French and Danish Jews after the Paris and Copenhagen attacks

Following the atrocities committed in Paris in early January when 17 people were murdered in cold blood at the office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and Jewish deli Hyper Cacher, people were once again shocked by the attacks in Copenhagen which resulted in the death of one person at a freedom of speech debate, followed by the death of a Jewish man on guard outside the city’s main synagogue. The perpetrators of the Paris and Copenhagen shootings were not linked, though in both instances they had two obvious goals: punishing those who, in their view, had insulted the prophet Muhammad, and targeting Jews. The number of Jewish casualties in both attacks have sparked debates about anti-Semitism which, sadly, appears to be on the rise again across Europe. This debate has been further fuelled by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who called for mass immigration to Israel.

“Of course, Jews deserve protection in every country,” he said. “But we say to Jews, to our brothers and sisters: Israel is your home. We are preparing and calling for the absorption of mass immigration from Europe. I would like to tell all European Jews and all Jews wherever they are: Israel is the home of every Jew”. [1]

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[Forgotten Women] Rabbi Regina Jonas

This is the first part of a series on Al Miraah featuring forgotten women in which we tell the stories of groundbreaking women whose names are so often excluded from history.

Read part two: Lubna of Cordoba

Regina Jonas
Regina Jonas (via Jewish Women’s Archive)

In 1972, Sally Priesland was ordained at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati and pronounced the ‘first ever female rabbi’. What was not known at the time, however, is that one remarkable woman had preceded her and had been ordained four decades earlier. Her name was Regina Jonas, and she was killed, along with so many others, in Auschwitz in 1944. Very little is known about her, and it is unlikely that we will ever be able to discover more. It was purely coincidental that her records were found in the obscure Gesamtarchiv der deutschen Juden (The Archive of German Jews) in East Berlin in the 1990s. These records only became accessible after the wall came down, which explains why she was only rediscovered nearly half a century after her untimely death.

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Review: Israel and the Family of Nations: The Jewish Nation-State and Human Rights

Alexander Yakobson and Amnon Rubinstein, Israel and the Family of Nations: The Jewish Nation-State and Human Rights (Routledge: London, 2008).

Israel and the Family of Nations: The Jewish Nation-State and Human RightsOn November 24th, 2014 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed a bill to his cabinet that would define Israel as “the nation-state of the Jewish people”. This bill proved so acrimonious that Netanyahu dismissed two important cabinet members over its content and ultimately decided to dissolve the Knesset in favour of elections. The debate is not new; the question of “Jewish and democratic” has long been a divisive one in Israeli history. Following the 1967 war, there has been a controversial debate about the future of Israel. Its future is debated in both practical and existential terms usually framed with reference to ‘the Palestinian Question.’ This is usually phrased as to what extent can, and should, Israel maintain its status as a simultaneously Jewish and democratic state. Alexander Yakobson and Amnon Rubinstein have attempted to settle this debate by arguing that Israel can and must be both Jewish and democratic. They ultimately conclude that a failure to view Israel as such denies its legitimacy as a nation-state. The authors seek to contextualize the case of Israel in a world of modern nations and liberal democracies and to ultimately contest the concept that Israel’s very existence needs re-examining.

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