What would prompt a man who is successful in business and active and respected in his Jewish community to take leave of a loving wife and three children and trek over the Rocky mountains in winter, on foot and by mule and horseback?
In the case of Solomon Nunes Carvalho, 38 at the time, it was the lure of a “Remarkable Western Adventure.” In 1853, Carvalho began work as a photographer with John C. Fremont’s fifth expedition to map a railroad route to the West Coast.
“Remarkable Western Adventure” also is the subtitle of a book by Arlene Hirschfelder of Teaneck, who tells Carvalho’s story,
Two Republicans and two Democrats running for the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders faced each other in a candidate forum at Temple Avodat Shalom on River Edge on Sunday, where they agreed on objectives for the county but clashed on how to achieve them.
Republicans Rob Hermansen of Mahwah and Margaret Watkins of River Edge called for smaller government and reduced spending.
Watkins cited a three-point credo: You know your needs better than government does, government runs best when it is answerable to the people, and big government is inefficient.
Controversy has flared anew over Chester Grabowski, the Clifton newspaper publisher who died last April. He has been hailed by some as a strong advocate for Polish causes, but reviled by others as an anti-Semite.
The latest dispute involves a suggestion that a portion of Richardson Scale Park in Clifton be named for Grabowski, who published the Post Eagle. The suggestion for the renaming has been shelved by Clifton’s nonpartisan town council. No action has been taken and none is under consideration now, council members said.
But the issue has drawn a vehement response from Alan Dershowitz, the noted civil rights lawyer and supporter of Jewish causes. In a broadcast news report Dershowitz called Grabowski a “monster … a Hitler-rubbing, Holocaust-denying anti-Semite,” and promised to lead protests if the measure to rename the park after him should be pursued.
“If Torah doesn’t help us create a better society or battle widespread, systemic injustice, then what’s the point?”
Andrew Silow-Carroll lives in Teaneck, but works in Whippany, as editor-in-chief of The New Jersey Jewish News. This quote, taken from his award-winning column in that newspaper, is the fulcrum of his approach to Jewish life, and to journalism as it relates to Jewish life.
It also helps explain why Silow-Carroll, along with his wife, Sharon Silow-Carroll, will be among those honored Sunday evening at a dinner celebrating the 60th anniversary of Congregation Beth Sholom in Teaneck.
In March 1911, in Kiev, a 13-year-old Christian youth, Andrei Yushchinsky, was kidnapped and murdered. On July 11, 1911, a Jewish man, Menachem Mendel Beilis, was arrested for the crime, which was touted in the czarist-controlled media as a Jewish ritual murder. It was a classic case of the blood libel. A Kiev police detective investigating the case, Nikolai Krasovsky, did not believe that Beilis was guilty. It cost him his career, but even after being fired, he continued his investigations. One hundred years ago next week, on May 30-31, 1912, his findings — including naming the real killers — were published in Kiev newspapers. Nevertheless, Beilis was brought to trial on Sept. 25, 1913. The case, which lasted just over a month, had international news coverage, shining a world spotlight on anti-Semitism in the Russian empire. For many, it gave the czarist government a black eye and helped to spur the exodus of Jews from Eastern Europe. In the end, despite the efforts of the Kiev prosecutors, a jury acquitted Beilis after a few hours of deliberation.
The Beilis case unfolded in a climate of change in the United States and Europe.
Jews in the United States in the early part of the 20th century were energized by the promise of the good life in “the golden land,” but at the same time aware of anti-Semitism, said Eli Faber, John Jay College professor emeritus specializing in Jewish American history.
In those years, young Jews were beginning to go to college and enter the professions. There was a movement away from the Lower East Side. The Yiddish press was vibrant. Yiddish newspapers were not “Jewish” newspapers, meaning newspapers filled with Jewish content. They were general circulation newspapers like the New York Herald, but written in a language other than English (in this case, Yiddish). Among readers of these newspapers there was a “sharp and keen interest in what was going on in America and in the world,” Faber said.
“Blood Libel: The Life and Memory of Mendel Beilis,” includes a discussion concerning the connection between the Beilis case and the novel “The Fixer,” the 1966 Pulitzer Prize winner by Bernard Malamud. The discussion is based on a 2010 article written by Jay Beilis, Jeremy Simcha Garber and Mark S. Stein that appeared in the Benjamin Cardozo Law School review, DeNovo.
The Malamud plot involves the character Yakov Bok, accused of murder in Kiev in the same time period in which the real Beilis case unfolded. As part of the revised Beilis memoir, the editors include numerous instances of what they allege is plagiarism by Malamud.
Two other cases in the public eye frame the Mendel Beilis case — “frame” being the key word in more than one sense.
In 1894, the French army officer Alfred Dreyfus, who was Jewish, was accused of treason by passing secrets to Germany. He was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment on the harsh prison colony of Devil’s Island.
The Dreyfus conviction stood despite evidence pointing to another officer. Such notable writers as Émile Zola and others took up Dreyfus’ cause, even as others in French life on the right stood by his guilt.
With the Jewish population of Bergen County on heightened alert, some 200 religious and community leaders gathered last night to discuss the recent string of anti-Semitic incidents in the county with law enforcement and government officials and communal leaders. The meeting was held at the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey (JFNNJ) under the joint auspices of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and the Synagogue Leadership Initiative (SLI).
Tension has mounted as the incidents have escalated. They began shortly before Chanukah, when vandals defaced a Maywood synagogue with Nazi symbols. Ten days later. a Hackensack synagogue was similarly vandalized.
Then the incidents moved up to a more dangerous level with the attempted arson at a Paramus synagogue in the early hours of Jan. 4. This was followed exactly one week later by a full-blown firebomb attack at Congregation Beth El in Rutherford one week later.
The attack nearly had tragic consequences because the congregation building also houses the home of Rabbi Nosson Schuman and his family. One firebomb was thrown through a window and ignited his bed. Schuman was able to put out flames and then he, his wife, five children, and his father escaped the building, avoiding serious physical injury. The attack, however, left a residue of fear mingled with hope.
“I knew there were people who hated me,” the rabbi said at a press conference following the JCRC/SLI meeting, but he cited the outpouring of interfaith support. “What I see is the beauty of the American people,” he said.
Thanks to the legacy of a Jewish soccer team, a trail of memory stretches from Vienna, to Bergen County, to Jerusalem, and around the world.
Earlier this month, The Jewish Standard published an article about Sport Club Hakoah, a Bergen County soccer team carrying on the name and tradition of the original Hakoah team that played in the Austrian capital in the early part of the last century, before the Nazis took power.
Miriam Braun, an Englewood native now living in Israel, chanced upon the article while reading The Jewish Standard online. It sparked warm memories for her. She recalled that her father, Yitzchak, played for the original team in the early 1930s.