Expelling Jews from Tel Aviv

Turkish police (some sources say Bedouin police) went from house to house in Tel Aviv on this date in 1914 and hurriedly forced many hundreds of Jews to board a ship, the Florio, in the port of Jaffa to sail into exile in Egypt. Many Palestinian Jews were from Russia, an enemy of Turkey during World War I, and were […]

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Shabbtai Zvi, Would-Be Messiah

On this date in 1665, Shabbtai Zvi (born 1626), who was widely embraced as the messiah by Jews across Europe and the Middle East, led followers into a synagogue in his hometown of Izmir, Turkey, where rabbinical authorities had threatened him with excommunication. At the synagogue, he ran a heretical Torah service (calling women to […]

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Quick Takes: On Jerusalem, Trump Plays to His Base . . .

WHILE THREATENING PEACE AND UNDERMINING ZIONISM by Ralph Seliger   THE PRESIDENT’S DECISION to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem is a typical Trump move, pleasing his strongest supporters while doing nothing concretely positive. He’s winning kudos from Evangelical Christians and hard-right Zionists, including, most importantly, Sheldon Adelson, who backed his presidential campaign to the tune […]

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Turkish Delight

THE SEPHARDIC IMMIGRANT EXPERIENCE IN FICTION by Sarah Aroeste From the Autumn 2017 issue of Jewish Currents   Discussed in this essay: His Hundred Years, A Tale by Shalach Manot. Albion-Andalus Books, 2016, 208 pages.   IT IS WITH BOTH pride and curiosity that I spent my childhood years staring daily at a photograph of my grandfather as […]

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An Egalitarian Democracy in Syria?

by Ralph Seliger Discussed in this essay: A Road Unforeseen: Women Fight the Islamic State, by Meredith Tax. Bellevue Literary Press, 2016, 336 pages. EVENTS IN DISTANT LANDS sometimes elicit the hopes, and then disillusionment, of progressive minds — e.g., the Soviet Union at its inception in the early 1920s, the anarchist workers movement in […]

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September 20: The Turkish Consul Who Saved Jews

Necdet Kent, who as Turkish vice-consul in France saved dozens of Turkish Jews living in France from being deported to Nazi death camps, died at 91 on this date in 2002. Kent served his government in Marseilles, a point of embarkation for many Jews fleeing Europe, from 1941 to 1944. In 1943, upon learning that […]

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December 1: Protesting the Armenian Genocide, 1895

The New York Times reported on this date in 1895 that Rabbi Joseph Silverman, the leader of New York’s massive Temple Emanu-El, had the day before “delivered an eloquent sermon” urging Jewish solidarity with Armenians who were being killed by Turkey during the Hamidian Massacres, 1894-1896, which orphaned some 50,000 Armenian children in a prelude […]

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October 5: A Spy Among the Turks

Palestine-born Sarah Aaronsohn, who became a spy serving the British against the Ottoman Empire after she witnessed a massacre of Armenians by the Turks while she was en route to Haifa, shot herself on this date in 1917 to avoid further torture after having been captured. She died four days later. Aaronsohn and her siblings […]

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