Currently Browsing: History 28 articles

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Napoleon and the Jews of Europe

On the bicentenary of Napoleon’s death, François Guesnet reflects on his relationship with Europe’s Jews. During a stagecoach journey in the north of France in 1799, an agent of the secret police struck up a conversation with a Jewish fellow traveller to find out what he thought of the revolution. The answer was prudent enough: […]

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The Jewish Actor Accused of Being a Nazi Spy

To mark the publication of his new biography, James Downs explores the life of Anton Walbrook. It must be fairly unusual for someone who was referred to as a ‘Jewish actor’ and was admired for his generous support of Jewish refugees during World War II, to have also been boycotted by Jewish groups due to […]

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The Duke of Edinburgh z”l

Michael Berkowitz reflects on his personal relationship with Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh. One of the most important duties of parents is to embarrass their children. None other than Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth, has helped me — prodigiously, I may add — in this vocation. My daughter Rachel and son Stephen grew up in […]

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A Forgetting of Benjamin Franklin

Shai Afsai marks the passing of Ben Franklin on 17 April 1790. Rabbis and Jewish scholars have often been unaware of, confused about, or uncomfortable acknowledging American founding father Benjamin Franklin’s influence on Judaism. Franklin specialists have been largely oblivious to it. Though the mussar (practical Jewish ethical instruction) classic Sefer Heshbon Hanefesh (Book of […]

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The Gonef’s Wedding

In the second piece in our series on Jews and Crime, Jarrod Tanny evokes a gangster’s wedding in an Odessan Jewish Key. Nestled on the shores of the Black Sea, the City of Odessa was a notorious bastion of Jewish criminality and merrymaking, much to the delight of its admirers, but much to the horror […]

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A Study of Jewish Criminality

Nathan Abrams reviews a new biography of the gangster Bugsy Siegel and argues we need to study Jewish criminality in more depth. Of the nearly fifty volumes in Yale’s Jewish Lives series, this is the first about a bootlegger, racketeer, gambler and murderer, writes Michael Shnayerson at the outset of his new biography of Bugsy […]

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Silent Witness: The Resonance of Artefacts

Robert Katz reflects on the powerful history of artefacts. During the year of America’s bicentennial celebrations, I lived in a small, pale green house on the plains of southeastern Montana, about 60 miles south of the Yellowstone River. Just down the road from my house was the Crow and Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservations. On the […]

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How Ben Franklin Was Turned Into an Antisemite

Shai Afsai discusses how the American Founding Father has been used to spread hate. The myth that American founding father Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706 – April 17, 1790) was antisemitic first emerged 87 years ago – 144 years after his passing – with the publication of a fraudulent and since then repeatedly discredited text […]

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The Nazis’ British Blacklist

In advance of Holocaust Memorial Day 2021, Nathan Abrams reviews a new book about the Nazis’ British hitlist and who wasn’t on it. Around 1939, the Gestapo drew up a list. In the case of the Nazi occupation of the United Kingdom, some 2,600 named individuals were to be targeted for removal. They would have […]

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How Finland’s Jews Fought Alongside the Nazis

Mark Bernheim reviews a remarkable book about Finland’s Jews during World War II. In the complex history of the Holocaust, Finland was the only European combatant country in which none of its Jewish citizens were sent to concentration or extermination camps. In many other ways, too, the history of its tiny Jewish community is unique. How […]

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