Happy Arrival Day!

by Eszter Hargittai on September 7, 2004

Today we celebrate Arrival Day, the 350th anniversary of the first Jewish immigrants’ arrival in New Amsterdam (today’s New York City) on September 7, 1654. The Head Heeb has been preparing for this event for over a year. He explains:

Arrival Day is a holiday of the American Jewish people rather than the Jewish religion – a celebration of the Jewish community and its contributions to the United States. As such, non-Jews as well as Jews are welcome to join in the celebration. In the wise words of Ikram Saeed, everyone is Jewish today, just as everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.

A month ago I participated in a wonderful wedding that offers the perfect story for Arrival Day. I share with you the details of this wedding as a celebration of Jews from all over the world coming together in the United States.

In early August I returned to Princeton for the wedding of two friends. I had met both the bride and the groom even before they met each other. There is something extra special about friends coming together in that way. The bride had been an undergraduate Sociology major at Princeton (the department in which I got my graduate degree) and once started talking to me in the department’s mailroom after having heard me speaking in Hungarian with someone. Although she grew up in Manhattan, her parents are Hungarian from Transylvania (now Romania) and she, too, speaks the language. The groom and I started our graduate training at Princeton the same year and hung out in the same social circles from close to the beginning of our years there. He is from Australia. The two of them met as a klezmer band was forming at Princeton. They are both music lovers and amazing musicians. Music and their Jewish cultural heritage seemed to bring them together. And now they are a wonderful Jewish couple from different ends of the globe living a life together in the United States. The wedding was marvelous with friends and family of both the groom and the bride putting on amazing musical performances the night before the ceremonies.

There are several reasons why I live in the U.S. and although no one factor is fully responsible, one contributing reason is that no matter how people try to downplay it, anti-Semitism is alive and well in Europe. I prefer to live in a country where I do not have to be on my guard all the time about being Jewish. (I realize experiences must vary across the U.S., but this is my experience having lived in seven states in rural, suburban and urban areas and I appreciate it.) At my friends’ wedding, Jews and non-Jews of numerous backgrounds came together to celebrate in the joy of two wonderful people. In my mind, this story is the perfect tribute to Arrival Day.

The Head Heeb will be linking to posts that celebrate Arrival Day through the day to be sure to hop on over to his blog for pointers.

{ 46 comments }

1

Luc 09.07.04 at 4:17 pm

anti-Semitism is alive and well in Europe

The Crooked Timber thesis disproved.

“Crooked Timber thesis”, according to which the truth of statements about a group or a set of beliefs ought to be weighed against the perlocutionary effect of uttering such statements on the group or the holders of the beliefs in question.

2

Bernard Yomtov 09.07.04 at 4:37 pm

Whatever the situation with respect to anti-Semitism today, I believe it is historically accurate to say that the US was the first country (ancient Israel aside) in which Jews were not subject to special legal restrictions, but were free and equal citizens.

3

yabonn 09.07.04 at 4:53 pm

bzzbzz arrival day bzzbzzz celebration bzzbzbzzbzz wonderful wedding bzzzbzzb music bzzzbzzz klezmer bzzbzzb no matter how people try to downplay it, anti-Semitism is alive and well in Europe bzzbzzzz celebrate bzz came together bzzbzz joy bzz.

4

yabonn 09.07.04 at 4:57 pm

Sorry. I meant : “huuuu… wha?”

5

Aidan Kehoe 09.07.04 at 5:05 pm

Mr. Yomtov; the Ottoman Empire, and quite a lot of pre-modern nominally Islamic states, tended to be at least tolerant of people of the book, including Jews, and quite often they had more freedom than did the majority Muslim population.

6

Jonathan Edelstein 09.07.04 at 5:38 pm

the Ottoman Empire, and quite a lot of pre-modern nominally Islamic states, tended to be at least tolerant of people of the book, including Jews

The same was true of some pre-modern Christian states, but all of them regarded Jews as members of a separate nation rather than citizens. The United States wasn’t first – British courts recognized native-born Jews as citizens from the early 18th century onwards – but the idea of Jews as citizens of countries where they lived was resurrected during the Enlightenment for the first time since the Edict of Caracalla.

7

dsquared 09.07.04 at 5:40 pm

believe it is historically accurate to say that the US was the first country (ancient Israel aside) in which Jews were not subject to special legal restrictions, but were free and equal citizens.

I think that Denmark beat you to it.

8

abb1 09.07.04 at 5:49 pm

Here in Rhone-Alpes I see plenty of Islamophobia: “they are strange people”, “we don’t understand these people”, “we have a lot of problems with these people”, etc. – but I haven’t heard anything anti-Semitic so far. This, of course, is a personal observation based on a very small and probably very lopsided sample.

9

Enzo Rossi 09.07.04 at 6:09 pm

anti-Semitism is alive and well in Europe

As a European, I feel offended by this claim. I would at least like to see some real evidence for it, apart from the rants (and, sadly, sometimes actions too) of a few muslim youths of Algerian origin in the suburbs of Paris; or of a couple of gangs of alcoholics in peripheric areas of Germany who call themselves ‘Nazi’ just for the sake of shocking the normal people around them.

Now that certainly doesn’t substantiate the claim that Europe has an antisemitism problem, or does it? So perhaps the claim refers to the fact that many Europeans (including myself) believe that if the US had been fairer in its handling of the Palestinian problem (especially in the past four years), the world would probably be a much safer place. If that’s antisemitism, then you can count me in. But then again, I don’t see why ‘antisemitism’ (or should we say ‘antizionism’?) of this sort should be something to be ashamed of. It’s just a position on matters of international relations and political morality, and it has nothing to do with racism or religious discrimination.

I certainly don’t want to deny that Arafat is murderous, corrupt liar, and that he is probably the single most important cause of the failure of the Camp David talks. I also think that most Europeans agree with me on this. But these facts, as well as the many others that could be (rightly) cited to discredit the Palestinians and their leadership, don’t even come close to doing all the pro-Israel justificatory work that some people would like them to do.

10

Chris Bertram 09.07.04 at 6:21 pm

You know, if any comment at all is appropriate on Eszter’s post, which I read as being celebratory and inclusive, it is something like “Have a great day!” There’ll be plenty of opportunities for sour ruminations on the topic of the persistence (or not) of anti-semitism in Europe (or elsewhere) believe you me.

So, people, take up the Head Heeb’s invitation to be Jewish for the day and have a great time!

11

Enzo Rossi 09.07.04 at 6:37 pm

Chris’ got a point: sorry, I didn’t want to spoil the celebrations. So let’s leave it for now. But I do hope that some of you guys will come back to this issue at some point.

12

Jonathan Edelstein 09.07.04 at 6:43 pm

I would at least like to see some real evidence for it, apart from the rants (and, sadly, sometimes actions too) of a few muslim youths of Algerian origin in the suburbs of Paris; or of a couple of gangs of alcoholics in peripheric areas of Germany

According to the French interior ministry, there have been 510 anti-Semitic incidents in the first six months of 2004, as compared to 593 in all of 2003. Of course this doesn’t mean that all or even most Frenchmen are anti-Semites – I don’t think anyone’s saying that – but it does mean that violent anti-Semitism exists in France.

I think you’re being a little oversensitive toward Eszter’s post. She isn’t arguing that anti-Semitism is endemic to Europe, only that (1) it exists at levels higher than in the United States, and (2) attempts by some Europeans to minimize or deny it are part of the problem. I’d say that the French statistics are evidence for proposition (1), at least in France, and that your comment is Exhibit A for proposition (2).

13

JP 09.07.04 at 6:56 pm

Well, I think it probably depends on where in Europe and where in the U.S.

But forget all that. Mazeltov!

14

Luc 09.07.04 at 7:10 pm

I think you’re being a little oversensitive

You’re mindreading. Neither (1) or (2) was explicit in her text.

Yet the insult was clear. As if in the whole of Europe the following is not possible.

At my friends’ wedding, Jews and non-Jews of numerous backgrounds came together to celebrate in the joy of two wonderful people.

The general fact that anti-Semitism is alive and well in Europe is hard to interpret outside of the current political context.

And as everyone knows that, I find it hard to believe that she didn’t expect these kind of reactions.

15

Jonathan Edelstein 09.07.04 at 7:22 pm

You know, if any comment at all is appropriate on Eszter’s post, which I read as being celebratory and inclusive, it is something like “Have a great day!”

Yeah, I’m a bit puzzled by some of the responses myself, “yabonn’s” more than Enzo’s or Luc’s. Enzo and Luc took issue with specific words in Eszter’s post – I think they misinterpreted it, but I can also see how they did so. “Yabonn” evidently had nothing to say except a remarkably rude, sneering dismissal of the whole essay. Is an expression of pride in one’s heritage and hope for the future really so trite and passe as to be beneath the folks at CT?

[Jonathan, those aren’t “the folks at CT”, but rather the denizens of our comments boards who have wandered in off the street, so to speak. CB]

16

Jonathan Edelstein 09.07.04 at 7:36 pm

Sorry, Chris – I didn’t mean any offense to you or the other hosts of this blog. I was referring to “yabonn” as a member of that amorphous and possibly nonexistent entity called the CT community.

17

yabonn 09.07.04 at 7:42 pm

jonathan,

I thought the reaction of the french jewish community to mr sharon’s last stupidity would have carried trough the message that the “scared french jew” exists mainly in us/israel fantasies.

But i digress.

“Have a great day!”

18

Jonathan Edelstein 09.07.04 at 7:54 pm

OK, I get it, all those beatings and arson are just a ploy invented by the Zionists. I guess Sammy Ghozlan and his organization are a Zionist ploy too.

[few words removed – Eszter]

19

Jonathan Edelstein 09.07.04 at 8:03 pm

Eszter, please remove the last comment. I stand by the sentiment and I don’t apologize to yabonn for it, but I don’t think that language belongs here. Thanks.

20

yabonn 09.07.04 at 8:07 pm

jonathan,

“Yabonn” evidently had nothing to say except a remarkably rude, sneering dismissal of the whole essay.

You misunderstood, maybe i expressed myself badly.

I wanted to express my surprise at eszter post. The main theme was a happy party, and a wedding, and a gathering of friends. Why then did she invite in this post that Evil European?

I thought my buzzing would carry the idea of the general happy tone of the post, and my bad surprise to find, encased in the middle of it, something unrelated -and frankly displeasant.

Unrelated to that day and that wedding, that happy blurry thing that happens when you’re rejoicing for a few days with friends, bzbzzz. See?

If you read the post below my first one, you will find just that, surprise : “wha”?

That is why i didn’t use “blah blah” : that would have been rude. If eszter was offended i present my apologies to her.

I still do not agree at all with the european antisemite thing, but was less my point than that mere surprise.

And, once more, as a tribute to chris’s effort to keep that thread afloat : Have a great day!

21

yabonn 09.07.04 at 8:25 pm

Crossed posts again.

I stand by the sentiment

Well, c’mon. We had agreed we wouldn’t talk about our relationship in public.

Serioulsy, we don’t agree, but no hard feelings from me.

22

jr 09.07.04 at 8:33 pm

Messrs Yomtov, Edelstein, and Dsquared: Emancipation of the Jews in Britain was not complete until 1858, when the first Jew was permitted to take a seat in Parliament. A bit of internet research puts full emancipation in Denmark at 1849. In the US things are complicated as there were never federal restrictions on Jews, and in most of the country emancipation was complete by or before the Revolution, but a few states did continue to bar full participation (such as office-holding) to non-Christians. The last such state, North Carolina, formally rescinded the requirement of an oath of Christian belief in 1868.

23

Jonathan Edelstein 09.07.04 at 8:46 pm

That is why i didn’t use “blah blah” : that would have been rude.

OK, sorry; I guess this was another example of idioms getting lost in translation over the internet. I interpreted “bzzbzz” as an expression of boredom similar to “blah blah,” when you evidently didn’t intend it that way.

I apologize again for my other comment; I misunderstood where you were coming from. We disagree but I no longer think you were being rude, and in any event that doesn’t excuse my rudeness.

24

dsquared 09.07.04 at 8:57 pm

Jr: Thanks; thinking about it, my Denmark/Jews factoid was that they’re the only country in Europe that’s never had pogroms.

Did the Canadians used to have anti-Jewish laws? Actually, thinking about it Quebec probably did at least.

Omnes Europeans: It simply makes no sense to claim that there is no anti-Semitism in France and Germany. I agree that the problem is often exaggerated, for political convenience by Americans who want to make the false claim that there is anti-Semitism in mainstream politics in these countries (and particularly that their Middle East policies are shaped by anti-Semitism). But to argue that it is not true to say that Europe has a serious problem of anti-Semitism and the USA doesn’t is to ignore the daily newspapers. And that’s a silly way to live your life.

Jonathan on his website invites people to speculate on what will have happened to the American Jews in another 350 years, by the way. My guess was going to be that by then, based on current trends, they will have amalgamated with the Southern Baptists.

25

Jonathan Edelstein 09.07.04 at 9:01 pm

My guess was going to be that by then, based on current trends, [American Jews] will have amalgamated with the Southern Baptists.

Surely you mean the Unitarians…

26

Sebastian Holsclaw 09.07.04 at 9:02 pm

“Yet the insult was clear. As if in the whole of Europe the following is not possible.”

Not possible is overstating it. Not nearly as probable as in the United States would probably be fair.

27

dsquared 09.07.04 at 9:06 pm

Surely you mean the Unitarians…

Nope, the SBs. All over the world (this phenomenon is visible in Northern Ireland too), Protestant groups which have historically been identified with anti-Semitism have been moving toward partisanship of the Israeli cause, for a number of reasons which I wouldn’t pretend to analyse here. Add to that a rightward drift in the Jewish community (helped by some fairly mindless antiZionism on the left), and all you’ve got left is the whole Jesus Christ thing, which is the sort of theological detail that can easily get sorted out in 350 years.

28

Matt McGrattan 09.07.04 at 9:11 pm

Happy Arrival Day!

Re: anti-Semitism

I realise this is anecdotal evidence from a sample of one but I can honestly say that I have never heard anyone make anti-Semitic remarks in the UK. Ever.

This is not to say that anti-Semitism doesn’t exist. I can think of at least one newspaper columnist (Richard Ingrams) who has made comments that, on all but the most charitable interpretation, count as anti-Semitic by most people’s standards and I am sure there are others.

However, I can’t remember ever hearing anyone make such remarks in person.

This is in dramatic contrast to racism against blacks and asians, homophobia, sectarianism against Catholics (I grew up in Scotland) and, less seriously, ‘jokey’ comments against the Irish, English, Scots or Welsh made by members of one of the other component nations of the UK.

I’ve heard such remarks uncountably many times and not just growing up on a working-class council estate. There is, in my experience, no shortage of racism or homophobia among middle-class university graduates who, if the stereotypes are to be believed, ought to know better.

This is not to say that anti-Semitism ought to be ignored or trivialised — indeed it ought to be vigorously combated wherever it arises — however it would be wise not to make hyperbolic claims about the ‘wave’ of anti-Semitism sweeping Europe.

The UK is far from a universal paradise of tolerance and liberalism but it really isn’t a place in which anti-Semitism flourishes.

29

Thomas Dent 09.07.04 at 9:15 pm

Does that mean we all get the right to emigrate to Israel and become citizens and partake of the Promised Land for the day? I guess not. Tell it to a Palestinian living in the Gaza strip. Makes as much sense as “we’re all Anglo-Saxon dissenters on Mayflower day”.

And why isn’t it called “Jewish Arrival Day”? Since, you know, other sorts people arrived too on different days. After all, there’s gonna be “Muslim Arrival Day” too.

As an Anglo-Saxon myself, could I please have a holiday on which I could tell Zimbabweans how racist they are towards whites and how I can’t possibly live in Africa because Anglophobia is alive and well there?

I do seriously think it’s weird to reject living in Europe because a very small minority of people in rather few locales don’t like your race. Or is it that you would feel irrationally uncomfortable about it, even though the actual risk of anything bad happening is minutely small? Everyone says France, France, France, but there are other countries you know. You don’t want to live in the Netherlands because you would feel uncomfortable there? Ditto Italy, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Finland, Hungary? You’d still be thinking “Here I am in Europe, home of anti-semitism”??

You know, rather few people have the luxury of living in a place where their ethnicity is seen positively by everyone. Most people have to live with racism of some sort. They survive. The USA clapping itself on the back for not being anti-semitic is a pretty sad spectacle.

30

yabonn 09.07.04 at 9:43 pm

It simply makes no sense to claim that there is no anti-Semitism in France and Germany. I agree that the problem is often exaggerated, for political convenience by Americans who want to make the false claim that there is anti-Semitism in mainstream politics in these countries

Yup. Things began to get worse after 1999. France became that kind of antisemitic bogeyman during irak.

Worse part is that this instrumentalization doesn’t even help one bit. Doesn’t influence the desire to fight antisemitism in france, only messes thing up.

The holier-than-thou crowd won’t get that, of course, they never get it. See sharons’s surprise at the angry reaction of french jews after his call to emigrate.

31

Katherine 09.07.04 at 10:47 pm

I’d never heard of this holiday before, but it is definite cause for celebration–for me in particular.

I grew up on Long Island, so I used to think that the country was about half Catholic and one third Jewish…I remember being shocked to learn that those strange “Protestants” were the majority, and they didn’t get Jewish holidays off in other states, etc. etc.

A few years ago this Irish girl from Long Island married a Jewish boy from Brooklyn (who she had met in college in Connecticut) a ceremony in Manhattan conducted by an Irish Jewish cantor from Westchester–it was a beautiful celebration of tri-state area unity.

In a few years time I will probably be a nice Irish Jewish girl. I am 95% sure of the decision to convert, and have done some studying on my own, but haven’t had time to schedule the required classes. (And honestly, my studying has tapered off since I went to grad school. This summer it was limited to reading “The Joy of Yiddish”. I already knew the difference between a shlemiel and a shlimazel, but now I can also identify a shmendrik.)

32

Katherine 09.07.04 at 11:08 pm

p.s. I also go to the same synagogue as John Kerry’s little brother Cameron. Where Cameron Kerry may have heard his brother criticized more than one by the rabbis on the issue of gay marriage, but perhaps not in the way that you’re thinking:

Do not be misled by the genteel language in which this clarion call to the forces of the Religious Right is cloaked. George Bush and his team know where their electoral bread is buttered. With saccharine pseudo-sensitivity his speech-writers have had him issue a coded, highly-nuanced broadside against a proud history of American judicial protection of Civil Rights, against the aspirations of gay and lesbian citizens to equal protection and entitlements under civil law, and against the voice of conscience.
Let me be quick to point out that the responses of the Democratic candidates were only marginally better. Only those candidates who have no hope of being nominated by their party, Carol Mosely Braun, Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton were willing to speak the word and endorse civil marriage for gay and lesbian citizens. All of the others chose the politically expedient path of some non-controversial middle-ground rather than the risky, but righteous route of unqualified support for the right to marry for all citizens. In that moment, they might have protested with Moses, va’ni aral s’atayim, but I am a person of impeded speech?

And of course I also owe my political sanity to the American Jewish diaspora, in the form of young Jonathan Stuart Liebowitz.

And Dsquared–you take that back. The overwhelming majority of American Jews remember how recently they got into the religious “in-crowd” and want absolutely nothing to do with the Southern Baptists. Bush (not a Baptist, but a strong ally of them) is polling no better among Jewish voters than he did in 2000, as far as I know–around 20%

Heck, the Jews I know best can barely stand Joe Lieberman, on account of excess hawkishness and public piety.

33

Matt Weiner 09.08.04 at 12:02 am

I grew up on Long Island, so I used to think that the country was about half Catholic and one third Jewish…

This is NOT an urban legend–I know the person about whom this story is told, though I’ve never heard her tell it–but even if it were, I’d feel it my duty to spread it:

A friend of my family was teaching in Great Neck in 1960. She said, “If Senator Kennedy is elected, he will become the first Catholic President.” A kid in the back row said, “All the rest were Jewish?”

(Dittoes to Katherine on the alleged rightward drift of American Jews, as well.)

34

Tom Parmenter 09.08.04 at 12:29 am

Blogger doesn’t support trackback, but here’s my contribution to the discussion, dates of Jewish political emancipation for various countries:


America’s Freedom, Jewish Freedom

35

Bernard Yomtov 09.08.04 at 12:39 am

Jonathan, dsquared, jr,

Thanks for the facts and near-facts. I was of course talking about full legal equality rather than the sort of tolerance that existed under the Ottomans and at different times in various European countries. I think the UK may be a bit of a complex case also, since as I recall some of the restrictions on Jews were in fact restrictions on non-Anglicans.

Article VI of the Constitution forbids a religious test “as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” It’s not clear to me whether “under the United States” includes state offices, but even if it doesn’t, I think my statement is supportable, North Carolina notwithstanding.

As a general rule, in Europe, Jews were considered “under the protection” of the monarch. This meant they had certain legal rights, but often had to pay substantially higher taxes than other people. And of course they were prohibited from a variety of activities. In countries where the Church forbade Christians to lend money at interest (sometimes to maintain its own control of this activity) the Jews provided a convenient way for the monarch to get into the lending game. Let the Jews do the lending, and tax away the profits.

36

Delicious Pundit 09.08.04 at 12:57 am

Hemi-semi-demi OT, but here’s also a shout out to New Netherland, the rapacious colonialists that made it possible.

37

Robert 09.08.04 at 1:04 am

Mazel Tov, Eszter. I like the idea, too.

My parents were Hungarian as well, but they (unlike most members of their families) were lucky enough to have come to America in the Thirties. When I first visited Hungary in 1974 I didn’t know what to expect. It was painful to visit places where Hebrew lettering remained on the walls but I was the only person able to read what was written (I was educated in secular, socialist “yiddishist” schools). I encountered much warmth but also plenty of anti-semitism. Since my parents were very nostalgic about the culture, I speak Hungarian passably well, but despite my attempts to be sensitive in my inquiries, many locals were clearly annoyed by my curiosity about things Jewish. Some of this reaction may be attributable to lingering feelings of embarrassment or guilt, but in many cases the anti-semitism was overt and shocking. Jewish and non-Jewish friends, of Polish, Ukrainian, German, Slovak and Romanian origin, have told me of similar experiences when they returned to the birthplaces of their parents. There are few places in continental Europe, perhaps middle and eastern Europe more than the west, where the land isn’t soaked in Jewish blood. Of course there is plenty–indeed, overwhelmingly more–non-Jewish blood in the soil, but there is an eeriness that overtakes a Jewish visitor to many places in Europe that is hard for non-Jews to appreciate. And it especially unsettling these days–in sophisticated, urban environments–to find that old-fashioned anti-semitism can wear a modern political disguise.

Over the years I have travelled widely across Europe, and have lectured and delivered papers (in physics) at many European universities and institutes. But the eeriness remains. So, when you say “I prefer to live in a country where I do not have to be on my guard all the time about being Jewish,” Eszter, I think I understand what you are saying.

38

Matt McGrattan 09.08.04 at 1:13 am

Re: central and Eastern European history…

The Pinkasova synagogue in Prague is a very moving place to visit. The walls are covered with the names of all the Jews who were murdered during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. The sheer number of names is overwhelming.

Visiting with my wife, who is from a tiny village in northern Bohemia, she was sure there would be no names from her village. It’s tiny – a few hundred people at most. However, even from a place as small as that there was a list of names to make sure they were not forgotten.

Terezin is even more remarkable – the tremendous outpouring of art and literature, of theatre and music that took place even under such horrifying conditions is humbling.

39

Bob 09.08.04 at 2:20 am

The course of European history is riddled with wars and civil wars in which religious rivalries and antagonisms were casual factors so it nonsense to present anti-semitism as a unique feature. In Britain, catholics and non-conformist believers were deprived of equal civil rights until well into the 19th century. As for France, try this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huguenot The St Bartholomew’s Day massacre of Huguenots in France in 1572 make the events of 9-11 seem like a minor incident in comparison.

40

Danny 09.08.04 at 9:26 am

DSquared:

Nope, the SBs

You were either trolling or you don’t know Jews very well. First of all, what Katherine said. And besides, Jesus is not a small matter, for either Jews or Christians.

Thomas Dent:

Makes as much sense as “we’re all Anglo-Saxon dissenters on Mayflower day”.

Isn’t that exactly what Thanksgiving is about?

rather few people have the luxury of living in a place where their ethnicity is seen positively by everyone. Most people have to live with racism of some sort. They survive.

Thank you for sharing with us your nonchalance about the history of antisemitism. In a sense you are right: minorities feeling vulnerable at the very least is indeed the natural state of things. Therefore if Jews in America feel differently that is indeed reason to celebrate.

41

njk 09.08.04 at 9:51 am

Eszter:

As a Jew born and raised in New York City, but living in Budapest (with a Hungarian wife & our children), I think it important to remember that despite the undeniable fact that anti-semitism is a very REAL problem in Hungary, the situation has improved and continues to improve.

Budapest’s large Jewish community (as compared to the other communities in continental Europe) is increasingly vibrant and prosperous. While the vast majority of Budapest Jews are completely secular, it is no longer wholly surprising to see orthodox families out for a walk on a Saturday afternoon.

The current Government has been very supportive of “Jewish causes” and friendly towards Israel. (Of course, elements of the opposition right wing have a strong anti-semetic bent!)

Finally, for me, the most striking characteristic of Budapest’s Jewish life is how prominent Israeli business people have become. While the vast majority of Israelis may have come here originally for the financial opportunities, more and more are bringing their families and making Budapest a permanent home.

Who would have thought we would witness such a “reverse aliyah”.

42

Matt 09.08.04 at 1:45 pm

A little more about the old days in one-third Jewish and one-half Catholic neighborhoods– It’s worth noting that in that context, ‘Protestant’ meant ‘black’.

43

Sam 09.08.04 at 2:26 pm

Thank you Eszther!

I hadn’t heard about Arrival Day until I saw your post.

My ancestry is also Jewish and from Hungary (the family name makes it likely that they were from Germany, but my great grandfather was born in Hungary). He came to New York in the 1890’s.

As a proud Southerner, I must point out that although there has never been legal discrimination against Jews in the US, the level of social acceptance was traditionally much higher here in the South. Judah Benjamin was Secretary of Finance to the CSA 40 years before there was a Jewish cabinet member in the USA.

44

Katherine 09.08.04 at 2:56 pm

“A little more about the old days in one-third Jewish and one-half Catholic neighborhoods— It’s worth noting that in that context, ‘Protestant’ meant ‘black’.”

Nah, not exclusively. There was decent number of black Catholics, and in my case “weird Protestant” meant “my best friend whose denomination is ‘just Christian’ and whose dad is heavily involved in Operation Rescue” and then later “those various churches my parents keep taking us too because they can’t make up their minds”.

45

DaveC 09.09.04 at 3:43 pm

Newsweek devoted a quarter page to the school massacre in Russia. (One photo and three sentences, including “Fighters had seized students parents and teachers…”

Not much mure clarification about who these “fighters” were.

On the other hand, and on the previous page, Newsweek devoted 3/4 of a page to the JEW SPYS ARE IN THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION scandal, following up on last week’s article. (No mention of Sandy Berger stealing and destroying Top SSsecret- CODEWORD documents, this was unremarkable, not newsworthy)

Well, at least Newsweek didn’t have a half page sidebar with Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, and Ddoug Feith on the page after yet another reprint of Abu Ghraib pictures. That was in June in a seemingly unrelated story about Chalabi.

I think that Conventional Wisdom gave the Russian and Chechnyan “fighters” a < --> because you can only shoot so many children in the back before it starts to look bad.

46

jasper emmering 09.13.04 at 3:03 pm

Remember the Bretton Woods system of world finances? It was hammered out in a conference in 1944 at the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire.

Why did the delegates convene at Mount Washington? Because the other fancy pancy hotels would not have Jewish guests.

And when did the US have it’s first Jewish President? Was it before or after Benjamin Disraeli and Leon Blum?

By framing their argument in a legalistic way Americans can point to their Founding Fathers and claim a tolerance that probably wasn’t widespread even in those days (those FF were an enlightened upper class philosophical bunch), and certainly wasn’t so thereafter.

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