• nextgen82

Blood Libel in Massena, NY, 1928

#OTDJH: September 23, 1928

https://www.instagram.com/p/CFfBlzgljjs/

#onthisday, 1928, on the eve of Yom Kippur, the tiny Jewish population of rural Massena, NY was accused of the age-old insidious charge of murdering a Christian girl to harvest her blood for ritual means.

.

Commonly known as a blood libel, these have been a part of Jewish history since at least 1144 when English Jews were accused of the same ridiculous charge - within a century, Jews would be wholly expelled from England until the 1600's.

.

Four year old Barbara Griffiths had disappeared and within a day, the town was blaming the Jews of Massena of kidnapping, murdering, and using her blood for the Jewish high holidays.

.

NY State Police questioned Rabbi Berel Brennglass of the Adath Israel congregation for about an hour - seriously interrogating him about Jewish practices with regards to human sacrifice and use of blood in food (something that is strictly prohibited according to Kosher laws)

.

During the interrogation itself, little Barbara emerged from the woods where she had spent the night after getting lost.

.

Her reappearance led the townspeople to declare that the Jews actually released her when the town had "discovered their plot".

.

Mayor Gilbert Hawes believed this sentiment and called for a boycott of Jewish-owned businesses. Dismayed community leaders sought help from the American Jewish Congress who spoke with NY Governor Al Smith.

.

Within 2-3 weeks the incident was over after aid from Governor Smith in investigating gross police misconduct, and the NY Times picking up the story - allowing the national attention to apply pressure. Mayor Hawes issued a public apology and was re-elected.

.

That the blood libel charge could arise in the US in the 20th century should give pause to all readers. Consider that this occurred just 5 years before Hitler's rise to power in Europe and a little over a decade before the horrors of the Holocaust.

.

When people ask, "why didn't anybody stop them?" - remember these early 20th century events where evident and backwards Jew-hatred rooted in irrational fear took hold of the most "moral and just societies."

.

✍: @mayogrammo

.

#judaism#jewish#history#jewishhistory#otdjh#bloodlibel

#massena#NY#antisemitism

.

Text Source:

https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/the-massena-blood-libel/

Image Source:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/10/books/review/the-accusation-edward-berenson.html

87 views0 comments