Sephardi Mizrahi Studies Caucus Discussion List
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Sephardi Mizrahi Studies Caucus Discussion List – January 30, 2010

Association for Jewish Studies Sephardi/Mizrahi Studies Caucus Discussion List

Editor/Moderator: Aviva Ben-Ur <aben-ur(at)judnea(dot)umass(dot)edu>

Week of Sunday, January 30, 2010 (15 Shevat 5770)


For archived issues please visit:



1. Call for Papers: “Patronage and the Sacred Book in the Medieval Mediterranean,” Boston, October 2010 (Decter)

2. Call for Applications: Summer course, “Messianism - Jewish and Christian Perspectives,” Central European University, Budapest, July 2010 (Miller)

3. Call for Applications: Research Fellowships at The New York Public Library (Terry and Baumann)

4. Call for Associate Editors: _Journal of Indo-Judaic Studies_ (Katz)

5. New Publication: _Min-Ad: Israel Studies in Musicology Online_, Vol. VII/II 2008-09, “Hearing Israel: Music, Culture and History at 60” (Rubin)

6. New Publication: A Critical Edition of the Ladino Play _Rinyo o El Amor Salvaje_ (Halevy)

7. New Recording Publication: Hazzan Isaac Azose’s CD “Ladino Reflections” (Azose)

8. New Publication: _Dictionnaire des sépharades portugais_: Dictionary of Portuguese Sephardi Merchants (Mendes Pinto)

9. Report and Article on This Month’s Jamaican Jewish Conference: “Jamaican Jewish ties: Belafonte and Farrakhan maybe, but definitely not Marley” (Shefler)

10. Book Review: Schechter on Leff, _Sacred Bonds of Solidarity: The Rise of Jewish Internationalism in Nineteenth-Century France_ (Leff)

11. Lecture at Florida International University: “The Secret Jews of the Caribbean” (Zohar)


1. Call for Papers: “Patronage and the Sacred Book in the Medieval Mediterranean,” Boston, October 2010 (Decter)

From: Jonathan P Decter [mailto:decter(at)brandeis(dot)edu]

via: "Mendelsohn, Adam D" <MendelsohnA(at)COFC(dot)EDU>

Date: Fri, 15 Jan 2010 10:25:58 -0500

Conference Call for Papers

Patronage and the Sacred Book in the Medieval Mediterranean

Organized by Esperanza Alfonso (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, Madrid) and Jonathan Decter (Brandeis University)

Brandeis University, October 18-19, 2010

Sacred books (including Jewish Bibles, Christian Bibles, Qurans, prayer books, psalters, haggadot, translations of and commentaries on Scripture, etc.) were at the center of book production for Jews, Christians and Muslims throughout the Middle Ages. This conference will investigate issues in the patronage, production, circulation and consumption of sacred books in the Western Mediterranean during the High and Late Middle Ages (roughly 10th-15th Century). In what ways did the demands of patronage nurture, determine, or constrain areas of intellectual and artistic engagement?  How did patronage in the royal court differ from patronage in other contexts (the Church, religious

orders, the madrasa, the university, the circles of learned elites, non-institutional settings)?  What role did women play in the patronage, production or circulation of books?  The interest of this conference is twofold: the patronage of sacred texts in comparative contexts and the role of inter-religious elements in the production of sacred texts. Topics for papers might include the adoption of book-making techniques across religious boundaries, Jewish/Christian/Muslim collaborative translations or art/text productions, interest in reading, producing, or interpreting the sacred texts of other religious traditions, or other related questions.

Conference participants will receive free travel expenses and accommodations at a hotel near Brandeis (Brandeis University is located in Waltham, MA, a 20 minute drive to Boston or Cambridge).

Please send an abstract of no more than 150 words to Jonathan Decter

(decter(at)brandeis(dot)edu) and Esperanza Alfonso

(esperanza(dot)alfonso(at)cchs(dot)csic(dot)es) before February 10, 2010.


2. Call for Applications: Summer course, “Messianism - Jewish and Christian Perspectives,” Central European University, Budapest, July 2010 (Miller)

From: michael miller <mllm39(at)gmail(dot)com>

via: "Mendelsohn, Adam D" <MendelsohnA(at)COFC(dot)EDU>

Date: Fri, 15 Jan 2010 11:33:13 -0500

The Central European Univesity Summer University announces the course, "Messianism - Jewish-Christian Perspectives," July 5-16, 2010, in Budapest, Hungary.

(In co-operation with the Center for Jewish Studies, The Gerst Program for Political, Economic, and Humanistic Studies, Center for International Studies at Duke University (USA). Supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.)

This course will explore the ancient messianic idea, its spatial expansion, and its ideational development up to the present. The topic will be approached from a wide variety of disciplines (Political Science, History, Philosophy, Anthropology), sharing a common focus on the messiah as a central and enduring symbol of Jewish and Christian societies and their interconnected eschatological expectations.

The main aim and objective of this course is to provide a solid knowledge of the role of messianism in shaping Jewish and Christian traditions in order to relate this knowledge to phenomena in modern society and thought,create the ability to evaluate the ongoing

relevance of the messianic traditions in modern thought and politics, and identify the religious dimensions in seemingly secular ideologies and movements.

This summer school is divided into two one-week sections. The first week covers the ancient oriental origins of the messianic idea and its articulation in Judaism and Christianity up to the Late Middle Ages. The second week focuses on the messianic symbolisms in modern Christians and Jewish societies but also in the political visions of

liberalism and socialism, in Romantic literature, as well as in idealist and existential philosophy.

Applications are invited from junior faculty and advanced graduate students. The Application Deadline is February 15, 2010

Course Directors: Michael L. Miller and Matthias Riedl (Central European University)

Faculty: Ida Froehlich (Pazmany Peter Catholic University), Michael A. Gillespie (Duke University), Malachi Hacohen (Duke University), Moshe Idel (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Vlad Namescu (Central European University).

For On-Line Application (or additional information), please visit our




3. Call for Applications: Research Fellowships at The New York Public Library (Terry and Baumann)

From: mterry(at)nypl(dot)org

via: "Mendelsohn, Adam D" <MendelsohnA(at)COFC(dot)EDU>

Date:  Fri, 29 Jan 2010 09:30:02 -0500

Short-Term Research Fellowships at The New York Public Library

The New York Public Library is delighted to announce the availability of up to ten fellowships to support visiting scholars wishing to pursue research during 2010 in the Library's Dorot Jewish Division, Manuscripts and Archives Division, Miriam & Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, or the Carl H. Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle. Awards will be in the range of $2,500-$3,000. Scholars from outside the New York metropolitan area engaged in graduate-level, post-doctoral, or independent research are invited to apply.

The Dorot Jewish Division houses one of the world's great collections of Hebraica and Judaica. Primary source materials are especially rich in the following areas: Jews in the United States, especially in New York in the age of immigration; Yiddish theater; Jews in the land of Israel, through 1948; Jews in early modern Europe, especially Jewish-Gentile relations; Christian Hebraism; antisemitism; and world Jewish newspapers and periodicals of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. For more information see:

The Manuscripts and Archives Division holds some 30,000 linear feet of archival material in more than 3,000 collections, with material dating from the third millennium BCE to the present. The focus is on the history of New York, documented in the papers of individuals, families, and organizations, primarily from the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries. Holdings are especially strong in politics, literature, publishing, and activism.

Important collections include the archives of: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc.; the New Yorker Magazine, Inc.; the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars; the National Civic Federation; the New York Central Railroad; the National Audubon Society; and the New York World's Fairs of 1939-1940 and 1964-1965, among many others. For more information see:

The Miriam & Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs comprises the Art and Architecture Collection, the Photography Collection and the Print Collection.

The Art and Architecture Collection is a major reference collection supporting research on the fine and decorative arts, architecture, and design. Its holdings are strong in monographs and monographic series, exhibition catalogs and catalogues raisonn=E9s, auction records and periodicals, both in English and in other European languages. For more information see:

The Photography Collection comprises approximately 500,000 photographs by

6,000 photographers, including examples of almost every photographic process from the daguerreotype to digital imagery. It is especially strong in photographically illustrated books, travel and topographical photography, stereoscopic views, and portraiture. Other strengths include works from the first years of photography, American photography from the 1930s and 40s, limited edition portfolios, and works by New York-based photographers working in the 1970s and 80s. For more information see:

The Print Collection comprises close to 200,000 original prints, spanning the history of Western art from 15th-century woodcuts to 21st-century digital prints, with a special strength in 19th- and 20th-century American prints, by New York artists in particular. Japanese woodcuts, especially of the 18th and 19th centuries, but from as far back as the 10th century, are another special strength. For more information see:

The Carl H. Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle is one of the world's leading repositories for the study of British Romanticism. Its holdings consist of some 25,000 books, manuscripts, letters, and other objects, chiefly from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The collection focuses on the life and work of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and his contemporaries, including his second wife, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, her parents, William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, and such friends and fellow writers as Lord Byron, Claire Clairmont, Teresa Guiccioli, Thomas Hogg, Leigh Hunt, Thomas Love Peacock, and Edward Trelawny. Besides the books and manuscripts of the Shelley circle, the collection offers a wide range of collateral materials from the Romantic era. Because of the significance of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley in the history of women's writing, materials concerning women have always formed an important component of the Pforzheimer Collection. For more information see:

Applications must demonstrate how the New York Public Library's collections are essential to the research proposed, and successful applicants are expected to contribute a report on their findings, suitable for posting to the Library's website, at the conclusion of their fellowship.

Applicants who are neither United States citizens nor entitled to work in the U.S. nor citizens of participant countries in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program will be responsible for arranging an acceptable visa  (such as the B-1 business-classification visitor's visa, but not the B-2 tourist-classification visitor's visa). Awards will be made as reimbursements of travel and/or per diem expenses where this is required by the recipient's visa status.

Applications must be received by April 1, 2010, and should include:

--Cover letter

--Curriculum vitae

--Outline of proposed research and indication of Library holdings to be used (not more than 1,000 words)

--Outline budget for travel and per diem expenses

--Proposed dates to be spent in residence

--One letter of recommendation

Application materials, including letters of recommendation, may be submitted by email in PDF format (the preferred submission method) to jbaumann(at)nypl(dot)org. Applications may also be sent in print format to:

Jason Baumann

The New York Public Library

Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

476 Fifth Avenue

New York NY 10018

For questions about the program or the Library's collections, please contact Jason Baumann at jbaumann(at)nypl(dot)org. Awards will be announced

April 30.


4. Call for Associate Editors: _Journal of Indo-Judaic Studies_ (Katz)

From: katzn18(at)gmail(dot)com

via: "Mendelsohn, Adam D" <MendelsohnA(at)COFC(dot)EDU>

Date:  Thu, 28 Jan 2010 10:24:27 -0500

Seeking two associate editors for _Journal of Indo-Judaic Studies_

JIJS began publishing in 1998. So far, ten issues have appeared and the eleventh is in the press. The journal is dedicated to analyzing the affinities and interactions between Indic and Judaic civilizations from ancient through contemporary times. Among the disciplines represented over the past decade are religious studies, history, political science, anthropology, comparative literature, linguistics, social psychology, migration studies, and archaeology.

Since its inception, the journal has been co-edited by Nathan Katz of Florida International University and Braj Mohan Sinha of the University of Saskatchewan, guided by an editorial board comprised of scholars from North America, India, Israel and Europe.

We would like to appoint to associate editors. Each should be knowledgeable about Indian and Jewish studies, and one should be well connected in the Jewish Studies world, the other in the Indian studies world.

So far, the editors have managed to obtain support from foundations and their home universities. During the transition to new leadership, efforts will be made to stabilize financial support and to develop an enduring relationship with an established publisher. The new associate editors would work with the editors during the transition over the next several years, after which time they would succeed Katz and Sinha as editors.

Appointment will be made in consultation with the editorial board. Nominations or self-nominations should be addressed to Katz at katzn(at)fiu(dot)edu

Nathan Katz


5. New Publication: _Min-Ad: Israel Studies in Musicology Online_, Vol. VII/II 2008-09, “Hearing Israel: Music, Culture and History at 60” (Rubin)

From: Joel E. Rubin [mailto:joelerubin(at)virginia(dot)edu]

via: "Mendelsohn, Adam D" <MendelsohnA(at)COFC(dot)EDU>

Date: Tue, 19 Jan 2010 10:15:39 -0500

Table of Contents: _Min-Ad: Israel Studies in Musicology Online_, VII/II: 2008-09

We are very proud to announce the publication of our latest issue of MinAd: Israel Studies in Musicology Online, entitled: Hearing Israel: Music, Culture and History at 60. This special issue, edited by Prof. James Loeffler and Prof. Joel Rubin of the University of Virginia, contains proceedings from a conference on Israeli music that took place at the University of Virginia in 2008. For further information about this conference, please visit the website at

Below is the Table of Contents of this issue for your reference. The Online publication can be accessed through Google at Min-Ad Home, and at

MinAd: Israel Studies in Musicology Online

Volume 7/II -2008-2009

Table of Contents

James Loeffler and Joel Rubin, guest editors

Introduction: Hearing Israel: Music, Culture and History at 60

Motti Regev and Edwin Seroussi

Remembering Galit Saada-Ophir, z”l

Edwin Seroussi

Israeli Music and its Study: Processes and Experiences

Benjamin Brinner

Beyond Ethnic Tinge or Ethnic Fringe: The Emergence of New Israeli/Palestinian Musical Competences & Connections

Galeet Dardashti

‘Sing us a Mawwal’: The Politics of Culture-Brokering Palestinian-Israelis in Israel

Jehoash Hirschberg

The Vision of the East and the Heritage of the West: A Comprehensive Model of Ideology and Practice in Israeli Art Music

David A. McDonald

Carrying Words Like Weapons: Hip-Hop and the Poetics of Palestinian Identities in Israel

Amit M. Schejter and C. Michael Elavsky

‘And the Children of Israel Sang this Song’: The Role of Israeli Law and Policy in the Advancement of Israeli Music

Francesco Spagnolo

Crossing the Sea of Song: Politics of Mediterranean Music between Israel and Italy

Joseph Goldenberg

Review of Pentatonicism from the Eighteenth Century to Debussy by Jeremy Day-O’Connell (Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2007).

Morel Koren

Dan Timis - In Memoriam

Menahem Weisenberg

Remembering Dr. Erez Rapoport z”l (in Hebrew)

Our next issue of MinAd, co-edited with Dr. Rivka Elkoshi, will be devoted to articles relating to Music Education.


6. New Publication: A Critical Edition of the Ladino Play _Rinyo o El Amor Salvaje_ (Halevy)

From: michael halévy <michael(dot)halevy(at)googlemail(dot)com>

Date: Sun, 24 Jan 2010 22:31:36 +0100 [04:31:36 PM EST]


Muevo Livro

Michael Studemund-Halévy, ed., _Rinyo o El Amor Salvaje. Una obra teatral en judeoespañol de Abraham Galante publicada en 1906, edisyon kritika_, Colección Fuente Clara, t. 15, Barcelona 2010, Tirocinio, ISBN: 978-84-935671-4-9

INFO: tirocinio(at)tirocinio(dot)com /


7. New Recording Publication: Hazzan Isaac Azose’s CD “Ladino Reflections” (Azose)

From: Isaac Azose <iazose(at)aol(dot)com>

Date:    Thu, 28 Jan 2010 20:00:46 -0500 [01/28/2010 08:00:46 PM EST]

Hazzan Isaac Azose Release New Double CD Set "Ladino Reflections"

"Twenty Years In The Dreaming, Six Months In The Making"

Hazzan Isaac Azose is pleased to announce the release of Ladino Reflections, a brand new two CD collection of classic Ladino Romansas and Folksongs. For musical samples and more information go to

Isaac Azose


8. New Publication: _Dictionnaire des sépharades portugais_: Dictionary of Portuguese Sephardi Merchants (Mendes Pinto)

From: <cat(dot)ests(dot)s(at)fl(dot)ul(dot)pt>

Date: Wed, 27 Jan 2010 17:22:45 -0000 [01/27/2010 12:22:45 PM EST]

Dictionnaire des sépharades portugais

Après cinq années de travail, le _Dictionnaire des sépharades portugais_ (volume sur les marchands) est terminé.


Pour réserver un exemplaire à ce prix, répondre simplement à ce courriel.

Vous pouvez savoir plus sur le dictionaire è:


Vous pouvez accéder à plus d'informations sur notre institution:


La coordination du projet,

Paulo Mendes Pinto


[Portuguese translations:]

A Cátedra de Estudos Sefarditas «Alberto Benveniste» da Universidade de Lisboa tem a honra de apresentar o produto central do seu primeiro projecto de investigação avaliado internacionalmente.


Após cinco anos de trabalho de uma vasta equipa, o Dicionário dos Sefarditas Portugueses: Mercadores e Gente de Trato encontra-se terminado e será colocado à venda no início de Dezembro.


A venda nas bancas terá o preço de 55 Euros. Contudo, quem fizer a encomenda directamente para a Cátedra «Alberto Benveniste» apenas pagará 35 Euros (a que acrescem os valores correspondente aos portes, caso o exemplar não seja levantado directamente nas instalações na Faculdade de Letras).


Para fazer a reserva do seu exemplar a este preço, basta responder a este e-mail.


Pode ter acesso a mais elementos sobre a nossa instituição em: <>


Com os melhores cumprimentos,

A coordenação do projecto,

Paulo Mendes Pinto


9. Report and Article on This Month’s Jamaican Jewish Conference: “Jamaican Jewish ties: Belafonte and Farrakhan maybe, but definitely not Marley” (Shefler)

Gil Shefler, “Jamaican Jewish ties: Belafonte and Farrakhan maybe, but definitely not Marley,” JTA: The Global News Service of the Jewish People,” January 21, 2010.

After a week of attending a Jewish conference here, I'm starting to feel like everybody in Jamaica has some kind of connection to Judaism.

Ainsley Henriques, the don of the local community, says thousands of Jamaicans have Jewish backgrounds, though they don't identify as Jews. A scan of the local telephone directory seems to confirm his claim: Thousands of Cohens, Levys and Gabays are listed. But the local Jewish congregation numbers a mere 200 members.

Take Jamaican dance-hall musician Sean Paul, for example. His paternal grandfather was a Jew whose surname was Henriques, the same as Ainsley's.

Another famous islander with Jewish roots is Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records who made a fortune signing and promoting the likes of Bob Marley, U2 and Oasis. Blackwell's mother's maiden name was Lindo, which is one of the prominent Jewish families on the island.

Henriques believes there is strong evidence that Harry Belafonte has ties to Judaism, too. He says the famous calypso singer's father was born in Jamaica and his surname is a corruption of Delevante, one of the island's Jewish clans.

Perhaps the most surprising claim of Jewish ties may be from Louis Farrakhan. Henriques said that on a tour of the synagogue in Kingston, the Nation of Islam leader told him that he believed he had Jewish Portuguese ancestors on his paternal side who were Jamaican. No inquiries have been made to confirm the claim, however.

With so many people from Jamaica having Jewish connections, one cannot help but ask about Marley. But Henriques is quick to dismiss such speculation about the reggae king.

“No, I know the family quite well and they're not Jewish,” Henriques said. “One of his sons is married to an Israeli, but he himself has no Jewish ancestry.”


10. Book Review: Schechter on Leff, _Sacred Bonds of Solidarity: The Rise of Jewish Internationalism in Nineteenth-Century France_ (Leff)

From: "Mendelsohn, Adam D" <MendelsohnA(at)COFC(dot)EDU>

Date: Tue, 19 Jan 2010 09:48:56 -0500

Lisa Moses Leff.  _Sacred Bonds of Solidarity: The Rise of Jewish Internationalism in Nineteenth-Century France_ (Stanford  Stanford University Press, 2006).  344 pp.  $63.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8047-5251-0.

Reviewed by Ronald Schechter (The College of William and Mary)

Published on H-Judaic (January, 2010)

Commissioned by Jason Kalman

French Jewry and International Solidarity

Jews in free and prosperous countries expose the conditions of their coreligionists who live under repressive regimes, amidst hostile populations, or in poverty elsewhere in the world. They protest on behalf of their less fortunate brethren. They write articles, make

speeches, circulate and sign petitions, and lobby politicians. They raise money to relieve the sufferings of fellow Jews and support orcreate institutions that promise permanent improvements in their condition. This is solidarity, and it's just what Jews do. It's what

they've always done. Or is it?

In her path-breaking book, _Sacred Bonds of Solidarity: The Rise of Jewish Internationalism in Nineteenth-Century France_, Lisa Moses Leff shows that what seems natural today--international Jewish solidarity--emerged out of very specific nineteenth-century circumstances, especially in France. The instigating event was the Damascus Affair of 1840, the notorious blood libel that resulted in the torture and death of Jews falsely accused of killing a Capuchin friar and his servant for the "ritual" use of their blood. This judicial outrage, over which the French consul had presided, incited the prominent Jewish lawyer and politician Adolphe Cremieux to intervene on behalf of the maligned and endangered Jews of Damascus. Together with the English Jewish leader Moses Montefiore, Cremieux traveled to Cairo to petition Mohammed Ali--governor of Egypt and de facto sovereign of Syria--to issue a declaration against the medieval (Christian) superstitions that charged Jews with ritual crimes. Although the activists only obtained a "pardon" for the accused, they initiated a worldwide movement for Jewish solidarity. A second case of anti-Semitism galvanized the international Jewish community in 1858, when papal police in Bologna seized a six-year-old Jewish boy

named Edgardo Mortara from his family on the grounds that a servant had secretly baptized him. This kidnapping prompted the founding of the Alliance Israelite Universelle, the international Jewish philanthropic society based in Paris and still in existence.

Although events such as the Damascus and Mortara affairs provided much of the impetus behind expressions and actions of Jewish solidarity, Leff shows that the political culture of post-revolutionary France prepared the ground. Specifically, the discourse of _civilisation_, by which Jewish leaders justified their calls for French and international intervention on behalf of oppressed Jews in other countries, had emerged among liberal,

republican, and (utopian) socialist advocates of secularism in France itself. Opposing the "throne and altar" policies of the reactionary _ultramontanes_, an alliance of Jews and Gentiles pursued an anti-clerical agenda in domestic and international affairs. For

Gentiles on the Left, the support of Jews gave their movements an air of tolerance, modernity, and even religious fervor, though of a secular sort. For the Jews themselves, the coalition protected the vulnerable emancipation that revolutionary and Napoleonic France had bequeathed them.

The first two chapters of _Sacred Bonds of Solidarity_ underscore the ambiguous and tenuous nature of Jewish emancipation in France. The revolutionary National Assembly passed legislation in 1790 and 1791 abolishing legal distinctions between Jews and non-Jews and guaranteeing the political rights (voting and serving in public office) of otherwise qualified Jews (i.e., propertied Jewish men) as "active citizens." It simultaneously abolished the pre-revolutionary communities, the semi-autonomous corporations that had mediated the relationship between the French state and its Jewish population. Yet unlike other corporate bodies, Leff points out in a discussion of an

often-forgotten feature of the revolutionary settlement, the Jews were held accountable for debts that their former communities had contracted under the Old Regime. (These debts were high due to the special taxes Jews had been required to pay in exchange for

"tolerance.") Beginning with an extraordinary intervention by the revolutionary Directory government and upheld in court cases as late as 1845, the practice of holding Jews collectively responsible for the debts of the abolished corporations was a flagrant violation of their emancipation. Other signs of second-class citizenship were the Infamous Decree of 1808, an exceptional Napoleonic measure designed to "regenerate" Alsatian Jews by prohibiting them from lending and lifted by the Restoration government in 1818, and the _more judaico_, a special oath designed to humiliate and intimidate Jews

in court and only abolished in 1846. Even the consistory system by which Napoleon regularized the status of the Jews in 1808 marked them as inferior. Unlike the Protestant consistories or the state-regulated Catholic Church, the Jewish consistories were not

subsidized by the government until the liberal July Monarchy supplanted the Bourbon dynasty in 1830. This meant that for more than two decades Jewish consistory leaders had to act as tax collectors, squeezing their coreligionists for special contributions as they had been required to do under the Old Regime. Leff shows how abolishing these disabilities, and preventing the imposition of new ones--as anti-Jewish agitators on the Catholic right insisted that Jews had _too many _rights and worked for their denationalization—required all the political resources of "emancipated" Jewry, including

like-minded Gentiles on the left. Incomplete as they were, however, the terms of the revolutionary and Napoleonic emancipation prepared nineteenth-century Jews to promote a vision of universal citizenship that would characterize their domestic and foreign agendas. In addition to the republican idea of "regeneration" through which Jewish (and other) citizens would renounce "particularist" loyalties and devote themselves to the common weal, practices as mundane as financing synagogues through government bonds rather than charitable contributions (after 1830) served to weld Judaism to the French

state. Meanwhile, as Leff demonstrates in chapter 3, Jews in the arts, literature, and intellectual life reaffirmed a universalist conception of Judaism that "laid the groundwork for thinking of the French liberal state as having a mission to 'liberate' Jews all over

the world" (p. 116).

Chapters 4 and 5 focus on Jewish internationalism itself. Chapter 4 discusses French Jewry's response to the plight of Algerian and Ottoman-ruled Jews between 1840 and 1860. It begins with a treatment of the Damascus Affair and Cremieux's use of the discourse of _civilisation_ in protesting against the pernicious influence of the

Catholic Church in that case. It goes on to investigate the response of French Jewish leaders to the conditions of their coreligionists in newly conquered Algeria. There French military officials were proposing anti-Jewish measures, including the expulsion of the

colony's 20,000 Jews. Jewish activists in France promised the "regeneration" of their Algerian brethren, whom they regarded as backward, and borrowed the language of the _mission civilisatrice_ from liberal colonialists to describe the envisaged moral and

intellectual improvement. With the help of liberal allies they persuaded the French government to establish a consistory system in Algeria in 1845, though without succeeding in obtaining French citizenship for the colony's Jews.  The chapter also discusses French Jewish responses to the Crimean War (1853-56). In this conflict Jews

joined liberals in arguing that the kind of religious strife which incited the war--a dispute over whether the Orthodox or Catholic Church would have the keys to the holy sites of Jerusalem--could only be resolved by a thorough reform of Ottoman law and institutions.

They praised the postwar _hatti Humayun_, a set of constitutional laws that among other things reduced discrimination on the basis of religious affiliation, as a triumph of _civilisation_. The implication was that any discriminatory laws at home, which ultramontanists advocated, would make France less civilized than a regime long reputed to be the epitome of "oriental" despotism.

Chapter 5 takes the story of Jewish internationalism into the 1860s and 70s. Leff recounts the founding of the Alliance Israelite Universelle (AIU) in 1860 and examines solidarity both as a figure of political rhetoric and an actual cultural practice. The word _solidarite_, we learn earlier in the book, was originally a legal term coined in the Napoleonic era to describe the condition in which any member of a group is liable for the group's debts--precisely the condition of post-revolutionary Jews, according to many Genitle

litigants and their advocates. In 1839 the (non-Jewish) republican writer Pierre Leroux first used the term "as a social and political ideal rather than a juridical fact" (p. 172), and in 1851 the Jewish republican journalist Jules Carvallo employed it to denote the shared

destiny and interests of Jews and other people who suffered from social or legal disabilities. From its inception the AIU regularly used the term similarly, and though its leaders insisted on the moral obligation of emancipated Jews to their less fortunate

coreligionists, they often added that Judaism's ultimate goal was _tikkun olam--_to heal the world--thus bringing about the liberation of humanity. The chapter also examines solidarity as a practice, focusing on the campaign to emancipate the Jews of Romania. In the aftermath of the Crimean War the Ottoman principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia achieved a measure of autonomy which would eventually lead to Romanian independence in 1878. Repeatedly during the 1860s and 70s the AIU urged European governments not to recognize the kingdom unless it guaranteed equal rights to Jews. Ultimately this attempt failed, and Romania emerged with an anti-Semitic constitution, but Leff argues that by advocating on behalf of Romanian Jewry, French Jewry highlighted the republican values of liberty, equality, and fraternity. "Jewish solidarity in the name of these ideals was not understood as a particularist endeavor," Leff writes. "Rather, it was to be an example for the rest of humanity, showing them how people living far away from each other could share basic values. In this way, the Alliance was not seeking to separate Jews from the rest of humanity, but to foster a larger, global

solidarity" (pp. 198-99). This humanist project also highlighted the ideals of French republicanism and thus aimed at shoring up the position of the Jews in France itself.

The discourse of Jewish internationalism was nevertheless vulnerable to attack by anti-Semites who translated expressions of solidarity into signs of an international conspiracy, as Leff shows in chapter 6. (Never mind that conspiracies are secret, whereas Jewish

contributions to international policy discussions were published for all the world to see. Anti-Semites proudly "exposed" plots by using the Jews' own publications.) According to Leff, political anti-Semitism emerged quite suddenly in France with the publication of Edouard Drumont's notorious _La France Juive_ in 1886, though sporadic complaints about "Jewish power" date from the late 1860s. Even the anti-Semitic movement in Algeria, initiated in reaction to the decision of Cremieux (now minister of justice) to grant citizenship to the colony's Jews in 1870, remained a decidedly local matter, in Leff's view, with attempts to transfer anti-Jewish anger to the metropole regularly failing. In the wake of _La France Juive_, Jewish organizations in France became more circumspect in their invocation of solidarity, international or otherwise. It was this

tactical and quite recent retreat, not a long history of Jewish reluctance to engage in politics (as Hannah Arendt suspected), that explains the relative caution with which Jewish leaders came to the defense of Captain Dreyfus in the 1890s, though Leff argues (citing the recent work of Pierre Birnbaum) that even here the quiescence of the French Jewish community has been overstated.

_Sacred Bonds of Solidarity_ is extremely well written and meticulously researched. It is based on archival materials from a dozen repositories in France, Israel, and the United States. Leff is equally adept at institutional history (of the AIU or the consistories, for example) and discourse analysis. Her study reconstructs both the practical and rhetorical aspects of international Jewish solidarity. Overall, it is an important contribution to our understanding of French Judaism in the post-revolutionary period. Though not the first to challenge the long-held belief that emancipation required French Jews to relegate their religious beliefs to the private realm, Leff is the first to demonstrate the importance of international affairs to the nationally based politics of Jewish self-defense. Solidarity with oppressed Jews abroad enabled French Jews to underscore the revolutionary values of

liberty, equality, and fraternity and thus to fight for the principles behind their own emancipation. Coalitions with anti-clerical liberals, republicans, and socialists were mutually beneficial; they provided Jews with much-needed allies, and they publicized the tolerance and (paradoxically secular) religiosity of the anti-clerical Gentiles. This story is therefore of interest both to specialists in Jewish history and to French historians more


Citation: Ronald Schechter. Review of Leff, Lisa Moses, _Sacred Bonds of Solidarity: The Rise of Jewish Internationalism in Nineteenth-Century France_. H-Judaic, H-Net Reviews. January, 2010.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.


11. Lecture at Florida International University: “The Secret Jews of the Caribbean” (Zohar)

From: FIU Sephardic Studies <sephardi(at)fiu(dot)edu>

Date: Tue, 19 Jan 2010 12:22:46 -0500 [01/19/2010 12:22:46 PM EST]

Don't Forget! February 4th Symposium: “The Secret Jews of the Caribbean.”

Click here for flier.


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