When the Ghetto walls came tumbling down.

AISH offers us a historY lesson

Following in the wake of the Napoleon Wars (1804-1815) in which Napoleon conquered much of Europe, came the emancipation of the Jews of Western Europe.

For hundreds of years the Jews had been economically and politically marginalized and physically confined to the ghettos of Europe. After Napoleon, the Ghetto walls came down and the Jews of Western Europe were free to enter European society for the first time. For better and for worse, this represented one of the greatest periods of transformation for these Jewish communities. These new freedoms allowed the Jews of Europe to prosper and have tremendous impact on European society, but also led to a wave of secularization, assimilation and even conversion to Christianity.

August 15th is the birthday of Napoleon. The following article, written by Mr. Ben Weider, the president of the International Napoleonic Society ,gives us much food for thought about anti-Semitism, assimilation and Jewish identity in the world today.

One of the many contributions that Napoleon has made, and perhaps his most important and lasting one, was his Civil Code. This was written at a time in history when discrimination was rampant. It was then that Napoleon decided to liberate and offer Liberty, Equality and Fraternity to Jews, Protestants and Freemasons. He also opened the churches that were closed for years.

The Civil Code of 1804 was to grant religious freedom to all of them. At the time, there were about 480,000 Calvinists and 200,000 Lutherans living in France.

August 17, 2007 | Comments Off on When the Ghetto walls came tumbling down.

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