, which is unobjectionable, the substitution of a circumlocution like Jewish people or persons of Jewish background may in itself cause offense for seeming to imply that Jew has a negative connotation when used as a noun.[52]

According to the Hebrew Bible narrative, Jewish ancestry is traced back to the Biblical patriarchs such as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the Biblical matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, and Rachel, who lived in Canaan around the 18th century BCE. Jacob and his family migrated to Ancient Egypt after being invited to live with Jacob’s son Joseph by the Pharaoh himself. The patriarchs’ descendants were later enslaved until the Exodus led by Moses, traditionally dated to the 13th century BCE, after which the Israelites conquered Canaan.[citation needed]

Modern archaeology has largely discarded the historicity of the Patriarchs and of the Exodus story,[53] with it being reframed as constituting the Israelites’ inspiring national myth narrative. The Israelites and their culture, according to the modern archaeological account, did not overtake the region by force, but instead branched out of the Canaanite peoples and culture through the development of a distinct monolatristic and later monotheistic religion centered on Yahweh,[54][55][56] one of the Ancient Canaanite deities. The growth of Yahweh-centric belief, along with a number of cultic practices, gradually gave rise to a distinct Israelite ethnic group, setting them apart from other Canaanites. The Canaanites themselves are archeologically attested in the Middle Bronze Age,[57] while the Hebrew language is the last extant member of the Canaanite languages. In the Iron Age I period (12001000 BCE) Israelite culture was largely Canaanite in nature.[citation needed]

Although the Israelites were divided into Twelve Tribes, the Jews (being one offshoot of the Israelites, another being the Samaritans) are traditionally said to descend mostly from the Israelite tribes of Judah (from where the Jews derive their ethnonym) and Benjamin, and partially from the tribe of Levi, who had together formed the ancient Kingdom of Judah,[58] and the remnants of the northern Kingdom of Israel who migrated to the Kingdom of Judah and assimilated after the 720s BCE, when the Kingdom of Israel was conquered by the Neo-Assyrian Empire.[59]

Israelites enjoyed political independence twice in ancient history, first during the periods of the Biblical judges followed by the United Monarchy.[disputed discuss] After the fall of the United Monarchy the land was divided into Israel and Judah. The term Jew originated from the Roman “Judean” and denoted someone from the southern kingdom of Judah.[60] The shift of ethnonym from “Israelites” to “Jews” (inhabitant of Judah), although not contained in the Torah, is made explicit in the Book of Esther (4th century BCE),[61] a book in the Ketuvim, the third section of the Jewish Tanakh. In 587 BC Nebuchadnezzar II, King of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, besieged Jerusalem, destroyed the First Temple, and deported the most prominent citizens of Judah.[62] In 586 BC, Judah itself ceased to be an independent kingdom, and its remaining Jews were left stateless. The Babylonian exile ended in 539 BCE when the Achaemenid Empire conquered Babylon and Cyrus the Great allowed the exiled Jews to return to Yehud and rebuild their Temple. The Second Temple was completed in 515 BCE. Yehud province was a peaceful part of the Achaemenid Empire until the fall of the Empire in c. 333 BCE to Alexander the Great. Jews were also politically independent during the Hasmonean dynasty spanning from 140 to 37 BCE and to some degree under the Herodian dynasty from 37 BCE to 6 CE. Since the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, most Jews have lived in diaspora.[63] As an ethnic minority in every country in which they live (except Israel), they have frequently experienced persecution throughout history, resulting in a population that has fluctuated both in numbers and distribution over the centuries.[citation needed]

Genetic studies on Jews show that most Jews worldwide bear a common genetic heritage which originates in the Middle East, and that they bear their strongest resemblance to the peoples of the Fertile Crescent.[64][65][66] The genetic composition of different Jewish groups shows that Jews share a common genetic pool dating back 4,000 years, as a marker of their common ancestral origin. Despite their long-term separation, Jewish communities maintained commonalities in culture, tradition, and language.[67]

The Jewish people and the religion of Judaism are strongly interrelated. Converts to Judaism typically have a status within the Jewish ethnos equal to those born into it.[68] However, several converts to Judaism, as well as ex-Jews, have claimed that converts are treated as second-class Jews by many of the born-Jews.[69] Conversion is not encouraged by mainstream Judaism, and is considered a difficult task. A significant portion of conversions are undertaken by children of mixed marriages, or by would-be or current spouses of Jews.[70]

The Hebrew Bible, a religious interpretation of the traditions and early national history of the Jews, established the first of the Abrahamic religions, which are now practiced by 54% of the world. Judaism guides its adherents in both practice and belief, and has been called not only a religion, but also a “way of life,”[71] which has made drawing a clear distinction between Judaism, Jewish culture, and Jewish identity rather difficult. Throughout history, in eras and places as diverse as the ancient Hellenic world,[72] in Europe before and after The Age of Enlightenment (see Haskalah),[73] in Islamic Spain and Portugal,[74] in North Africa and the Middle East,[74]India,[75]China,[76] or the contemporary United States[77] and Israel,[78] cultural phenomena have developed that are in some sense characteristically Jewish without being at all specifically religious. Some factors in this come from within Judaism, others from the interaction of Jews or specific communities of Jews with their surroundings, others from the inner social and cultural dynamics of the community, as opposed to from the religion itself. This phenomenon has led to considerably different Jewish cultures unique to their own communities.[79]

After the destruction of the Second Temple Judaism lost much of its sectarian nature. Nevertheless, a significant Hellenized Diaspora remained, centered in Alexandria, at the time the largest urban Jewish community in the world. Hellenism was a force not just in the Diaspora but also in the Land of Israel over a long period of time. Generally, scholars view Rabbinic Judaism as having been meaningfully influenced by Hellenism.[citation needed]

Without a Temple, Greek speaking Jews no longer looked to Jerusalem in the way they had before. Judaism separated into a linguistically Greek and a Hebrew / Aramaic sphere.[80]: 811 The theology and religious texts of each community were distinctively different.[80]: 1113 Hellenized Judaism never developed yeshivas to study the Oral Law. Rabbinic Judaism (centered in the Land of Israel and Babylon) almost entirely ignores the Hellenized Diaspora in its writings.[80]: 1314 Hellenized Judaism eventually disappeared as its practitioners assimilated into Greco-Roman culture, leaving a strong Rabbinic eastern Diaspora with large centers of learning in Babylon.[80]: 1416

By the first century, the Jewish community in Babylonia, to which Jews were exiled after the Babylonian conquest as well as after the Bar Kokhba revolt in 135 CE, already held a speedily growing[81] population of an estimated one million Jews, which increased to an estimated two million[82] between the years 200 CE and 500 CE, both by natural growth and by immigration of more Jews from the Land of Israel, making up about one-sixth of the world Jewish population at that era.[82] The 13th-century author Bar Hebraeus gave a figure of 6,944,000 Jews in the Roman world Salo Wittmayer Baron considered the figure convincing.[83] The figure of seven million within and one million outside the Roman world in the mid-first century became widely accepted, including by Louis Feldman. However, contemporary scholars now accept that Bar Hebraeus based his figure on a census of total Roman citizens. The figure of 6,944,000 being recorded in Eusebius’ Chronicon.[84][85] Louis Feldman, previously an active supporter of the figure, now states that he and Baron were mistaken.[86]: 185 Feldman’s views on active Jewish missionizing have also changed. While viewing classical Judaism as being receptive to converts, especially from the second century BCE through the first century CE, he points to a lack of either missionizing tracts or records of the names of rabbis who sought converts, as evidence for the lack of active Jewish missionizing.[86]: 205206 Feldman maintains that conversion to Judaism was common and the Jewish population was large both within the Land of Israel and in the Diaspora.[86]: 183203, 206 Other historians believe that conversion during the Roman era was limited in number and did not account for much of the Jewish population growth, due to various factors such as the illegality of male conversion to Judaism in the Roman world from the mid-second century. Another factor that made conversion difficult in the Roman world was the halakhic requirement of circumcision, a requirement that proselytizing Christianity quickly dropped. The Fiscus Judaicus, a tax imposed on Jews in 70 CE and relaxed to exclude Christians in 96 CE, also limited Judaism’s appeal.[87]

Judaism shares some of the characteristics of a nation, an ethnicity,[12] a religion, and a culture, making the definition of who is a Jew vary slightly depending on whether a religious or national approach to identity is used.[88][89] Generally, in modern secular usage Jews include three groups: people who were born to a Jewish family regardless of whether or not they follow the religion, those who have some Jewish ancestral background or lineage (sometimes including those who do not have strictly matrilineal descent), and people without any Jewish ancestral background or lineage who have formally converted to Judaism and therefore are followers of the religion.[90]

Historical definitions of Jewish identity have traditionally been based on halakhic definitions of matrilineal descent, and halakhic conversions. Historical definitions of who is a Jew date back to the codification of the Oral Torah into the Babylonian Talmud, around 200 CE. Interpretations of sections of the Tanakh, such as Deuteronomy 7:15, by Jewish sages, are used as a warning against intermarriage between Jews and Canaanites because “[the non-Jewish husband] will cause your child to turn away from Me and they will worship the gods (i.e., idols) of others.” Leviticus 24:10 says that the son in a marriage between a Hebrew woman and an Egyptian man is “of the community of Israel.” This is complemented by Ezra 10:23, where Israelites returning from Babylon vow to put aside their gentile wives and their children.[91][92] Since the anti-religious Haskalah movement of the late 18th and 19th centuries, halakhic interpretations of Jewish identity have been challenged.[93]

According to historian Shaye J. D. Cohen, the status of the offspring of mixed marriages was determined patrilineally in the Bible. He brings two likely explanations for the change in Mishnaic times: first, the Mishnah may have been applying the same logic to mixed marriages as it had applied to other mixtures (Kil’ayim). Thus, a mixed marriage is forbidden as is the union of a horse and a donkey, and in both unions the offspring are judged matrilineally.[94] Second, the Tannaim may have been influenced by Roman law, which dictated that when a parent could not contract a legal marriage, offspring would follow the mother.[94]

Within the world’s Jewish population there are distinct ethnic divisions, most of which are primarily the result of geographic branching from an originating Israelite population, and subsequent independent evolutions. An array of Jewish communities was established by Jewish settlers in various places around the Old World, often at great distances from one another, resulting in effective and often long-term isolation. During the millennia of the Jewish diaspora the communities would develop under the influence of their local environments: political, cultural, natural, and populational. Today, manifestations of these differences among the Jews can be observed in Jewish cultural expressions of each community, including Jewish linguistic diversity, culinary preferences, liturgical practices, religious interpretations, as well as degrees and sources of genetic admixture.[95]

Jews are often identified as belonging to one of two major groups: the Ashkenazim and the Sephardim. Ashkenazim, or “Germanics” (Ashkenaz meaning “Germany” in Hebrew), are so named denoting their German Jewish cultural and geographical origins, while Sephardim, or “Hispanics” (Sefarad meaning “Spain/Hispania” or “Iberia” in Hebrew), are so named denoting their Spanish/Portuguese Jewish cultural and geographic origins. The more common term in Israel for many of those broadly called Sephardim, is Mizrahim (lit. “Easterners”, Mizrach being “East” in Hebrew), that is, in reference to the diverse collection of Middle Eastern and North African Jews who are often, as a group, referred to collectively as Sephardim (together with Sephardim proper) for liturgical reasons, although Mizrahi Jewish groups and Sephardi Jews proper are ethnically distinct.[96]

Smaller groups include, but are not restricted to, Indian Jews such as the Bene Israel, Bnei Menashe, Cochin Jews, and Bene Ephraim; the Romaniotes of Greece; the Italian Jews (“Italkim” or “Ben Roma”); the Teimanim from Yemen; various African Jews, including most numerously the Beta Israel of Ethiopia; and Chinese Jews, most notably the Kaifeng Jews, as well as various other distinct but now almost extinct communities.[97]

The divisions between all these groups are approximate and their boundaries are not always clear. The Mizrahim for example, are a heterogeneous collection of North African, Central Asian, Caucasian, and Middle Eastern Jewish communities that are no closer related to each other than they are to any of the earlier mentioned Jewish groups. In modern usage, however, the Mizrahim are sometimes termed Sephardi due to similar styles of liturgy, despite independent development from Sephardim proper. Thus, among Mizrahim there are Egyptian Jews, Iraqi Jews, Lebanese Jews, Kurdish Jews, Libyan Jews, Syrian Jews, Bukharian Jews, Mountain Jews, Georgian Jews, Iranian Jews and various others. The Teimanim from Yemen are sometimes included, although their style of liturgy is unique and they differ in respect to the admixture found among them to that found in Mizrahim. In addition, there is a differentiation made between Sephardi migrants who established themselves in the Middle East and North Africa after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain and Portugal in the 1490s and the pre-existing Jewish communities in those regions.[97]

Ashkenazi Jews represent the bulk of modern Jewry, with at least 70% of Jews worldwide (and up to 90% prior to World War II and the Holocaust). As a result of their emigration from Europe, Ashkenazim also represent the overwhelming majority of Jews in the New World continents, in countries such as the United States, Canada, Argentina, Australia, and Brazil. In France, the immigration of Jews from Algeria (Sephardim) has led them to outnumber the Ashkenazim.[98] Only in Israel is the Jewish population representative of all groups, a melting pot independent of each group’s proportion within the overall world Jewish population.[99]

Hebrew is the liturgical language of Judaism (termed lashon ha-kodesh, “the holy tongue”), the language in which most of the Hebrew scriptures (Tanakh) were composed, and the daily speech of the Jewish people for centuries. By the 5th century BCE, Aramaic, a closely related tongue, joined Hebrew as the spoken language in Judea.[100] By the 3rd century BCE, some Jews of the diaspora were speaking Greek.[101] Others, such as in the Jewish communities of Babylonia, were speaking Hebrew and Aramaic, the languages of the Babylonian Talmud. These languages were also used by the Jews of Israel at that time.[citation needed]

For centuries, Jews worldwide have spoken the local or dominant languages of the regions they migrated to, often developing distinctive dialectal forms or branches that became independent languages. Yiddish is the Judo-German language developed by Ashkenazi Jews who migrated to Central Europe. Ladino is the Judo-Spanish language developed by Sephardic Jews who migrated to the Iberian peninsula. Due to many factors, including the impact of the Holocaust on European Jewry, the Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries, and widespread emigration from other Jewish communities around the world, ancient and distinct Jewish languages of several communities, including Judo-Georgian, Judo-Arabic, Judo-Berber, Krymchak, Judo-Malayalam and many others, have largely fallen out of use.[5]

For over sixteen centuries Hebrew was used almost exclusively as a liturgical language, and as the language in which most books had been written on Judaism, with a few speaking only Hebrew on the Sabbath.[102] Hebrew was revived as a spoken language by Eliezer ben Yehuda, who arrived in Palestine in 1881. It had not been used as a mother tongue since Tannaic times.[100]Modern Hebrew is now one of the two official languages of the State of Israel along with Modern Standard Arabic.[103]

Despite efforts to revive Hebrew as the national language of the Jewish people, knowledge of the language is not commonly possessed by Jews worldwide and English has emerged as the lingua franca of the Jewish diaspora.[104][105][106][107][108] Although many Jews once had sufficient knowledge of Hebrew to study the classic literature, and Jewish languages like Yiddish and Ladino were commonly used as recently as the early 20th century, most Jews lack such knowledge today and English has by and large superseded most Jewish vernaculars. The three most commonly spoken languages among Jews today are Hebrew, English, and Russian. Some Romance languages, particularly French and Spanish, are also widely used.[5] Yiddish has been spoken by more Jews in history than any other language,[109] but it is far less used today following the Holocaust and the adoption of Modern Hebrew by the Zionist movement and the State of Israel. In some places, the mother language of the Jewish community differs from that of the general population or the dominant group. For example, in Quebec, the Ashkenazic majority has adopted English, while the Sephardic minority uses French as its primary language.[110][111][112][113] Similarly, South African Jews adopted English rather than Afrikaans.[114] Due to both Czarist and Soviet policies,[115][116] Russian has superseded Yiddish as the language of Russian Jews, but these policies have also affected neighboring communities.[117] Today, Russian is the first language for many Jewish communities in a number of Post-Soviet states, such as Ukraine[118][119][120][121] and Uzbekistan,[122] as well as for Ashkenazic Jews in Azerbaijan,[123] Georgia,[124] and Tajikistan.[125][126] Although communities in North Africa today are small and dwindling, Jews there had shifted from a multilingual group to a monolingual one (or nearly so), speaking French in Algeria,[127]Morocco,[123] and the city of Tunis,[128][129] while most North Africans continue to use Arabic as their mother tongue.[citation needed]

Y DNA studies tend to imply a small number of founders in an old population whose members parted and followed different migration paths.[130] In most Jewish populations, these male line ancestors appear to have been mainly Middle Eastern. For example, Ashkenazi Jews share more common paternal lineages with other Jewish and Middle Eastern groups than with non-Jewish populations in areas where Jews lived in Eastern Europe, Germany and the French Rhine Valley. This is consistent with Jewish traditions in placing most Jewish paternal origins in the region of the Middle East.[131][132] Conversely, the maternal lineages of Jewish populations, studied by looking at mitochondrial DNA, are generally more heterogeneous.[133] Scholars such as Harry Ostrer and Raphael Falk believe this indicates that many Jewish males found new mates from European and other communities in the places where they migrated in the diaspora after fleeing ancient Israel.[134] In contrast, Behar has found evidence that about 40% of Ashkenazi Jews originate maternally from just four female founders, who were of Middle Eastern origin. The populations of Sephardi and Mizrahi Jewish communities “showed no evidence for a narrow founder effect.”[133] Subsequent studies carried out by Feder et al. confirmed the large portion of non-local maternal origin among Ashkenazi Jews. Reflecting on their findings related to the maternal origin of Ashkenazi Jews, the authors conclude “Clearly, the differences between Jews and non-Jews are far larger than those observed among the Jewish communities. Hence, differences between the Jewish communities can be overlooked when non-Jews are included in the comparisons.”[135][136][137]

Studies of autosomal DNA, which look at the entire DNA mixture, have become increasingly important as the technology develops. They show that Jewish populations have tended to form relatively closely related groups in independent communities, with most in a community sharing significant ancestry in common.[138] For Jewish populations of the diaspora, the genetic composition of Ashkenazi, Sephardi, and Mizrahi Jewish populations show a predominant amount of shared Middle Eastern ancestry. According to Behar, the most parsimonious explanation for this shared Middle Eastern ancestry is that it is “consistent with the historical formulation of the Jewish people as descending from ancient Hebrew and Israelite residents of the Levant” and “the dispersion of the people of ancient Israel throughout the Old World”.[139]North African, Italian and others of Iberian origin show variable frequencies of admixture with non-Jewish historical host populations among the maternal lines. In the case of Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews (in particular Moroccan Jews), who are closely related, the source of non-Jewish admixture is mainly southern European, while Mizrahi Jews show evidence of admixture with other Middle Eastern populations and Sub-Saharan Africans. Behar et al. have remarked on an especially close relationship of Ashkenazi Jews and modern Italians.[139][140][141] Jews were found to be more closely related to groups in the north of the Fertile Crescent (Kurds, Turks, and Armenians) than to Arabs.[142]

The studies also show that the Sephardic Bnei Anusim (descendants of the “anusim” forced converts to Catholicism) of Iberia (estimated at about 19.8% of modern Iberia) and Ibero-America (estimated at least 10% of modern Ibero-America) have Sephardic Jewish origins within the last few centuries, while the Bene Israel and Cochin Jews of India, Beta Israel of Ethiopia, and a portion of the Lemba people of Southern Africa, despite more closely resembling the local populations of their native countries, also have some more remote ancient Jewish descent.[143][144][145][137]

According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics there were 13,421,000 Jews worldwide in 2009, roughly 0.19% of the world’s population at the time.[146]

According to the 2007 estimates of The Jewish People Policy Planning Institute, the world’s Jewish population is 13.2million.[147] cites figures ranging from 12 to 18million.[148] These statistics incorporate both practicing Jews affiliated with synagogues and the Jewish community, and approximately 4.5million unaffiliated and secular Jews.[citation needed]

According to Sergio DellaPergola, a demographer of the Jewish population, in 2015 there were about 6.3 million Jews in Israel, 5.7 million in the United States, and 2.3 million in the rest of the world.[149]

Israel, the Jewish nation-state, is the only country in which Jews make up a majority of the citizens.[150] Israel was established as an independent democratic and Jewish state on 14 May 1948.[151] Of the 120 members in its parliament, the Knesset,[152] as of 2016, 14 members of the Knesset are Arab citizens of Israel (not including the Druze), most representing Arab political parties. One of Israel’s Supreme Court judges is also an Arab citizen of Israel.[153]

Between 1948 and 1958, the Jewish population rose from 800,000 to two million.[154] Currently, Jews account for 75.4% of the Israeli population, or 6million people.[155][156] The early years of the State of Israel were marked by the mass immigration of Holocaust survivors in the aftermath of the Holocaust and Jews fleeing Arab lands.[157] Israel also has a large population of Ethiopian Jews, many of whom were airlifted to Israel in the late 1980s and early 1990s.[158] Between 1974 and 1979 nearly 227,258 immigrants arrived in Israel, about half being from the Soviet Union.[159] This period also saw an increase in immigration to Israel from Western Europe, Latin America, and North America.[160]

A trickle of immigrants from other communities has also arrived, including Indian Jews and others, as well as some descendants of Ashkenazi Holocaust survivors who had settled in countries such as the United States, Argentina, Australia, Chile, and South Africa. Some Jews have emigrated from Israel elsewhere, because of economic problems or disillusionment with political conditions and the continuing Arab-Israeli conflict. Jewish Israeli emigrants are known as yordim.[161]

The waves of immigration to the United States and elsewhere at the turn of the 19th century, the founding of Zionism and later events, including pogroms in Russia, the massacre of European Jewry during the Holocaust, and the founding of the state of Israel, with the subsequent Jewish exodus from Arab lands, all resulted in substantial shifts in the population centers of world Jewry by the end of the 20th century.[162]

More than half of the Jews live in the Diaspora (see Population table). Currently, the largest Jewish community outside Israel, and either the largest or second-largest Jewish community in the world, is located in the United States, with 5.2million to 6.4million Jews by various estimates. Elsewhere in the Americas, there are also large Jewish populations in Canada (315,000), Argentina (180,000300,000), and Brazil (196,000600,000), and smaller populations in Mexico, Uruguay, Venezuela, Chile, Colombia and several other countries (see History of the Jews in Latin America).[164] Demographers disagree on whether the United States has a larger Jewish population than Israel, with many maintaining that Israel surpassed the United States in Jewish population during the 2000s, while others maintain that the United States still has the largest Jewish population in the world. Currently, a major national Jewish population survey is planned to ascertain whether or not Israel has overtaken the United States in Jewish population.[165]

Western Europe’s largest Jewish community, and the third-largest Jewish community in the world, can be found in France, home to between 483,000 and 500,000 Jews, the majority of whom are immigrants or refugees from North African Arab countries such as Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia (or their descendants).[166] The United Kingdom has a Jewish community of 292,000. In Eastern Europe, there are anywhere from 350,000 to one million Jews living in the former Soviet Union, but exact figures are difficult to establish. In Germany, the 102,000 Jews registered with the Jewish community are a slowly declining population,[167] despite the immigration of tens of thousands of Jews from the former Soviet Union since the fall of the Berlin Wall.[168] Thousands of Israelis also live in Germany, either permanently or temporarily, for economic reasons.[169]

Prior to 1948, approximately 800,000 Jews were living in lands which now make up the Arab world (excluding Israel). Of these, just under two-thirds lived in the French-controlled Maghreb region, 1520% in the Kingdom of Iraq, approximately 10% in the Kingdom of Egypt and approximately 7% in the Kingdom of Yemen. A further 200,000 lived in Pahlavi Iran and the Republic of Turkey. Today, around 26,000 Jews live in Arab countries[170] and around 30,000 in Iran and Turkey. A small-scale exodus had begun in many countries in the early decades of the 20th century, although the only substantial aliyah came from Yemen and Syria.[171] The exodus from Arab and Muslim countries took place primarily from 1948. The first large-scale exoduses took place in the late 1940s and early 1950s, primarily in Iraq, Yemen and Libya, with up to 90% of these communities leaving within a few years. The peak of the exodus from Egypt occurred in 1956. The exodus in the Maghreb countries peaked in the 1960s. Lebanon was the only Arab country to see a temporary increase in its Jewish population during this period, due to an influx of refugees from other Arab countries, although by the mid-1970s the Jewish community of Lebanon had also dwindled. In the aftermath of the exodus wave from Arab states, an additional migration of Iranian Jews peaked in the 1980s when around 80% of Iranian Jews left the country.[citation needed]

Outside Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, and the rest of Asia, there are significant Jewish populations in Australia (112,500) and South Africa (70,000).[35] There is also a 7,500-strong community in New Zealand.[citation needed]

Since at least the time of the Ancient Greeks, a proportion of Jews have assimilated into the wider non-Jewish society around them, by either choice or force, ceasing to practice Judaism and losing their Jewish identity.[172] Assimilation took place in all areas, and during all time periods,[172] with some Jewish communities, for example the Kaifeng Jews of China, disappearing entirely.[173] The advent of the Jewish Enlightenment of the 18th century (see Haskalah) and the subsequent emancipation of the Jewish populations of Europe and America in the 19th century, accelerated the situation, encouraging Jews to increasingly participate in, and become part of, secular society. The result has been a growing trend of assimilation, as Jews marry non-Jewish spouses and stop participating in the Jewish community.[174]

Rates of interreligious marriage vary widely: In the United States, it is just under 50%,[175] in the United Kingdom, around 53%; in France; around 30%,[176] and in Australia and Mexico, as low as 10%.[177][178] In the United States, only about a third of children from intermarriages affiliate with Jewish religious practice.[179] The result is that most countries in the Diaspora have steady or slightly declining religiously Jewish populations as Jews continue to assimilate into the countries in which they live.[citation needed]

The Jewish people and Judaism have experienced various persecutions throughout Jewish history. During Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages the Roman Empire (in its later phases known as the Byzantine Empire) repeatedly repressed the Jewish population, first by ejecting them from their homelands during the pagan Roman era and later by officially establishing them as second-class citizens during the Christian Roman era.[180][181]

According to James Carroll, “Jews accounted for 10% of the total population of the Roman Empire. By that ratio, if other factors had not intervened, there would be 200million Jews in the world today, instead of something like 13million.”[182]

Later in medieval Western Europe, further persecutions of Jews by Christians occurred, notably during the Crusadeswhen Jews all over Germany were massacredand a series of expulsions from the Kingdom of England, Germany, France, and, in the largest expulsion of all, Spain and Portugal after the Reconquista (the Catholic Reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula), where both unbaptized Sephardic Jews and the ruling Muslim Moors were expelled.[183][184]

In the Papal States, which existed until 1870, Jews were required to live only in specified neighborhoods called ghettos.[185]

Islam and Judaism have a complex relationship. Traditionally Jews and Christians living in Muslim lands, known as dhimmis, were allowed to practice their religions and administer their internal affairs, but they were subject to certain conditions.[186] They had to pay the jizya (a per capita tax imposed on free adult non-Muslim males) to the Islamic state.[186] Dhimmis had an inferior status under Islamic rule. They had several social and legal disabilities such as prohibitions against bearing arms or giving testimony in courts in cases involving Muslims.[187] Many of the disabilities were highly symbolic. The one described by Bernard Lewis as “most degrading”[188] was the requirement of distinctive clothing, not found in the Quran or hadith but invented in early medieval Baghdad; its enforcement was highly erratic.[188] On the other hand, Jews rarely faced martyrdom or exile, or forced compulsion to change their religion, and they were mostly free in their choice of residence and profession.[189]

Notable exceptions include the massacre of Jews and forcible conversion of some Jews by the rulers of the Almohad dynasty in Al-Andalus in the 12th century,[190] as well as in Islamic Persia,[191] and the forced confinement of Moroccan Jews to walled quarters known as mellahs beginning from the 15th century and especially in the early 19th century.[192] In modern times, it has become commonplace for standard antisemitic themes to be conflated with anti-Zionist publications and pronouncements of Islamic movements such as Hezbollah and Hamas, in the pronouncements of various agencies of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and even in the newspapers and other publications of Turkish Refah Partisi.”[193]

Throughout history, many rulers, empires and nations have oppressed their Jewish populations or sought to eliminate them entirely. Methods employed ranged from expulsion to outright genocide; within nations, often the threat of these extreme methods was sufficient to silence dissent. The history of antisemitism includes the First Crusade which resulted in the massacre of Jews;[183] the Spanish Inquisition (led by Toms de Torquemada) and the Portuguese Inquisition, with their persecution and autos-da-f against the New Christians and Marrano Jews;[194] the Bohdan Chmielnicki Cossack massacres in Ukraine;[195] the Pogroms backed by the Russian Tsars;[196] as well as expulsions from Spain, Portugal, England, France, Germany, and other countries in which the Jews had settled.[184] According to a 2008 study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, 19.8% of the modern Iberian population has Sephardic Jewish ancestry,[197] indicating that the number of conversos may have been much higher than originally thought.[198][199]

The persecution reached a peak in Nazi Germany’s Final Solution, which led to the Holocaust and the slaughter of approximately 6million Jews.[200] Of the world’s 15million Jews in 1939, more than a third were killed in the Holocaust.[201][202] The Holocaustthe state-led systematic persecution and genocide of European Jews (and certain communities of North African Jews in European controlled North Africa) and other minority groups of Europe during World War II by Germany and its collaborators remains the most notable modern-day persecution of Jews.[203] The persecution and genocide were accomplished in stages. Legislation to remove the Jews from civil society was enacted years before the outbreak of World War II.[204]Concentration camps were established in which inmates were used as slave labour until they died of exhaustion or disease.[205] Where the Third Reich conquered new territory in Eastern Europe, specialized units called Einsatzgruppen murdered Jews and political opponents in mass shootings.[206] Jews and Roma were crammed into ghettos before being transported hundreds of miles by freight train to extermination camps where, if they survived the journey, the majority of them were killed in gas chambers.[207] Virtually every arm of Germany’s bureaucracy was involved in the logistics of the mass murder, turning the country into what one Holocaust scholar has called “a genocidal nation.”[208]

Throughout Jewish history, Jews have repeatedly been directly or indirectly expelled from both their original homeland, the Land of Israel, and many of the areas in which they have settled. This experience as refugees has shaped Jewish identity and religious practice in many ways, and is thus a major element of Jewish history.[209] The incomplete list of major and other noteworthy migrations that follows includes numerous instances of expulsion or departure under duress:

Israel is the only country with a Jewish population that is consistently growing through natural population growth, although the Jewish populations of other countries, in Europe and North America, have recently increased through immigration. In the Diaspora, in almost every country the Jewish population in general is either declining or steady, but Orthodox and Haredi Jewish communities, whose members often shun birth control for religious reasons, have experienced rapid population growth.[232]

Orthodox and Conservative Judaism discourage proselytism to non-Jews, but many Jewish groups have tried to reach out to the assimilated Jewish communities of the Diaspora in order for them to reconnect to their Jewish roots. Additionally, while in principle Reform Judaism favors seeking new members for the faith, this position has not translated into active proselytism, instead taking the form of an effort to reach out to non-Jewish spouses of intermarried couples.[233]

There is also a trend of Orthodox movements pursuing secular Jews in order to give them a stronger Jewish identity so there is less chance of intermarriage. As a result of the efforts by these and other Jewish groups over the past 25 years, there has been a trend (known as the Baal Teshuva movement) for secular Jews to become more religiously observant, though the demographic implications of the trend are unknown.[234] Additionally, there is also a growing rate of conversion to Jews by Choice of gentiles who make the decision to head in the direction of becoming Jews.[235]

There is no single governing body for the Jewish community, nor a single authority with responsibility for religious doctrine.[236] Instead, a variety of secular and religious institutions at the local, national, and international levels lead various parts of the Jewish community on a variety of issues.[237]

Jews have made a myriad of contributions to humanity in a broad and diverse range of fields, including the sciences, arts, politics, and business.[238] Although Jews comprise only 0.2% of the world’s population, over 20%[239][240][241][242][243][244] of Nobel Prize laureates have been Jewish, with multiple winners in each category.

Jews – Wikipedia

The Holocaust – Wikipedia

The Holocaust (from the Greek holkaustos: hlos, “whole” and kausts, “burnt”), also known as the Shoah (Hebrew: , HaShoah, “the catastrophe”), was a genocide in which Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany and its collaborators killed about six million Jews.[4] The victims included 1.5million children[5] and represented about two-thirds of the nine million Jews who had resided in Europe. Some definitions of the Holocaust include the additional five million non-Jewish victims of Nazi mass murders, bringing the total to about 11 million. Killings took place throughout Nazi Germany, German-occupied territories and territories held by allies of Nazi Germany.

From 1941 to 1945, Jews were systematically murdered in the deadliest genocide in history, which was part of a broader aggregate of acts of oppression and killings of various ethnic and political groups in Europe by the Nazi regime.[8] Under the coordination of the SS, following directions from the highest leadership of the Nazi Party, every arm of Germany’s bureaucracy was involved in the logistics and the carrying out of the genocide. Other victims of Nazi crimes included ethnic Poles and other Slavs, Soviet citizens and Soviet POWs, Romanis, communists, homosexuals, Freemasons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and the mentally and physically disabled.[9][10][11] A network of about 42,500 facilities in Germany and German-occupied territories was used to concentrate victims for slave labor, mass murder, and other human rights abuses.[12] Over 200,000 people are estimated to have been Holocaust perpetrators.

The persecution and genocide were carried out in stages, culminating in what Nazis termed the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question” (die Endlsung der Judenfrage), an agenda to exterminate Jews in Europe. Initially the German government passed laws to exclude Jews from civil society, most prominently the Nuremberg Laws of 1935. Nazis established a network of concentration camps starting in 1933 and ghettos following the outbreak of World War II in 1939. In 1941, as Germany conquered new territory in eastern Europe, specialized paramilitary units called Einsatzgruppen murdered around two million Jews, partisans, and others often in mass shootings. By the end of 1942, victims were being regularly transported by freight trains to extermination camps where, if they survived the journey, most were systematically killed in gas chambers. This continued until the end of World War II in Europe in AprilMay 1945.

Jewish armed resistance was limited. The most notable exception was the Warsaw Ghetto uprising of 1943, when thousands of poorly-armed Jewish fighters held the Waffen-SS at bay for four weeks. An estimated 20,00030,000 Jewish partisans actively fought against the Nazis and their collaborators in Eastern Europe.French Jews took part in the French Resistance, which conducted a guerilla campaign against the Nazis and Vichy French authorities. Over a hundred armed Jewish uprisings took place.[16]

The term holocaust comes from the Greek word holkauston, referring to an animal sacrifice offered to a god in which the whole (olos) animal is completely burnt (kaustos).[17]

Writing in Latin, Richard of Devizes, a 12th-century monk, was the first to use in his Chronicon de rebus gestis Ricardi Primi (1192) the term “holocaustum”.[18] The earliest use of the word holocaust to denote a massacre recorded by the Oxford English Dictionary dates from 1833 when the journalist Leitch Ritchie, describing the wars of the medieval French monarch Louis VII, wrote that he “once made a holocaust of thirteen hundred persons in a church”, a massacre by fire of the inhabitants of Vitry-le-Franois in 1142. The English poet John Milton had used the word to denote a conflagration in his 1671 poem Samson Agonistes and the word gradually developed to mean a massacre thereon.[19][20] The term was used in the 1950s by historians as a translation of the Jewish word shoah to refer specifically to the Nazi genocide of Jews.[20] The television mini-series Holocaust is credited with introducing the term into common parlance after 1978.[22]

The biblical word shoah (; also transliterated sho’ah and shoa), meaning “calamity” became the standard Hebrew term for the Holocaust as early as the 1940s, especially in Europe and Israel.[23]Shoah is preferred by some Jews for several reasons including the theologically offensive nature of the word “holocaust” which they take to refer to the Greek pagan custom.[24]

The Nazis used the phrase “Final Solution to the Jewish Question,” and the formula “Final Solution” has been widely used as a term for the genocide of the Jews.

All branches of Germany’s bureaucracy were engaged in the logistics that led to the genocides, turning the Third Reich into what one Holocaust scholar, Michael Berenbaum, has called “a genocidal state”.[25]

Every arm of the country’s sophisticated bureaucracy was involved in the killing process. Parish churches and the Interior Ministry supplied birth records showing who was Jewish; the Post Office delivered the deportation and denaturalization orders; the Finance Ministry confiscated Jewish property; German firms fired Jewish workers and disenfranchised Jewish stockholders.

The universities refused to admit Jews, denied degrees to those already studying, and fired Jewish academics; government transport offices arranged the trains for deportation to the camps; German pharmaceutical companies tested drugs on camp prisoners; companies bid for the contracts to build the crematoria; detailed lists of victims were drawn up using the Dehomag (IBM Germany) company’s punch card machines, producing meticulous records of the killings. As prisoners entered the death camps, they were made to surrender all personal property, which was catalogued and tagged before being sent to Germany to be reused or recycled. Berenbaum writes that the Final Solution of the Jewish question was “in the eyes of the perpetrators … Germany’s greatest achievement.”[26]Through a concealed account, the German National Bank helped launder valuables stolen from the victims.

Saul Friedlnder writes that: “Not one social group, not one religious community, not one scholarly institution or professional association in Germany and throughout Europe declared its solidarity with the Jews. He writes that some Christian churches declared that converted Jews should be regarded as part of the flock, but even then only up to a point. Friedlnder argues that this makes the Holocaust distinctive because antisemitic policies were able to unfold without the interference of countervailing forces of the kind normally found in advanced societies such as industry, small businesses, churches, trade unions, and other vested interests and lobby groups.

In many other genocides, pragmatic considerations such as control of territory and resources were central to the genocide policy. Israeli historian and scholar Yehuda Bauer argues:

The basic motivation [of the Holocaust] was purely ideological, rooted in an illusionary world of Nazi imagination, where an international Jewish conspiracy to control the world was opposed to a parallel Aryan quest. No genocide to date had been based so completely on myths, on hallucinations, on abstract, nonpragmatic ideologywhich was then executed by very rational, pragmatic means.[28]

German historian Eberhard Jckel wrote in 1986 that one distinctive feature of the Holocaust was:

Never before had a state with the authority of its responsible leader decided and announced that a specific human group, including its aged, its women and its children and infants, would be killed as quickly as possible, and then carried through this resolution using every possible means of state power.[29]

The killings were systematically conducted in virtually all areas of German-occupied territory in what are now 35 separate European countries.[30] It was at its most severe in Central and Eastern Europe, which had more than seven million Jews in 1939. About five million Jews were killed there, including three million in occupied Poland and over one million in the Soviet Union. Hundreds of thousands also died in the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Yugoslavia, and Greece. The Wannsee Protocol makes it clear the Nazis intended to carry their “final solution of the Jewish question” to Britain and all neutral states in Europe, such as Ireland, Switzerland, Turkey, Sweden, Portugal, and Spain.

Anyone with three or four Jewish grandparents was to be exterminated without exception. The Nazis envisioned the extermination of the Jews worldwide, not only in Germany proper,[32] unless their grandparents had converted before 18 January 1871.[33]

The use of extermination camps (also called “death camps”) equipped with gas chambers for the systematic mass extermination of peoples was an unprecedented feature of the Holocaust. These were established at Auschwitz, Belzec, Chemno, Jasenovac, Majdanek, Maly Trostenets, Sobibr, and Treblinka. They were built for the systematic killing of millions, primarily by gassing, but also by execution and extreme work under starvation conditions. Stationary facilities built for the purpose of mass extermination resulted from earlier Nazi experimentation with poison gas during the secret Action T4 euthanasia programme against mental patients.[35]

A distinctive feature of Nazi genocide was the extensive use of human subjects in “medical” experiments. According to Raul Hilberg, “German physicians were highly Nazified, compared to other professionals, in terms of party membership.”[36] Some carried out experiments at Auschwitz, Dachau, Buchenwald, Ravensbrck, Sachsenhausen, and Natzweiler concentration camps.[37]

The most notorious of these physicians was Josef Mengele, who worked in Auschwitz. His experiments included placing subjects in pressure chambers, testing drugs on them, freezing them, attempting to change eye color by injecting chemicals into children’s eyes, and amputations and other surgeries.[37] The full extent of his work is unknown as Otmar von Verschuer destroyed the truckload of records Mengele sent to him at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute.[38] Subjects who survived Mengele’s experiments were almost always killed and dissected shortly afterwards.

Mengele worked extensively with Romani children. He would bring them sweets and toys and personally take them to the gas chamber. They would call him “Onkel (Uncle) Mengele”.[39] Vera Alexander was a Jewish inmate at Auschwitz who looked after 50 sets of Romani twins:

I remember one set of twins in particular: Guido and Ina, aged about four. One day, Mengele took them away. When they returned, they were in a terrible state: they had been sewn together, back to back, like Siamese twins. Their wounds were infected and oozing pus. They screamed day and night. Then their parentsI remember the mother’s name was Stellamanaged to get some morphine and they killed the children in order to end their suffering.[39]

Yehuda Bauer and Lucy Dawidowicz maintained that from the Middle Ages onward, German society and culture were suffused with antisemitism, and that there was a direct ideological link from medieval pogroms such as the Rhineland massacres to the Nazi death camps.[40]

The second half of the 19th century saw the emergence in Germany and Austria-Hungary of the Vlkisch movement developed by such thinkers as Houston Stewart Chamberlain and Paul de Lagarde. The movement presented a pseudo-scientific, biologically based racism that viewed Jews as a race locked in mortal combat with the Aryan race for world domination.[41]Vlkisch antisemitism drew upon stereotypes from Christian antisemitism but differed in that Jews were considered to be a race rather than a religion.[42]

Friedrich Nietzsche, an opponent of antisemitism and nationalism, wrote in 1886:

The whole problem of the Jews exists only in nation states, for here their energy and higher intelligence, their accumulated capital of spirit and will, gathered from generation to generation through a long schooling in suffering, must become so preponderant as to arouse mass envy and hatred. In almost all contemporary nations, thereforein direct proportion to the degree to which they act up nationalisticallythe literal obscenity of leading the Jews to slaughter as scapegoats for every conceivable public and internal misfortune is spreading.

In a speech before the Reichstag in 1895, vlkisch leader Hermann Ahlwardt called Jews “predators” and “cholera bacilli” who should be “exterminated” for the good of the German people.[44] In his best-selling 1912 book Wenn ich der Kaiser wr (If I were the Kaiser), Heinrich Class, leader of the vlkisch group Alldeutscher Verband, urged that all German Jews be stripped of their German citizenship and be reduced to Fremdenrecht (alien status). Class also urged that Jews should be excluded from all aspects of German life, forbidden to own land, hold public office, or participate in journalism, banking, and the liberal professions. Class defined a Jew as anyone who was a member of the Jewish religion on the day the German Empire was proclaimed in 1871 or anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent.

The first medical experimentation on humans and ethnic cleansing by Germans took place in the death camps of German South-West Africa during the Herero and Namaqua Genocide. It has been suggested that this was an inspiration for the Holocaust.[46][47]

During the era of the German Empire, vlkisch notions and pseudo-scientific racism had become commonplace and were accepted throughout Germany, with the educated professional classes of the country, in particular, adopting an ideology of human inequality.[49] Though the vlkisch parties were defeated in the 1912 Reichstag elections, being all but wiped out, antisemitism was incorporated into the platforms of the mainstream political parties. The National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazi Party; NSDAP) was founded in 1920 as an offshoot of the vlkisch movement and adopted their antisemitism. In a 1986 essay, German historian Hans Mommsen wrote about the situation in postFirst World War Germany that:

If one emphasizes the indisputably important connection in isolation, one should not then force a connection with Hitler’s weltanschauung [worldview], which was in no ways original itself, in order to derive from it the existence of Auschwitz.[...] Thoughts about the extermination of the Jews had long been current, and not only for Hitler and his satraps. Many of these found their way to the NSDAP from the Deutschvlkisch Schutz-und Trutzbund [German Racial Union for Protection and Defiance], which itself had been called into life by the Pan-German Union.

Tremendous scientific and technological changes in Germany during the late 19th and early 20th centuries together with the growth of the welfare state created widespread hopes that utopia was at hand and that soon all social problems could be solved. At the same time a racist, social Darwinist, and eugenicist world-view which declared some people to be more biologically valuable than others was common. Historian Detlev Peukert states that the Shoah did not result solely from antisemitism, but was a product of the “cumulative radicalization” in which “numerous smaller currents” fed into the “broad current” that led to genocide. After the First World War, the pre-war mood of optimism gave way to disillusionment as German bureaucrats found social problems to be more insoluble than previously thought, which in turn led them to place increasing emphasis on saving the biologically “fit” while the biologically “unfit” were to be written off.

The political situation in Germany and elsewhere in Europe after World War I also contributed to virulent antisemitism. Many Germans did not accept that their country had been defeated in battle, giving rise to the Stab-in-the-back myth. The myth insinuated that it was disloyal politicians, chiefly Jews and Communists, who orchestrated Germany’s surrender. Inflaming the anti-Jewish sentiment espoused by the myth was the apparent overrepresentation of ethnic Jews in the leadership of Communist revolutionary governments in Europe, among them Russian Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin, and in Germany itself Ernst Toller as head of a short lived revolutionary government in Bavaria, contributing to the canard of Jewish Bolshevism.[57]

The economic strains of the Great Depression led many in the German medical establishment to advocate the idea of euthanization of the “incurable” mentally and physically disabled as a cost-saving measure to free up money to care for the curable. By the time the Nazis came to power in 1933, a tendency already existed in the German social policy to save the racially “valuable” while seeking to rid society of the racially “undesirable”.

The origin and first expression of Hitler’s antisemitism remain a matter of debate. Although Hitler never wrote that he would exterminate the Jews, he was open about his hatred of them. Hitler stated in Mein Kampf that he first became an antisemite in Vienna. Also in Mein Kampf, he announced his intention of removing the Jews from Germany’s political, intellectual, and cultural life. From the early 1920s Hitler linked the Jews with bacteria and claimed that they should be dealt with in exactly the same way; in August 1920 he said that resolving “racial tuberculosis” would be solved by the removal of the “causal agent, the Jew”.[62] In Mein Kampf again, Hitler wrote: “The nationalization of our masses will succeed only when, aside from all the positive struggle for the soul of our people, their international poisoners are exterminated.”[62] Hitler came up with the idea of poisoning the poisoners, suggesting: “If at the beginning of the War and during the War twelve or fifteen thousand of these Hebrew corrupters of the people had been held under poison gas, as happened to hundreds of thousands of our very best German workers in the field, the sacrifice of millions at the front would not have been in vain”.[62] Hitler viewed Marxism as a Jewish doctrine and proclaimed he was fighting against “Jewish Marxism”.

During his time writing Mein Kampf, Hitler reflected on the Jewish Question and concluded that he had been too soft and in the future only the most severe measures were to be taken if there was any chance of solving it. Hitler believed the Jewish Question was not only a problem for the German people but for all peoples as “Juda is the world plague”.Ian Kershaw writes that some passages in Mein Kampf are undeniably of an inherently genocidal nature.[62]

In 1922, Hitler allegedly told Major Joseph Hell, at the time a journalist:

Once I really am in power, my first and foremost task will be the annihilation of the Jews. As soon as I have the power to do so, I will have gallows built in rowsat the Marienplatz in Munich, for exampleas many as traffic allows. Then the Jews will be hanged indiscriminately, and they will remain hanging until they stink; they will hang there as long as the principles of hygiene permit. As soon as they have been untied, the next batch will be strung up, and so on down the line, until the last Jew in Munich has been exterminated. Other cities will follow suit, precisely in this fashion, until all Germany has been completely cleansed of Jews.

As early as 1933, Julius Streicher was calling for the extermination of the Jews in the Nazi newspaper Der Strmer. During the war, Streicher regularly authorized articles demanding the annihilation of the Jewish race.

Mommsen suggested there were three types of antisemitism in Germany: 1) the cultural antisemitism found among German conservatives, especially in the military officer corps as well as in the top members of the civil administration; 2) the “volkisch” antisemitism or racism which advocated using violence against the Jews; and 3) the religious anti-Judaism, particularly within the Catholic Church. The cultural antisemitism kept the ruling establishment from distancing itself or opposing the violent, racial antisemitism of the Nazis, and religious antisemitism meant that the religious establishment did not present opposition to racial persecution of the Jews.[68]

With the establishment of the Third Reich, Nazi leaders proclaimed the existence of a Volksgemeinschaft (“people’s community”). Nazi policies divided the population into two categories, the Volksgenossen (“national comrades”), who belonged to the Volksgemeinschaft, and the Gemeinschaftsfremde (“community aliens”), who did not. Nazi policies about repression divided people into three types of enemies, the “racial” enemies such as the Jews and the Romani who were viewed as enemies because of their “blood”; political opponents such as Marxists, liberals, Christians and the “reactionaries” who were viewed as wayward “National Comrades”; and moral opponents such as homosexuals, the “work-shy” and habitual criminals, also seen as wayward “National Comrades”.[69] The last two groups were to be sent to concentration camps for “re-education”, with the aim of eventual absorption into the Volksgemeinschaft, though some of the moral opponents were to be sterilized, as they were regarded as “genetically inferior”.[69]

“Racial” enemies such as the Jews could, by definition, never belong to the Volksgemeinschaft; they were to be totally removed from society.[69] German historian Detlev Peukert wrote that the National Socialists’ “goal was an utopian Volksgemeinschaft, totally under police surveillance, in which any attempt at nonconformist behaviour, or even any hint or intention of such behaviour, would be visited with terror”. Peukert quotes policy documents on the “Treatment of Community Aliens” from 1944, which (though never implemented) showed the full intentions of Nazi social policy: “persons who … show themselves [to be] unable to comply by their own efforts with the minimum requirements of the national community” were to be placed under police supervision, and if this did not reform them, they were to be taken to a concentration camp.

Leading up to the March 1933 Reichstag elections, the Nazis intensified their campaign of violence against the opposition. With the co-operation of local authorities, they set up concentration camps for extrajudicial imprisonment of their opponents. One of the first, at Dachau, opened on 9 March 1933. Initially the camp primarily contained Communists and Social Democrats. Other early prisonsfor example, in basements and storehouses run by the Sturmabteilung (SA) and less commonly by the Schutzstaffel (SS)were consolidated by mid-1934 into purpose-built camps outside the cities, run exclusively by the SS. The initial purpose of the camps was to serve as a deterrent by terrorizing those Germans who did not conform to the Volksgemeinschaft. Those sent to the camps included the “educable”, whose wills could be broken into becoming “National Comrades”, and the “biologically depraved”, who were to be sterilized, were to be held permanently, and over time were increasingly subject to extermination through labor, i.e., being worked to death.

Throughout the 1930s, the legal, economic, and social rights of Jews were steadily restricted. The Israeli historian Saul Friedlnder writes that, for the Nazis, Germany drew its strength “from the purity of its blood and from its rootedness in the sacred German earth.” On 1 April 1933, there occurred a boycott of Jewish businesses, which was the first national antisemitic campaign, initially planned for a week, but called off after one day owing to lack of popular support. In 1933, the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service was passed which excluded all Jews and other “non-Aryans” from the civil service. All persons in the civil service had to obtain an Ariernachweis (Aryan certificate) in order to prove their Aryan ancestry. The first antisemitic law passed in the Third Reich; the Physicians’ Law; and the Farm Law, forbidding Jews from owning farms or taking part in agriculture.

Jewish lawyers were disbarred, and in Dresden, Jewish lawyers and judges were dragged out of their offices and courtrooms and beaten. At the insistence of President Paul von Hindenburg, Hitler added an exemption allowing Jewish civil servants who were veterans of the First World War or whose fathers or sons had served, to remain in office, but he revoked this exemption in 1937, after Hindenburg’s death. Jews were excluded from schools and universities (the Law to Prevent Overcrowding in Schools), from belonging to the Journalists’ Association, and from being owners or editors of newspapers. The Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung of 27 April 1933 wrote:

A self-respecting nation cannot, on a scale accepted up to now, leave its higher activities in the hands of people of racially foreign origin … Allowing the presence of too high a percentage of people of foreign origin in relation to their percentage in the general population could be interpreted as an acceptance of the superiority of other races, something decidedly to be rejected.

In July 1933, the Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring calling for compulsory sterilization of the “inferior” was passed. This major eugenics policy led to over 200 Hereditary Health Courts (Erbgesundheitsgerichte) being set up, under whose rulings over 400,000 people were sterilized against their will during the Nazi period.

In 1935, Hitler introduced the Nuremberg Laws, which prohibited “Aryans” from having sexual relations or marriages with Jews, although this was later extended to include “Gypsies, Negroes or their bastard offspring” (the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor), stripped German Jews of their citizenship and deprived them of all civil rights. At the same time the Nazis used propaganda to promulgate the concept of Rassenschande (race defilement) to justify the need for a restrictive law. Hitler described the “Blood Law” in particular as “the attempt at a legal regulation of a problem, which in the event of further failure would then have through law to be transferred to the final solution of the National Socialist Party”. Hitler said that if the “Jewish problem” cannot be solved by these laws, it “must then be handed over by law to the National-Socialist Party for a final solution”. The “final solution” (Endlsung) became the standard Nazi euphemism for the extermination of the Jews. In January 1939, he said in a public speech: “If international-finance Jewry inside and outside Europe should succeed once more in plunging the nations into yet another world war, the consequences will not be the Bolshevization of the earth and thereby the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation (vernichtung) of the Jewish race in Europe”. Footage from this speech was used to conclude the 1940 Nazi propaganda movie The Eternal Jew (Der ewige Jude), whose purpose was to provide a rationale and blueprint for eliminating the Jews from Europe.

Intellectuals were among the first Jews to leave. The philosopher Walter Benjamin left for Paris on 18 March 1933. Novelist Lion Feuchtwanger went to Switzerland. The conductor Bruno Walter fled after being told that the hall of the Berlin Philharmonic would be burned down if he conducted a concert there: the Frankfurter Zeitung explained on 6 April that Walter and fellow conductor Otto Klemperer had been forced to flee because the government was unable to protect them against the mood of the German public, which had been provoked by “Jewish artistic liquidators”.Albert Einstein was visiting the US on 30 January 1933. He returned to Ostende in Belgium, never to set foot in Germany again, and calling events there a “psychic illness of the masses”; he was expelled from the Kaiser Wilhelm Society and the Prussian Academy of Sciences, and his citizenship was rescinded. When Germany annexed Austria in 1938, Sigmund Freud and his family fled from Vienna to England. Saul Friedlnder writes that when Max Liebermann, honorary president of the Prussian Academy of Arts, resigned his position, none of his colleagues expressed sympathy, and he was still ostracized at his death two years later. When the police arrived in 1943 with a stretcher to deport his 85-year-old bedridden widow, she committed suicide with an overdose of barbiturates rather than be taken.

On 7 November 1938, Jewish minor Herschel Grnspan assassinated Nazi German diplomat Ernst vom Rath in Paris.[86] The Nazis used this incident a pretext to go beyond legal repression to large-scale physical violence against Jewish Germans. What the Nazis claimed to be spontaneous “public outrage” was a wave of pogroms instigated by the Nazi Party and carried out by SA members and affiliates throughout Nazi Germany, at the time consisting of Germany proper, Austria, and Sudetenland.[86] These pogroms became known as Kristallnacht (“Crystal Night” or “Night of Broken Glass”). Jews were attacked and Jewish property was vandalized. Over 7,000 Jewish shops and more than 1,200 synagogues (roughly two-thirds of the synagogues in areas under German control) were damaged or destroyed.

The death toll is assumed to be much higher than the official number of 91 dead.[86] 30,000 were sent to concentration camps, including Dachau, Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald, and Oranienburg,[88] where they were kept for several weeks, and released when they could either prove that they were about to emigrate in the near future, or transferred their property to the Nazis. German Jewry was made collectively responsible for restitution of the material damage of the pogroms, amounting to several hundred thousand Reichsmarks, and furthermore had to pay an “atonement tax” of more than a billion Reichsmarks.[86] After these pogroms, Jewish emigration from Germany accelerated, while public Jewish life in Germany ceased to exist.[90][86][clarification needed]

Before the war, the Nazis considered mass deportation of German (and subsequently the European) Jewry from Europe. Hitler’s agreement to the 193839 Schacht Plan, and the continued flight of thousands of Jews for an extended period when the Schacht Plan came to nothing, indicate that the preference for a concerted genocide of the type that came later did not yet exist.[91]

Nazi bureaucrats also developed plans to deport Europe’s Jews to Siberia.[92] Palestine was the only location to which any Nazi relocation plan succeeded in producing significant results, via an agreement begun in 1933 between the Zionist Federation of Germany (die Zionistische Vereinigung fr Deutschland) and the Nazi government, the Haavara Agreement. This agreement resulted in the transfer of about 60,000 German Jews and $100million from Germany to Palestine, until the outbreak of World War II.[93]

Hitler halted plans to reclaim former German colonies such as Tanganyika and South West Africa for Jewish resettlement, arguing that no place where “so much blood of heroic Germans had been spilled” should be made available as a residence for the “worst enemies of the Germans”. Diplomatic efforts were undertaken to convince the other colonial powers, primarily the United Kingdom and France, to accept expelled Jews in their colonies. Areas considered for possible resettlement included British Palestine,[96] Italian Abyssinia,[96] British Rhodesia,French Madagascar,[96] and Australia.

Of these areas, Madagascar was the most seriously discussed. Heydrich called the Madagascar Plan a “territorial final solution”; it was a remote location, and the island’s unfavorable conditions would hasten deaths. Hitler approved in 1938 and Adolf Eichmann’s office carried out resettlement planning, but abandoned it once the mass killing of Jews had begun in 1941. The end of the Madagascar Plan was announced on 10 February 1942. The German Foreign Office was given the official explanation that due to the war with the Soviet Union, Jews were to be “sent to the east”.[101]

Nazi resettlement schemes entailed taking measures to prepare the way eastwards. Ethnic Germans required more Lebensraum (“living space”) according to Nazi doctrine so population displacement (which included murder) and colonial settlement were intrinsically linked. Once the Nazis embarked on their push eastwards through Poland and later into Russia with Operation Barbarossa, there was a radicalization in the speed and brutality of their methods. Winning land from the Russian and Slavic peoples in the east was more than just territorial aggrandizement for Hitler; it was part of the final reckoning with Jewish Bolshevism.

Germany’s invasion of Poland in September 1939 increased the urgency of the “Jewish Question”. Poland was home to about three million Jews (nearly nine percent of the Polish population) in centuries-old communities, two-thirds of whom fell under Nazi control with Poland’s capitulation.

In September 1939, Himmler appointed Reinhard Heydrich chief of the Reich Main Security Office (Reichssicherheitshauptamt or RSHA). This organization was made up of seven departments, including the Security Service (SD) and Gestapo. They were to oversee the work of the SS in occupied Poland, and carry out the policy towards the Jews described in Heydrich’s report. The first organized murders of Jews by German forces occurred during Operation Tannenberg and through Selbstschutz units. Heydrich (later the Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia) recommended concentrating all the Polish Jews in ghettos in major cities, where they would be put to work for the German war industry. The ghettos would be in cities located on railway junctions to furnish, in Heydrich’s words, “a better possibility of control and later deportation”.[105] During his interrogation in 1961, Adolf Eichmann recalled that this “later deportation” actually meant “physical extermination.”[106]

I ask nothing of the Jews except that they should disappear.

The Jews were later herded into ghettos, mostly in the General Government area of central Poland, where they were put to work under the Reich Labor Office headed by Fritz Sauckel. Here many thousands died from maltreatment, disease, starvation, and exhaustion, but there was still no program of systematic killing. There is little doubt, however, that the Nazis saw forced labor as a form of extermination. The expression Vernichtung durch Arbeit (“destruction through work”) was frequently used.

Although it was clear by late 1941 that the SS hierarchy was determined to embark on a policy of killing all the Jews under German control, there was still opposition to this policy within the Nazi regime, although the motive was economic, not humanitarian. Hermann Gring, who had overall control of the German war industry, and the German army’s Economics Department, argued that the enormous Jewish labor force assembled in the General Government area (more than a million able-bodied workers), was an asset too valuable to waste, particularly with Germany failing to secure rapid victory over the Soviet Union.

When Germany occupied Norway, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, and France in 1940, and Yugoslavia and Greece in 1941, antisemitic measures were also introduced into these countries, although the pace and severity varied greatly from country to country according to local political circumstances. Jews were removed from economic and cultural life and were subject to various restrictive laws, but physical deportation did not occur in most places before 1942. The Vichy regime in occupied France actively collaborated in persecuting French Jews. Germany’s allies Italy, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Finland were pressured to introduce antisemitic measures, but for the most part they did not comply until compelled to do so. During the course of the war some 900 Jews and 300 Roma passed through the Banjica concentration camp in Belgrade, intended primarily for Serbian communists, royalists and others who resisted occupation. The German puppet regime in Croatia, on the other hand, began actively persecuting Jews on its own initiative, so the Legal Decree on the Nationalization of the Property of Jews and Jewish Companies was declared on 10 October 1941 in the Independent State of Croatia.

Though the vast majority of the Jews affected and killed during Holocaust were of Ashkenazi descent, Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews suffered greatly as well.

In 1938, the Fascist Italian regime passed anti-Semitic laws which barred Jews from government jobs and government schools, and required them to stamp “Jewish race” into their passports.[108] But these laws were not harsh enough to force Jews to leave Libya, because 25% of Tripoli’s population was Jewish, and the city had over 44 synagogues.[109] In 1942, the Nazis occupied Benghazi’s Jewish Quarter and deported more than 2,000 Jews to Nazi labor camps. By the end of WWII, about one-fifth of those who were sent away had perished.[110] Several forced labor camps for Jews were established in Libya, the largest of which, the Giado camp, held almost 2,600 inmates, of whom 562 died of weakness, hunger, and disease. Smaller labor camps were established in Gharyan, Jeren, and Tigrinna.[110][111]

Tunisia, the only North African country to come under direct Nazi occupation, had 100,000 Jews when the Nazis arrived in November 1942. During their six months of occupation, the Nazis imposed anti-Semitic policies in Tunisia, including forcing Jews to wear the Yellow Star, fines, and property confiscation. Some 5,000 Tunisian Jews were subjected to forced labor, and some were deported to European death camps.[112] More than 2,500 Tunisian Jews died in slave labor camps during the German occupation.[113]

On 28 September 1939, Germany gained control over the Lublin area through the German-Soviet agreement in exchange for Lithuania.[114] According to the Nisko Plan, they set up the Lublin-Lipowa Reservation in the area. The reservation was designated by Adolf Eichmann, who was assigned the task of removing all Jews from Germany, Austria, and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.[115] They shipped the first Jews to Lublin on 18 October 1939. The first train loads consisted of Jews deported from Austria and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.[116] By 30 January 1940, a total of 78,000 Jews had been deported to Lublin from Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia.[117] On 12 and 13 February 1940, the Pomeranian Jews were deported to the Lublin reservation, resulting in Pomeranian Gauleiter Franz Schwede-Coburg to be the first to declare his Gau (country subdivision) judenrein (“free of Jews”).[118] On 24 March 1940 Gring put the Nisko Plan on hold, and abandoned it entirely by the end of April. By the time the Nisko Plan was stopped, the total number of Jews who had been transported to Nisko had reached 95,000, many of whom had died from starvation.[120]

In July 1940, due to the difficulties of supporting the increased population in the General Government, Hitler had the deportations temporarily halted.[121]

In October 1940, Gauleiters Josef Brckel and Robert Heinrich Wagner oversaw Operation Brckel, the expulsion of the Jews into unoccupied France from their Gaues and the parts of Alsace-Lorraine that had been annexed that summer to the Reich.[122] Only those Jews in mixed marriages were not expelled.[122] The 6,500 Jews affected by Operation Brckel were given at most two hours warning on the night of 2223 October 1940, before being rounded up. The nine trains carrying the deported Jews crossed over into France “without any warning to the French authorities”, who were not happy with receiving them.[122] The deportees had not been allowed to take any of their possessions with them, these being confiscated by the German authorities.[122] The German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop treated the ensuing complaints by the Vichy government over the expulsions in a “most dilatory fashion”.[122] As a result, the Jews expelled in Operation Brckel were interned in harsh conditions by the Vichy authorities at the camps in Gurs, Rivesaltes and Les Milles while awaiting a chance to return them to Germany.[122]

During 1940 and 1941, the murder of large numbers of Jews in German-occupied Poland continued, and the deportation of Jews to the General Government was undertaken. The deportation of Jews from Germany, particularly Berlin, was not officially completed until 1943. (Many Berlin Jews were able to survive in hiding.) By December 1939, 3.5million Jews were crowded into the General Government area.

The Third Reich first used concentration camps as places of incarceration. And though death rates were highwith a mortality rate of 50%they were not designed to be killing centers. After 1939, the camps increasingly became places where Jews and POWs were either killed or made to work as slave laborers, undernourished and tortured. By 1942, six large camps were built in Poland solely for mass killing. It is estimated Germans established 15,000 camps and subcamps in the occupied countries, mostly in eastern Europe.[124][125] New camps were founded in areas with large Jewish, Polish intelligentsia, communist, or Roma and Sinti populations, including inside Germany. Prisoner transportation was often carried out under horrifying conditions in rail freight cars; many died before reaching their destination.

Extermination through labor was a policy of systematic exterminationcamp inmates would literally be worked to death, or worked to physical exhaustion, when they would be gassed or shot.[126] Slave labour was used in war production, for example producing V-2 rockets at Mittelbau-Dora, and various armaments around the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp complex.

Some camps tattooed prisoners with an identification number on arrival. Those fit for work were dispatched for 12- to 14-hour shifts. Roll calls before and after could sometimes last for hours; prisoners regularly died of exposure.[128]

After invading Poland, the Nazis established ghettos in the incorporated territories and General Government to confine Jews. The ghettos were formed and closed off from the outside world at different times and for different reasons.[129] Ghettos were intended to be temporary until the Jews were deported. But deportation never occurred. Instead, the ghettos’ inhabitants were sent to extermination camps.

Germany required each ghetto to be run by a Judenrat (Jewish council). The first order establishing a council is contained in a 29 September 1939 letter from Heydrich to the heads of the Einsatzgruppen. Councils were responsible for a ghetto’s day-to-day operations, including distributing food, water, heat, medical care, and shelter. The Germans also required councils to confiscate property, organize forced labor, and, finally, facilitate deportations to extermination camps.[131] The councils’ basic strategy was one of trying to minimise losses, largely by cooperating with Nazi authorities (or their surrogates), accepting the increasingly terrible treatment, bribery, petitioning for better conditions, and clemency. Overall, to try and mitigate still worse cruelty and death, “the councils offered words, money, labor, and finally lives.”

The ultimate test of each Judenrat was the demand to compile lists of names of deportees to be murdered. Though the predominant pattern was compliance with even this final task, some council leaders insisted that not a single individual should be handed over who had not committed a capital crime. Leaders who refused to compile a list, such as Joseph Parnas in Lviv, were shot. On 14 October 1942, the entire council of Byaroza committed suicide rather than cooperate with the deportations.Adam Czerniakw in Warsaw killed himself on 23 July 1942 when he could take no more as the final liquidation of the ghetto got under way.[136] Others, like Chaim Rumkowski, who became the “dedicated autocrat” of d, argued that their responsibility was to save the Jews who could be saved, and that therefore others had to be sacrificed.

The councils’ importance in facilitating Germany’s persecution and murder of ghetto inhabitants was not lost on the Nazis: one official was emphatic that “the authority of the Jewish council be upheld and strengthened under all circumstances”, another that “Jews who disobey instructions of the Jewish council are to be treated as saboteurs.” When cooperation crumbled, as happened in the Warsaw ghetto after the Jewish Combat Organisation displaced the council’s authority, the Germans lost control.

The Warsaw Ghetto was the largest, with 380,000 people; the d Ghetto was second, holding 160,000. They were, in effect, immensely crowded prisons serving as instruments of “slow, passive murder.”[141] Though the Warsaw Ghetto contained 30% of Warsaw’s population, it occupied only 2.4% of the city’s area, averaging 9.2 people per room.[142]

Between 1940 and 1942, starvation and disease, especially typhoid, killed hundreds of thousands. Over 43,000 Warsaw ghetto residents, or one in ten of the total population, died in 1941;[142] in Theresienstadt, more than half the residents died in 1942.[141]

The Germans came, the police, and they started banging houses: “Raus, raus, raus, Juden raus.” … [O]ne baby started to cry … The other baby started crying. So the mother urinated in her hand and gave the baby a drink to keep quiet … [When the police had gone], I told the mothers to come out. And one baby was dead … from fear, the mother [had] choked her own baby.

Himmler ordered the start of the deportations on 19 July 1942, and three days later, on 22 July, the deportations from the Warsaw Ghetto began; over the next 52 days, until 12 September 300,000 people from Warsaw alone were transported in freight trains to the Treblinka extermination camp. Many other ghettos were completely depopulated.

The first ghetto uprising occurred in September 1942 in the small town of achwa in southeast Poland. Although there were armed resistance attempts in the larger ghettos in 1943, such as the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and the Biaystok Ghetto Uprising, in every case they failed against the overwhelming Nazi military force, and the remaining Jews were either killed or deported to the death camps.

A number of deadly pogroms occurred during the Second World War. The Nazis encouraged some and others were spontaneous. Notable are the Iai pogrom in Romania on 30 June 1941, in which as many as 14,000 Jews were killed by Romanian residents and police. In the infamous series of Lviv pogroms committed in occupied Poland by nationalists from the Ukrainian People’s Militia in Lww (now, Ukraine), some 6,000 Polish Jews were murdered in the streets between 30 June and 29 July 1941, on top of 3,000 arrests and mass shootings by Einsatzgruppe C.[146] Other pogroms perpetrated by the Ukrainian militia in Polish provincial capitals included uck and Tarnopol. During the Jedwabne pogrom of July 1941, in the presence of the Nazi Ordnungspolizei 300 Jews were burned to death in a locked barn by local Poles, which was preceded by German execution of 40 Jewish men at the same location.[a]

Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 opened a new phase in the Holocaust. Even before the invasion of the Soviet Union, German troops had been indoctrinated with anti-Bolshevik, anti-Semitic and anti-Slavic ideology via movies, radio, lectures, books and leaflets. Following the invasion, Wehrmacht officers told their soldiers to target people who were described as “Jewish Bolshevik subhumans”, the “Mongol hordes”, the “Asiatic flood” and the “red beast”. Nazi propaganda portrayed the war against the Soviet Union as both an ideological war between German National Socialism and Jewish Bolshevism and a racial war between the Germans and the Bolsheviks, Jews, Romani and Slavic Untermenschen (“sub-humans”). Hitler on 30 March 1941 described the war with the Soviet Union as a “war of annihilation”. The pace of extermination intensified after the Nazis occupied Lithuania, where close to 80% of the country’s 220,000 Jews were exterminated before year’s end.[155] The Soviet territories occupied by early 1942, including all of Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, and Moldova and most Russian territory west of the line LeningradMoscowRostov, were inhabited at the start of the war by about three million Jews.

Due to shortage of manpower, an order of February 1943 forbid anyone to characterize the peoples of Eastern Europe as “beasts,” “subhumans” or other derogatory descriptions in order to gain their support in “the struggle against Bolshevism.”[156] Local populations in some occupied Soviet territories actively participated in the killings of Jews and others.[157] But it was ultimately the Germans who organized and channelled these local efforts.[157] Many of the collaborators who participated in the killings of Jews enlisted in the Waffen-SS.[158] In Lithuania, Latvia, and western Ukraine locals were deeply involved in the murder of Jews from the very beginning of the German occupation.[157] The Latvian Arajs Kommando is an example of an auxiliary unit involved in these killings.[157] Some of these Latvian and Lithuanian units left their own countries to murder Jews in Belarus. In the south, Ukrainians killed about 24,000 Jews and some went to Poland to serve as concentration and death-camp guards.[157]Ustae militia in Croatia also persecuted and murdered Jews, among others.

Many of the mass killings were carried out in public, a change from previous practice.[157] German witnesses to these killings emphasized the locals’ participation.[157]

The mass killings of Jews in the occupied Soviet territories was assigned to SS formations called Einsatzgruppen (“task groups”), which were under Heydrich’s overall command. These had been used to a limited extent in Poland in 1939, but were organized in the Soviet territories on a much larger scale. Einsatzgruppe A was assigned to the Baltic area, Einsatzgruppe B to Belarus, Einsatzgruppe C to north and central Ukraine, and Einsatzgruppe D to Moldova, south Ukraine, Crimea, and, during 1942, the north Caucasus. The Einsatzgruppen’s commanders were ordinary citizens: the great majority were professionals, most were intellectuals, and they brought to bear all their skills and training in becoming efficient killers.

According to Otto Ohlendorf at his trial, “the Einsatzgruppen had the mission to protect the rear of the troops by killing the Jews, Gypsies, Communist functionaries, active Communists, and all persons who would endanger the security.” In practice, their victims were nearly all defenseless Jewish civilians (not a single Einsatzgruppe member was killed in action during these operations). By December 1941, the four Einsatzgruppen had killed, respectively, 125,000, 45,000, 75,000, and 55,000 peoplea total of 300,000 peoplemainly by shooting or with hand grenades at mass-killing sites outside the major towns.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum provides the account of one survivor of the Einsatzgruppen in Piryatin, Ukraine, where the Germans killed 1,600 Jews on 6 April 1942, the second day of Passover:

I saw them do the killing. At 5:00pm they gave the command, “Fill in the pits.” Screams and groans were coming from the pits. Suddenly I saw my neighbor Ruderman rise from under the soil … His eyes were bloody and he was screaming: “Finish me off!” … A murdered woman lay at my feet. A boy of five years crawled out from under her body and began to scream desperately. “Mommy!” That was all I saw, since I fell unconscious.

The most notorious massacre of Jews in the Soviet Union was at a ravine called Babi Yar outside Kiev, where 33,771 Jews were killed in a single operation on 293 September 1941. The decision to kill all the Jews in Kiev was made by the military governor Major-General Friedrich Eberhardt, the Police Commander for Army Group South SS-Obergruppenfhrer Friedrich Jeckeln, and the Einsatzgruppe C Commander Otto Rasch. A mixture of SS, SD, and Security Police, assisted by Ukrainian police, carried out the killings. Although they did not participate in the killings, men of the 6th Army played a key role in rounding up the Jews of Kiev and transporting them to be shot at Babi Yar.

On 29 September Kiev’s Jews gathered by the cemetery as ordered, expecting to be loaded onto trains. The crowd was large enough that most of the men, women, and children could not have known what was happening until it was too late; by the time they heard the machine gun fire, there was no chance to escape. All were driven down a corridor of soldiers, in groups of ten, and shot. A truck driver described the scene:

one after the other, they had to remove their luggage, then their coats, shoes, and outer garments and also underwear … Once undressed, they were led into the ravine which was about 150 meters long and 30 meters wide and a good 15 meters deep … When they reached the bottom of the ravine they were seized by members of the Schutzpolizei and made to lie down on top of Jews who had already been shot … The corpses were literally in layers. A police marksman came along and shot each Jew in the neck with a submachine gun … I saw these marksmen stand on layers of corpses and shoot one after the other … The marksman would walk across the bodies of the executed Jews to the next Jew, who had meanwhile lain down, and shoot him.

In August 1941 Himmler travelled to Minsk, where he personally witnessed 100 Jews being shot in a ditch outside the town. Karl Wolff described the event in his diary: “Himmler’s face was green. He took out his handkerchief and wiped his cheek where a piece of brain had squirted up onto it. Then he vomited. After recovering his composure, Himmler lectured the SS men on the need to follow the “highest moral law of the Party” in carrying out their tasks.

Germany usually justified the Einsatzgruppen’s massacres on the grounds of anti-Bolshevik, anti-partisan or anti-bandit operations, but the German historian Andreas Hillgruber wrote that this was merely an excuse for the German Army’s considerable involvement in the Holocaust in Russia. He wrote in 1989 that the terms “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” were indeed correct labels for what happened. Hillgruber maintained that the slaughter of about 2.2million defenseless men, women, and children based on a racist ideology cannot possibly be justified for any reason, and that those German generals who claimed that the Einsatzgruppen were a necessary anti-partisan response were lying.

Army co-operation with the SS in anti-Bolshevik, anti-partisan and anti-Jewish operations was close and intensive.[168] In mid-1941, the SS Cavalry Brigade, commanded by Hermann Fegelein, killed 699 Red Army soldiers, 1,100 partisans, and 14,178 Jews during the course of “anti-partisan” operations in the Pripyat Marshes.[168] Before the operation, Fegelein had been ordered to shoot all adult Jews and herd the women and children into the marshes. After the operation, General Max von Schenckendorff, who commanded the rear areas of Army Group Center, ordered that all Wehrmacht security divisions should emulate Fegelein’s example when on anti-partisan duty, and organized a joint SS-Wehrmacht seminar on how best to kill Jews.[168] The seminar ended with the 7th Company of Police Battalion 322 shooting 32 Jews before the assembled officers at a village called Knjashizy as an example of how to “screen” the population for partisans.[169]

As the war diary of the Battalion 322 read:

The action, first scheduled as a training exercise, was carried out under real-life conditions (ernstfallmssig) in the village itself. Strangers, especially partisans could not be found. The screening of the population, however resulted in 13 Jews, 27 Jewish women and 11 Jewish children, of which 13 Jews and 19 Jewish women were shot in co-operation with the Security Service[169]

Based on what they had learned during the Mogilev seminar, one Wehrmacht officer told his men: “Where the partisan is, there is the Jew and where the Jew is, there is the partisan”.[169]

Head of the OKW, Field-Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, in an order on 12 September 1941, declared:

The struggle against Bolshevism demands ruthless and energetic, rigorous action above all against the Jews, the main carriers of Bolshevism.

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Asian Pacific American Heritage Month – Wikipedia

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM), now officially proclaimed Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month,[1] takes place in May. It celebrates the culture, traditions, and history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States.

In June 1977 Reps. Frank Horton of New York and Norman Y. Mineta of California introduced a United States House of Representatives resolution to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week.[2][3][4] A similar bill was introduced in the Senate a month later by Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga.[2] “The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.”[2][5][6] President Jimmy Carter signed a joint resolution for the celebration on October 5, 1978.[2]

In 1990, George H.W. Bush signed a bill passed by Congress to extend Asian-American Heritage Week to a month;[7][8][9] May was officially designated as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month two years later.[5][10][11][12] On May 1, 2009 President Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation which recalls the challenges faced by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and celebrates their great and significant contributions to our society.[13]

During APAHM, communities celebrate the achievements and contributions of Asian and Pacific Americans with community festivals, government-sponsored activities and educational activities for students.[14]

Northeast and East:

West Coast:

South and Southeast:


(federal) = federal holidays, (state) = state holidays, (religious) = religious holidays, (week) = weeklong holidays, (month) = monthlong holidays, (36) = Title 36 Observances and Ceremonies Bolded text indicates major holidays that are commonly celebrated by Americans, which often represent the major celebrations of the month.[1][2]

Excerpt from:
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month – Wikipedia

Calendar of Ethnic Holidays | American Ethnic Studies …


1 Feast of St. Basil (Christian, Orthodox) 1 Japanese New Year (Japan) 5 Guru Gobind Singhs Birthday (Sikh) 6 Epiphany (Christian) 6 Three Kings Day (Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic) 7 The Nativity of Jesus Christ (Christian, Orthodox) 13 Lohri (Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh) 16 Religious Freedom Day 16 World Religion Day (Bahai) 19 Tu bShvat or Tu BShevat* (Jewish, Israel) 26 India Republic Day


National Black History Month (United States) 2 Imbolc (Wiccan) 3 Chinese Lunar New Year (China, Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam) 3 Tet Nguyen Dan (Vietnam) Year of the Buffalo 4 Rosa Parks Birth Anniversary 5 Mexico Constitution Day 11 National Foundation Day (Japan) 12 NAACP Founded 14 Race Relations Day 17 League of United Latin Citizens (LULAC) Founded American 24 Flag Day (Mexico)

March Greek-American Heritage Month Irish-American Heritage Month Spiritual Wellness Month 1 St. Davids Day (Welsh) 2 Mothering Sunday (England) 4 World Day of Prayer 5-8 Brazil, Carnival 7 Lent begins (Orthodox Christians) 8 Mardi Gras (United States) 9 Ash Wednesday (Protestant, Roman Catholic) 17 St. Patricks Day (Ireland, United States) 21 Naw Ruz (Bahai, Persia) 25 Feast of Annunciation (Christian) 30 Purim (Jewish)


6 National Tartan Day (Scottish-American) 6 Organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints 8 Passover* (Jewish) 8 Vesak Buddhas Birth (Buddhist) 14 Sinhala and Tamil New Year (Sri Lanka) 16 Emancipation Day (African-American, United States) 17 Palm Sunday (Protestant, Roman Catholic) 19 Passover* (Jewish) 21 Holy Thursday (Christian) 22 Good Friday (Protestant, Roman Catholic) 23 St. Georges Day (English) 24 Easter (Orthodox) or Pascha 24 Easter (Protestant, Roman Catholic) 30 Beltane (Celtic)


Asian Pacific American History Month Jewish-American Heritage Month 4 National Day of Prayer (United States) 1 Yom Hashoah/Holocaust Memorial Day (Jewish) 2 May Day Bank Holiday (United Kingdom) 5 Cinco de Mayo (Mexico) 9 Victory Day (Russia) 18 Isreals Independence Day (Yom HaAtzmaUt) 19 Malcolm Xs birthday (African-American, United States) 23 Declaration of the Bab (Bahai) 25 Corpus Christi (American, Roman Catholic) 29 Ascension of Bahaullah (Bahai)


2 Ascension Day (Christian) 7 Shavuot* (Jewish) 16 Martyrdom Day of Guru Arjan (Sikh) 19 Juneteenth 23 Corpus Christi (American, Roman Catholic) 27 Martyrdome of Joseph and Hyrum Smith


1 Canada Day (Canada) 4 Fil-American Friendship Day (Phillippines, United States) 9 Bon Festival/Feast of Lanterns (Japan) 9 Martyrdom of the Bab (Bahai) 24 Pioneer Day (Mormon) 31 Feast of St. Ignatius Loyola (Spain, Roman Catholic)


1 Lammas and Lughnassad (Britain, Pagan, United States) 1-29 Ramadan (Islamic, Muslim, Moslem) 9 Tisha Bav* (Jewish) 14 Pakistans Independence Day 15 Indias Independence Day 15 Liberation Day (Korea, South Korea) 26 Lailat-Ul-Quadr (Islamic, Muslim) 30 Eid-Al-Fitr (Islamic, Muslim)



German-American Heritage Month National Italian-American Heritage Month Polish-American Heritage Month 8 Yom Kippur* (Jewish) 9 Cirio de Nazare (Brazil) 13-19 Sukkot* (Jewish) 19 Simchat Torah (Jewish) 20 Shemini Atzeret (Jewish) 26-30 Diwali (Buddhist, Hindu) 31 Reformation Day (Christian)


National American Indian Heritage Month 1 All Saints Day (Christian, Roman Catholic) 1 Dia de los Muertos Day of the Dead (Mexico, Latin America) 2 All Souls Day (Roman Catholic) 6 Eid al-adha (Islamic, Muslim) 12 Birthday of Bahaullah (Bahai) 26-Dec 24 Al Hijra Muslim New Year


5 Ashura (Islamic, Muslim) 6 St. Nicholas Day (International) 8 Bodhi Day Buddhas Enlightenment (Buddhist) 12 Virgin of Guadalupe (Mexico) 13 Santa Lucia Day (Sweden) 16-25 Las Posadas (Mexico) 21-28 Hanukkah* (Jewish) 25 Christmas (Christian, Roman Catholic, International) 26 Boxing Day (Canada, United Kingdom) 26 Kwanzaa (African-American Dec. 26, 2009 Jan 1, 2010)

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Calendar of Ethnic Holidays | American Ethnic Studies …

Walking Tour Calendar – Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy

Sunday, October 9. 2016

Boarded by Central Park to the east and Riverside Park to the west, this two and half mile neighborhood – a ‘powerhouse’ of shuls, schools, and Jewish culture – boasts of some of the most exceptional residences in NYC, exemplifying Beaux Art, Art Nouveau & Art Deco architecture.

Tour Guide Marty Shore

Highlights include a guided tour of the JEWISH CENTER, (1918). This Neo-Classical, Modern Orthodox site was the first in the US to feature a pool and recreational space. Its founding rabbi was the controversial Mordecai Kaplan.

Other world-renowned synagogues discussed include Ohab Zedek, Shaare Zedek and B’nai Jeshurun. We will view the (former) homes of Zero Mostel, I.B. Singer and Lee Strasberg. This tour will also include a view of one of the original Upper West Side mansions, built in the height of the ‘glory days’ of Riverside Drive, circa 1890. We will hear the history of the distinguished families who lived in the Rice Mansion, and how it came to be the UWS location of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim.(a.k.a. Yeshiva Ketana of the UWS).

Time: 10:45 a.m.

Meeting Place: 86th Street and Central Park West, NE corner, park side.

Fees/Info: $22 Adult; $20 students and seniors ($2 additional day of tour)

Visit TWO grand synagogues remaining on the Lower East Side today. One is the first great house of worship built by Eastern European Jews, and the other a former church, and a site on the Underground Railroad.

We start our tour at Bialystoker Synagogue, the largest active orthodox congregation on the Lower East Side today, covered in murals, showcasing Tiffany inspired glass windows.

From there we will walk down historic East Broadway discussing the Educational Alliance, The Henry Street Settlement, Seward Park (the first municipal park in the country), Straus Square, and much more. View Beth Hamedrash Hagadol, the nation’s oldest Orthodox Jewish Russian congregation, and the site of the only Chief Rabbi ever in America.

The last stop will be at the Museum at Eldridge Street, located in the 1887 Eldridge Street Synagogue, which stands as a tribute to immigrant’s faith in America. We will end the tour with a little snack. Learn how Jewish traditions are being carried on at these sites today.

This tour is being offered jointly by The Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy & the Museum at Eldridge Street.

Time: 10:45 AM. (Lasts approximately 3 hours) Significant amount of walking

Meeting Place: Meet in front of Abrons Art Center 466 Grand Street (between Pitt Street & Bialystoker Pl/Willett Street)

Fees/Info: $24 ($2 additional day of tour if space available)

Pre-registration is highly recommended capacity limited

For much of the 20th century, the Borscht Belt was a thriving vacation destination for the New York Jewish community. By the 1980s and ’90s, though, the region was in a state of rapid economic decline. The result is now the subject of a new coffee table book, Borscht Belt: Revisiting the Remains of America’s Jewish Vacationland (Cornell University, 2016). The Conservancy was proud to exhibit a selection of Marissa’s work in our former Kling and Niman Family Center. We are now proud to co-sponsor this event. Join us for a reception and remarks by the author. This is a Free event.

Time: 6:30 PM (2 hours)

Meeting Place: Museum at Eldridge Street – 12 Eldridge Street, New York, NY 10002

Fees/Info: Free, however, registration is required due to popular demand.

Register Here.

The Lower East Side is the iconic New York City immigrant neighborhood. For the past century and a half, immigrants have crowded its streets and tenements and established cultural, social, and religious institutions.

On this tour, journey with your guide, Urban Historian Barry Feldman, our architectural specialist, to explore housing on the Lower East Side. Learn how to distinguish a tenement from a row house and see examples of pre-law, old law and new law tenements. You will be surprised by the rear tenement double-deckers that remain from 1867 pre-law housing legislation.

New architecture will be contrasted to sites visited.

Time: 10:45 a.m. (3 hour tour)

Meeting Place: In front of HSBC Bank, 58 Bowery, corner of Canal Street.

Fees/Info: $22 Adult; $20 students and seniors ($2 additional day of tour)

Arnold Rothstein, Meir Lansky and Bugsy Siegel were all notorious gangsters whose criminal activities extended to Atlantic City, Miami, Cuba and Las Vegas, but their stories began on the Lower East Side of New York. We will examine where these leaders of the Jewish underworld began their nefarious activities. Along the way we will analyze questions of morality, power and assimilation.

Use your imagination to evoke what once existed, as we view sites that were associated with these Jewish Gangsters. Join Rabbi David Kalb, your guide, as he sheds light on the Jews of this dark aspect of New York’s ‘past.

David Kalb is the Rabbi of Beit Ohr Torah, and is an Associate faculty member of CLAL The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, and a Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute.

Please join us for a talk with Conservancy board member, Paul Kaplan, who will discuss his indispensable travel guide, which delves into the rich history and immense contribution of Jewish immigrants. Focusing on neighborhoods in Manhattan, Kaplan includes museums, places of historic interest, restaurants, synagogues, and entertainment venues. This book is a road map of Jewish immigration in the Big Apple. A perfect guidebook for those who love experiential travel!

This event is being held in honor of Lower East Side History Month and is co-sponsored with The Neighborhood Preservation Center.

$5.00 Per Person. Pre-payment and pre-registration is required due to limited seating capacity. When you arrive, please press buzzer #1 to gain entrance to the building. A light snack will be served. Location: The Neighborhood Preservation Center 232 East 11th Street, New York, NY 10003 (212) 228-2781

Time: 7:00 PM -9:00PM

Location:The Neighborhood Preservation Center 232 East 11th Street, New York, NY 10003 (212) 228-2781

Fees/Info: $5 per person. Registration is required.


NEW TOUR! From the late 1890s to at least the 1950s, there were multiple Jewish gangs in New York City, which engaged in “book” keeping, bootlegging, gambling and other nefarious crimes. Violence and murder were common in the struggle to expand territories and operations.

Who were these men behind the Prohibition-era organizations that supplied liquor to the speakeasies of Boston, New York and Chicago? How did the gangsters treat the leaders of the local Jewish establishment and their legitimate businesses? What was the gangsters’ connection to the growing labor movement in the garment industry?

On this NEW tour, led by Eric Ferrara, founder of the award-winning Lower East Side History Project, and of the original Museum of the American Gangster, we will explore how the Jewish Gangs and the Italian Mob fought with each other and at times built alliances, including the development of the Las Vegas casino industry by non-Nevadans.

Jewish Gangs of the Lower East Side will visit some of the infamous hangouts where men like Bugsy Siegal, Meyer Lansky & Jack Zelig began their criminal careers, plus the locations where their illegal businesses flourished. This tour will shed light on the Jews of this dark aspect of New York’s past.

The East Village, also known as Alphabet City, was home to many synagogues, schools and benevolent societies. These institutions are less well known than those of the nearby Lower East Side, but they served a sizable community even into the mid 1990s. Join author and tour guide Ellen Levitt (The Lost Synagogues of New York City) as we walk the “East Streets” to see a variety of formerly Jewish sites, including the forerunner to Park East Day School.

See Congregation Adas Yisroel Anshe Mezeritch, a building under transition. We will also view a synagogue that has been re-done in a rainbow riot of color. Expect the unexpected on this special new experience!

Join us as we trace the origins of Jewish settlement in New Amsterdam. We will visit the former locations of Jewish sites in Lower Manhattan and discuss their historical significance. Sites include early Spanish and Portuguese rented synagogues and Mill Street Synagogue, the first synagogue built in North America.

A tour of Congregation Shearith Israel’s cemetery at Chatham Square (now Chinatown) is included. This is the oldest known Jewish cemetery in New York City. From 1654 to 1825 all Jews in New York City belonged to this one congregation. This Jewish cemetery dates from 1683.

The LESJC is so pleased to have Janet Kirchheimer join us as a guide on this very special tour! Janet is a recipient of a Drishna Institute for Jewish Education Arts Fellowship, 2006-2007. She was also nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2007, and is a teaching Fellow at The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership (CLAL). Janet teaches American Jewish history classes, and conducts workshops in which adults & teens explore their Jewishness through creative writing. Janet’s poetry has received endorsements from Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel and other notable individuals. On the faculty at Congregation Shearith Israel, The Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, she is more than equipped to be our new guide for this annual tour.

The Greater Lower East Side is recognized as New York City’s most iconic immigrant settlement.

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries different ethnic groups- Irish fleeing the great famine, Jews from Eastern Europe, Italians, Hispanics and Asians have all shaped the area with distinct cultural patterns, use of physical space and the built environment. This tour will explore cultural institutions, ethnic markets, funeral homes and worship sites that characterized each neighborhood settlement. The accompanying narrative is a blend of New York City history and social history explaining the interaction between ethnicity, time and space.

This tour, led by Barry Feldman, is recommended for walkers with comfortable shoes.

The Upper West Side offers a wealth of cultural history and architectural styles: Beaux Arts, Art Nouveau & Art Deco. Boarded by Central and Riverside Parks, this 2.5 mile neighborhood is home to some of the most outstanding residential buildings in NYC.

In the 1930′s, throngs of Jewish refugees moved to the UWS, joining their numbers to an already large and diverse community. Today’s UWS is a powerhouse of shuls, schools, Jewish eateries and more.

On this new tour we will explore the area from W.86th to W.96th Streets, and discuss the Jewish history from the ‘inside’ with a tour of The Jewish Ceter, and viewings of other world-renown synagogues, including Ohab Zedek, Shaare Zedek, and B’nai Jeshurun. We will visit the former home of Zero Mostel. Isaac Bashevis Singer and Actors Studio founder, Lee Strasberg.

The tour will also include a view of one of the original Upper Westside mansions built at the height of the glory days of Riverside Drive in the 1890s. The Rice mansion was home to two distinguished UWS families and is now the home of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim.

Time: 10:45 AM

Meeting Place: 86th Street and Central Park West, NE corner, park side.

Fees/Info: $20 adults, $18 seniors & students ($2 additional day of tour)

Have you ever tasted potatonik?

Join the LESJC for a stimulating stroll featuring delicacies based on original European recipes. Nosh on a fresh baked bialy, a pickle right out of the barrel, and potatonik. We will tour historic Jewish sites on and off the beaten path, including the Bialystoker Synagogue, originally the Willet Street Methodist Church (1826), a site on the Underground Railroad. We will also enter a shteibl, a one or two room house of prayer. View Beth Hamedrash Hagadol, pulpit of the only chief Rabbi ever appointed in NYC, and formerly the largest Russian, traditional Jewish congregation in the United States.

This tour will last approximately 3 hours. Price $22 in advance and $26 the day of the tour

Time: 2:00 PM

Meeting Place: Meet in front of Moishe’s Bakery at 504 Grand Street

Fees/Info: $22 adults ($4 additional day of tour)

Welcome to the Lower East Side. We’re shooting for Over the Rainbow with a great children’s program. Weather permitting, we’ll be going outside to the Siempre Verde community garden for seed planting, marshmallow roasting, and enjoying spring. Indoors, art and music teachers will run a scavenger hunt in our historic synagogue building, and teach holiday themed arts & crafts, rock painting, and we’ll have a special music concert. The painting shown here by artist and teacher David Wander connects to an older tradition of Jewish religious zodiacs called mazoles or mazelot, as re-interpreted by Stanton Street artists. The twelve original immigrant mazoles can be seen in the main sanctuary.

The bow and rainbow are symbols associated with Lag B’Omer and with the promise, or covenant of a green world that starts again after the destruction of the flood. Lag B’Omer is a Jewish holiday that joyously marks the halfway point of counting the days between two important festivals: Passover (Pesach) and Shevuot. On Pesach, we mark the Exodus with the remembrance of enslavement; on Shevuot we remember the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. Pesach is associated with the barley harvest; Shevuot, the wheat harvest.

Lower East Side History Month “aims to connect our present to our past, exploring how our history can inform and inspire our future.” We welcome you to our synagogue and neighborhood in partnership with the Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy, which connects our community’s historic synagogues to visitors and residents alike.

Popcorn and pretzel snacks will be served.

More Program information can be found on the Over The Rainbow Event Page.

About the Stanton Street Shul Stanton Street Shul is a historic immigrant shul built in 1913 by a small congregation from the town of Brzezan. They were joined by other Galitzianer immigrants from the towns of Rymanov and Blujzhev. All of these towns were in the eastern part of the Austria Hungarian Empire before World War I, and were part of Poland before World War II. The Lower East Side is changing rapidly; today the synagogue has a very young congregation and deeply values its immigrant connections to older congregants who came to the neighborhood after World War II. Check out the Stanton Street Shul Facebook page and website at to find out about our many events and weekly services.

Time: 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Meeting Place: Meet in front of the Stanton Street Shul. 180 Stanton Street, between Clinton and Attorney St.

Fees/Info: Adults: $3; children: $2

“You Be The Judge: Jewish Courts of Conciliation in Action”

Eastern European immigrants to America frequently turned to Jewish courts of arbitration to litigate civil, familial and business disputes. This participatory program presents a brief discussion of justice in Biblical and Talmudic sources followed by a lively presentation of cases brought before the courts in early 20th century New York. You be the Judge!

Time: 6:30 PM

Meeting Place:Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy Kling & Niman Family Visitor Center, 400 Grand Street (between Suffolk & Clinton Streets)

Fees/Info: Free. Pre-registration required. Event limited to 30 – Call to register at (212) 374-4100

Insider’s Walking Tours Vintage Goods Benefit Sale Launch of new Arts Exhibition STREETSCAPES OF THE LOWER EAST SIDE: The Paintings of Leah Raab.

This activity-packed day of exploring and learning about the Jewish history of Manhattan’s Lower East Side includes three walking tours of the neighborhood, a vintage goods benefit sale and special presentations by renowned guest speakers.

Events kick off at 10:45 AM at the LESJC Kling & Niman Family Visitor Center with walking tours exploring the historic neighborhood, considered by many the starting point of the American-Jewish experience.

10:45 AM is the “Crossing Delancey” tour, which examines three of the oldest synagogues in New York City: Congregation Chasam Sopher (built in 1853); the Orensanz Foundation (formerly Congregation Anshe Chesed, built in 1850); and Congregation B’nei Jacob Anshei Brzezan, one of only two remaining tenement style synagogues left on the Lower East Side.

11:00 AM “Bialystoker the Beautiful” is a 90-minute tour of the magnificent Bialystoker Synagogue, which was built in 1826 as a Methodist church, and its surroundings. The tour also makes stops at Congregation Beth Hachasidim De Polen (a 19th Century shtiebl, or prayer room) and at Beth Hamedrah Hagadol, former home of the largest Russian-Jewish Orthodox congregation in the United States.

2:00 PM Meet the Artist Reception for Leah Raab, who will address the participants. We are excited to have Artist Leah Raab give a live presentation of her works for her new show on display in our Visitor Center, “STREETSCAPES OF THE LOWER EAST SIDE”. Her works will be on view at the festival, and open to the public for a limited time thereafer.

A professional fine artist, Leah holds an MFA from the NY Studio School, and a BFA with highest honors from the acclaimed Bezalel Academy of Arts, Jerusalem, Israel. She has had numerous solo and collaborative exhibitions and has taught art on 2 continents for over 35 years.

3:00 PM The “Bialystoker the Beautiful” tour is presented a second time.

Tickets for tours are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and students. Buy your walking tour tickets in advance online. Children under 8 tour for FREE!

This two hour walking tour celebrates the lives of women: ordinary, unsung heroines who battled to raise their families and make a life in the New World, as well as nine inspiring women who played leading social, political and artistic roles on the Lower East Side in the early 20th century. The tour of the famed Manhattan neighborhood will examine how the nine women lived and how they each came to effect change in New York City and beyond.

Participants will also enjoy a rare visit to the historic dining room at Henry Street Settlement, where Lillian D. Wald hosted distinguished guests ranging from President Theodore Roosevelt to W.E.B. Du Bois and delegates of National Negro Conference (after several NYC restaurants refused to accommodate the interracial group). Tour will conclude with a light lunch in the LESJC Kling & Niman Family Visitor Center.

Admission is $22. ($25 if purchased after May 7)

Space is limited. Please register by May 7th, 5 PM

Justin Ferate has been on the Board of Directors of the Fine Arts Federation of NYC, the National and Metropolitan chapters of the Victorian Society in America, the LESJC, and the NYC & Company Tour Guide Enhancement Program. Justin Ferate is also active in numerous historic and preservation societies. With a background in Urban and Architectural History, Justin was awarded fellowships to study 19th Century Architecture and Design in Philadelphia, Newport and London.

Some of the women that will be featured on the tour:

Lillian D. Wald (1867-1940), founder of Henry Street Settlement and the Visiting Nurse Service of New York. The settlement provided home health care, recreational, cultural and educational programs for immigrants and their families living on the Lower East Side. As a social welfare activist, she was an early leader in the movements for public health, education and labor reform, improved housing, civil rights and world peace.

Emma Goldman (1869-1940), anarchist and self-styled revolutionary. She supported herself by working in sweatshops and, later, as a midwife. In her writings and as a fiery orator, she advocated for workers’ rights, free speech, birth control and atheism. Jailed numerous times, she was called “the most dangerous woman in America” and deported to Russia in 1917.

Rose Pastor Stokes (1879-1933), “The Red Yiddish Cinderella.” She was a cigar maker turned journalist whose marriage to a son of a wealthy uptown family made headlines in the NY press. Together the Socialist power couple traveled around the country speaking at lectures and rallies in support of social justice and economic equality.

Belle Moskowitz (1877-1933), political strategist and top advisor to NY Governor and presidential candidate Alfred E. Smith. As a young widow and mother, she worked at the Educational Alliance and became involved in liberal causes. She was successful in mobilizing the women’s vote for Gov. Smith and framing his progressive legislation that led to F.D.R’s New Deal.

Clara Lemlich (1886-1982), union leader. As a youthful shirtwaist maker, she led a strike in 1909 of sweatshop workers known as the “Uprising of the 20,000.” The young women marched on pickets lines for 14 weeks, demanding higher pay and safer working conditions. Although they achieved limited concessions, their determination energized the nascent labor movement.

Anzia Yezierska (c. 1880-1970), author. Her novels, short stories and semi-fictional autobiographical writing vividly depict immigrant life on the Lower East Side and the struggles and conflicts of women of her generation assimilating to life in America. In 1920, Samuel Goldwyn invited her to Hollywood, as an advisor for a film based on some of her short stories.

Originally posted here:
Walking Tour Calendar – Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy

Laws against Holocaust denial – Wikipedia

Holocaust denial, the denial of the systematic genocidal killing of millions of ethnic minorities in Europe by Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, is illegal in 14 European nations.[1] Many countries also have broader laws that criminalize genocide denial. Of the countries that ban Holocaust denial, some, such as Austria, Germany, Hungary, and Romania, were among the perpetrators of the Holocaust, and many of these also ban other elements associated with Nazism, such as the expression of Nazi symbols.

In several nations such as the United Kingdom and the United States, laws against Holocaust denial have come up in legal discussion and have been proposed, but the measures have been rejected. Organizations representing groups that have been victimized during the Holocaust have generally been split about such laws. In the United States the First Amendment to the United States Constitution establishes freedom of expression and protects virtually all speech, including “hate speech”.

Scholars have pointed out that countries that specifically ban Holocaust denial generally have legal systems that limit speech in other ways, such as banning hate speech. According to D. D. Guttenplan, this is a split between the “common law countries of the United States, Ireland and many British Commonwealth countries from the civil law countries of continental Europe and Scotland. In civil law countries the law is generally more proscriptive. Also, under the civil law regime, the judge acts more as an inquisitor, gathering and presenting evidence as well as interpreting it”.[2] Michael Whine argues that Holocaust denial can inspire violence against Jews; he states, “Jews’ experience in the post-World War II era suggests that their rights are best protected in open and tolerant democracies that actively prosecute all forms of racial and religious hatred.”[3]

Jnos Kis[4] and in particular Andrs Schiffer[5] feel the work of Holocaust deniers should be protected by a universal right to free speech. An identical argument was used[6] by the Hungarian Constitutional Court (Alkotmnybrsg) led by Lszl Slyom when it struck down a law against Holocaust denial in 1992.

The argument that laws punishing Holocaust denial are incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights have been rejected by institutions of the Council of Europe (the European Commission of Human Rights,[7] the European Court of Human Rights[8]) and also by the United Nations Human Rights Committee.[9]

Historians who oppose such laws include Raul Hilberg,[10]Richard J. Evans, and Pierre Vidal-Naquet. Other prominent opponents of the laws are Timothy Garton Ash,[11]Christopher Hitchens, Peter Singer,[12] and Noam Chomsky.[13] An uproar resulted when Serge Thion used one of Chomsky’s essays without explicit permission as a foreword to a book of Holocaust denial essays (see Faurisson affair). These laws have also been criticized on the grounds that education is more effective than legislation at combating Holocaust denial and that the laws will make martyrs out of those imprisoned for their violation.[14]

It seems to me something of a scandal that it is even necessary to debate these issues two centuries after Voltaire defended the right of free expression for views he detested. It is a poor service to the memory of the victims of the holocaust to adopt a central doctrine of their murderers.[15]

While Australia lacks a specific law against Holocaust denial, Holocaust denial is prosecuted in Australia under various laws against “hate speech” and “racial vilification”.[16][17]Gerald Fredrick Tben and his Adelaide Institute are the best-known case of someone being prosecuted in Australia for Holocaust denial.[18]

In Austria, the Verbotsgesetz 1947 provided the legal framework for the process of denazification in Austria and suppression of any potential revival of Nazism. In 1992, it was amended to prohibit the denial or gross minimisation of the Holocaust.

National Socialism Prohibition Law (1947, amendments of 1992)

3g. He who operates in a manner characterized other than that in 3a 3f will be punished (revitalising of the NSDAP or identification with), with imprisonment from one to up to ten years, and in cases of particularly dangerous suspects or activity, be punished with up to twenty years’ imprisonment.[19]

3h. As an amendment to 3 g., whoever denies, grossly plays down, approves or tries to excuse the National Socialist genocide or other National Socialist crimes against humanity in a print publication, in broadcast or other media.[20]

In Belgium, Holocaust denial was made illegal in 1995.

Negationism Law (1995, amendments of 1999)

Article 1 Whoever, in the circumstances given in article 444 of the Penal Code denies, grossly minimises, attempts to justify, or approves the genocide committed by the German National Socialist Regime during the Second World War shall be punished by a prison sentence of eight days to one year, and by a fine of twenty six francs to five thousand francs. For the application of the previous paragraph, the term genocide is meant in the sense of article 2 of the International Treaty of 9 December 1948 on preventing and combating genocide. In the event of repetitions, the guilty party may in addition have his civic rights suspended in accordance with article 33 of the Penal Code.

Art.2 In the event of a conviction on account of a violation under this Act, it may be ordered that the judgement, in its entity or an excerpt of it, is published in one of more newspapers, and is displayed, to the charge of the guilty party.

Art.3. Chapter VII of the First Book of the Penal Code and Article 85 of the same Code are also applicable to this Act.

Art. 4. The Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism, as well as any association that at the time of the facts had a legal personality for at least five years, and which, on the grounds of its statutes, has the objective of defending moral interests and the honour of the resistance or the deported, may act in law in all legal disputes arising from the application of this Act.[21]

In May 2007 Ekrem Ajanovic, a Bosniak MP in the Bosnian Parliament proposed a legislation on criminalizing the denial of Holocaust, genocide and crimes against humanity. This was the first time that somebody in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Parliament proposed such a legislation. Bosnian Serb MPs voted against this legislation and proposed that such an issue should be resolved within the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina.[22] Following this, on 6 May 2009 Bosniak MPs Adem Huskic, Ekrem Ajanovic and Remzija Kadric proposed to the BH parliament a change to the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina where Holocaust, genocide and crimes against humanity denial would be criminalized.[23] Bosnian Serb MPs have repeatedly been against such a legislation claiming that the law “would cause disagreement and even animosity” according to SNSD member Lazar Prodanovic.[24]

In the Czech Republic, Holocaust denial and denial of communist perpetrated atrocities is illegal.

Law Against Support and Dissemination of Movements Oppressing Human Rights and Freedoms (2001)

260 (1) The person who supports or spreads movements oppressing human rights and freedoms or declares national, race, religious or class hatred or hatred against other group of persons will be punished by prison from 1 to 5 years. (2) The person will be imprisoned from 3 to 8 years if: a) he/she commits the crime mentioned in paragraph (1) in print, film, radio, television or other similarly effective manner, b) he/she commits the crime as a member of an organized group c) he/she commits the crime in a state of national emergency or state of war.

261 The person who publicly declares sympathies with such a movement mentioned in 260, will be punished by prison from 6 months to 3 years.

261a The person who publicly denies, puts in doubt, approves or tries to justify Nazi or communist genocide or other crimes of Nazis or communists will be punished by prison of 6 months to 3 years.[25]

In France, the Gayssot Act, voted for on July 13, 1990, makes it illegal to question the existence of crimes that fall in the category of crimes against humanity as defined in the London Charter of 1945, on the basis of which Nazi leaders were convicted by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg in 194546. When the act was challenged by Robert Faurisson, the Human Rights Committee upheld it as a necessary means to counter possible antisemitism.[26] Similarly, the applications of Pierre Marais and Roger Garaudy were rejected by the European Court of Human Rights, in 1996 and 2003.[27]

In 2012, the Constitutional Council of France ruled that to extend the Gayssot Act to the Armenian Genocide denial was unconstitutional because it violated the freedom of speech.[28][29] The Gayssot Act itself, however, was found consistent with the Constitution four years later.[30]

LAW No 90-615 to repress acts of racism, anti-semitism and xenophobia (1990)

MODIFICATIONS OF THE LAW OF JULY 29, 1881 ON THE FREEDOM OF THE PRESS Art 8. Article 24 of the Law on the Freedom of the Press of 29 July 1881 is supplemented by the following provisions: In the event of judgment for one of the facts envisaged by the preceding subparagraph, the court will be able moreover to order: Except when the responsibility for the author of the infringement is retained on the base for article 42 and the first subparagraph for article 43 for this law or the first three subparagraphs for article 93-3 for the law No 82-652 for July 29, 1982 on the audio-visual communication, the deprivation of the rights enumerated to the 2o and 3o of article 42 of the penal code for imprisonment of five years maximum;

Art 9. As an amendment to Article 24 of the law of July 29, 1881 on the freedom of the press, article 24 (a) is as follows written:

Art 13. It is inserted, after article 48-1 of the law of July 29, 1881 on the freedom of the press, article 48-2 thus written:

In Germany, Volksverhetzung (“incitement of the people”)[32][33] is a concept in German criminal law that bans incitement to hatred against segments of the population. It often applies to (though not limited to) trials relating to Holocaust denial in Germany. In addition, Strafgesetzbuch 86a outlaws various symbols of “unconstitutional organisations”, such as the Swastika and the SS runes.

130 Incitement to hatred (1985, Revised 1992, 2002, 2005, 2015)[34][35]

(1) Whosoever, in a manner capable of disturbing the public peace:

shall be liable to imprisonment from three months to five years.[34][35]


(3) Whosoever publicly or in a meeting approves of, denies or downplays an act committed under the rule of National Socialism of the kind indicated in section 6 (1) of the Code of International Criminal Law, in a manner capable of disturbing the public peace shall be liable to imprisonment not exceeding five years or a fine.[34][35]

(4) Whosoever publicly or in a meeting disturbs the public peace in a manner that violates the dignity of the victims by approving of, glorifying, or justifying National Socialist rule of arbitrary force shall be liable to imprisonment not exceeding three years or a fine.[34][35]

The definition of section 6 of the Code of Crimes against International Law referenced in the above 130 is as follows:

6 Genocide

(1) Whoever with the intent of destroying as such, in whole or in part, a national, racial, religious or ethnic group:

The following sections of the German criminal code are also relevant:

189 Disparagement of the Memory of Deceased Persons (1985, amendments of 1992)

Whoever disparages the memory of a deceased person shall be punished with imprisonment for not more than two years or a fine.[37]

194 Application for Criminal Prosecution

(1) An insult shall be prosecuted only upon complaint. If the act was committed through dissemination of writings (Section 11 subsection (3)) or making them publicly accessible in a meeting or through a presentation by radio, then a complaint is not required if the aggrieved party was persecuted as a member of a group under the National Socialist or another rule by force and decree, this group is a part of the population and the insult is connected with this persecution. The act may not, however, be prosecuted ex officio if the aggrieved party objects. When the aggrieved party deceases, the rights of complaint and of objection devolve on the relatives indicated in Section 77 subsection (2). The objection may not be withdrawn.

(2) If the memory of a deceased person has been disparaged, then the relatives indicated in Section 77 subsection (2), are entitled to file a complaint. If the act was committed through dissemination of writings (Section 11 subsection (3)) or making them publicly accessible in a meeting or through a presentation by radio, then a complaint is not required if the deceased person lost his life as a victim of the National Socialist or another rule by force and decree and the disparagement is connected therewith. The act may not, however, be prosecuted ex officio if a person entitled to file a complaint objects. The objection may not be withdrawn. (…)[38]

In September 2014 with a legislative vote 54 to 99, Greece made Holocaust denial a criminal offence.[39]

The Parliament of Hungary declared the denial or trivialization of the Holocaust a crime punishable by up to three years’ imprisonment on February 23, 2010.[40] The law was signed by the President of the Republic in March 2010.[41] On June 8, 2010, the newly elected Fidesz-dominated parliament changed the formulation of the law to “punish those, who deny the genocides committed by national socialist or communist systems, or deny other facts of deeds against humanity”.[42] The word “Holocaust” is no longer in the law.

In 2011, the first man was charged with Holocaust denial in Budapest. The Court sentenced the man to 18 months in prison, suspended for three years, and probation. He also had to visit either Budapest’s memorial museum, Auschwitz or Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. He chose his local Holocaust Memorial Center and had to make three visits in total and record his observations.[43]

In January 2015, the court ordered far-right on-line newspaper to delete its article denying the Holocaust published in July 2013, which was the first ruling in Hungary of its kind.[44] The Association for Civil Liberties (TASZ) offered free legal aid to the website as a protest against restrictions on freedom of speech,[45] but the site refused citing the liberal views of the association, and also refused to delete the article.[46]

In Israel, a law to criminalize Holocaust denial was passed by the Knesset on July 8, 1986.

Denial of Holocaust (Prohibition) Law, 5746-1986

Definitions 1. In this Law, “crime against the Jewish people” and “crime against humanity” have the same respective meanings as in the “Nazis and Nazi Collaborators Law, 5710-1950.

Prohibition of Denial of Holocaust 2. A person who, in writing or by word of mouth, publishes any statement denying or diminishing the proportions of acts committed in the period of the Nazi regime, which are crimes against the Jewish people or crimes against humanity, with intent to defend the perpetrators of those acts or to express sympathy or identification with them, shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of five years.

Prohibition of publication of expression for sympathy for Nazi crimes 3. A person who, in writing or by word of mouth, publishes any statement expressing praise or sympathy for or identification with acts done in the period of the Nazi regime, which are crimes against the Jewish people or crimes against humanity, shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of five years.

Permitted publication 4. The publication of a correct and fair report of a publication prohibited by this Law shall not be regarded as an offence thereunder so long as it is not made with intent to express sympathy or identification with the perpetrators of crimes against the Jewish people or against humanity.

Filing of charge 5. An indictment for offences under this Law shall only be filed by or with the consent of the Attorney-General.[47]

In January 2007, Italy’s Cabinet unanimously approved a law making Holocaust denial a crime with a possible four-year prison sentence.[48]

Although not specifically outlining national socialist crimes, item five of section 283 of Liechtenstein’s criminal code prohibits the denial of genocide.

283 Race discrimination

Whoever publicly denies, coarsely trivialises, or tries to justify genocide or other crimes against humanity via word, writing, pictures, electronically transmitted signs, gestures, violent acts or by other means shall be punished with imprisonment for up to two years.[49]

In Lithuania, approval and denial of Nazi or Soviet crimes is prohibited.

170(2) Publicly condoning international crimes, crimes of the USSR or Nazi Germany against the Republic of Lithuania and her inhabitants, denial or belittling of such crimes.[50]

In Luxembourg, Article 457-3 of the Criminal Code, Act of 19 July 1997 outlaws Holocaust denial and denial of other genocides.[51] The punishment is imprisonment for between 8 days and 6 months and/or a fine.[51] The offence of “negationism and revisionism” applies to:

…anyone who has contested, minimised, justified or denied the existence of war crimes or crimes against humanity as defined in the statutes of the International Military Tribunal of 8 August 1945 or the existence of a genocide as defined by the Act of 8 August 1985. A complaint must be lodged by the person against whom the offence was committed (victim or association) in order for proceedings to be brought, Article 450 of the Criminal Code, Act of 19 July 1997.[51]

While Holocaust denial is not explicitly illegal in the Netherlands, the courts consider it a form of spreading hatred and therefore an offence.[52] According to the Dutch public prosecution office, offensive remarks are only punishable by Dutch law if they equate to discrimination against a particular group.[53] The relevant laws of the Dutch penal code are as follows:

Article 137c

Article 137d

In Poland, Holocaust denial and the denial of communist crimes is punishable by law.

Act of 18 December 1998 on the Institute of National Remembrance Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation (Dz.U. 1998 nr 155 poz. 1016)

Article 55 He who publicly and contrary to facts contradicts the crimes mentioned in Article 1, clause 1 shall be subject to a fine or a penalty of deprivation of liberty of up to three years. The judgment shall be made publicly known.

Article 1 This Act shall govern: 1. the registration, collection, access, management and use of the documents of the organs of state security created and collected between 22 July 1944 and 31 December 1989, and the documents of the organs of security of the Third Reich and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics concerning:

2. the rules of procedure as regards the prosecution of crimes specified in point 1 letter a), 3. the protection of the personal data of grieved parties, and 4. the conduct of activities as regards public education.[56]

Although denial of the Holocaust is not expressly illegal in Portugal, Portuguese law prohibits denial of war crimes if used to incite to discrimination.

Article 240: Racial, religious, or sexual discrimination


2 Whoever in a public meeting, in writing intended for dissemination, or by any means of mass media or computer system whose purpose is to disseminate:

with intent to incite to racial, religious or sexual discrimination or to encourage it, shall be punished with imprisonment from six months to five years.[57]

In Romania, Emergency Ordinance No. 31 of March 13, 2002 prohibits Holocaust denial. It was ratified on May 6, 2006. The law also prohibits racist, fascist, xenophobic symbols, uniforms and gestures: proliferation of which is punishable with imprisonment from between six months to five years.

Emergency Ordinance No. 31 of March 13, 2002


Article 3. (1) Establishing a fascist, racist or xenophobic organisation is punishable by imprisonment from 5 to 15 years and the loss of certain rights.


Article 4. (1) The dissemination, sale or manufacture of symbols either fascist, racist or xenophobic, and possession of such symbols is punished with imprisonment from 6 months to 5 years and the loss of certain rights.


Article 5. Promoting the culture of persons guilty of committing a crime against peace and humanity or promoting fascist, racist or xenophobic ideology, through propaganda, committed by any means, in public, is punishable by imprisonment from 6 months to 5 years and the loss of certain rights.

Article 6. Denial of the Holocaust in public, or to the effects thereof is punishable by imprisonment from 6 months to 5 years and the loss of certain rights.[58]

In May 2014, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin signed a law making the denial of Nazi crimes and “wittingly spreading false information about the activity of the USSR during the years of World War Two” or portraying Nazis as heroes a criminal offence.[59][60]

In Slovakia holocaust denial is crime since 2001 (law 485/2001), and in new crime law (300/2005) it is specified in part 422d: “Who publicly denies, denies, approves or tries to justify the Holocaust, crimes of regime based on fascist ideology, crimes of regime based on communist ideology or crimes other similar movements that use violence, threat of violence or threat of other serious harm with aim of suppression of fundamental rights and freedoms persons shall be punished by imprisonment of six months to three years.”

Genocide denial was illegal in Spain until the Constitutional Court of Spain ruled that the words “deny or” were unconstitutional in its judgement of November 7, 2007.[61] As a result, Holocaust denial is legal in Spain, although justifying the Holocaust or any other genocide is an offence punishable by imprisonment in accordance with the constitution.[62]

PENAL CODE- BOOK II, TITLE XXIV Crimes against the International Community

Chapter II: Crimes of genocide Article 6071.

1. Those who, with the intention to total or partially destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, perpetrate the following acts, will be punished:

2. The diffusion by any means of ideas or doctrines that deny or justify the crimes in the previous section of this article, or tries the rehabilitation of regimes or institutions which they protect generating practices of such, will be punished with a prison sentence of one to two years.[63]

Holocaust denial is not expressly illegal in Switzerland, but the denial of genocide and other crimes against humanity is an imprisonable offence.

Art. 261bis 1

Racial discrimination

Whoever publicly, by word, writing, image, gesture, acts of violence or any other manner, demeans or discriminates against an individual or a group of individuals because of their race, their ethnicity or their religion in a way which undermines human dignity, or on those bases, denies, coarsely minimizes or seeks to justify a genocide or other crimes against humanity [...] shall be punished with up to three years’ imprisonment or a fine.[64]

The European Union’s executive Commission proposed a European Union-wide anti-racism xenophobia law in 2001, which included the criminalization of Holocaust denial. On July 15, 1996, the Council of the European Union adopted the Joint action/96/443/JHA concerning action to combat racism and xenophobia.[65][66] During the German presidency there was an attempt to extend this ban.[67] Full implementation was blocked by the United Kingdom and the Nordic countries because of the need to balance the restrictions on voicing racist opinions against the freedom of expression.[68] As a result, a compromise has been reached within the EU and while the EU has not prohibited Holocaust denial outright, a maximum term of three years in jail is optionally available to all member nations for “denying or grossly trivialising crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.”[69][70]

The EU extradition policy regarding Holocaust denial was tested in the UK during the 2008 failed extradition case brought against the suspected Holocaust denier Frederick Toben[71] by the German government. As there is no specific crime of Holocaust denial in the UK, the German government had applied for Toben’s extradition for racial and xenophobic crimes. Toben’s extradition was refused by the Westminster Magistrates’ Court, and the German government withdrew its appeal to the High Court.

See the original post here:
Laws against Holocaust denial – Wikipedia

Anti-Semitism on U.S. College Campuses Skyrockets


The Amcha Initiative, a nonpartisan anti-Semitism watchdog group, found that 287 anti-Semitic incidents occurred at 64 schools during that time period, reflecting a 45% increase from the 198 incidents reported in the first six months of 2015.


The alarming statistics make Jewish college students the largest group of university students coming under systematic attack, with an increasing number seeing their civil rights infringed upon, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, Amcha director and co-founder, told theAlgemeiner on Tuesday.

The report said that the strategy and tactics employed by anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic groups are significantly more brazen today than in the past. It cited the egregious violation of basic civil rights, including suppressing Jewish students free speech, blocking their movements, or hindering their assembly, as occurring on12 different campuses.

Anti-Semitic activity was twice as likely to occur on campuses where BDS [the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign] was present, eight times more likely to occur on campuses with at least one active anti-Zionist student group such as SJP [Students for Justice in Palestine], and six times more likely to occur on campuses with one or more faculty boycotters, the report said.

Divestment resolutions and campaigns go hand-in-hand in creating a very hostile environment for Jewish students that manifests in many acts of anti-Semitism, Rossman-Benjamin said.

Anti-Semitism in the report was defined on the basis of the State Departments definitionas incidents involving conduct that targeted Jewish students for particular harm based on their Jewishness or perceived association with Israel up 64% from 2015.

Instead of just boycotting Israel, the anti-Zionists are now boycotting Jewish students, Professor Leila Beckwith, AMCHA co-founder who led the study, said.

Sadly, all too often it is not debate but hate. The lines between political discussions on Israeli policy and discrimination toward Jewish students are being blurred. Anti-Zionists are attempting to harm, alienate, and ostracize Jewish students; it is Jewish students civil rights that are being trampled. To properly address this rise in anti-Jewish bigotry, universities must adopt a proper definition of contemporary anti-Semitism and use it to educate the campus community about the distinct line between criticism of Israeli policies and discrimination against Jewish people.

AMCHAs report also included recommendations for university officials to swiftly, forcefully and publicly acknowledge and condemn all acts of antisemitism.

Whats happening on college campuses today is not students just being students. The activities of these anti-Israel groups have serious repercussions and cannot be excused. Jewish students are being seriously threatened, their civil rights suppressed and routinely violated across the country, Rossman-Benjamin told theAlgemeiner.

University administrations cannot say there is no problem, she said. The problem is there. It is national and it cannot be ignored.

See more here:
Anti-Semitism on U.S. College Campuses Skyrockets

Sephardic Songs Add Merriment to Purim | Jewish& – My …

And what is a drinking party without drinking songs? As in other Jewish communities, drinking alcohol was part of the celebration of Purim, and an extensive corpus of rhymed, Ladino poems known askoplas(orkomplas) developed by Sephardic Jews in the Ottoman Empire. Arranged in stanzas, often with refrains, sometimes as acrostics, and intended to be memorized and sung in groups during moments of recreation and celebration, mourning and lamentation,koplasdealt with myriad Jewish themes, including holidays, faith, history, morality, life cycle events, religious practices, folkways, hopes and fears, and politics and satire. Initially composed by rabbis, who sought to make traditional Jewish knowledge more accessible to the Jewish masses in their spoken language, and later by popular authors, koplasserved as a foundation of Sephardic Jewish culture for generations.

Perhaps the most famous genre ofkoplasdealt with the holiday of Purim.

At the Sephardic Studies Program of the UW Stroum Center for Jewish Studies,, we are fortunate to draw on our large Sephardic collection as well as the personal recollections from first-generation Seattle Sephardim whose families came to the United States from the Ottoman Empire todays Turkey and Rhodes during the early 20thcentury, to learn more about the songs and their role in the Purim celebrations.

Several forgotten drinking songs for Purim are preserved in two books in our Sephardic Studies collection. Notably, several copies of each of the two books have surfaced a testament to how widespread thesekoplasonce were.

Isaac Azose, Hazzan (Cantor) Emeritus of Congregation Ezra Bessaroth, shared with usKomplas de Purim: Saludar el Purim,printed in Istanbul in the Hebrew year 5683 (1922 or 1923). Published by Benjamin Raphael ben Yosef, one the most prolific printers of religious and secular books in Ladino and Hebrew in the Ottoman Empire during the early 20thcentury,Komplas de Purim, with its bright pink cover, introduces readers to its contents in an equally colorful manner:

And what is a drinking party without drinking songs? As in other Jewish communities, drinking alcohol was part of the celebration of Purim, and an extensive corpus of rhymed, Ladino poems known askoplas(orkomplas) developed by Sephardic Jews in the Ottoman Empire. Arranged in stanzas, often with refrains, sometimes as acrostics, and intended to be memorized and sung in groups during moments of recreation and celebration, mourning and lamentation,koplasdealt with myriad Jewish themes, including holidays, faith, history, morality, life cycle events, religious practices, folkways, hopes and fears, and politics and satire. Initially composed by rabbis, who sought to make traditional Jewish knowledge more accessible to the Jewish masses in their spoken language, and later by popular authors, koplasserved as a foundation of Sephardic Jewish culture for generations.

Perhaps the most famous genre ofkoplasdealt with the holiday of Purim.

At the Sephardic Studies Program of the UW Stroum Center for Jewish Studies,, we are fortunate to draw on our large Sephardic collection as well as the personal recollections from first-generation Seattle Sephardim whose families came to the United States from the Ottoman Empire todays Turkey and Rhodes during the early 20thcentury, to learn more about the songs and their role in the Purim celebrations.

Several forgotten drinking songs for Purim are preserved in two books in our Sephardic Studies collection. Notably, several copies of each of the two books have surfaced a testament to how widespread thesekoplasonce were.

Isaac Azose, Hazzan (Cantor) Emeritus of Congregation Ezra Bessaroth, shared with usKomplas de Purim: Saludar el Purim,printed in Istanbul in the Hebrew year 5683 (1922 or 1923). Published by Benjamin Raphael ben Yosef, one the most prolific printers of religious and secular books in Ladino and Hebrew in the Ottoman Empire during the early 20thcentury,Komplas de Purim, with its bright pink cover, introduces readers to its contents in an equally colorful manner:

Saludar al Purim Buen Purim, buenos anyos sinyores, ke gozen kon gusto kon todo el deredor kon kondjas amores. Porke kanten estas komplas por Ester una de las flores, beved vino viejo i de todo modo de kolores, i al dio baruh u dar las loares, ke mos regmio de mano de angustiadores, por mano de Mordehai uno de los sinyores

Purim Greetings

Happy Purim, good year, sirs, may you delight with gusto, Together with those all around, with flower buds of love. Sing thesekomplasfor Esther, one of the flowers. Drink old wine of all varieties, and to God, blessed be he, give praise, for he redeemed us from the hands of our persecutors, through the hand of Mordechai, one of the men

The Sephardic Studies Digital Library also has several copies ofSefer Alegria de Purim, published in Livorno in 1902 by the well-known printing house established in the nineteenth century by Solomon Belforte (1806-1869). That such a book was published in Italy demonstrates that cultural links tied together Sephardic Jews in Italy and the Ottoman Empire during the early 20thcentury.

Rabbi Solomon Maimon of Congregation Sephardic Bikur Holim donated one copy of Sefer Alegria de Purimwhereas another comes from the library of the late Sam Bension Maimon. An inscription in the latter book reads, The material, poems, and prose-like compositions here were authored mostly by a certain Ribi Yaakov Uziel and by Ribi Yom Tov Magula and others. Uziel and Magula numbered among the most famous composers ofkoplasin the Ottoman Empire in the eighteenth century and their verses continued to accompany the celebration of Purim into the twentieth century.

Here are some other little ditties fromAlegria de Purim(See Sam Bension Maimon,The Beauty of Sephardic Lifefor additional examples):

(53) La vizindad adjuntavos, Beve i enborachavos, A baylar alevantavos Ke ansina eseldever. [Refrain:] Bivaelrey, Biva yo, Bivan todos los djudios, Biva la reyna Esther, Ke tanto plazer mos dyo (56) Beveelvinoa okas, Munchos biskochos i roskas, Ke no esten kedas las bokas, De komer i de bever. [Refrain] (58) No bevesh vino aguado, Preto, puro i kolorado i blanko muy alavado No lo deshesh de bever. [Refrain] (63) Los Frankos uzan pedrizes, Buen tabako de narizes De afera bilibizes, Ke es meze para bever


Get the neighborhood together, Drink and get drunk, Get up to dance, For thus is our duty.

Refrain: Long live the king, Long live I, Long live all the Jews, Long live Esther the queen, That she gave us so much pleasure.

Drink the wine by the gallons, Many cookies and pastries, That the mouths should not be still, From eating and drinking


Dont drink diluted wine. Dark, pure and red And white are praiseworthy. Dont stop drinking.


The Europeans make partridges, Good snuff To enjoy dried chickpeas, Which is an appetizer for drinking.


This Purim as you add a little cheer to your celebration, bring in a bit of Sephardic culture too!

A version of this piece appeared on the UW Stroum Center for Jewish Studies blog.

Photo credit Meryl Schenker Photography.

Sephardic Songs Add Merriment to Purim | Jewish& – My …

Ancient Synagogue at Capernaum (Bible History Online)

Ancient Capernaum Synagogue Painted Sketch of the Synagogue at Capernaum

The Synagogue at Capernaum

This magnificent synagogue was made of white limestone and wonderfully ornamented. Archeologists have determined that the 2-story synagogue was built around the beginning of the third century A.D., because of its architectural style, decorations, and inscriptions. Therefore it was not the synagogue in which Jesus taught, although it was most likely built upon the same site as the first century synagogue.

The gospel of John reveals that it was here in which Jesus taught that he was the true bread of life coming down out of heaven, after feeding the 5000 (John 6:59). Shortly after he was rejected in Capernaum because he had healed on the Sabbath day, which the Jewish authorities considered blasphemy. He often taught on their hillsides and near the sea of Galilee. But it was at Capernaum where Jesus and his disciples loved to come. It was probably here at Capernaum were Jesus raised Jairus’s daughter from the dead (Mark 5:21-43), and it was also here that Jesus taught his disciples about being childlike and he brought a child into the midst of them (Mark 9: 33-37). Also at Capernaum Jesus spoke with Peter about paying the Temple tax sending him to catch a fish to pay for it (Matthew 17:24-27).

Ruins of the Capernaum Synagogue

Decorations found at the Capernaum Synagogue

“The remains of Capernaum of the New Testament are located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. The town was a center of Jesus’ activities in the Jewish Galilee (Matthew 4:13, 8:5) and became known as “His own city” (Matthew 9:1), where he performed several miracles (Luke 4:31-35; Matthew 8:14-17; Mark 5:21-42), and visited the synagogue (Mark 1:21-28). Capernaum is also mentioned by Josephus Flavius (Life 72), who was brought there after being wounded in battle. Christian sources of the Byzantine period describe Capernaum as a village inhabited by Jews and Christians. In the Early Muslim period (7th-8th centuries), Capernaum continued to prosper, then declined and was abandoned in the 11th century. Its ruins were known in Arabic as Tel Hum, preserving the ancient Hebrew name Kfar Nahum (the village of Nahum). The remains of the buildings and of the synagogue were identified in 1838 by Eduard Robinson as Capernaum of the New Testament period and have since then attracted many researchers, primarily Christians…” Read more at the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

“The ruins of this building, among the Oldest synagogues in the world were identified by Charles William Wilson. The large, ornately carved, white building stones of the synagogue stood out prominently among the smaller, plain blocks of local black basalt used for the towns other buildings, almost all residential. The synagogue was built almost entirely of white blocks of calcareous stone brought from distant quarries. The building consists of four parts: the praying hall, the western patio, a southern balustrade and a small room at the northwest of the building. The praying hall measured 24.40 ms by 18.65 m, with the southern face looking toward Jerusalem. The internal walls were covered with painted plaster and fine stucco work found during the excavations. Watzinger, like Orfali, believed that there had been an upper floor reserved for women, with access by means of an external staircase located in the small room. But this opinion was not substantiated by the later excavations of the site. The synagogue appears to have been built around the fourth or 5th century. Beneath the foundation of this synagogue lies another foundation made of basalt, and Loffreda suggests that this is the foundation of a synagogue from the 1st century, perhaps the one mentioned in the Gospels (Loffreda, 1974). Later excavation work was attempted underneath the synagogue floor, but while Loffreda claimed to have found a paved surface, others are of the opinion that this was an open, paved market area. [1] The ancient synagogue has two inscriptions, one in Greek and the other in Aramaic, that remember the benefactors that helped in the construction of the building. There are also carvings of five- and six-pointed stars and of palm trees. In 1926, the Franciscan Orfali began the restoration of the synagogue. After his death, this work was continued by Virgilio Corbo beginning in 1976. A mosaic uncovered in 1991 shows an image of the Woman and Dragon motif mentioned in the Christian biblical book Revelation of St.John. It shows a woman about to give birth to a child as a dragon waits to devour it. The mosaic is not mentioned in any articles to date. Two possibilities seem possible: the mosaic is a Christian addition at some point when the synagogue became a Christian church, or that this was a Jewish motif indicating the dangers facing any Messiah who might come in those dangerous times of Christian predominance in Roman-ruled Palestine. The Egged tour guide who led a tour of the area dismissed it as a “pagan” theme.” [Wikipedia]

Synagogues in the Bible

It is doubtful, whether the Old Testament contains any references to synagogues, though it is possible that Ps. 74:8 refers to them. They owed their origin to the desire of the Jews to familiarize themselves with the law, and probably arose immediately after the exile. In a comparatively short time they were erected in all the cities of the Jews in Palestine and throughout the diaspora. The synagogue was commonly a rectangular building, so constructed that on entering it the worshiper faced Jerusalem, and that the interior corresponded somewhat to the temple with its divisions. The part nearest the door represented the court and was a large space where the people stood or (in later times) sat during the services, men and women being separated by a partition. A little beyond the center of the synagogue rose the platform or bima on which the pulpit or lectern stood, from where the law and the prophets were read and the people were addressed, the reader standing and the preacher sitting down, cf . Luke 4:20. This bima represented the Holy Place, while the ark or chest that contained the sacred rolls, built near the rear wall and covered by a veil, corresponded to the Holy of Holies. A board of elders managed the affairs of the synagogue; yet there were also special officers, such as (1) the ruler (or rulers) of the synagogue, who directed the worship by appointing or requesting some of those present to pray, read, speak, etc.; (2) one or more attendants (chazan), who brought the rolls to the reader and again replaced them in the sacred depository, inflicted the corporal punishment on persons sentenced by the authorities, taught the youth of the congregation, opened and closed the synagogue, etc.; (3) dispensers of alms; and (4) ten or more wealthy men of leisure, who represented the congregation at every service.

The order of the services in the synagogue was as follows : (1) Reciting the Shema, Deut. 6:4-9; 11:13-21 ; Num. 15:37-41 (2) Prayer (3) Reading the law (4) Reading the prophets (5) Discourse by anyone who desired to speak, Acts 13:15 (6) the Benediction.

The synagogues in the dispersion had great significance for the spread of Christianity, since Paul on his missionary journeys always resorted to them first, where he could reach both Jews and gentiles. [Archaeology]

The City of Capernaum

Capernaum in Easton’s Bible Dictionary Nahum’s town, a Galilean city frequently mentioned in the history of our Lord. It is not mentioned in the Old Testament. After our Lord’s expulsion from Nazareth (Matt. 4:13-16; Luke 4:16-31), Capernaum became his “own city.” It was the scene of many acts and incidents of his life (Matt. 8:5, 14, 15; 9:2-6, 10-17; 15:1-20; Mark 1:32-34, etc.). The impenitence and unbelief of its inhabitants after the many evidences our Lord gave among them of the truth of his mission, brought down upon them a heavy denunciation of judgement (Matt. 11:23). It stood on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. The “land of Gennesaret,” near, if not in, which it was situated, was one of the most prosperous and crowded districts of Israel. This city lay on the great highway from Damascus to Acco and Tyre. It has been identified with Tell Hum, about two miles south-west of where the Jordan flows into the lake. Here are extensive ruins of walls and foundations, and also the remains of what must have been a beautiful synagogue, which it is conjectured may have been the one built by the centurion (Luke 7:5), in which our Lord frequently taught (John 6:59; Mark 1:21; Luke 4:33). Others have conjectured that the ruins of the city are to be found at Khan Minyeh, some three miles further to the south on the shore of the lake. “If Tell Hum be Capernaum, the remains spoken of are without doubt the ruins of the synagogue built by the Roman centurion, and one of the most sacred places on earth. It was in this building that our Lord gave the well-known discourse in John 6; and it was not without a certain strange feeling that on turning over a large block we found the pot of manna engraved on its face, and remembered the words, ‘I am that bread of life: your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.’”, (The Recovery of Jerusalem.)

Capernaum in Fausset’s Bible Dictionary (“the village of Nachum”.) N.W. of sea of Tiberius, in the land of Gennesaret (now El Ghuweir. compare Matthew 14:34 with John 6:17; John 6:21-24), a most populous and prosperous region. By some identified now with the mound at Khan Minyeh; by others with Tell Hum. Visited by Jesus for a few days (John 2:12); afterward “His own city” and home, to which He retired from Nazareth (where He was reared, as in Bethlehem He was born), when He heard that Herod Antipas, who often resided at Sepphoris, or Diocaesarea, near Nazareth, had imprisoned John the Baptist. Capernaum was less conspicuous, and more suited to be the center of the unobtrusive but energetic ministry of Jesus in Galilee. Remains of ancient potteries, tanneries, etc., still are seen at Tabiga, the manufacturing suburb of Capernaum The prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 9:2) had foretold that this region, namely, Zabulon and Nephthalim, the one most bordering on Gentile darkness, was to be the first to see the great light (Matthew 4:12-16). Designated “His own city” (Matthew 9:1; Mark 2:1, “at home,” KJV “in the house”.) The scene of most of His mighty words, and therefore the most guilty in its impenitence. Matthew 11:20-24; “exalted unto heaven” in privileges, it was doomed for neglect of them to be “brought down to hell.” Josephus mentions a fountain in Gennesaret, “Capharnaum,” identified by some with Ain et Tin (the spring of the fig tree) near Khan Minyeh. The “round fountain” is three miles southward. Tell Hum is three or four miles more to the N. than Khan Minyeh, and so more convenient for the people to run round the N. end of the lake afoot to the E. side while Jesus crossed there by water (Mark 6:32-33). Hum is the last. syllable of Kefr na hum, and was used as an abbreviation. Tell Hum is the site, according to Arab and Jewish tradition. It is on a point…

Capernaum in Hitchcock’s Bible Names the field of repentance; city of comfort

Capernaum in Naves Topical Bible (A city on the shore of the Sea of Galilee) -Jesus chose, as the place of his abode Mt 4:13; Lu 4:31 -Miracles of Jesus performed at Mt 9:1-26; 17:24; 27; Mr 1:21-45; 2; 3:1-6; Lu 7:1-10; Joh 4:46-53; 6:17-25,59 -His prophecy against Mt 11:23; Lu 10:15

Capernaum in Smiths Bible Dictionary (village of Nahum) was on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. Mt 4:13 comp. John 6:24 It was in the “land of Gennesaret,” [ Mt 14:34 comp. John 6:17,21,24 ] It was of sufficient size to be always called a “city,” Mt 9:1; Mr 1:33 had its own synagogue, in which our Lord frequently taught, Mr 1:21; Lu 4:33,38; Joh 6:59 and there was also a customs station, where the dues were gathered both by stationary and by itinerant officers. Mt 9:9; 17:24; Mr 2:14; Lu 5:27 The only interest attaching to Capernaum is as the residence of our Lord and his apostles, the scene of so many miracles and “gracious words.” It was when he returned thither that he is said to have been “in the house.” Mr 2:1 The spots which lay claim to its site are, 1. Kahn Minyeh, a mound of ruins which takes its name from an old khan hard by. This mound is situated close upon the seashore at the northwestern extremity of the plain (now El Ghuweir). 2. Three miles north of Khan Minyeh is the other claimant, Tell Hum, –ruins of walls and foundations covering a space of half a mile long by a quarter wide, on a point of the shore projecting into the lake and backed by a very gently-rising ground. It is impossible to locate it with certainty, but the probability is in favor of Tell Hum.

Capernaum in the Bible Encyclopedia – ISBE ka-per’-na-um (Kapernaoum (Textus Receptus), Kapharnaoum (Codex Vaticanus, Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Bezae; etc.)): The woe spoken by the Master against this great city has been fulfilled to the uttermost (Mt 11:23; Lk 10:15). So completely has it perished that the very site is a matter of dispute today. In Scripture Capernaum is not mentioned outside the Gospels. When Jesus finally departed from Nazareth, He dwelt in Capernaum (Mt 4:13) and made it the main center of His activity during a large part of His public ministry. Near by He called the fishermen to follow Him (Mk 1:16), and the publican from the receipt of custom (Mt 9:9, etc.). It was the scene of many “mighty works” (Mt 11:23; Mk 1:34). Here Jesus healed the centurion’s son (Mt 8:5, etc.), the nobleman’s son (Jn 4:46), Simon Peter’s mother-in-law (Mk 1:31, etc.), and the paralytic (Mt 9:1, etc.); cast out the unclean spirit (Mk 1:23, etc.); and here also, probably, He raised Jairus’ daughter to life (Mk 5:22, etc.). In Capernaum the little child was used to teach the disciples humility, while in the synagogue Jesus delivered His ever-memorable discourse on the bread of life (Jn 6). From the notices in the Gospels we gather that Capernaum was a city of considerable importance. Some think that the words “shalt thou be exalted,” etc. (Mt 11:23; Lk 10:15), mean that it stood on an elevated site. Perhaps more naturally they refer to the excessive pride of the inhabitants in their city. It was a customs station, and the residence of a high officer of the king (Mt 9:9; Jn 4:46, etc.). It was occupied by a detachment of Roman soldiers, whose commander thought the good will of the people worth securing at the expense of building for them a synagogue (Mt 8:5; Lk 7:5). It stood by the sea (Mt 4:13) and from Jn 6:17 ff (compare Mt 14:34; Mk 6:53), we see that it was either in or near the plain of Gennesaret. Josephus twice mentions Capernaum. It played no great part in the history of his time, and seems to have declined in importance, as he refers to it as a “village.” In battle in el-BaTeichah his horse fell into a quagmire, and he suffered injury which disabled him for further fighting. His soldiers carried him to the village of Capernaum (this reference is however doubtful; the name as it stands is Kepharnomon which Niese corrects to Kepharnokon), whence he was removed to Tarichea (Vita, 72). Again he eulogizes the plain of Gennesaret for its wonderful fruits, and says it is watered by a most fertile fountain which the people of the country call Capharnaum. In the water of this fountain the Coracinus is found (BJ, III, x, 8). Josephus therefore corroborates the Biblical data, and adds the information as to the fountain and the Coracinus fish. The fish however is found in other fountains near the lake, and is therefore no help toward identification. The two chief rivals for the honor of representing Capernaum are Tell Chum, a ruined site on the lake shore, nearly 2 1/2 miles West of the mouth of the Jordan; and Khan Minyeh fully 2 1/2 miles farther west, at the Northeast corner of the plain of Gennesaret. Dr. Tristram suggested `Ain El- Madowwerah, a large spring enclosed by a circular wall, on the western edge of the plain. But it stands about a mile from the sea; there are no ruins to indicate that any considerable village ever stood here; and the water is available for only a small part of the plain….

The Bible mentions much about the Synagogue:

Revelation 3:9 – Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

Luke 13:14 – And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day.

Luke 4:38 – And he arose out of the synagogue, and entered into Simon’s house. And Simon’s wife’s mother was taken with a great fever; and they besought him for her.

Acts 18:7 – And he departed thence, and entered into a certain [man's] house, named Justus, [one] that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue.

Acts 18:8 – And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.

John 9:22 – These [words] spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.

Acts 14:1 – And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed.

Mark 6:2 – And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing [him] were astonished, saying, From whence hath this [man] these things? and what wisdom [is] this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?

John 18:20 – Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing.

Acts 18:17 – Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat [him] before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of those things.

Luke 8:41 – And, behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue: and he fell down at Jesus’ feet, and besought him that he would come into his house:

Acts 17:10 – And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming [thither] went into the synagogue of the Jews.

Matthew 13:54 – And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this [man] this wisdom, and [these] mighty works?

Mark 5:38 – And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly.

Acts 18:26 – And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto [them], and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.

Acts 19:8 – And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.

Revelation 2:9 – I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and [I know] the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but [are] the synagogue of Satan.

Mark 1:29 – And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.

Mark 5:36 – As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.

Acts 13:15 – And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, [Ye] men [and] brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.

Acts 26:11 – And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled [them] to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted [them] even unto strange cities.

Mark 5:22 – And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet,

Luke 4:16 – And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.

Luke 4:20 – And he closed the book, and he gave [it] again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.

Luke 4:33 – And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice,

Luke 6:6 – And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered.

Acts 13:42 – And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath.

Acts 17:17 – Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.

Mark 1:21 – And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught.

John 12:42 – Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess [him], lest they should be put out of the synagogue:

The Bible also mentions Capernaum:

John 6:24 – When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.

Matthew 17:24 – And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute [money] came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?

Matthew 11:23 – And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.

Luke 4:23 – And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country.

John 4:46 – So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum.

Matthew 4:13 – And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim:

Luke 10:15 – And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell.

Mark 1:21 – And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught.

Luke 4:31 – And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days.

Luke 7:1 – Now when he had ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum.

John 2:12 – After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days.

Matthew 8:5 – And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,

Mark 2:1 – And again he entered into Capernaum after [some] days; and it was noised that he was in the house.

John 6:17 – And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them.

Mark 9:33 – And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?

John 6:59 – These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.

Reconstructions & Sketches of the Ancient World

New Illustrated Bible History A growing database of images and sketches of the ancient world.

Paintings and Sketches by Bjanikka Ben, Galina Nelson, Maliyah Weston and more

Ancient Customs

Ancient Patriarch’s Clothing in the Time of Abraham

The Name Jesus in Ancient Hebrew Script

The Watchtower in the Vineyard

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Bronze Mirrors

Dining in Ancient Rome

Ancient Sun Dial

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Ancient Harp from Ur

Jewish Captives Playing the Lyre

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Tax Collector

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First Century Israelite Houses

Wealthy Israelite House

Ancient Sheep Fold

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Ancient Women Traveling

Ancient Waterpot

Egyptian Procession Carrying an Ark

Jesus Reading Isaiah Scroll

Ancient Torah Scroll

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Ancient Synagogue at Capernaum (Bible History Online)

Torah – ReligionFacts

Although the word “Torah” is sometimes used to refer to the entire Tanakh or even the whole body of Jewish writings, it technically means the first five books of the Tanakh. These books are also known as the Five Books of Moses or the Pentateuch. In English, the names for the books of the Torah are derived from Greek and describe the general topic of the book:

– Genesis – Exodus – Leviticus – Numbers – Deuteronomy (“Second Law”)

The Hebrew names of the books of the Torah reflect not the subject, but the first major word of each book:

– Bereisheet (“In the beginning”) – Sh’mot (“Names”) – Vayikra (“And he called”) – BaMidbar (“In the wilderness”) – D’varim (“Words”)

Among other things, the Torah contains important events in the history of Judaism, like the account of the creation of the world, God’s special call to Abraham, the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses, God’s rescue of Israel from slavery in Egypt, the wandering in the wilderness, and the conquering of Canaan, the Promised Land. The Torah is by far the most important part of the Tanakh because, in addition to including these important stories, it also details the commandments (mitzvot) God gave the Jewish people through Moses.

Accordingly, the Torah scroll (Sefer Torah) is the most important object in a synagogue. The text is carefully handwritten in Hebrew calligraphy on a parchment made of animal skins, and the scroll is kept in an ark (short for aron kodesh, “holy cabinet”). The Torah has been read publically since the time of Ezra (c. 450 BCE). Today, a portion of the Torah (parashiyot) is read in the synagogue on Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and holidays. (See The Synagogue.)


– Essential Judiasm: A Complete Guide to Beliefs, Customs and Rituals by George Robinson (Pocket Books, 2000). – “Torah, Torah, Torah: The Unfolding of a Tradition.” Judaism for Dummies (Hungry Minds, 2001). – Tracey R. Rich, “Torah.” Judaism 101 (1995-99).

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Torah – ReligionFacts

Torah PORTIONS | This Week’s Portion

The Hebrew name of the fourth book of the Torah (also the name of the first reading) is Bamidbar (), which means In the wilderness. It comes from the first words of the first verse, which say, Then the LORD spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai (Numbers 1:1). The English title of the book is Numbers, which is derived from the Greek Septuagint (LXX) version of the Torah. The book of Numbers tells the story of Israels trek through the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land, their failure at the edge of the land and the subsequent forty years of wandering. It concludes with the story of the second generations triumphs over the first Canaanite resistance. The book ends with the Israelites poised on the edge of Canaan, ready to take their inheritance. Woven in the midst of these narratives is a significant amount of legal material.

The first reading from Bamidbar and the thirty-fourth reading from the Torah begin with a census of the tribes of Israel and the Levitical families just prior to the departure from Sinai.

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Torah PORTIONS | This Week’s Portion

Torah | The amazing name Torah: meaning and etymology

What is Torah?

The word Torah is both a name and a general concept. Nowadays Torah is name of the first five Books of the Bible (a.k.a. the Books of Moses, or Pentateuch), and that tradition probably stems from the time just after the return from the Babylonian exile. The Torahic concept encompasses some stipulations that might be comparable to what we presently call law but that fraction is certainly not representative of the whole. In stead, the word Torah appears to reflect “the way things are” much rather than “the way things are supposed to be”.

The narrative stories of the Pentateuch, therefore, are not so much (legendary, folkloristic or even sentimental) histories but much rather archetypes of processes through which everything that evolves either will evolve or will be annihilated (read our article on Evolution and the Bible for more on this). Fulfilling the Torah is thus not so much a forced obedience to stipulations but rather a having developed into an entity that corresponds to the way the physical universe works; something that is stable in the physics sense of the word. Since that stability is a requisite for further growth, that stability must be reached before anything else can come about. In a passage that could easily spawn a few gigabytes worth of commentary, Paul teaches that love fulfills the Torah (Romans 13:8-10) but Jesus makes it clear that the entire law must be fulfilled before the state in which people can actually love their neighbor is achieved (Matthew 5:18). And that ties Torah firmly to Wisdom.

The creation account of Genesis 1 is not so much a primitive myth, but rather the most rudimentary blueprint of how evolution works (see for more details our Introduction to Scripture Theory or our article on Evolution and the Bible). The story of the Father and the Three Sons for instance (in which one son dies or diminishes and the lowly second son joins the glorified third) is told in its most basic form in the account of Adam and Cain, Abel and Seth, and is repeated in various nuances from Noah and Shem, Ham and Japheth all the way up to Jesus’ parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14), the image of Jesus on the cross with His one neighbor rejected and the other one joined with Him in Paradise (Luke 23:43), the breach between the lost northern kingdom of Israel and the saved southern Judah which contained the temple of YHWH, and might even establish the rough outline of the New Creation (in which satan is irrelevant and the nations of the earth attach themselves to the elect living in the New Jerusalem; Revelation 21:24).

All these narrative forms (also known as narrative cycles) are obvious continuations, or self-similar reproductions (geneticists would speak of homologous structures), of the second creation day, where one watery continuum is breached in two by a third (namely the heavenly firmament). The waters over the firmament are heard from no more, and the waters below the firmament produce dry land, vegetation and life; federated with and governed by lights placed in the dividing firmament (Genesis 1:1-19).

This image may even apply to the structure of a living cell, in which the cell-body body distinguished itself from the world at large, organized around a nucleus that contains the cell’s genetic code (see our article on the Household Set), and obviously also applies to the organization of Israel around the tabernacle, which contained the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the two tablets with the Ten Commandments. This tabernacle, in turn, provided the blue print for the Temple and the Temple became the Body of Christ; all formed after fundamental patterns which were shown to Moses (Exodus 25:40, Hebrews 8:5). And that is why the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ follows the human reproductive cycle, and the standard model of elementary particles appears obviously embedded in the structure of the family of Abraham.

The name Torah and the general word torah are usually translated with either law or teaching, and that would work on the proviso that what is taught is actually true (i.e. a reflection or adaptation of “natural” law). And it should be noted that covenant precedes formal law (covenant: Genesis 6:18; deposition of formal law: Exodus 20, but note man’s natural knowledge of law: Genesis 26:5, Romans 2:15); meaning that the relationship of God and mankind is not brought about by wisdom (God is not “discovered” or found by looking for Him; Luke 17:20), but that wisdom is brought about by the relationship of God and mankind (God is found because He looked for us; 1 John 4:19).

Quite tellingly, the first time that the word (torah) is used is in the statement: “The same law applies to the native [Israelite] as to the foreigner who lives in Israel” (Exodus 12:49). The second time our word appears is in Exodus 24:12, where the Lord instructs Moses to approach Him on the mountain in order to receive the famous stone tables that He had prepared for him (Exodus 24:12).

Even though the existence of Torah also resulted in rules and regulations that people needed to learn by heart and carefully observe, Torah itself was regarded as something delectable (Psalm 19:10), desirable (Psalm 119:92) and loveable (Psalm 119:97).

The Hebrew word for Law (Torah) is a derivation of the verb (yara), meaning to throw, cast or shoot:

The letter in front of a root has somewhat the same function as an integral sign in front of an equation: it sums up the whole of different variations of the root. But when we do that with the root (yara) in order to create the word (Torah), something that seems like a regular female form of the word emerges:

To anyone who is not familiar with these things, seeing a dove descend on someone (Matthew 3:16) is cute at best. For someone who sees the linguistic connection between Law and dove, this is all quite a bit more profound.

Jesus summed up the Law by stating what the “larger and unified objective” of all God’s instructions are: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind & You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39).

These words sum up the true purpose of man. If this purpose is obtained, sin is without effect and the Law is fulfilled. See for a more in depth study of law, sin and forgiveness our article The Skinny on Sin Romans 7

Also note that the first occurrence of the first letter of our word (torah) is the last letter of the first word of the Bible, namely (bersheet), meaning “in the beginning” (Genesis 1:1). Fifty letters later (or forty-nine, depending how you count), we find the second letter of our word (torah), namely in the word (tehom), meaning “the deep” (Genesis 1:2). Another fifty letters down, there’s the in (w’yra’), meaning “and He saw” (Genesis 1:4). Fifty letters after that sits the in the word (‘elohim), meaning God.

Whoever placed this marvelous little gem in the text of the creation account seems to have figured that Torah = In The Beginning The Deep Saw God. Whether this delightful letter-trick was known to the sons of Korah isn’t clear, but read our article on Psalm 42:7 for something to ponder (and also see John 1:1-5 and Colossians 1:16).

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Torah | The amazing name Torah: meaning and etymology