The Grand Sanhedrin was a Jewish high court convened in Europe by Napoleon I to give legal sanction to the principles expressed by the Assembly of Notables in answer to the twelve questions submitted to it by the government. The name was chosen to imply that the Grand Sanhedrin had the authority of the original Sanhedrin that had been the main legislative and judicial body of the Jewish people in classical and late antiquity.
An Assembly of Jewish notables was summoned in April 1806 by the Emperor to consider a set of 12 questions. Those who attended were largely from the Bordeaux or Rhine regions (Alsace and Lorraine). They were led by Rabbi David Sinzheim of Strasbourg, who presently became the president of the Sanhedrin.
The questions presented were:
At one of the meetings of the Notables, Commissioner Count Louis-Mathieu Molé expressed the satisfaction of the emperor with their answers, and announced that the emperor, requiring a pledge of strict adherence to these principles, had resolved to call together a 'great sanhedrin' which should convert the answers into decisions and make them the basis of the future status of the Jews, create a new organization, and condemn all false interpretations of their religious laws. In order that this sanhedrin, reviving the old Sanhedrin of Jerusalem, might be vested with the same sacred character as that time-honored institution, it was to be constituted on a similar pattern: it was to be composed of seventy-one members—two-thirds of them rabbis and one-third laymen. The Assembly of Notables, which was to continue its sessions, was to elect the members of the sanhedrin, and notify the several communities of Europe of its meeting, "that they may send deputies worthy of communicating with you and able to give to the government additional information." The Assembly of Notables was to appoint also a committee of nine, whose duty it would be to prepare the work of the sanhedrin and devise a plan for the future organization of the Jews in France and Italy (see Consistoire).
On October 6, 1806, the Assembly of Notables issued a proclamation to all the Jewish communities of Europe, inviting them to send delegates to the sanhedrin, to convene on October 20. This proclamation, written in Hebrew, French, German, and Italian, speaks in extravagant terms of the importance of this revived institution and of the greatness of its imperial protector. While the action of Napoleon aroused in many Jews of Germany the hope that, influenced by it, their governments also would grant them the rights of citizenship, others looked upon it as a political contrivance. When in the war against Prussia (1806-7) the emperor invaded Poland and the Jews rendered great services to his army, he remarked, laughing, "The sanhedrin is at least useful to me." David Friedländer and his friends in Berlin described it as a spectacle that Napoleon offered to the Parisians."
The opening of the sanhedrin was delayed until Feb. 9, 1807, four days after the adjournment of the Assembly of Notables. Its seventy-one members included the rabbis sitting in the Assembly, to whom were added twenty-nine other rabbis and twenty-five laymen. Its presiding officers, appointed by the minister of the interior, were: Joseph David Sinzheim, rabbi of Strasbourg (president); Joshua Benzion Segre, rabbi, and member of the municipal council of Vercelli (first vice-president); Abraham de Cologna, rabbi of Mantua (second vice-president). After a solemn religious service in the synagogue, the members assembled in the Hôtel de Ville, in a hall specially prepared for them. Following the ancient custom, they took their seats in a semicircle, according to age, on both sides of the presiding officers, the laymen behind the rabbis. They were attired in black garments, with silk capes and three-cornered hats. The sittings were public, and many visitors were present. The first meeting was opened with a Hebrew prayer written by David Sinzheim; after the address of the president and of Abraham Furtado, chairman of the Assembly of Notables, it was adjourned. At the second sitting, Feb. 12, 1807, deputies Asser, Lemon, and Litwack, of the newly constituted Amsterdam Reform congregation Adat Jeshurun, addressed the sanhedrin, Litwack in Hebrew, the others in French, expressing their entire approval of the Assembly and promising their hearty support. But the deputies were greatly disappointed when the president, after having answered them in Hebrew, invited them to be silent listeners instead of taking part in the debates as the proclamation of the Notables had caused them to expect. Addresses from congregations in France, Italy, and the Rhenish Confederation, especially from Neuwied and Dresden, were also presented.
In the sittings of Feb. 16, 19, 23, 26, and March 2, the sanhedrin voted without discussion on the replies of the Assembly of Notables, and passed them as laws. At the eighth meeting, on March 9, Hildesheimer, deputy from Frankfurt-am-Main, and Asser of Amsterdam delivered addresses, to which the president responded in Hebrew expressing great hopes for the future. After having received the thanks of the members, he closed the sanhedrin. The Notables convened again on March 25, prepared an official report, and presented it on April 6, 1807; then the imperial commissioners declared the dissolution of the Assembly of Notables.
The decisions of the sanhedrin, formulated in nine articles and drawn up in French and Hebrew, were as follows:
In the introduction to these resolutions the sanhedrin declared that, by virtue of the right conferred upon it by ancient custom and law, it constituted, like the ancient Sanhedrin, a legal assembly vested with the power of passing ordinances in order to promote the welfare of Israel and inculcate obedience to the laws of the state. These resolutions formed the basis of all subsequent laws and regulations of the French government in regard to the religious affairs of the Jews, although Napoleon, in spite of the declarations, issued a decree on March 17, 1808, restricting the Jews' legal rights. The plan of organization prepared by the committee of nine, having for its object the creation of consistories, was not submitted to the Sanhedrin, but was promulgated by Napoleon's decree of March 17, 1808.
Abraham Furtado (1756–1817) was born to a French Jewish family of Portuguese Marrano descent. He was elected president of the Assembly of Notables; later he served as secretary of Napoleon Bonaparte's "Grand Sanhedrin", a Jewish high court convened in Europe.Bischheim Musée du bain rituel juif
The Bischheim Musée du bain rituel juif (Jewish ritual bath museum of Bischheim) is a museum in Bischheim, France, in which Jewish bathing rituals were practiced, now recognized as a historical monument in France.Consistory (Judaism)
A Jewish consistory (see conventional meanings: consistory in Wiktionary), (or Consistoire in French), was a body governing the Jewish congregations of a province or of a country; also the district administered by the consistory.
Napoleon Bonaparte established the first central Jewish consistory in France, and ordered regional ones to be set up in turn. The political emancipation of the Jews required the creation of a representative body that could transact official business with a government in the name of the Jews. The Jews in countries under French influence during the Napoleonic period often also established consistories. In addition, in this period, the educated classes desired religious reform and supported the creation of a body vested with authority to render religious decisions.Cécile Furtado-Heine
Cécile Furtado-Heine, born Cécile Charlotte Furtado, was a French-Jewish philanthropist. She was born in Paris on March 6, 1821 and died on December 10, 1896.Hamburg Temple disputes
The Hamburg Temple disputes (German: Hamburger Tempelstreite) were the two controversies which erupted around the Israelite Temple in Hamburg, the first permanent Reform synagogue, which elicited fierce protests from Orthodox rabbis. The events were a milestone in the coalescence of both modern perceptions of Judaism. The primary occurred between 1818 and 1821, and the latter from 1841 to 1842.History of the Jews in Alsace
The history of the Jews in Alsace is one of the oldest in Europe. It was first attested to in 1165 by Benjamin of Tudela, who wrote about a "large number of learned men" in "Astransbourg"; and it is assumed that it dates back to around the year 1000. Although Jewish life in Alsace was often disrupted by outbreaks of pogroms, at least during the Middle Ages, and reined in by harsh restrictions on business and movement, it has had a continuous existence ever since it was first recorded. At its peak, in 1870, the Jewish community of Alsace numbered 35,000 people.History of the Jews in France
The history of the Jews in France deals with the Jews and Jewish communities in France. There has been a Jewish presence in France since at least the early Middle Ages. France was a center of Jewish learning in the Middle Ages, but persecution increased as the Middle Ages wore on, including multiple expulsions and returns. During French Revolution in the late 18th century, France was the first country in Europe to emancipate its Jewish population. Antisemitism has been in cycles, reaching a high level in the 1890s, as shown in the Dreyfus affair, and in the 1940s, under the Nazi German occupation and the Vichy regime.
Before 1919, the Jewish population was largely based in Paris; many were very proud to be fully assimilated into French culture, and comprised an upscale subgroup. But a more traditional Judaism was based in Alsace-Lorraine, which was taken by Germany in 1871 and recovered by France in 1918 following World War I. In addition, numerous Jewish refugees and immigrants came from Russia and eastern and central Europe in the early 20th century, changing the character of French Judaism in the 1920s and 1930s. They were much less interested in full assimilation into French culture. Some supported such new causes as Zionism, the Popular Front and Communism (the latter two were popular among the French political left).
During World War II, the Vichy government collaborated with Nazi occupiers to deport numerous French and foreign Jewish refugees to concentration camps. By the war's end, 25% of the French Jewish population had been lost to the Holocaust, but a higher proportion survived than in some European occupied countries.In the 21st century, France has the largest Jewish population in Europe and the third-largest Jewish population in the world (after Israel and the United States). The Jewish community in France is estimated to be 480,000–550,000, but depends on the adopted definition. French Jewish communities are concentrated in the metropolitan areas of Paris, which has the largest population; Marseille, with the second-largest population of 70,000; Lyon, Nice, Strasbourg, and Toulouse.The majority of French Jews in the 21st century are Sephardi and Mizrahi North African Jews, many of whom (or their parents) emigrated since the late 20th century from former French colonies of North Africa after those countries became independent. They migrated to France beginning in the late 20th century. They span a range of religious affiliations, from the ultra-Orthodox Haredi communities to the large segment of Jews who are entirely secular and who commonly marry outside the Jewish community.Approximately 200,000 French Jews live in Israel. Since 2010 or so, more have been making aliyah in response to rising anti-Semitism in France.History of the Jews in Livorno
The history of the Jews in Livorno (Leghorn in English, Liorne or Liorna in Ladino), Italy has been documented since 1583, when descendants of the late 15th-century expulsions from Spain and Portugal settled in the city. They were settled initially by Sephardic Jews from Pisa. The Jewish community of Livorno, although the youngest among the historic Jewish communities of Italy, was for some time the foremost: its members achieved political rights and wealth, and contributed to scholarship in the thriving port city. Numerous Jewish schools and welfare institutions were established.
Livorno traded with northern Europe and the Levant but declined in the later 19th century after losing its status as a free port. From a peak estimated population of 10,000 Sephardic Jews during that period, by 1904 a total of 3,000 Jews remained in Livorno, many having emigrated to other cities and nations where they were known as Grana in Judeo-Arabic or gorneyim (גורנים) in Hebrew.Interfaith marriage in Judaism
Interfaith marriage in Judaism (also called mixed marriage or intermarriage) was historically looked upon with very strong disfavour by Jewish leaders, and it remains a controversial issue among them today. In the Talmud and all of resulting Jewish law until the advent of new Jewish movements following the Jewish Enlightenment, the "Haskala", marriage between a Jew and a non Jew is both prohibited and also void under Jewish law.A 2013 survey conducted in the United States by the Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project found the intermarriage rate to be 58% among all Jews and 71% among non-Orthodox Jews.Jacob Brafman
Iakov Aleksandrovich Brafman (1825 – 28 December 1879), commonly known as Jacob Brafman, was a Russian Jew from near Minsk, who became notable for converting first to Lutheranism and then the Russian Orthodox Church. He was a leading polemicist against the kahal (the communal Jewish theocratic government in Russia) and the Talmud. Brafman's works The Local and Universal Jewish Brotherhoods (1868) and The Book of the Kahal (1869) were foundational texts in establishing a theoretical basis to modern anti-Jewish thought in Russia and established a framework for themes later covered in The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion.Joseph David Sinzheim
Joseph David Sinzheim (1745 – November 11, 1812 in Paris) was the chief rabbi of Strasbourg. He was son of Rabbi Isaac Sinzheim of Treves, and brother-in-law of Herz Cerfbeer.Louis-Mathieu Molé
Louis-Mathieu Molé (24 January 1781 – 23 November 1855), also 1st Count Molé from 1809 to 1815, was a French statesman, close friend and associate of Louis Philippe I, King of the French during the July Monarchy (1830–1848).Marchand Ennery
Marchand Ennery was a French rabbi; brother of Jonas Ennery; born in Nancy 1792; died in Paris 21 August 1852; studied Talmud under Baruch Guggenheim and at the rabbinical school of Herz Scheuer, in Mainz. He went to Paris, became teacher in the family of a wealthy coreligionist, and in 1819 was appointed director of the new Jewish school at Nancy. At this time he published his Hebrew-French lexicon, the first of its kind to appear in France. In 1829 he became chief rabbi of Paris; in 1846 chief rabbi of the Central Consistory; in 1850 chevalier of the Legion of Honor. He was succeeded as chief rabbi by Salomon Ulmann.Pierre de La Montagne
Pierre de La Montagne (1755, Langon – c. 1825) was an 18th–19th-century French playwright, poet and translator.
Prior to the French Revolution, the baron of La Montagne was correspondent of the Museum of Bordeaux then a member of the Académie des Sciences, Belles-lettres et Arts de Bordeaux.
From his youth, La Montagne showed a happy disposition for poetry and published his first essays in periodicals. In 1773, he addressed Stances à Voltaire malade. He also translated from English and Greek into French.Reform Judaism
Reform Judaism (also known as Liberal Judaism or Progressive Judaism) is a major Jewish denomination that emphasizes the evolving nature of the faith, the superiority of its ethical aspects to the ceremonial ones, and a belief in a continuous revelation not centered on the theophany at Mount Sinai. A liberal strand of Judaism, it is characterized by a lesser stress on ritual and personal observance, regarding Jewish Law as non-binding and the individual Jew as autonomous, and openness to external influences and progressive values. The origins of Reform Judaism lay in 19th-century Germany, where its early principles were formulated by Rabbi Abraham Geiger and his associates; since the 1970s, the movement adopted a policy of inclusiveness and acceptance, inviting as many as possible to partake in its communities, rather than theoretical clarity. Its greatest center today is in North America.
The various regional branches sharing these beliefs, including the American Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), the Movement for Reform Judaism (MRJ) and Liberal Judaism in Britain, and the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism, are all united within the international World Union for Progressive Judaism. Founded in 1926, the WUPJ estimates it represents at least 1.8 million people in 50 countries: close to a million registered adult congregants as well as numerous unaffiliated individuals who identify with it. This makes it the second-largest Jewish denomination worldwide.Rothschild banking family of France
The Rothschild banking family of France is a French banking dynasty founded in 1812 in Paris by James Mayer de Rothschild (1792–1868). James was sent there from his home in Frankfurt, Germany, by his father, Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744–1812). Wanting his sons to succeed on their own and to expand the family business across Europe, Mayer Amschel Rothschild had his eldest son remain in Frankfurt, while his four other sons were sent to different European cities to establish a financial institution to invest in business and provide banking services. Endogamy within the family was an essential part of the Rothschild strategy in order to ensure control of their wealth remained in family hands.Sanhedrin
The Sanhedrin (Hebrew and Jewish Palestinian Aramaic: סנהדרין; Greek: Συνέδριον, synedrion, "sitting together," hence "assembly" or "council") were assemblies of either twenty-three or seventy-one rabbis appointed to sit as a tribunal in every city in the ancient Land of Israel.
There were two classes of rabbinical courts called Sanhedrin, the Great Sanhedrin and the Lesser Sanhedrin. A lesser Sanhedrin of 23 judges was appointed to each city, but there was to be only one Great Sanhedrin of 71 judges, which among other roles acted as the Supreme Court, taking appeals from cases decided by lesser courts. In general usage, "The Sanhedrin" without qualifier normally refers to the Great Sanhedrin, which was composed of the Nasi, who functioned as head or representing president, and was a member of the court; the Av Beit Din or chief of the court, who was second to the nasi; and sixty-nine general members (Mufla).
In the Second Temple period, the Great Sanhedrin met in the Temple in Jerusalem, in a building called the Hall of Hewn Stones. The Great Sanhedrin convened every day except festivals and the sabbath day (Shabbat).
After the destruction of the Second Temple and the failure of the Bar Kokhba Revolt, the Great Sanhedrin moved to Galilee, which became part of the Roman province of Syria Palaestina. In this period the Sanhedrin was sometimes referred as the Galilean Patriarchate or Patriarchate of Palaestina, being the governing legal body of Galilean Jewry. In the late 200s, to avoid persecution, the name "Sanhedrin" was dropped and its decisions were issued under the name of Beit HaMidrash (house of learning). The last universally binding decision of the Great Sanhedrin appeared in 358 CE, when the Hebrew Calendar was abandoned. The Great Sanhedrin was finally disbanded in 425 CE after continued persecution by the Eastern Roman Empire.
Over the centuries, there have been attempts to revive the institution, such as the Grand Sanhedrin convened by Napoleon Bonaparte, and modern attempts in Israel.William Hamilton Reid
William Hamilton Reid (died 1826) was a British poet and hack writer. A supporter of radical politics turned loyalist, he is known for his 1800 pamphlet exposé The Rise and Dissolution of the Infidel Societies in this Metropolis. His later views turned again towards radicalism.