Section This Day, In Jewish History : 24JEWISH ALERTS large selection in each section

Limmud Conference: Gidi Grinstein


Limmud Conference: Gidi Grinstein from Shalom TV. Like this? Watch the latest episode of Shalom TV on Blip!

Limmud Conference: Gidi Grinstein “Why Anti-Zionism Is as Integral to Judaism as Zionism”

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L’Chayim: Peter Yarrow – pt.1


L’Chayim: Peter Yarrow – pt.1 from Shalom TV. Like this? Watch the latest episode of Shalom TV on Blip!

Part One of Mark S. Golub’s interview with Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary on Shalom TV’s L’Chayim.

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L’Chayim: Peter Yarrow – pt.2

This Day, March 17, In Jewish History by MItchell A. Levin
Cleveland Jewish News (blog)
1654: Alexis Mikhailovich, the second Romanov Czar, issued an edict today instructing “a party of Lithuanian Jews to proceed from Kaluga to Nijni-Novgorod” under the protection of an “escort of twenty sharpshooters.” 1733: “Deborah,” an oratorio by 
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Hidden treasures – Fromental Halevy – La juive (1835) – Selected highlights (Act III, IV & V)


“La juive”, written at a time when grand opera was at its zenith, was destined to become one of the cornerstones of the French repertory, being given with great regularity all over the world for about a century. Even Wagner, present in the audience during the original run, was a firm admirer of the piece, suppressing his usual anti-semitism both over the work’s subject and even using some of the opera’s ideas in his own works (the organ-accompanied church music of Act I is paralleled by a similar scene from “Die Meistersinger”). Truly one of the grandest of grand operas, the piece involves a tremendous series of events: a formal ballet, major choruses, a spectacular procession in Act I, the most impressive celebrations in Act III and the heroine being thrown into a vat of boiling oil in Act V. Only Meyerbeer could possibly equal, if not surpass, such pomp.

Surprisingly, though, the narrative, despite the large scale of the work itself, is relatively simple and involves only five main characters: Eleazar (tenor), a fanatically religious goldsmith in the Swiss city of Constance, and his adopted daughter, Rachel (soprano), the Jewess of the title, are set against Prince Leopold (tenor) and his wife, Princess Eudoxia (soprano). Rachel loves and is loved by Leopold, although she does not know that he is a Christian (the law precluding any kind of liaison between Jews and Christians) and a member of royalty (Leopold is known to her as Samuel, a Jewish painter). The fifth character is Cardinal de Brogni (bass) who has had a rather grim encounter with Eleazar in Rome (where he sent the former’s two sons to their death) before becoming a priest after bandits kill his wife and, presumably, baby daughter. A lavish ceremony in honor of Leopold’s bravery in the battles against the Jesuits is interrupted by Eleazar and Rachel (hurt from Leopold sudden and unexplained refusal of her hand in marriage), announcing the prince’s unchristian behavior to all assembled. This revelation causes Brogni to proclaim an anathema against the sinners. Eleazar reveals that the cardinal’s daughter is still among the living, though he refuses to name her location. Only after Rachel has died and just before Eleazar himself is plunged into the vat of boiling oil does he reveal that Rachel was, in fact, the cardinal’s long lost daughter (just like Ulrica in Verdi’s “Il trovatore”).

Mahler regarded the piece as one of the greatest operas ever created, though I would say that this statement is only half-true. The plot manages to be both dramatically well-propelled and touchingly humane (in particular, the confrontation between Eleazar and Brogni, where the cardinal, after Eleazar’s revelation that his daughter remains living, is reduced to tears, is one of the best of its kind) and surprisingly naive and flat (in a terzet from Act II Eleazar sings of his pleasure at receiving a large sum of money for a fake gold chain from Eudoxia). The characters themselves are rather one-dimensional: Eudoxia, Leopold and Brogni cannot be saved from being well-known stereotypes with milliards of parallels, though, come to think of it, they are handled quite well as such by the composer. Eleazar is more developed: he is both a throwback to the racist image of Isacco from Rossini’s “La gazza ladra” in his hate of all those around him and a herald of the freshest wind of liberalism that had begun to engulf Europe (his reluctance to sacrifice Rachel for the sake of his petty vengeance is realistically presented). But it is the Jewess of the title that is the center of the work in all respects: there is never a hint of doubt that we are encountering a young woman of strong emotions, both when she rejects Leopold’s treachery and when she freezes in fear before bravely meeting her unjust end. But it is the music that should matter the most. Strangely, it suffers a similar fate: almost half the numbers (such as the extensive crowd scenes, a rather cold and unclimatic confrontation between Eleazar, Leopold and Rachel, much of Eudoxia’s music) are, in my opinion, of limited interest. What remains, however, is so unanimously breathtaking that the unoriginality of the rest of the opera passes almost unnoticed: a stunning cavatina for Brogni, the already mentioned confrontation duet, a great deal of orchestral music and, finally, a lovely prayer from the beginning of Act II, to name just a few.

The rendition I am using to represent the work is virtually the only studio recording of the opera, rather severely cut (quite a lot of choral music) but nonetheless excitingly presented. It is conducted with vigor by Antonio de Almeida and features a familiar and, in general, excellent cast:

Eleazar – Jose Carreras,
Rachel – Julia Varady,
Leopold – Dalmacio Gonzalez,
Eudoxie – June Anderson,
Brogni – Ferruccio Fulnaretto.

This Day in Jewish History / French composer Fromental Halevy dies

On March 17, 1862, the Jewish French composer Jacques-François-Fromental-Élie Halévy died, aged 62. In a long career, during which he wrote 
This Day in Jewish History / Pogrom in York wipes out Jewish community

Four prominent citizens of the English town exploited the anti-Jewish  Although this spelled the destruction of York’s Jewish community, Jews were 

 Jewish History by Mitchell A. Levin

Cleveland Jewish News (blog)
Richard Malebys (a noble who owed large sums to Jewish moneylenders) commanded the attackers. For 6 days the Jews held out. A monk who came each morning to celebrate mass and inflame the crowd was killed by a stone thrown from the tower. Facing 
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This Day, March 16, In Jewish History by Mitchell A. Levin
Cleveland Jewish News (blog)
597 BCE (2ndAdar): On the secular calendar, according to certain archaeological calculations, the first conquest of Jerusalem by Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar occurred. In the Bible, the event is recorded in 2 Kings 24:1ff. and in 2 Chronicles 36:5-8.
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This Day in Jewish History / Pogrom in York wipes out Jewish community
This Day in Jewish History / Pogrom in York wipes out Jewish community. Four prominent citizens of the English town exploited the anti-Jewish atmosphere to have their debts to Jews erased. By David B. Green | Mar. 16, 2014 | 11:00 AM 
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March 16: English history

The thousand-year history of Jewish settlement in England began with the Norman conquest in 1066. The massacre of the Jews of York in 1190 ..

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