Thursday, November 23, 2017

It's Not A Big Chicken

If there is one thing that is guaranteed to be in supermarkets in November, it’s turkey! In fact, many supermarkets even give them away to promote large purchases of other groceries.

As you put the turkey into the oven, take a moment to think about the significance of that bird. Did you know that a vast amount of rabbinic ink has been expended in discussing the kosher status of turkey?!



While the Torah specifically identifies those features that make animals and fish kosher (chews cud and split hooves for animals, scales and fins for fish), it does not specify the identifying features of a kosher bird. Instead it states that one may eat "all the clean birds," and then lists only the birds which one may not eat (Deuteronomy 14:11-20).

This has created a problem because not all the birds identified in the Torah’s prohibited list are known today. The Code of Jewish Law (Shulchan Aruch completed in 1563) therefore ruled that only those birds traditionally known to be eaten by Jewish communities were allowed. This included chicken and ducks.

The turkey, however, was not a traditional bird. Turkeys are indigenous to the "New World" and were not seen by European Jews until explorers brought them back from America. As turkeys became more common fare in the general European community, the rabbis began to receive questions about the bird’s kosher status.

The turkey, which shares many similarities to other known kosher birds – the nature of their stomach, the shape of their beak, the structure of their feet, and that they were not predatory – was deemed kosher by almost all authorities.

So go ahead. Stuff the bird!

This Treat is republished each year in honor of Thanksgiving.

Copyright © 2017 NJOP. All rights reserved.

Feast of Gratitude

While the majority of the sacrifices enumerated in the Torah are related to atonement for sins or to celebrate feast days, the sh'lamim, peace offerings, were unique because they were not brought for either reason. And among the different peace offerings, the korban todah, the thanks offering, is set apart because it had to be eaten the same day on which it was offered. In this short span of time, a large portion of food had to be consumed: In addition to the meat of the offering, 30 loaves of unleavened bread and 10 loaves of leavened bread were offered and consumed by the kohanim, levi'im and those involved in the offering itself.

In his book The Call of the Torah*, Rabbi Elie Munk suggests that the quantity of food and the relatively brief amount of time in which it had to be consumed, required that the person who brought the offering invite guests to join in publicly giving thanks to God.

While only four types of people were required to bring a korban todah (a freed captive, one who traveled by sea; one who had crossed the desert, and one who recovered from an illness), in this day and age, when there is no Temple and thus no sacrifices, people who survive any life-threatening situation will often make a seudat hoda'ah, a feast of thanksgiving, after having survived a life-threatening incident or illness and on the anniversary of their survival.

There is no set ceremony for a seudat hoda'ah. To be considered a proper seudah (feast), however, bread should be served so that birkat hamazon may be recited. It is also customary to listen to words of Torah spoken either by the survivor or in the survivor's honor.

*Volume 3, page 59 
This Treat was last posted on November 24, 2011.



Copyright © 2017 NJOP. All rights reserved.

Gobble Kosher

Choose a kosher turkey for your Thanksgiving meal.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Jewish League

For American Jews today, it is hard to imagine that Jews in the U.S. in the early twentieth century faced a deeply anti-Semitic culture. Many public and private facilities posted blatant restrictions to Jewish access, while established educational institutions had quotas for Jewish students. The media of the day was rife with anti-Semitic stereotypes and inferences.

In 1913, a Chicago attorney, Sigmund Livingston, created an organization whose mission was “to stop, by appeals to reason and conscience and, if necessary, by appeals to law, the defamation of the Jewish people. Its ultimate purpose is to secure justice and fair treatment to all citizens alike...” He named his organization the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

While it started out as a two desk affair in Chicago, the ADL came under the auspices of B'nai Brith and grew into a larger, New York based, organization. Significantly, its founding coincided with the terrible ordeal of Leo Frank, whose false conviction of murder, and his eventual lynching in 1915, led to a noticeable rise in anti-Semitism.

The ADL began its work with “appeals to reason and conscience.” It actively used the media to counter negative stereotypes of Jews and to expose America’s unacknowledged intolerance. The organization also acted against hate groups such as the Klu Klux Klan and was critical in ending the publication of Henry Ford’s hate-filled newspaper, The Dearborn Independent.

Over the first ten decades of its existence, the Anti-Defamation League grew from an organization that appealed to the logic of the American people and developed into a major moral force advocating for civil rights, sounding a strong voice in the discussion of the separation of church and state, and promoting Holocaust remembrance. While there have also been several controversies regarding the organization, such as their hesitation to recognize the Armenian Genocide, the ADL’s reputation is that of a major voice of empowerment for all Americans.





Equal

Always remember that all people are created in the image of God.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Before They Knew Viral

Martha Wollstein, whose parents were Jewish immigrants from Germany, began her medical education when she was 16 years old. The Women’s Medical Society of the State of New York was also only 16 years old at that time, having been founded by Elizabeth Blackwell in 1868. Wollstein graduated in 1889, after which she began a medical internship at The Babies Hospital in New York City. When the two year internship was over, she was hired by the hospital as a pathologist.

In 1930, despite not having actively treated children nor having made any singularly ground-breaking discoveries, Wollstein was the first woman to be awarded membership in the American Pediatric Society. But, over the four decades since she had graduated from medical school, Wollstein had dedicated herself to studying the source, and possible treatments, of illnesses such as malaria, polio, tuberculosis and mumps to name a few.

Wollstein’s research career first focused on infant diarrhea, which seems benign but can be extremely dangerous. Her work caught the attention of established researchers. In 1906, Wollstein received the distinction of being appointed as an assistant at the prestigious Rockefeller Institute. Her research work at the Rockefeller Institute continued until 1920, and her output was extraordinary. Her 1918 research on mumps was considered particularly informative on the viral nature of the disease. In 1921, however, Wollstein went back to The Babies Hospital paying particular attention to diseases affecting children. In 1928, she was appointed head of the pediatric section of the New York Academy of Medicine.

By the time of  her retirement, Wollstein had authored an impressive 80 scientific papers. Having moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, she remained there  until shortly before her death. Wollstein passed away in 1939 at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital. In a sign of the times, her obituary noted that she “was also known as a pathologist”...an incredible understatement.


Healthy Spirit

Remember that guarding your health is a mitzvah.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Our Obligation

On November 20, 1959, the United Nations adopted a resolution accepting the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. This ten-point declaration was based on a document created in Geneva in 1924 and was aimed at creating a universal standard for bettering the lives of children. It includes a provision on the right of every child  for a name as well as the principle that children with special needs of all variety receive an education and necessary assistance.

The seventh principle of the Declaration declares that “The child is entitled to receive education, which shall be free and compulsory, at least in the elementary stages. He shall be given an education which will promote his general culture, and enable him on a basis of equal opportunity, to develop his abilities, his individual judgement, and his sense of moral and social responsibility, and to become a useful member of society...”

Judaism does not have a concept of human rights, but rather views the world in terms of human obligations. A child is obligated to honor their father and mother. This is a foundation of Jewish life and one of the Ten Commandments. A parent is obligated to educate their child, and this obligation is expansive. The child must be taught Torah, the fundamentals of Jewish life and guide to the laws and mores of Jewish society. However, a child must also be taught a craft or a trade, the necessary skills to support himself and make society better.

The fact that the right to an education needed to be codified demonstrates how the Torah attitude toward the next generation differed from the rest of the world for hundreds of years. Most societies did not enact universal educational systems until the mid-1800s. However, as early as the 1st century of the common era, “Joshua ben Gamala came and ordained that teachers of young children should be appointed in each district and each town” (Talmud Baba Batra 21a).

Today's Treat was posted in honor of Universal Children's Day.

Good for All

Invest yourself in the Jewish education of the children in your life.

Friday, November 17, 2017

For Her Protection

Most people look at the world through the perspective of the society in which they were raised. Their views on everything from beauty to manners to equal rights are framed by the history they know and the people around them. Therefore, when the narratives in the Torah are read, it is imperative that one do their best to understand the society in which the Jewish ancestors lived.

Using this historic filter is particularly important when reviewing the narratives about the lives of the matriarchs. Understanding how harrowing ancient times (and not so ancient times) could be for women helps one better understand why, for instance, Isaac would lie about his relationship with his wife, Rebecca, and state that she is his sister (Genesis 26). He did so out of fear that the men of the place would kill a man to take his wife, but with a brother there would be extra time while they tried to broker a match (see Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch on Genesis 12). And while King Abimelech, who noticed the unsibling-like behavior of the couple, was irrate that he had been lied to, he was not dismissive of their fears. “And Abimelech said: ‘What have you done to us? One of the people might easily have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.’ And Abimelech charged all the people, saying: ‘Anyone who touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death’” (Genesis 26:10-11).

It is easy, from a modern perspective, to read this narrative (and the two similar one’s earlier in Genesis - 12 and 20 - that involved Sarah) and worry about biblical chauvinism and patriarchal inequality. However, as news today regularly uncovers the outrageous behaviors of our civilized society, one should, perhaps, laud the actions of Isaac to go to such great lengths to protect Rebecca.

Moral Guide

Do not let the morality of the media define your morality.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Yom Kippur Katan

Today is one of a number of days on the Jewish calendar that is noted as “Yom Kippur Katan,” literally Little Day of Atonement. It is observed on the day before Rosh Chodesh (the new month)* except when Rosh Chodesh occurs on Saturday* or Sunday, when Yom Kippur Katan is observed earlier on the Thursday prior (as is the case today).

Yom Kippur Katan is interesting in that it is not mentioned in the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law), but appears to have become a common practice among the 16th century kabbalists in Safed and the tradition spread from there. The basis for the observance of Yom Kippur Katan was the fact that in Temple times a sin offering was included in the Rosh Chodesh offerings, indicating that Rosh Chodesh is a particularly opportune time for repentance and atonement.

Atonement on the actual day of Yom Kippur is accomplished through fasting and prayer, but Rosh Chodesh is also considered a minor festival on which one may not fast. Therefore, Yom Kippur Katan is observed just before Rosh Chodesh.

In certain times and places, it was common for most of the community to fast (sunrise to nightfall) on Yom Kippur Katan. Today, fasting is less common, but the special penitential prayers are still often recited during the afternoon service in some synagogues.

* It is not observed the day before Rosh Hashana (the 1st of Tishrei); the day before Cheshvan, since Yom Kippur has just been observed; the day before Tevet, because it is still Chanukah; and the day before Iyar, since one does not fast during the month of Nisan.

Monthly Reflection

Take a few moments to think about your actions over the course of the last month and whether there was something for which you should apologize or repent.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Writers in a Terrible Place

“The Day of the Imprisoned Writer” (November 15) was established by PEN International to recognize and provide support for writers who use their skills to fight political repression. Today’s Jewish Treat honors a different sort of writer in a different sort of imprisonment, the prisoners of the Nazis whose artistic lives were shaped, and most often, ended by the Holocaust.

In November 1941, the Nazis began operation at Theresienstadt (also called Terezin), a former fortress that was transformed into a “model” concentration camp.* Theresienstadt was the “show” camp to which the Nazis brought the Red Cross and foreign diplomats to demonstrate how well Jews and other prisoners were being treated. As “prettified” as the camp could be, it was still a concentration camp with torture and murder at its core.

Theresienstadt was marked as the destination to which many notable personalities were sent. Among these were a host of writers who continued to write even in their dire circumstances, such as: Norbert Fryd (1913-1976), who wrote a collection of nursery rhymes that were then set to music and performed in the camp ghetto and Peter Kien (1919 - 1944), who wrote numerous plays as well as the libretto to a one-act opera, The Emperor of Atlantis created in the camp.

Because of the combination of talented prisoners and Thereienstadt’s alternative purpose, there were times of actual artistic creativity at the camp. Musical and theatrical performances were arranged, and children were schooled in numerous artistic pursuits. In 1994, a collection of the poems and pictures created by the children of Theresenstadt was published under the title I Never Saw Another Butterfly, which is also the name of a haunting poem composed by 21 year old Pavel Friedmann (who perished in Auschwitz in September 1944).

*Theresienstadt is referred to as both a camp and a ghetto.


History Read

Read about Jewish history in order to understand the Jewish nation today.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Jewish Work in Diabetes

Not so long ago, diabetes was often thought of as a “Jewish disease.”  This was before doctors and scientists understood genetics. The idea of diabetes as a “Jewish disease” also pre-dated the knowledge of the physical processes involved in the disease and was based on the reports that there was a particularly high percentage of diabetics who were Jewish. In honor of World Diabetes Day, Jewish Treats presents some interesting facts regarding the Jewish connection to the understanding of diabetes.

Research in diabetes has come a long way, but there is still much to learn before a cure is found for the illness. Each year, the European Association for the Study of Diabetes awards a young researcher with the Minkowski Prize. This award is named in honor of Oskar Minkowski (1858-1931), who made the discovery of the connection of diabetes to the pancreas. (It is interesting to note that the pancreas, an organ that was largely unknown or ignored in the ancient world, is mentioned in the Talmud as the “finger of the liver” on page 31a of tractate Tamid.)

Many diabetics are treated by the injection of insulin, a hormone that is produced by the pancreas. One of the researchers credited with discovering the relation of islet cells in the pancreas to diabetes (leading to the discovery of insulin treatment) was Dr. Moses Barron (1882 - 1974). Born into a traditional family in Kovno, Dr. Barron arrived in the United States when he was five and spent most of his life doing research in Minnesota.

A better understanding of how the insulin injections worked was researched by Rechmiel Levine, a native of Zalszczyki, Poland. Orphaned from his mother at a young age, Levine emigrated to Canada at age 16 after his father was murdered in a pogrom. His 1949  discovery of the role of insulin in glucose metabolism gained him the title, "Father of Modern Diabetes Research."




Healthful and Healthy

Be conscious of how your diet affects your health.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Kindness Day

While giving charity (tzedakah) is an act of kindness (chesed), an act of kindness is not charity. According to the Talmudic sage Rabbi Elazar, "Acts of Kindness are greater than charity, for it is said (Hosea 1:12), ‘Sow to yourself according to your charity, but reap according to your kindness.’ If a person sows, it is doubtful whether he will eat or not, but when a person reaps he will certainly eat it" (Sukkah 49b).

The sages go on to explain that in three ways kindness is better than charity: (1) Kindness can be done with one’s person and one’s money, as opposed to charity, which can only be done with money. (2) Kindness can be done for any person, rich or poor. (3) Kindness can be done for both the living and the dead. 

There are many ways in which a person can perform acts of kindness. Some of the best-known mitzvot associated with chesed are: visiting the sick, welcoming guests, and helping a bride and groom. Opportunities to visit the sick, welcome guests or help a young couple do not usually occur on a daily basis. Chesed opportunities, however, are available to most people numerous times each day. Acts of kindness are performed when helping a co-worker resolve a problem or holding the door for someone even when it means waiting an extra minute. In truth, the simple act of smiling at another person is an act of kindness. The Talmud states, "The man who shows his teeth [smiles] is better than one who gives milk to drink" (Ketubot 101b).



Today, November 13th, is World Kindness Day, but in Judaism, every day, indeed, every moment, is an opportunity to perform acts of kindness.


This Treat was originally posted on November 13, 2012.

Copyright © 2017 NJOP. All rights reserved.

Opportunities Await

Keep your eyes open for opportunities of kindness.

Friday, November 10, 2017

A Man of Courage Honored

In 2001, it was recognized that in the course of American history, numerous heroes had been denied consideration for the United States Medal of Honor for extreme valor in battle, due to prejudice against their race or religion (Read more about this here). In the opinion of his family, this was the case of Sergeant William Shemin. Although he had been awarded the Purple Heart for being wounded and the Distinguished Service Cross for battlefield valor, they believed that anti-Semitism had kept his incredibly heroic acts from being fully recognized. After 13 years of petitioning and campaigning, Congress agreed, and, on June 2, 2015, President Barack Obama presented a posthumous Medal of Honor to William Shemin.

Born on October 14, 1896, in Bayonne, NJ, Shemin enlisted in the U.S. Army by lying about his age, perhaps so believably because, in his young life, he had already played semi-professional basketball, graduated from the New York State Rangers School and worked as a forester. Shemin became a rifleman in the infantry.

The action for which Shemin was decorated occurred in August 1918 at the Vessle River during the Second Battle of the Marne (France). Through three days of trench warfare, Shemin and his comrades watched troop after troop fall in the No Man’s Land. Not once, but three times (!), Shemin dove through the machine gun fire to help bring back the wounded. After all the officers and non-commissioned officers were injured in the battle as well, Shemin jumped in to lead his platoon until he too was wounded with shrapnel and bullets. A head wound behind his left ear put him in the hospital for three months, after which he was assigned light duties until his discharge in August 1919.

After the war, Shemin attended and graduated from the New York State College of Forestry at Syracuse University, where he was an athlete, and then settled in the Bronx, where he opened a landscaping company. He was the father of two daughters and a son who also served in the military. William Shemin passed away on August 15, 1973.

Written in honor of Veterans Day, November 11th

Honor

Give honor to those who serve or have served your country.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Kristallnacht

Kristallnacht, literally the Night of Crystal but generally translated as the Night of Broken Glass, was a tragic turning point in the fate of Germany’s Jewish community. The country-wide pogrom began on November 9, 1938, and lasted through the 10th. Over the course of Kristallnacht, close to 100 Jews were killed, 30,000 Jewish men were arrested, hundreds of synagogues were burned and desecrated and over 7,000 Jewish shops were vandalized and had their shop windows shattered.

The outbreak of violence was orchestrated by Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels. However, the Nazi leadership firmly maintained that the actions were a spontaneous uprising of the German people against the Jews. They also used fabricated Jewish crimes in order to enact further oppressive laws against Jews, including diverting insurance payments for property destroyed in the pogroms.

The excuse for the so-called “spontaneous” pogrom was the death, on November 9th, of German diplomat Ernst Vom Rath in Paris. He was shot by a 17 year old Jewish youth, Herschel Grynszpan. Young, unemployed and an illegal resident trying to avoid deportation from Paris, Grynszpan shot the diplomat as a reaction to his parents’ deportation to Poland. The Grynszpans had lived in Hanover, Germany, since 1911. In October 1938, the Germans expelled all Polish Jews from German soil just as Poland was about to implement a new law removing Polish citizenship from anyone residing outside of Poland for more than five years. But Poland refused to take the refugees, and 12,000 Jews were put in refugee camps at the border.

The involvement of German citizens in the pogroms, or at the very least the lack of protest from neighbors (and neighboring countries), affirmed the Nazi’s belief that they could do as they pleased concerning the Jews. Previously oppressive measures had been non-violent, but Kristallnacht was the first step toward the horror of the “Final Solution.”

Listen and Remember

Take the time to listen to Holocaust survivors and remember their stories.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Montana’s Jewish History

Montana is not a state known for its large Jewish community, and yet the early Jewish settlers made a distinct mark on the cities in which they lived.

The first Jewish community developed in Helena, Montana. Populated mostly with Jews of German origin, the Jewish settlers offered the mercantile services necessary for a booming mine town in a gold rush. In 1866, the Hebrew Benevolent Society of Helena was formed. Shortly thereafter, a congregation was established. The first synagogue in the vast territory between Minnesota and Oregon was Helena’s Temple Emanuel, which was dedicated in 1891. Alas, the Helena Jewish community faltered, and, in 1930, the building was sold to the State of Montana, which removed most of the religious imagery except for the stain-glassed windows and added a second floor. In 2000, nearly 20 years after the building came into the possession of Helena’s Catholic diocese, the building was put on the National Register of Historic Places and bares a plaque noting its Jewish significance.

As the Helena community waned, Butte’s community grew. Their first congregation, Bnai Israel, was organized in 1897, and their first synagogue building was dedicated in 1903. Although there was a split during which a second congregation, Adath Israel, was formed, the Jews of Butte unified as one congregation in the late 1960s. Most interesting, however, is that the city of Butte appears to have been very accepting of its Jews, as both its first and sixth mayors were Jewish. Henry Jacobs, who was born in Baden, Germany, was elected in 1879, and Henry Lupin Frank, a native of Ohio, served two terms as mayor starting in 1885.

Today there are a number of small Jewish communities across the state unified by the Montana Association of Jewish Communities. According to JewishVirtualLibrary.org, there are approximately 1,450 Jews in Montana today.

On November 8, 1889, Montana became the 41st state of the United States.



Copyright © 2017 NJOP. All rights reserved.
Bibliography

A Gift

When asked to lend a cup of sugar, offer it as a gift instead.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Kindness to Animals

Animals are one of the most important “educational tools” God provided to humanity in order to teach them to be “givers.” While animals can’t communicate with the same ability as humans, they are God’s creations and express basic feelings such as pain, hunger, satisfaction and, many would argue, loyalty and love.

Jewish law teaches us that when a person assumes responsibility for an animal, whether a pet or a farm-animal, care of the animal becomes a top priority. In Talmud Berachot 40a, Rabbi Judah quotes Rav as saying: “It is forbidden for a person to eat until one has fed one's animals, since the verse states, ‘and I will provide grass in your field for your cattle,’ and only then does it say, ‘and you will eat and you will be satisfied’” (Deuteronomy 11:15).

It is from the matriarch Rebecca that we learn about kindness to animals. When Eliezer, Abraham’s servant, who is seeking a wife for Isaac, meets Rebecca at her town well, she gives him a drink of water and then says: “I will draw for your camels as well, until they have done drinking” (Genesis 24:19). She ran to the well numerous times to ensure that the camels were properly satiated. (The reason she did not offer to water the camels first was because they were not hers. Additionally, there is an opinion that water, unlike food, should first be given to humans for the sake of pikuach nefesh, saving a life.)

While the obligation does not include animals at large (such as stray cats), the principle itself is intended to make one much more aware of the ways in which he/she can be kinder to all animals and, indeed, to all people.

This Treat was originally published on November 10, 2009.



Copyright © 2017 NJOP. All rights reserved.


For Animals' Sake

Before adopting a pet, think carefully if you will have the time and capacity to care for it properly.

Monday, November 6, 2017

A Jazz Master

On a day dedicated to the appreciation of the saxophone, Jewish Treats presents the biography of a jazz musician whose musical career began with a sax (but was mostly on the clarinet, for which he was labelled “King”).

The musical career of Artie Shaw (1910 - 2004), who was born Arthur Jacob Arshawsky, began with a saxophone that he bought for himself after his father left the family, when he was around 13. Shaw’s family had moved  from the Lower East Side, New York, to New Haven, Connecticut, and the overt anti-Semitism he encountered had a deep impact on the introverted youth.

A natural on several instruments, Shaw quit school at 15 to pursue a career in music. Success came quickly. In 1928 he won a trip to Hollywood, where he joined Irving Aaronson’s Band. His career thereafter was always successful but colored by his extremely fickle temperament and his distaste for the business of popular music. He quickly tired of playing the songs his audience most wanted to hear.

In 1935, Shaw started his first ensemble, Interlude in B Flat. Notably, in 1938, he hired Billie Holiday as his singer. He was one of the first big band leaders to try to integrate his ensemble. Unfortunately, many of the audiences were not ready for this form of entertainment, and Miss Holiday left the ensemble after a few years due to the racial tensions.

Shaw then worked in Hollywood for a few years. When World War II started, he joined the Navy. His military band played for troops throughout the Pacific, and he received a medical discharge for exhaustion in 1944.

After leaving the service, Shaw continued his frenetic career until he retired in 1954, and devoted himself to writing. In addition to an autobiography, he published two collections of short stories. He was also a sought-after lecturer. In 1983, Shaw came out of retirement and formed the Artie Shaw Band. He passed away in 2004.

Copyright © 2017 NJOP. All rights reserved.
Bibliography

Sing It Strong

Choose music that you find spiritually uplifting.

Friday, November 3, 2017

The Jews of Panama

The history of the Jews in Panama is similar to Jewish history in other South and Central American countries. Conversos came to the region with Spanish settlers but, in time, became indistinguishable from the rest of the population. In 1821, after Panama, as part of Colombia, separated from Spain, there was an influx of Sephardic Jews from Jamaica and Ashkenzic Jews from Europe. However, they did not develop a community.

In the 1850s, as the Panamanian railroad crossing from Atlantic to the Pacific was completed, more Jews came, and this time a community took hold. Panama’s first congregation, Kol Shearith Israel, was founded in 1876 in Panama City. In 1890, Kahal Hakadosh Yangacob opened in Colon. Two further waves of Jewish immigration led to the opening of two more synagogues in Panama City. Shevet Achim was built by the large community of Syrian Jews who arrived in the 1930s. Eastern European Jews fleeing the Nazis opened Beth El later that decade. Today, there are approximately 10,000 Panamanian Jews, mostly in Panama City, but also in Colon, David, Chitre and several other cities.

Jews have found success in Panama and have been accepted by the country, so much so that twice Jews have held the office of President, although the first time it was a technical presidency. Max Delvalle Levy-Maduro (1911 - 1979), Vice-President from 1964 - 1968, was inaugurated as Acting President on April 8, 1967, while President Marco Aurelio Robles Mendez attended a week-long summit, as per Panamanian law. Moduro’s nephew, Eric Arturo Delvalle Cohen-Henriques (1937 - 2015), assumed the Presidency from the Vice-Presidency after the President with whom he was elected was forced to resign. He served from 1985 until 1988, losing his office after he tried to remove the infamous Manuel Noriega as head of the military.

Today's Treat is in honor of Panama's separation from Colombia, which took place on November 3, 1903.



Copyright © 2017 NJOP. All rights reserved.

Bibliography

Sweet Music

Enhance your Shabbat meal by singing special Shabbat songs. (Click here to learn the meaning behind a few such songs.)

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Jabotinsky

When Vladimir Yevgenyevich Zhabotinsky was born on 13 Cheshvan (October 18) 1880, in Odessa, it was probably inconceivable that he would become a staunch advocate for the resettlement of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel or that he would be known to history as Ze’ev Jabotinsky.

Jabotinsky began his writing career in his teens under the pseudonym Altalena. While living in Italy and Switzerland, he served as a cultural correspondent for several Russian newspapers. He was so popular that he was asked to come to Odessa for a full-time position.

After the horrible Kishinev Pogroms shocked Ukrainian Jewry, Jabotinsky went from being a passive supporter to an active proponent of Zionism. He attended the Sixth Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, and then spent the next several years traveling throughout the Jewish world encouraging Jewish self-defense and advocating for the Zionist cause.

At the beginning of World War I, Jabotinsky realized that the Zionist cause needed the Ottomans to be defeated. Together with Joseph Trumpeldor, he helped create the Zionist Mule Corp, which became the Jewish Legion of the British Army. However, after the war, he concluded that the British were not sincere about helping to  form the Jewish state. His leadership in the Haganah, a paramilitary organization, which led to his arrest in 1920. Although he was sentenced to 15 years for illegal arm possession, loud protests against his arrest led to his release.

In 1923, Jabotinsky, irate over the division of Transjordan from Palestine, broke with the larger Zionist body. Jabotinsky’s new movement, Revisionist Zionism, opposed both British assistance and the socialist bias of the general Zionist movement. He also formed the Betar youth movement to advocate his viewpoint. Revisionist Zionists in the Haganah formed the sub-group known as the Irgun, whose actions were more aggressive than the Haganah’s.

The British took advantage of Jabotinsky's 1930 speakng tour and revoked his visa to Palestine. He continued to promote his cause while also advocating for an evacuation plan for the Jews of Poland, Hungary and Romania.

In 1940, while speaking at a Betar summer camp in upstate New York, Jabotinsky suffered a fatal heart attack at age 59. He was buried at the campsite until 1964, when his remains were brought to Israel and laid to rest on Mt. Herzl.


Copyright © 2017 NJOP. All rights reserved.
Bibliography

Friendship

When you hear a friend is troubled, reach out to them and let them know you are there in whatever way they need you.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

An Unholy Act with the Best Intentions

There are many stories in the Torah that might be deemed “too adult,” and are generally glossed over in Hebrew school. But, like every narrative in the Bible, these stories have significance to the history of the Jewish people.

The text of the story of Lot and his daughters is particularly fascinating. Lot’s daughters commit incest in order to save the world from coming to an end, or at least so they believed. After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot’s elder daughter said to the younger, “Our father is old and there is not a man on earth to consort with us in the way of all the world. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and let us lie with him that we may maintain life through our father” (Genesis 19:32-33). The elder did so on the first night and the younger the night after. They both conceived. The elder named her son Moab (from my father); the younger named her child Ben-Ammi (son of my nation).

One of the most fascinating commentaries on this section of the Torah notes that dots appear over the description of the elder daughter rising up from her father’s bed. These dots communicate that Lot was aware of her leaving, and thus aware of what had happened the previous night. This commentary is a rebuke to him, since he did not hesitate when his daughters offered him wine again the next evening.

Jewish law views incest as one of the most heinous crimes, and, indeed, the descendants of Lot’s daughters were enemies of the Israelites when they returned from Egypt. The Torah even prohibits marrying the men of Moab and Ammon, seeing great fault in their national character. Despite the transgression, from the ancient incestuous act of Lot’s daughters, done out of a desire to save humankind, came Ruth, the great-grandmother of King David and thus an ancestor to the Messiah.


Copyright © 2017 NJOP. All rights reserved.

What's Intended

Don't judge the intentions of other people.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Visiting Graves

Graveyard tours are often promoted in the month of October as an opportunity for spookiness. Judaism, however, encourages visiting the burial sites of relatives and holy people at all times of the year. Such visits are seen as opportunities for prayer, reflection and inspiration. Certain sites, such as the Tomb of Mother Rachel (whose yahrtzeit is observed today) and the Tomb of the Patriarchs, are considered particularly auspicious for supplication.

The Jewish view of the afterlife is of an existence that is complex. In life, a person has the opportunity to perform mitzvot and grow spiritually (or the opposite). This opportunity ends at death, but the soul lives on in its appointed place in Heaven. There it remains attuned to life on earth while in the embrace of the Divine presence (for more on the afterlife, click here). Praying at a grave connects the petitioner to the departed, calling for their spiritual advocacy on behalf of those who live.

The Talmud records that when the 12 spies went into the Land of Israel (click here), Caleb, who was one of the scouts, visited the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and prayed, “My fathers, pray on my behalf that I may be delivered from the plan [to discourage entering the Land of Israel] of the [other] spies” (Talmud Sotah 34b).

Rachel’s Tomb is a particularly popular location for prayers. The Midrash Rabbah mentions that when the Babylonians drove the Jewish people out of the Land of Israel, they passed by the very same road where Rachel lay buried. Upon seeing her weeping descendants, the soul of Rachel presented herself before the Heavenly Court and successfully advocated for Divine mercy that her children be allowed to return to the Holy Land. (Click here to read more.)

While others may go to graveyards to see what goes “bump in the night,” a Jewish visit to a graveyard is an opportunity to demonstrate respect for those who have passed, to find inspiration in the deeds of the departed and to have a few words with the Giver of all life.


Copyright © 2017 NJOP. All rights reserved.
Bibliography

Grave Visit

If you are nearby, visit the graves of your relatives.

Monday, October 30, 2017

But Mom, You Promised

Parenting is no easy task. From a very early age, children demand and seek gifts and concessions from their parents. And particularly in our overly-materialistic society, children want a lot of things. Far too often a parent finds him/herself placating a crying or misbehaving child by promising them a special treat or a toy, or some other reward, if they’ll just behave.

Whether or not this is the appropriate way to handle the rearing of one’s child is not Jewish Treats' place to judge. However, it is interesting to note the importance of what one does with those promises made in the middle of the grocery store.

The Talmud states (Sukkah 46b): “Rabbi Zeira said: One should not say to a child, ‘I will give you something,’ and then not give it to him/her, because that teaches the child to lie, as it is stated: “They train their tongue to speak falsehood’ (Jeremiah 9:4).” This is not only a problem because one is teaching a child that it is okay to tell a falsehood, but because it could actually involve several other prohibitions as well.

For instance, just as one must pay a worker on time, so too one must pay one’s child on time for mowing the lawn, or reward one’s child with the promised treat that same day--unless otherwise specified. And if one fails to fulfill the promise...alas, it could be considered a form of stealing!

So, to parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and all other adults who spend time with kids...watch what you say and be careful of any promises. ( “Maybe,” “I’ll think about...,” “later,” etc. are ambiguous enough to avoid such problems!)

This Treat was last posted on October 29, 2009.

Copyright © 2017 NJOP. All rights reserved.


Greatest Effort

Always try to fulfill the words that you speak.

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Jews of Amsterdam

October 27, 1275 is noted as the first time the name “Amsterdam” was recorded as the name of a settlement near a dam on the Amstel River. That small fishing village grew into a vibrant city that became a safe-haven for both Sephardi and Ashkenazi Jews in the late Middle Ages.

During its early years, Amsterdam came under the influence of several different rulers, including Phillip II of Spain. As part of the Union of Utrecht in 1579, the citizens of Amsterdam left Spanish rule, which they resented due to its high taxes and religious intolerance of Protestants. This treaty included a prohibition of persecuting a person for their religious beliefs, a rule that was particularly note-worthy for the Portuguese Jews who were living their public lives as Christians to avoid persecution by the Inquisition. In Amsterdam, they could shed their converso personas and live as Jews.

It is believed that Sephardi Jews began arriving in Amsterdam in the late 1500s and that their first organized service took place in 1596, which led to the formation of Congregation Beth Jacob. By 1608, the community was large enough to support a second synagogue, Neweh Shalom, and a third, Bet Yisrael, in 1618. The three consolidated into one in 1638.

Amsterdam was also a haven for Ashkenazim. The first Ashkenazi Jews to settle in Amsterdam were Jews fleeing the Thirty Year War in Germany. By 1635, they established the first Ashkenazi synagogue. In 1648, there was an influx of Polish Jews fleeing the Chmielnicki pogroms and, in 1655, Lithuanian Jews took refuge there from a Russian invasion. The numerous different communities led the government to require a unified community.

Like most cities in the Middle Ages, Jews were restricted in their professions and interactions with non-Jews. However, their protection from overall persecution allowed Amsterdam’s Jews to flourish. The city became a center of Jewish printing and an oasis of Jewish scholarship and accomplishment.

Copyright © 2017 NJOP. All rights reserved.
Bibliography

Resting Time

Schedule in a Shabbat nap for Saturday afternoon.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Women of Vision

Our sages teach that there were seven women famed for their prophecy. (Talmud Megilla 14a states that only prophecies with a message for the future were recorded. In reality, there were many more than the 55 prophets listed in the Bible.) Jewish Treats presents the female prophets to you, accompanied by short commentaries of who they were:

1) Sarah, the wife of Abraham, had her request for the banishment of Hagar and Ishmael supported by God Himself, who told Abraham to listen to her, as she was a greater prophet than her husband.

2) Miriam, the older sister of Moses, was actually blessed with prophecy at an early age. It was Miriam who encouraged her parents to reunite after separating so that Moses might be conceived.

3) Deborah was both a prophetess and a Judge over Israel. She led the nation into war, and victory, against the Canaanite General Sisera.

4) Hannah, the mother of the prophet Samuel, was barren for over 10 years. Hannah’s near-silent prayers, challenging God on her very essence of being a woman, became the model for Jewish prayer.

5) Abigail interceded with the-not-yet-king David on behalf of her stingy husband, Nabal, who refused to pay David for guard work. Abigail stepped in to diffuse the future king’s rage. When, shortly thereafter, Nabal died, David and Abigail were wed.

6) Huldah, a cousin of the prophet Jeremiah, prophesied in one of the gates of the First Temple. Her consultation with King Josiah is recorded in the Second Book of Kings.

7) Esther, the heroine of Purim and wife of the Persian King Ahashverosh, was the only person who could persuade the king to revoke the order that he had issued calling for the destruction of all the Jews of Persia.


This Treat was originally posted on January 8, 2009.

Copyright © 2017 NJOP. All rights reserved.

Your House

Place mezuzot on all the doorposts of your house (except the bathroom).

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

A Great Historian

Author of over 80 different works, the Right Honorable Sir Martin Gilbert is best known in the Jewish world for his numerous volumes on Jewish history.

Born in London on October 25, 1936, Gilbert was one of thousands of children evacuated to Canada during the war. He returned to England in a transport arranged by Sir Winston Churchill, a fact that made Gilbert greatly admire Churchill and had a tremendous influence on his life.

After spending two years in Britain’s intelligence corps as part of his national service, Gilbert studied history at Oxford. He received his BA in 1960 and continued on as a research fellow. In 1962, he was chosen by Randolph Churchill to join the team working on the biography of his father, Winston. When Randolph Churchill passed away in 1968, with only two volumes published, it was decided that Gilbert would take over the project. Over the next 20 years, he wrote six more volumes to complete Churchill’s biography as well as several related volumes such as Churchill and the Jews.

At least 20 of Gilbert’s books have focused on Jewish life. Having visited concentration camps in the late 1950s, he felt it particularly important to record this history. In the 1980s, he took particular interest in the movement to free Soviet Jews. Throughout his life, he was an active member of the Jewish community and regularly attended Shabbat services.

Gilbert had an acclaimed career and was close with numerous national leaders, both in Britain and in Israel. In 1990, he was named Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and he was knighted, in 1995, for services to British history and international relations. In 2009, he was appointed a member of the Privy Council so that he could sit on the Chilcot Committee inquiring into the Iraq war.

Gilbert’s last book, In Ishmael’s House: A History of the Jews in Muslim Lands, was published in 2010. He passed away on February 3, 2015.

Copyright © 2017 NJOP. All rights reserved.
Bibliography

Simple Kindness

Share your umbrella.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Abraham in the Idol Shop

According to Jewish tradition,  Abram was very young when he came to the conclusion that the world had One Creator. Although it is often said that Abraham discovered monotheism, the fact is that he was not the first personality in the Torah to recognize God. He was, however, the first to try to actively share his world view with others. It wasn’t easy, since few people want to have the basic principle of their life questioned. But Abraham did so anyway. For Abraham to promote belief in one God was particularly challenging, as his father, Terach, specialized in making and selling idols.

The Midrash records two incidents that occurred in Terach’s workshop. The first provides a snapshot of how Abraham would dissuade customers from buying his father’s wares. He would tell middle-aged customers: “Woe to him who is sixty years old and worships something made today...” (Genesis Rabbah 38:13). The second incident was his “last stand” with his father. A customer delivered a plate of food for the statues and instructed Abraham to feed the idols. After the customer left, Abraham took a club, broke all of the idols, and placed the club in the hands of the biggest idol. When Abraham’s father returned, he asked: Who did all of this? Abraham responded that when he put the offering of food before the idols, they began fighting who would eat the food first. Then the biggest idol smashed the others. Terach responded: “What? Do you think you can trick me? Idols don’t have cognition!” Abraham said: “Do your ears hear what your mouth is saying?” (ibid).

Like most parents, Terach was less than happy at what he likely saw as his son’s rebellion.
As obvious as Abraham’s response seems to us today, he was boldly declaring that the foundations of the very society in which they lived were false. That accusation would lead him to the court of Nimrod and, eventually to the Land of Canaan.

Copyright © 2017 NJOP. All rights reserved.

Strength in Understanding

Study Midrash (extra-Biblical legends) to better understand the narrative of the Torah.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Two Mondays and a Thursday

The Jewish calendar includes two week-long, Torah-ordained holidays: Passover and Sukkot (the latter of which ended a little over a week ago).* These holidays fill our spiritual needs with beautiful prayers and customs meant to help us connect with the Divine. The holidays are also replete with worldly pleasures such as festive meals that are often like banquets and  feasts, and days full of abundant socializing.

These week-long celebrations are also connected to a custom known as BeHaB. BeHaB is not a word but rather an acronym representing “Bet” (Monday, the second day of the week) - “Hey” (Thursday, the fifth day of the week) - “Bet” (again, Monday, the second day of the week). It refers to an ancient Ashkenazi tradition of fasting (voluntarily) on the first Monday-Thursday-Monday of the months of Iyar and Cheshvan, the months that immediately follow Passover and Sukkot, respectively. Additionally, Selichot (special penitential prayers) are added to the morning service. The fast, however, is not observed on a day that a simcha, a happy occasion such as a brit milah (circumcision), is celebrated.

BeHaB is not mentioned in the Torah or the Talmud, but it is a custom that has been observed by Ashkenazi Jews for centuries. While the actual origin of this tradition is obscure, there are several common suggestions as to its purpose. Many believe that the BeHaB fasting and prayers are meant to starkly contrast with the recent days of holiday revelry when one might have conducted themselves more freely than they should have. Fasting leads to penitence. Similarly, some have correlated BeHaB to the fact that only Passover and Sukkot have chol hamoed, the interim days of the holiday during which one may perform some, but not all, of the creative labors generally prohibited on a festival days. The fasts of BeHaB are meant to atone for the frequent, unintended chol hamoed transgressions. These are just two of the ideas connected to the fasts.

*Chanukah, which is 8 days long, is rabbinically ordained.

Copyright © 2017 NJOP. All rights reserved.
Bibliography

Supporting

Be supportive of others who are trying to add Jewish practice and spirituality into their lives. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

White Papers

For those who have studied the history of the return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel, the term “White Paper” is at once familiar and ambiguous. It is commonly understood that the issuance of “The White Paper” by Great Britain hampered the Zionist movement by limiting Jewish immigration into the British Mandate of Palestine.

The fact of the matter is that in relation to Palestine, the British government issued three White Papers, all of which were, in their own way, reactions to the Balfour Declaration and limited the Jewish benefits. Issued in 1917, not long after the British took over the Ottoman territory, the Balfour Declaration was a statement of the British Foreign Minister declaring Britain’s support for the establishment of a Jewish homeland.

The first White Paper, known as the Churchill White Paper, was published on June 2, 1922, as part of the conclusion into an investigation of an Arab riot that had taken place in Jaffa in May 1921. While this White Paper affirmed Britain’s support of creating a Jewish homeland, it also emphasized that Jewish immigration would be permitted only in correlation to the land’s economic absorptive capacity.”

On October 20, 1930, following the particularly violent riots in 1929, the British government issued the Passfield White Paper. This document downplayed Britain’s commitment to a Jewish homeland and limited the ability of Jews to buy land. It restricted Jewish immigration as a means of avoiding “overcrowding.”

The final White Paper was issued in 1939 and was created after the Peel Commission recommended partitioning the land into two separate territories. The 1939 White Paper rejected the partition plan. While it contained statements supporting a Jewish homeland in Palestine, tragically it also set a limit of 75,000 Jewish immigrants over the next five years (a period when a safe haven was most needed by the victims of the Holocaust).

Copyright © 2017 NJOP. All rights reserved.
Bibliography

Shabbat Wine

If you enjoy wine, check out the collection of kosher wines available at your local kosher wine vendor or online.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Honoring Those Who Have Passed

Sometimes the world seems a bit like alphabet soup. There are the ever increasing abbreviations that are being made popular via texting (e.g. “ttyl”-talk to you later, and “imho”-in my humble opinion). And one can hardly ignore the various titles that appear in abbreviated form following a person’s name (e.g. PhD, MD, JD, MBA).

Judaism also has a range of abbreviations that follow a name. Many see these abbreviations all their lives without ever knowing exactly what they mean. Perhaps the most common are those abbreviations that are used to honor the dead.

The three most frequent honorific abbreviations are: Z”L, O.B.M. and A”H. Z”L is an acronym for the Hebrew words zichrono/zichrona liv’racha (male/female), most often translated as “May his/her memory be blessed.” “Of Blessed Memory” is succinctly abbreviated as O.B.M. A”H is the abbreviation for alav/aleha hashalom, which is translated as “May peace be upon him/her.”

For righteous individuals, such as great rabbis and leaders, the abbreviation ZT”L, zecher tzaddik liv'racha, is often used. It means, “May the memory of this righteous person be a blessing.”

These terms are added both when writing and/or talking about an individual. Not only does it inform people that the person is no longer living, but is also a way of bringing blessing upon the memory and the soul of the deceased.

This Treat was originally posted on December 11, 2008.

Copyright © 2017 NJOP. All rights reserved.


Respectful Memory

Speak respectfully of those who have passed.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Jews of Puerto Rico

On October 18, 1898, the “Stars and Stripes” flag of the United States was raised over Puerto Rico, announcing that the island was now under American sovereignty. Today’s Treat presents an overview of the history of Puerto Rico’s Jewish community (and is dedicated to the island’s speedy recovery from the devastation of Hurricane Maria).

Although there is a great deal of speculation about Jews arriving on the island when Christopher Columbus first arrived in the Western Hemisphere -- which was the same time that Jews were expelled from Spain -- there is little known Jewish history there before the 20th century. It is believed that “Crypto Jews” (Jews living as Christians, also known as conversos/annusim /marranos) who came to settle there are believed to have moved to more remote, mountainous areas in order to avoid any possible attention from the Inquisition. Even after the abolishment of the Inquisition and Spain’s 1870 Acto de Culto Condicionado – issued after a failed uprising -- allowing freedom of religion in Puerto Rico in hopes of encouraging loyal settlement, few Jews settled there.

The origins of the modern Jewish community, which began in the 1930s and 190s, was primarily composed of refugees from Europe and some U.S. servicemen who chose to remain on the island after the war. Puerto Rico’s Jewish Community Center opened in 1942. Shaare Tzedek synagogue, a Conservative congregation, was established ten years later. Today, Puerto Rico is noted for having synagogues representing the range of Jewish denominations: Reform Temple Beth Shalom was established in 1967 and the Orthodox Chabad of Puerto Rico in 1999.  Additionally, in 2005, a Satmar community opened a synagogue in Mayaguez.


Copyright © 2017 NJOP. All rights reserved.
Bibliography

Season's Change

Prepare for the coming winter by helping others and donating food/clothing/money to a local shelter.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Look at the Raven

With its sharp black feathers and piercing ebony eyes, the raven could be seen as a much maligned bird. It is often considered a harbinger, or even a minion, of evil. The root of the raven’s reputation is quite probably Genesis 8:6-7. Two seemingly simple verses: “At the end of 40 days, Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made. He sent forth a raven, and it went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from the earth.”

On a basic reading, it seems quite puzzling that what the raven did could be seen as wrong. According to one understanding of the text, Noah sent the raven to test the living conditions of the world, and, upon finding it uninhabitable, the raven stayed outside of the ark waiting to fulfill its mission. Its mission is clarified by the next verse: “Then he [Noah] sent the dove to see whether the water had decreased from the earth” (ibid 8:8). The dove went out, found no place to perch and returned to the ark until it was sent out again and then returned with the olive branch. The dove and its olive branch became an eternal symbol of peace.

The Talmud, however, includes an aggadic (non-legalistic, legendary) passage that sheds a very different light on the verse concerning the raven. According to Resh Lakish, the raven concluded that Noah was sending him out of the ark as a sign of hatred. “You hate me, since you are sending me, instead of one of the species of which there are seven. If I die, there will be no more of my kind.” Next, the raven actually accused Noah of desiring his mate. (Talmud Sanhedrin 108b).

The Talmud further states that the raven was one of three creatures that had relations while on the ark (which was forbidden while humanity was drowning).

This anthropomorphic dialogue is meant to demonstrate how deeply the raven identified with the corrupt creatures of society. According to tradition, civilization has been wiped out because of reckless self-absorption. People not only took what they wanted, but they presumed that everyone around them must have the same deprivations that they did. Deep selfishness is the behavior that facilitates evil, and thus the reputation of the raven was affected “evermore.” (Reference to Edgar Allan Poe’s poem, "The Raven")

Copyright © 2017 NJOP. All rights reserved.

Kind Judgement

Judge others favorably.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Connecting the Words

In honor of “Dictionary Day,” Jewish Treats looks at a renowned Jewish dictionary that has served scholars and students since the turn of the 20th century.  A Dictionary of Targumim, Talmud Bavli, Talmud Yerushalmi and Midrashic Literature, was authored by Marcus Jastrow. Known popularly as The Jastrow Dictionary, it was a unique project that demonstrated the connection of the Aramaic language of the Talmud to the Hebrew of the Torah. Although other lexicons of the Aramaic language have been created, almost none cover the breadth of language researched and charted by Jastrow.

Born in Prussia in 1829, Marcus Jastrow had a diverse education that was rich both in religious study and secular academics. He completed his studies at the University of Berlin and received a PhD from the University of Halle while also completing his studies for rabbinic ordination.

His first rabbinic position was in Warsaw, where he was quickly swept up in national politics, supporting the “revolutionaries” and ending up in jail before being sent back to Prussia. He then took a position as the District Rabbi of Worms.

In 1866, Jastrow accepted the pulpit at Congregation Rodeph Shalom in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and quickly became an active member of the American Jewish community. He taught courses at Philadelphia’s Maimonides College and helped found the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.

Jastrow began working on his dictionary, which took nearly twenty years to complete, in 1876, while he was recovering from an illness. During this time, Jastrow also worked on several other projects, including the Jewish Encyclopedia, for the Jewish Publication Society of America (now JPS International).

Dr. Jastrow, who received an additional doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania in 1900, retired from the pulpit in 1892, when Rodeph Shalom voted to join the Reform Movement. He passed away on Simchat Torah (October 13) 1903. His dictionary, with its alphabetical organization, cross-referencing and root charting, and index of scriptural references, is still in popular use today.

Copyright © 2017 NJOP. All rights reserved.
Bibliography