Thursday, September 20, 2007

Yom Kippur 1899

Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, begins Friday night at sunset. But for this post, I’m taking you back 108 years to 1899:

“Jews Celebrate Atonement Day by Holding Demonstrations”
“Chief Rabbi Adler Speaks”
“Says Last Saturday’s Verdict was a Disaster to France”

London – Sept 14 English indignation against France was strengthened today on account of the observance by all Jews of the Day of Atonement.

The day was celebrated here, especially in the East End, with Dreyfus demonstrations…The Great Synagogue in London presented a striking spectacle. It was crowded from 6 o’clock in the morning until 6 at night and thousands were unable to enter.

The above comes from the Sept 15, 1899 New York Times. (read the full article) They used to charge a fee to read their archives, but this week they opened up most of it for free. Everything prior to 1922, and thus in the public domain, is freely downloadable as PDFs. Anything after 1987, out of NYTimes generosity, is also free. There’s still a large amount they charge for, but they decreased the price as well. (It used to be $4.95 per article, and the ones I've found in my searches so far have been $3.95)

Several of my Newmark ancestors were likely at the Great Synagogue that day. They were in London from 1893 to 1909. They were definitely at the Synagogue a couple years later, on August 31, 1902, but that’s a different post I will write soon.

Dreyfus had been convicted in 1895, but this protest followed rumors of an army cover-up and his possible innocence. Pertaining to that, here’s another interesting quote from the above article:

“Let the majesty of the law be vindicated,” [Chief Rabbi Adler] concluded, “and let them not seek a pardon, which should be rejected with scorn, for where no crime was committed, how can a pardon be granted?”

Dreyfus was pardoned on September 19th. And while a pardon, as the article points out, is usually all one can expect in most countries after a conviction, in 1906 he was exonerated by a military commission. (source)

Speaking of which...Are there black sheep in your family tree that you would like pardoned/exonerated? Craig Manson of Geneablogie has created a new service called the Historical Appellate Review Project
HARP, the Historical Appellate Review Project, is dedicated to setting the record straight. Using state-of-the-art genealogical and legal research procedures, HARP will investigate your family's alleged black sheep and let you know if their names might be cleared! In certain cases, we even may be able to go to court and get the official record changed!
That sounds like a great idea! I haven't found any ancestors yet that have been convicted of any serious crimes, but if I do, and think it may have been an unfair conviction, I now have a place to go!

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