24 June 2010

Jewish History: Do you know......?

What happened on June 24 in Jewish history?

Do you know about the Mortara affair in Italy, a British law requiring Jewish parents to support children who had become Protestant, a second exile from France, several massacres, Italian ghettos, a Hungarian residence tax, the Red Cross, or when Jews received full Polish citizenship?

This Day in Jewish History provides a great day-by-day list of such happenings. Today's list goes back to 1298, and covers events in Austria, France, England, Jamaica, Poland, Italy, Hungary, Russia, US, Turkey and Ukraine.

These events may help explain your family's movements to various countries at certain times, and clarify family stories handed down over the generations. I always find the site fascinating!

1298: Massacre of the Jews of Ifhauben, Austria.

1322: Charles IV of France expelled all the Jews from France without the promised one year's warning. This marked the second expulsion of the Jews from France.

1509: Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon crowned King and Queen of England. There were no Jews living in England at this time. Henry’s father (Henry VII) had promised Catherine’s parents (the Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella) that Jews would never be allowed the realm of the English monarchs. Thanks to the turmoil that Henry would create when he went to shed Catherine as his Queen and royal mate, small numbers of Marranos and crypto-Jews would be living in England by the end of the century.

1692: Founding of Kingston, Jamaica. By now, Jamaica was an English colony and Jews can practice their religion as opposed to their secret observance that had been the norm during Spanish rule. There were enough Jews living in Kingston that synagogues were reportedly opened in 1744 and 1787.

1648: In Tulczyn, Poland, an agreement between the 2,000 Jews and 600 Christians to defend the town at all costs succeeded in preventing the Cossacks from capturing the town. The Cossacks persuaded the Christians that they would let them go free if they would give them the Jews. The (furious) Jews were persuaded by the Rabbi that if they took revenge on the Poles other Jews would suffer. The gates were opened and most of the Jews killed. The Cossacks then turned on the Poles and killed most of them as well. For the most part, during the entire war the Poles and the Jews were uneasy allies against the Cossacks.

1702: In Great Britain an “Act to oblige Jews to maintain and provide for their Protestant children” took effect. This act of Parliament grew out of case involving Jacob de Mendez Berta and his daughter Mary who became a Protestant. According to one source, the father refused to continue to support his daughter after she converted and her newly adopted Protestant community did not want to shoulder the burden of her support. Hence, this legislation was adopted and would stay in effect until the middle of the 19th century.

1843: The Inquisitor of Ancona, Italy decreed that Jews may not live in any municipality where there was no ghetto.

1846: In Hungary, the residence tax was officially abolished. In order to have it cancelled the Jews had to pay a one-time fee of 1,200,000 florins.

1856: In Rome, a contingent of papal carabinieri “acting at the orders of the local Inquisitor, Father Pier Gaetan Feletti, took six year old Edgardo Mortara from his parent’s apartment because church officials discovered that Edgardo had been secretly baptized by a servant girls five years ago and that he could no longer “be raised in a Jewish household.” Thus began the scandal known as the Mortara Affair.

1873: In a sermon, Reverend Henry Ward Beecher gave the first public warning of rising anti-Semitism in the U.S. Beecher was a fighter for social justice, an abolitionist and the father of Harriet Beecher Stowe.

1908: President Grover Cleveland died of heart failure. As President, Cleveland appointed Oscar Solomon Strauss envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to Turkey in 1887. In 1897 Cleveland vetoed an immigration bill that included a literacy test. The literacy test was a thinly veiled attempt to close the doors to immigrants including the wave of Jews coming from Eastern Europe. In 1903, Cleveland, who was by now former President, was the featured speaker at the New York City rally protesting the Kishinev Pogroms.

1918: Jacob Schiff of New York City protests against the Red Cross which has discriminated against Jews from Bulgaria and Turkey, Germany and Austro-Hungary. Red Cross stated Jews from these lands, or children who have fathers who were born in these lands cannot serve in the Red Cross.

1919: In the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, France, Polish Prime Minister Ignacy Paderewski signed the Minorities Treaty that “awarded full civil, religious and political rights to all citizens of the new Poland, with the term ‘citizen’ applied broadly to all person either born or ‘habitually’ resident on Polish territory.” This meant that the Jews of Poland were guaranteed full citizenship in the newly reconstituted Poland ... opening the path to full citizenship for the Jews of Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary and Turkey.

There's much more. See the link above.

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