Cardozo: Yiddish or Hispanic?
zimmermi at shu.edu
Tue Sep 6 18:47:35 PDT 2005
The Sephardic Jews, when kicked out of Spain in 1492, went different
directions, with the poorer ones going to North Africa and the better off
going to Holland or England. The early Sephardic Jews came to the US from
Holland or England, with some having started in Spain, moved to the
Netherlands, then England and finally the US. The first synagoges in the US
were built, as I recall, in Newport, RI, and Charleston, SC.
Michael J. Zimmer
Professor of Law
Seton Hall Law School
One Newark Center
Newark, NJ 07102
DavidEBernstein at a
Sent by: To
conlawprof-bounce bobsheridan at earthlink.net,
s at lists.ucla.edu fred.shapiro at yale.edu
conlawprof at lists.ucla.edu
09/06/05 06:19 PM Subject
Re: Cardozo: Yiddish or Hispanic?
The Polish example was quite different than the Spanish/Portuguese example.
Jews of Germanic culture (hence, Yiddish as a first language) were invited
to Poland and the Ukraine by local princes, not always ethnically Polish,
to engage in commerce and otherwise partake in economically useful
activities. The Jews primarily lived in towns, the Poles were farmers, and
the populations didn't mix much. After a while, the Russians took over,
and Jews who fled before WWI often think of themselves as coming from
"Russia" as Poland, as such, did not exist. The area now known as Poland,
as I recall, itself had a bare Polish-speaking majority, with large
minorities of Jews, Germans, Ukrainians, and others. The Jews internal
political organization followed its own boundaries, and encompassed
primarily Ukrainian-speaking areas. In short, the Jews lived in what is
now called Poland, but Polish was never their language, nor culture, nor
did either they or the Poles consider them to be Polish.
By contrast, the Jews of Spain arrived with the Moors, if not before, and
could be found in all strata of Spanish society. They participated in
military campaigns for and against the Muslims and Christians. They spoke
Spanish (or Judeo-Spanish) as their first language. They served as
advisors and financiers to kings and prime ministers. They had, as far as
I know, no widescale autonomous political existence the way the Polish Jews
did. And, unlike Polish Jews restricted to the Pale and Settlement and to
certain occupations by the Russians, they faced no similar restrictions.
The situation is far more similar to German Jews such as Einstein. If
there was an ethnic category of "Germanic", like Hispanic, surely Einstein
was "Germanic", albeit not "a German Jew" and not just "a German".
As a related aside, my Iraqi-Jewish wife's family consider themselves to be
"Babylonian" Jews and feel that until unceremoniously invited to leave in
1950 they had more claim to the heritage of the country than do the local
Arabs, who arrived in Babylonia a good 1,100 years after the Jews.
bobsheridan at earthlink.net writes:
As far as we know, Einstein's theories have been proven correct and the
Germans called him a Jew anyway, and his science "Jewish physics," which
is why he came here in the first place and we undertook, after he wrote
a famous letter to FDR, the Manhattan Project, to beat Germany to the
A grandmother of mine, who fled from near Warsaw for America after her
father was murdered in a pogrom over a century ago, considered herself
Yiddish, not Polish, even though she put in a lot of ecumenical
quality-time at bingo in a local Catholic church basement here.
There seems to have been a divide between the Yiddish and their host
countries, no matter how long the association.
If Cardozo was Hispanic, my grandmother was Polish.
I think the first answer to the identity question is what you "claim."
The second is what label others place on you for their purposes, not
Which would you prefer?
David E. Bernstein
University of Michigan School of Law
George Mason University School of Law
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