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By Natalie M. Rosinsky

Discusses the heritage and customs linked to the Jewish vacation, Passover.

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Extra info for Passover (Let's See Library)

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In short, for European Jewish public opinion of the mid-1850s, a clear agenda had emerged. The task at hand was the “regeneration” of the Jews of the Ottoman Empire in general and those in Palestine in particular by the introduction of modern schooling, modern trades, and agriculture. Palestine and Turkey were part of one large picture. The Central Consistory could not act with complete freedom; wealthy philanthropists could open schools here and there (as they continued to do in Jerusalem), but they could not sustain a long-term project of education on a mass scale.

Edgar Mortara, a Jewish boy in Bologna, had been secretly baptized by a Christian servant of his family while a baby. When the servant revealed the fact to the Church authorities, the seven-year-old boy was taken away to be brought up as a Christian. The case soon became a cause cetebre for the Jews of Europe who appealed to all Western governments for justice, to no avail. Edgar Mortara remained with the Church and eventually became a priest. The whole episode was a rude shock to the self-confidence of European Jewry.

80 The term coreligionnaire or nos freres en religion expressed the link between the Jews united by a common memory of suffering. This tie meant that other Jews in distress had to be helped. ”81 Paradoxically, the consistorial system created by Napoleon I to fuse the Jews of France with the rest of the population was perhaps the single most important factor in the creation of a sense of unity and purpose among French Jews. Its overarching organizational structure, its activq intervention in the administration of the communities, and the institutions of charity that it cre­ ated or took under its wing developed a certain cohesion in French Jewish life which was lacking elsewhere.

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