Persecution Through the Ages

Lindsey Cohen, Associate Editor

Anti-Semitism… it’s been around for thousands of year and doesn’t show any signs of leaving. Anti-Semitism is derived from ignorance. Extreme discrimination and preconceived notions may have been learned at home, from friends or television shows that mock the Jewish Religion. Though Judaism is the oldest religion, there is still an extreme lack of tolerance. From one century to another, from the Holocaust to this day and age, nothing has changed. Though Jews aren’t being gassed to death, symbolically it may seem like things haven’t gotten much better.
In 70 A.D destruction of Jerusalem 1.1 million Jews were killed and 97,000 taken into slavery and captivity. The Bar Kochba rebellion of 132 through 135 caused the persecution of 500,000 Jews; thousands were sold into harsh slavery or were held hostage. When Christianity was established as the state religion throughout the Roman Empire, many anti-Jew laws were enforced. In The church Synod of Elvira, marriages, sexual intercourse and community contacts between Christians and Jews were banned in 306. Only a few years later St. Hilary of Poitiers referred to Jews as a “perverse people who God has cursed forever.” The bishop of Milan was liable for the burning of a synagogue in 380; he referred to it as “an act pleasing to God.” In 613, Jews residing in Spain were actually given two choices: to convert to Christianity or to leave the country. In 1850, 500 people, led by police forces attacked and wrecked a Jewish Synagogue in New York City. Lawrence Lowell, President of Harvard, called for Quota Restrictions on Jewish admissions in 1922. When students learn about Jewish prosecution, teachers tend to only hone in on the infamous Holocaust. The discrimination started thousands of years before the dark years in Germany occurred. With all the proof from the genocide of Jews in World War II, some still deny its happening.
As hard as it may be to be part of a minority, it could always be worse. Besos is a Jewish teen in Albania…the only Jewish teen… In his country it is illegal to be Jewish. He has only celebrated Shabbat five times in his life.
Visiting the National Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC is truly an eye opener. Seeing thousands and thousands of shoes from those in the concentration camps, and the photos of innocent famished Jews puts things in the perspective. Established in 1953, as the world center for documentation, research, education and commemoration of the Holocaust, Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Israel was built with certain architecture to show the “light at the end of the tunnel.”