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August 22, 1986 - Image 33

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-08-22

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

ready been alluded to. In the
House of Commons Robert Peel in-
troduced the question by declaring
"that it was merely necessary to
mention the matter in the lower
house, to reach the great ends of
justice and humanity." Lord Pal-
merston replied that he had "al-
ready directed the English
consul-general, Hodges, to repre-
sent to Mehmet Ali what effect the
news of such atrocities must pro-
duce in Europe, and that it was in
his own interest to inquire into the
matter, and hand over to punish-
ment the guilty parties, if they were
discovered, whilst the innocent
victims should be indemnified, if
this were still possibleJ,' These
words were received with joy by
the Jews and were accepted as a
great tribute to British liberalism.
The sympathy aroused for the
Jews opened the eyes of English
statesmen to the need of removing
parliamentary disabilities against
the Jews, which was not finally ac-
complished until a quarter of a
century afterwards, in the days of
Disraeli. Thus O'Connell, battler
for Irish and Catholic rights in
England, *stated: "Observations
upon this subject would have been
stronger, if a member of this
House, belonging to the creed of
the accused, had been able to make
them. The government ought to in-
troduce a bill for the complete
emancipation of the Jews."
To aid in the defense of the in-
nocently accused Jews two great
assemblies met in London. On
June 23 Jewish leaders conferred
at the Great Synagogue on the
question of sending a delegation to

who officiate at weddings between
Jews and non-Jews generally deal
with interfaith couples on a case-
by-case basis. They perform in-
termarriages selectively, hoping to
increase the likelihood that the
non-Jewish spouse will eventually
convert and/or that children will
be raised as Jews. These rabbis
often have clear limits about the
circumstances under which they
will perform weddings. For exam-
ple, most will not co-officiate with a
member of the clergy of another
faith, and most require a few meet-
ings with the couple. Some rabbis
will officiate at an intermarriage
only if both the bride and groom
will sign a marriage contract that
affirms a commitment to Jewish
continuity.. .
Civil Ceremonies. Many rabbis
who are sympathetic to the dilem-
mas of intermarrying couples
suggest that intermarriages be
performed by a secular authority
on neutral territory, because they
feel that a rabbi's participation or
even presence may suggest com-
munity sanction of the wedding. In
a non-Jewish setting, in a cere-
mony performed by a judge or jus-
tice of the peace, the use of Jewish
symbols and content is clearly but
solely the personal expression of
the couple.
A civil ceremony is a good op-
tion for couples in which the non-
Jewish partner is still committed

the Orient to secure justice. On
July 3 a distinguished assembly of
Christians, also in London, unani-
mously carried a motion which
read:
"That this meeting deeply de-
plores the fact that in this
enlightened age a persecution of
our Jewish brethren could be set
on foot by ignorance and inflamed
by bigotry."
At this historic assembly of
Christians, Lord Howden, a cler-
gyman very prominent in his day,
made the following significant
statement:
"We often find in the mysteri-
ous ways of Providence that good
arises from evil, and therefore I,
together with all the friends of
mankind, hope that the Parliament
of this country, expressing its opin-
ion of this cruelty, will offer a re-
compense to the Jews for their suf-
ferings by legislation in their
favor."
So emphatic and noble was the
British protest that it influenced
Czar Nicholas I of Russia and the
United States government to join
the other European nations in ex-
pressing abhorrence at the
medieval practices in Damascus.
President Martin Van Buren,
through his Secretary of State
John Forsythe, urged the United
States Minister of Constantinople
to use his best efforts in behalf of
the persecuted Jews.
Thus encouraged by liberal
Christian opinion and by a united
Jewry which was determined to
nail the hoary lie, the historic mis-
sion set out for the Orient on July 7.
It was headed by Sir Moses Mon-

to his or her faith background and
wants to include, for example, a
reading from the New Testament.
People seeking an altogether "uni-
versalist" or "ecumenical" wed-
ding may do best by writing a
ceremony that expresses the be-
liefs they value and share in both of
their traditions.
Mercenaries. A Jew and a non-
Jew can purchase a Jewish wed-
ding complete with all the trim-
mings. "Mercenary" rabbis (so
called by their disapproving col-
leagues) make comfortable livings
selling their services to families
who insist on a Jewish wedding for
couples who don't much care one
way or the other. These rabbis
don't usually require meetings
with the bride and groom prior to
the wedding but ask for a hefty fee
— often payable in advance.

There is a totality of interest here
in the treatment of the subject. It
points to the menace and indicates
how concessions are made, with even
an effort to degrade the serious mat-
ter by turning it into a merchandising
scheme. It suggests the need to
strengthen the home influence as a
measure of retaining the wedding
planners in the Jewish fold.
The extent to which Diamant goes
in dealing with mixed marriages af-
firms similar treatments of the
Jewish wedding. Anita Diamant pro-
vides knowledgeability to a vital mat-
ter in Jewish life.

tefiore, who was accompanied by
nis noble wife, Lady Judith; by
Adolphe Cremieux, Salomon
Munk, Dr. Louis Loewe, Dr. Mad-
den, a noted traveler and Oriental
scholar, and Alderman Wire, who
was later Lord Mayor of London.
An added favor from the British
government was bestowed upon
this mission when Queen Victoria
not only joined the millions of
friendly Christians in extending
her good wishes, but in granting
Montefiore an audience on the eve
of the mission's departure and in
placing at its disposal the use of
her private yacht to cross the
English Channel.
The mission found its path
beset with difficulties. As a result
of interference from the French
Consul General, Mehmet Ali re-
fused the commissioners permis-
sion to go to Damascus there to es-
tablish the innocence of the ac-
cused Jews. With the aid of the
consuls of the other nations, how-
ever, Montefiore and his compan-
ions succeeded in securing the re-
lease of the imprisoned. Dr. Loewe
however discovered in the Firman
ordering their release that the
word "pardon" was used, and the
commissioners succeeded in hav-
ing the term "an honorable libera-
tion" substituted for the objection-
able word.
A sudden change in the politi-
cal fortunes in the Near East, with
control of Syria again going back
to the Sultan of Turkey, caused the
party headed by Sir Moses Mon-
tefiore to turn their way toward
Constantinople to secure the good
will of the new Syrian ruler.' They
arrived in Turkey on October 5. On
October 28 Sultan Abdul Medjid
received them and pledged protec-
tion to the Jews. In a Firman which
is today an historic document in
Turkish archives, the Sultan re-
futed the ritual murder charge.
This Firman read:

"An ancient prejudice pre-
vailed against the Jews. The ig-
norant believed that the Jews were
accustomed to sacrifice a human
being to make use of his blood at
their Feast of Passover.
"In consequence of this opin-
ion, the Jews of Damascus and
Rhodes (who are subjects of our
empire) have been persecuted by
other nations. The calumnies
which have been uttered against
the Jews, and the vexations to
which they have been subjected
have at last reached our imperial
throne.
But a short time has elapsed
since some Jews dwelling in the Is-
land of Rhodes have been brought
from thence to Constantinople,
where they have been tried and
judged according to the new regu-
lations, and their innocence of the
accusations made against them
fully proved. That, therefore,
which justice and equity required
has been done on their behalf.
"Besides which the religious
books of the Hebrews have been
examined by learned men, well
versed in their theological litera-
ture, the result of which examina-
tion is that it is found that the Jews
are strongly prohibited, not only
from using human blood, but even
that of animals. It, therefore, fol-
lows that the charges made against

Moses Montefiore

them and their religion are nothing
but pure calumny.
"For this reason, and for the
love we bear to our subjects, we
cannot permit the Jewish nation
(whose innocence of the crime al-
leged against them is evident) to be
vexed and tormented upon accusa-
tions which have not the least
foundation in truth, but, in con-
formity to the Hatti-Sherif which
has been proclaimed at Gulhani,
the Jewish nation shall possess the
same advantages and enjoy the
same privileges as are granted to
the numerous other nations who
submit to our authority.
The Jewish nation shall be
protected and defended.
"To accomplish this object, we
have given the most positive or-
ders that the Jewish nation, dwell-
ing in all parts of our empire, shall
be perfectly protected, as well as
all other subjects of the Sublime
Porte, and that no person shall
molest them in any manner what-
ever (except for a just cause), either
in the free exercises of their reli-
gion, or that which concerns their
safety and tranquility. In conse-
quence, the present Firman which
is ornamented at the head with our
"Hoomaioon" (sign manual), and
emanates from our imperial chan-
cellorrie has been delivered to the
Israelitish nation.
"Thus you, the above men-
tioned judge, when you know the
contents of the Firman, will
endeavor to act with great care in
the manner therein prescribed.
And in order that nothing may be
done in opposition to this Firman,
at any time hereafter, you will reg-
ister it in the archives of the Tri-
bunal; you will afterwards deliver
it to the Israelitish nation, and you
will take great .care to execute our
orders and this our Sovereign will.
"Lien at Constantinople, 12th
Ramazan, 1256 (6th November,
1840)."
Although the ritual murder lie
repeats itself every year in many
parts of the world, around
Passover time, and although even
in Damascus attempts were made
only a few years ago to revive the
hoary lie (see Jewish Telegraphic

Continued on next page

33

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