- The Damascus Affair

In 1840, rumors begin to circulate in Damascus about a monk named Father Tomaso who had not been seen in several weeks. Christians accuse the Jews of killing him, and using his blood to make matzah. Eight Jewish community leaders, including Chief Rabbi Jacob Antebi, are arrested and tortured. They are burned and their teeth and beards are pulled out, to force them to confess. One man dies during torture. Another converted to Islam and incriminated the Jews.

For the first time, Jews throughout the world would come together in solidarity to help their brethren overseas. Five months after the arrests, British attorney Moses Montefiore and a group of European Jewish leaders finally convinced the Muslim authorities to release the Jews.

“In Damascus we remember the date, and in prayer we don’t say “Tahanun,” we say “yehi shem.” It is still extant in Ahi Ezer and every place that the Damascenes pray.” – Rabbi Abraham Hamra, Episode 1

(Article from the Sunbury American and Shamokin Journal)

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