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This material has been adapted from Beyond Time and History by Eli Birnbaum.
Plus, special thanks to Aryeh Weinberger and the Israel Ministry of Education for the use of material from their publication, Midei Chodesh Bechodsho.

 
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Jewish History
 
 

This month in Jewish History: April

By: Eli Birnbaum

What happened in the month of April throughout Jewish history?

See a short explanation of the Jewish calendar

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 Events with uncertain dates

A short note about April: Many of the worst massacres in Jewish history took place around Pesach (Passover). They were part of the infamous blood libels and ritual murder accusations in which Jews were charged with using Christian blood for the making of Matzos. Others were due to the instigation of local priests on Easter Sunday.

Events with Uncertain Dates

April 538

Orleans: The third Synod (council) of Orleans declared that Jews aren't permitted to be seen during Passion Week (the week before Easter) because "their appearance is an insult to Christianity."

April 1841

Alexander Salmon, a Jewish British trader, landed in Tahiti while on a trip to the south seas. He met and fell in love with the beautiful 20 year old princess of the Teva clan, Princess Arrioehau. According to Tahitian law it was illegal to marry a foreigner. Queen Pomare IV abrogated the law by royal decree for 3 days by which time Salmon was given the title Ariitaimai and they married.

April 1915

In pre-state Israel, NILI (Hebrew initials for Netzah Israel Lo Yeshaker - Samuel I, 15:29) was organized by Avshalom Feinberg and Aaron Aaronson to spy against the Turks for the British. Based in Zichron Yaakov, and locally run by Aaron's sister Sarah, NILI passed messages regarding Turkish troop maneuvers around the Haifa area. In 1917 the Turks broke the spy ring. Sarah, after being tortured for three days managed to commit suicide. Most of the other members were captured and killed.

April 1

1882: The blood libel in Tisza Eszlar, Hungary, begins when a servant girl was missing. Although not the slightest evidence was found that Jews were even remotely involved, the young son (11 years old) of the janitor of the synagogue was interrogated whereby he described full details of the "murder." The Jews were then accused of having the girl kidnapped for ritual murder. Fifteen persons were brought to trial despite the protests of Lajos Kossuth (non Jewish leader of the Hungarian Independence Movement) and the fact that the girl's body was found in the river. A year later all of them were acquitted.

1890: Nathan Birnbaum, in his journal Selbstemanzipation coins the term Zionism. Birnbaum's idea was to change the philanthropic approach of the time to a more activist or political one.

1899: In Polna, Bohemia, twenty-two year old Leopold Hilsner is arrested for allegedly murdering a Christian girl. It soon developed into a ritual murder accusation. Although no evidence linking him and the murdered girl was ever presented, Hilsner was forced to sign a confession and was sentenced to death. Through the intervention of T.G. Masaryk (later to be president of Czechoslovakia) his sentence was commuted to life. In 1916 he was grated an Imperial pardon and set free.

1918: Chaim Weizmann, heading the Zionist Commission, arrives in Eretz-Israel to assist the British Mandate. The commission (Vaad HaTzirim) was mandated by the British Government to be the liaison between the Military administration and the Yishuv. It was also empowered to coordinate relief efforts and make recommendations regarding the future development of the country.

1925: Hebrew University is opened in Jerusalem by Lord Balfour on Mount Scopus. Its first chancellor was Dr. Judah Magnes.

1933: Germany embarks on an anti-Jewish boycott.

April 2

1738 Joseph Oppenheimer is hanged. Oppenheimer, the finance minister was arrested after the sudden death of Prince Karl of Wurttemberg. He was offered a pardon on condition of agreeing to be baptized. Although not a practicing Jew, he refused and was placed in a cage in the center of Stuttgart declaring "I will die as a Jew; I am suffering violence and injustice." He died while shouting Shema Yisrael.

April 3, 1544

Although he was anti-Jewish and a persecutor of the Marranos, Emperor Charles V is convinced by Josel of Rosheim to condemn the ritual murder accusations.

April 4

1285: Philip the Fair (France) begins his policy of using Jews solely for his financial benefit.

1909: Hashomer, the first Jewish self-defense organization is founded to protect Jewish settlements in pre-state Israel. Many of its members were recent arrivals from Russia who had organized self-defense organizations in Russia during the progroms five years earlier. Its founders included Itzhak ben Zvi, Israel Giladi, Israel Shohat and Alexander Zeid. It was eventually absorbed into the Haganah.

1917: In Russia, Jews are granted full rights.

1920: On this date began two days of anti-Jewish riots in Jerusalem. Five Jews are killed and two hundred and eleven wounded. Vladimir Jabotinsky and others were arrested for organizing a self-defense league.

1933: In Germany, Civil Service Law prohibited Jews from holding public service jobs.

April 5

1533: Pope Clement VII, in an effort to stop the Inquisitions, acts against New Christians in Portugal, and issues the Bulla de Perdao, essentially a pardon for all past offenses. Unfortunately the pope died a few years later and the Inquisition was officially established.

1775: Pope Pious VI, partly in reaction to the reformation issues the Editto sopra gli ebrei. This proclamation of Pious VI reinstituted all former anti-Jewish legislation. The forty-four clauses included prohibition of possessing Talmudic writings, erection of gravestones, forbidding Jews from passing the night outside the ghetto, under pain of death, and more. The regulations were in effect until the arrival of Napoleon army 25 years later.

1919 PINSK ( Poland) - 35 well-known Jews are executed. They were taken from a legitimate business meeting of the Jewish Cooperative and accused of being Jewish Bolshevists. Others also arrested were told to dig their own graves and then released

April 6

1848: In every part of Germany excluding Bavaria, Jews are granted civil rights. As a result, Gabriel Riesser (a Jew, and an advocate for Jewish emancipation) was elected vice-president of the Frankfurt Vor Parliament, and became a member of the National Assembly. It must be noted that for the most part these freedoms existed only on paper and were not enforced.

1917: The United States declares war on Germany. Approximately 250,000 Jewish soldiers (20% of whom were volunteers) served in the U.S. army - roughly 5.7% of the servicemen, while they were only 3.25% of the general population

April 7

1486 FIRST PRAYER BOOK (Siddur) is printed in Italy by Soncino. This was the only time that the Siddur was published during the 15th. For the most part hand copied manuscripts ( of which there were plenty) were used.

1933: The term Nichtarier ("non-Aryan") becomes a legal classification in Germany. This made it "legal" to discharge Jews from their position in the universities, hospitals, and legal professions.

April 8

1484: Local farmers of Arles, France, led by the town's monks attack the Jewish section of the town .A number of people were killed and 50 men were forced to accept Christianity.

April 9

1917 The Jewish Welfare Board is established to provide for the social and religious requirements of Jewish soldiers. After the war, it expanded to care for community needs and initiated Jewish Community Centers and Young Men's and Women's Hebrew Associations.

April 10

1096: In Trier, Germany, after being attacked my a mob and threatened with death, Bishop Egelbert offers to save all Jews who are willing to be baptized. Most chose to drown themselves instead.

1882: A pogrom in Podalia, Russia leaves 40 dead 170 wounded, and 1,250 dwellings destroyed. Fifteen thousand Jews were reduced to total poverty.

April 11

1649: The largest Auto De Fe in the New World is held with 109 victims in Mexico. All but one of them are accused of Judaizing, Thirteen were burned alive and 57 in effigy. This for the most part ended the prominence of crypto-Jews in Mexico.

1909: Tel Aviv, the first modern Jewish city, is founded on the sand dunes north of Jaffa with the building of 60 houses. The actual name Tel Aviv was given only the next year (Hill of Spring) and was taken from a Babylonian city (Ezekiel 3:15) and used by Nahum Sokolow as the title for his translation of Herzl's book Altneuland.

1912: The Technikum, later to be known as the Techinion is founded in Haifa, Israel. Later that year the Hilfsverein der Deutschen Juden, which established the Haifa Technion, faced a strike by both teachers and students when they tried to institute German as the school's language instead of Hebrew. The American co-trustees agreed with the strikers and the Society left Eretz-Israel after the First World War.

April 12

1955 USA – after almost two years of testing and opposition Jonas Salk in the presence of 700 scientists is recognized for discover a vaccine for the prevention of poliomyelitis. ). His work together with Albert Sabin, who later developed an oral vaccine, drove this paralyzing disease from much of the world. In recognition he received Presidential Citation and the Congressional Medal for Distinguished Achievement

1464 Prior to his death, John of Capistrano calls for a crusade against the Turks. Such a crusade was started in Cracow, but never left the city. Over thirty Jews were killed and their homes plundered. The crusade later expanded to include Posen and the surrounding area.

April 13

1891: In Corfu (island in the Mediterranean), a few days before Passover, Sarda the local Jewish tailor's daughter is found dead. Although obviously, Jewish the rumors spread that she was really Christian and was killed for ritual purposed and the local community is attacked.

1948: 77 people, mostly doctors and nurses on their way Hasassah hospital on Mount Scopus, Jerusalem, are murdered by Arabs. British troops stations close by refuse to "interfere".

April 14

1859: In Galatz, Rumania, Jews are accused of taking blood from a Christian child (for the baking of matzos) though not of killing him. Fifteen "culprits" are arrested. The next day a mob broke into the synagogue, killing some of the worshippers, destroying some fifty scrolls and demolishing the synagogue. The fifteen were soon released with no convictions, yet the government refused to allow the synagogue to be rebuilt for nearly twenty years.

1865: U.S. President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) is assassinated. Lincoln was the first president to deal with national Jewish problems including the appointment of Jewish Chaplains in the U.S. Army and his involvement with the expulsion order of Ulysses S. Grant (see December 1862).

1870: In London, the United Synagogue is set up by Nathan Adler and Lionel Cahn. It united the Ashkenazic synagogues of London for charities and civic affairs.

April 15

1944 During the years From July 1941 until July 1944, approximately 100,000 people (mainly Jews) are murdered in the forests of the resort town, Ponary, Lithuania. As the Russians approached a group of 70 Jews and 10 Russians were given the task of burning all the bodies to cover up the mass murder. Realizing that at the end of their work they too would be killed they (over a period of three months) dug a tunnel 30 meters long with spoons. On the night of April 15 they escaped. Only 13 reached safety alive.

April 16

1293: Rabbi Meir of Rothenberg dies. The last of the Tosophists, he was the leading Rabbi in Germany. Convinced that there was no future in Germany, he agreed to lead a large contingent of families to Eretz-Israel. While waiting for the other families, he was seized by the Bishop of Basel. The Emperor ordered him held in prison as a lesson to any of "his Jews" who would try to leave Germany and thus cause him a financial loss. He refused to be ransomed, saying that it would serve as an impetus for further extortion's. He died in a prison near Colmar, and his body was held there until it was ransomed some years later.

1871 North German Confederation extends the constitution over the entire federation. This ostensibly removed all limitation on civic and citizens rights.

1916 France and Britain divide up the Middle East in the Sykes-Picot Agreement. France was assured of Syria and the Mousl, with English control of Northern Arabia and Central Mesopotamia. Pre-state Israel was divided with France controlling the Galilee, Britain the Haifa area and the rest of the country under international control.

April 17

1222: Deacon Robert of Reading (England) is burned for converting to Judaism, setting the precedent for the burning of heretics.

1559: CREMONA ( Italy) : Sixtus Senesis, an apostate Jew, now a Dominican, tried to convince the local Spanish governor to burn the Talmud. The governor demanded witnesses before he would give the order. Vitttorio Eliano the converted grandson of Elias Levita and one Joshua dei Cantori bore witness that the Talmud was full of lies about Christianity. A few days later approximately 10,000 books were burned. The Zohar was not touched since the Pope and the catholic church was interested in its publication believing that it would supplant the Talmud and make it easier to convert the Jews. Ironically it was Eliano himself who wrote the preface to the Cremora Zohar.

1750: Frederick II of Prussia issues a general patent to the Jews limiting them to commerce and industry. Jews were no longer a dependent of the king but rather of the State. Jews on one hand were encouraged to be part of the state and its economy. On the other, they were still second class citizens and divided into two classes - privileged and protected. An "enlightened monarch," he wrote his Political Testament (published in 1752) in which he described Jews as dangerous, superstitious and backward.

1797: In Eastern Poland, after falling to Prussia in the third partition of Poland in 1793, the government enacts "The Regulation" which removed a number of regulations regarding occupations and domicile restrictions for Jews. This still left many of the old regulations in place, including that of not being able to marry under the age of 25 and then only upon proof of a fixed income.

1848: The gates of the Rome Ghetto are pulled down. Although Pope Pius IX seemed to be in favor of considering the removal of the ghetto, Ciceruacchio, a popular leader, led a group who tore down the gates Passover eve. The Jews in the ghetto at first thought they were being attacked and hid in their houses.

1915: The Zion Mule Corps leaves for Gallipoli. Commanded by Colonel Henry Patterson and organized by Trumpeldor and Jabotinsky, they were a Jewish auxiliary unit of the British Army. The British were not interested in giving them the ability to fight, so they were assigned to provide provisions to the front lines. Although later the same year they were forced to retreat in the disastrous Gallipoli campaign, they performed with distinction and later became the nucleus for the Jewish Legion (1917).

April 18

1389: A priest of Prague, hit with a few grains of sand by small Jewish boys playing in the street, insists that the Jewish community purposely plotted against him. Thousands were slaughtered, the synagogue and the cemetery were destroyed, and homes were pillaged. King Wenceslaus insisted that the responsibility rested with the Jews for venturing outside during Holy Week.

April 19

April 19th is one of the blackest days on the Jewish calendar. From the 11th (1014) through the 20th (1903) century, this date is remembered for the atrocities which took place . Below are a few:

1014: In 1013, the Civil War in Spain breaks out between Arabs and Berbers. This resulted in the first Jewish massacre in Cordoba in April 1014, and the subsequent decline of the community both in population and importance.

1283: In Mayence (Mainz), Germany, as a result of a ritual murder accusation (blood libel), thirty-six Jews are slain.

1343: A massacre in Wachenheim, Germany which began before Easter, soon spreads to surrounding communities.

1506: During a service at St. Dominics Church in Lisbon, Portugal, some of the people thought they saw a vision on one of the statues. Outside, a newly converted Jew-turned-Christian raises doubts about the "miracle." He was literally torn to pieces and then burnt. The crowd led by two Dominican monks proceeded to ransack Jewish houses and kill any Jews they could find. During the next few days, countrymen hearing about the massacre came to Lisbon to join in. Over two thousand Jews were killed during these three days (April 19-21).

1566: Pope Pious V, three months into his reign , rejects the lenience's of his predecessor and reinstates all the restrictions of Paul IV. These included being forced to wear a special cap, the prohibitions against owning real estate and practicing medicine on Christians. Communities are not allowed to have more than one synagogue and Jews are confined to a cramped ghetto.

1903: Riots break out after a Christian child is found murdered in Kishinev (Bessarabia). The mobs are incited by Pavolachi Krusheven, the editor of the anti-Semitic Newspaper Bessarabetz and the vice governor Ustrugov. Vyacheslav Von Plehev, the Minister of Interior supposedly gave orders not to stop the rioters. The Jews are accused of ritual murder. During the three days of rioting, 47 Jews are killed, 92 severely wounded , 500 slightly wounded and over 700 houses destroyed. Despite a world outcry, only two men are sentenced to seven and five years in prison, and twenty-two are sentenced for one or two years. This pogrom was instrumental in convincing tens of thousands of Russian Jews to leave to the West and to Eretz-Israel. The child was later discovered to have been killed by a relative.

April 20

1298 ROTTINGEN

Rindfleish, German knight, accused the local Jews of profaning the host. He then incited the Burgher and local populace to join in the killing. Twenty one Jews were murdered The killing soon spread to a hundred and forty communities in Bavaria and Austria. In all tens of thousands of Jews were either killed or wounded.

1615: Led by Dr. Chemnitz, the guilds of Worms "non-violently" force the Jews from the city.

1657 ASSER LEVY

After a battle of almost two years Asser Levy one of the original 23 settlers is allowed to serve on guard duty ( “watch and ward”). Levy who was the ritual slaughterer of the town opened his slaughterhouse on what is now wall street. He further petitioned to be allowed the rights as a Burgher or freeperson on the town, which he received albeit reluctantly by the burgomasters of New Amsterdam. .

1939: On Hitler's fiftieth birthday, all Catholic churches in Greater Germany hoist the swastika in celebration.

April 21

629: Emperor Heraclius marches into Jerusalem at the head of his army.

1499: The New Christians, including those who had been forcibly baptized, are forbidden to leave Portugal.

1936: The beginning of the 36-39 riots start on this date in pre-state Israel. Arab headquarters called for a general strike and a rebellion against the Mandate and in an effort to prevent Jewish immigration. Initially 80 Jews are murdered and 308 wounded. By fall of '39, over one hundred Jews had been killed in Arab attacks. The official Zionist policy at the time was Havlagah (self-restraint).

April 22

1593: In Amsterdam, the first group of Marranos led by Jacob Tirado arrives. This group was the first Jews to settle in Amsterdam after the Spanish Expulsion. Moses Uri Halevi soon joined them and helped arrange for prayer services.

April 23

1615: Louis XIII decreed that all Jews must leave the country within one month on pain of death. This decree became the basis for the infamous Code Noir the Black Code which forbade Jews to live in French colonies in the New world including in 1724 the colony of Louisiana.

April 24

1288: A Christian body is placed in the house of the richest Jew of Troyes, France. The resulting tribunal condemned fourteen of the city's wealthiest men and women to be burned at the stake.

1898: Spanish American War Begins with the sinking of the USS Maine. Fifteen Jews serving on the battleship are killed. Five thousand Jews served in the American Army, a ratio of 20% more than the general population. The first person of Colonel Roosevelt's Rough Riders to reach the top of San Juan Hill was also a Jew, Irving Peixotto.

1905: Easter in Bielostok and Zhitomir - Jews are attacked by the Black Hundreds (League of the Russian People), an unofficial pro-Czarist terrorist force. This time the Jews tried to defended themselves. In Zhitomir, Police prevented Jewish self-defense organizations from protecting their property . After two days, 15 Jews and one non-Jewish student who had volunteered were killed. The Governor did nothing to stop the mobs until a number of Jews broke into his office and threatened him. The hostilities ceased almost immediately.

1920: The Supreme Council of the Peace Conference at San Remo assigns the British Government the Mandate over Palestine, directing her to establish a national home for the Jewish people as presented in the Balfour Declaration.

April 25

1881 Chancellor Bismarck of Germany accepts an anti-Semitic petition demanding, among other things, a ban on Jewish immigration. The petition bore no less than two hundred and fifty-five thousand signatures.

April 26

1655 The West India Company refuses to accept Peter Stuyvesant's request to ban the settling of Jews in New Amsterdam. In a letter, the company referred to the "large amounts of capitol which they have invested in the shares of this company." Therefore, "these people (Portuguese Jews) may travel and trade... live and remain there provided the poor shall not become a burden to the company or the community."

1655: In England, Mennasseh ben Israel is invited to London by Oliver Cromwell to negotiate the resettlement of the Jews. William Prynne succeeded in officially postponing it for a couple of years.

1938: In Germany, all Jewish assets over five thousand reichsmark ($2,000) per person are confiscated. This eventually led to the seizure of all Jewish property.

April 27

711 TARIK - a Moslem general attacks the south of Spain in what would be known as Jebel Tarik or Gibralter. He soon defeated Roderic, last of the Visigoth kings, at the Battle of Xeres. Tarik was helped by both the Jews and the rebel Prince Witiza. After each city was conquered ( Cordova, Granada, Malaga,) the Jews were often given positions of safeguarding Moslem interests.

1913: Leo Frank, the only white man to be convicted on the testimony of a Negro until the 1960's is convicted of murdering Mary Phagan. Though there was little evidence against, Tom Watson, the editor of the Jeffersonian, used the fact that Frank was a Jew to convict him before the public. Later (1915) Georgia Governor John Slater, believing that the trial had been unfair, commuted the sentence to life imprisonment.

April 28

1881: In Kherson, Elizabethgrad, a tavern dispute on blood libels spawns massive outbreaks against the Jews (often joined by the soldiers) in Odessa and Kiev. In all, over a hundred and sixty riots occurred in southern Russia. Ignatiev, the Minister of the Interior, insisted that the Jews caused the pogroms. General Drenbien refused to endanger his troops "for a few Jews."

April 29

1945: Dachau, the first of the S.S.-organized camps is captured by the US army. It was founded in March 1933. Dachau was infamous for its pseudo-scientific experiments by German doctors and scientists. The exact number of those who died there is unknown. The number is estimated to run more than 40,000. The Americans later used it as a prison camp for Nazi war criminals.

April 30

1492: The Edict of Expulsion (Spain)for all Jews is passed. Since professing that Jews were not under the jurisdiction of the Inquisition, the Church decided to level a ritual murder accusation against them in Granada and was thus able to call for the expulsion of both Jews and Marranos from Spain. The Marranos themselves were accused of complicity in the case, and both were ordered to leave within four months. Torquemada, the director of the Inquisition (and incidentally of Jewish descent), defended this against Don Isaac Abarbanel. The edict was passed, and over fifteen thousand Jews had to flee, some to the Province of Aragon and others, like Abarbanel, to Naples. Still others found temporary sanctuary in Portugal.

1925 Paris - - The Revisionist party ( Brith HaTzionim HaRevisionistim) is founded by Zev (Vladimir) Jabotinsky. Jabotinsky adhered to in the Herzlian concept that Zionism is an basically an ideological movement. He demanded a more aggressive policy toward the British believing that only world wide pressure would force the British to abide by the mandate. The revisionist believed that the highest priority of the Zionist movement should be in bringing greatest number of Jews to Eretz –Israel in the shortest possible time.

This material has been adapted from Beyond Time and History by Eli Birnbaum. Plus, special thanks to Aryeh Weinberger and the Israel Ministry of Education for the use of material from their publication, Midei Chodesh Bechodsho.


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