Posted: 08 Apr 2016
A reprintof a special Passover feature
With Passover just weeks away, Jewish households around the world are purchasing or making their matzot (unleavened bread) for the festival.
One of Judaism’s oldest customs, the baking of matza goes back to the Jewish exodus from Egypt. Ever since, Jews often went to great trouble to bake their cracker-like bread. Jewish communities in Europe and the Arab world faced “blood libels” for making their matza. Ancient synagogues in France built matza bakeries under their synagogues. Jews in Nazi concentration camps risked being shot to bake their Passover “bread.” In the former Soviet Union, Jews baked their matza in secret, lest they be discovered and sent to the Gulag. During major wars, armies made sure to provide matza to their Jewish soldiers.
The story we bring today is unusual because of the writer’s attempt to describe the New York Jewish community and the Passover holiday. The first element, rich in Faginesque imageries, would be considered anti-Semitic by today’s standards. The second element, a description of the holiday customs, is woefully full of mistakes. Excerpts below:
The Israelitish race preserve to this day their peculiar characteristics as strongly marked, and their national prejudices is as full force as in the days of Darius, King of Persia. They exist among us, a distinct race, preserving an identity of their own… but whilst constantly intermingling in trade and business with the Gentiles, keeping themselves as separate from the uncircumcised dogs in all social and religious intercourse….They could not keep themselves more apart if they were walled out from the Christian world….
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