France’s Oldest Synagogue, and the History beneath It

Nov. 13 2019

Built in 1367, the synagogue in Carpentras is the oldest still in use in France, and the second oldest in Europe. The city, home to one of Provence’s earliest Jewish communities, had fallen under the control of the papacy in the 13th century and provided a refuge for Jews in the following century when they were expelled from various parts of France. Beneath the synagogue is a mikveh built at the same time and fed by an artesian well. The synagogue’s interior was redesigned in the baroque style during the 18th century; the original structure, mostly below ground, is currently being excavated.

In a series of four short videos, Henry Abramson showcases the synagogue and explains its history. Herewith, the second of these. (Three minutes.) The rest can be found at the link below.


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More about: French Jewry, Jewish history, Mikveh, Papacy, Synagogues

Understanding the Background of the White House Ruling on Anti-Semitism and the Civil Rights Act

Dec. 13 2019

On Wednesday, the president signed an executive order allowing federal officials to extend the protections of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to Jews. (The order, promptly condemned for classifying Jews as a separate nationality, did nothing of the sort.) In 2010, Kenneth Marcus called for precisely such a ruling in the pages of Commentary, citing in particular the Department of Education’s lax response to a series of incidents at the University of California at Irvine, where, among much elase, Jewish property was vandalized and Jewish students were pelted with rocks, called “dirty Jew” and other epithets, and were told, “Jewish students are the plague of mankind.”

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, U.S. Politics