Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Meet China’s Kaifeng Jewish Community

A year ago they were living by the bank of China’s Yellow River. Now, the seven yarmulke-and-tzitzit-clad young men, sitting in central Jerusalem and chatting about their lives, are Israel’s keenest yeshiva students.
It is the end of July, the day after the Fast of Av, when every yeshiva halts for summer break — but this group won’t stop.

They come from a community that has fascinated Jews for centuries — China’s Kaifeng Jewish community. Jews are said to have settled in China in the eighth or ninth century. It is believed that at one point, there were as many as 5,000 Jews in Kaifeng; however the community disintegrated in the mid-19th century, with the death of its last rabbi, and those members that hadn’t done so already intermarried and dropped most aspects of religious observance.

The seven men in Jerusalem are descendants of this community in which families retained a sense of Jewish identity and, in some cases, in a manner reminiscent of the Marranos of Spain and Portugal, clung to some disjointed traditions.

They have already earned their place in history, as the first group of Kaifeng men to ever study at an Israeli yeshiva. But they want to convert to Judaism as soon as possible and, under the Law of Return, exchange their visitor visas for aliyah visas and make their move to Israel permanent. Their study program is preparing them for conversion tests.

“Here is my home,” said Li Fei, 22, describing how he felt on the day of the group’s arrival last October, when he visited the Western Wall.

Kaifeng’s Jews are said to have been merchants from Persia or Iraq who made their way eastward along the Silk Road and established themselves in the city with the blessing of the Chinese emperor.
In 1163 they built a large and beautiful synagogue, which was subsequently renovated and rebuilt on numerous occasions. The community enjoyed a golden age of sorts during the 1368–1644 Ming Dynasty, when Jews were permitted to join the civil service, providing them with an important means of career advancement.

In the past decade, some descendents of Kaifeng Jews have become increasingly interested in their heritage — partly because of a more liberal atmosphere in China, partly because the Internet has allowed them to access previously unavailable information about Judaism, and partly because Jewish individuals and organizations have visited them. There are about 1,000 people in Kaifeng who are aware of their descent from the Jewish community, and a core of 35 who have, for the past five years, been meeting for meals and prayers on the Sabbath.

One organization that visited Kaifeng was Shavei Israel (“returners to Israel”), a Jerusalem-based not-for-profit that exists to strengthen ties between Israel and descendants of Jews, including the Marranos and the Bnei Menashe of India. Back in 2005, it arranged temporary visas for three Kaifeng women. These women moved to Israel, converted and made aliyah, prior to which only a single family from the community had come. The seven young men form Shavei’s second group.

“We cannot and must not turn our backs on them, regardless of whether they choose to make aliyah or remain in Kaifeng,” the group’s chairman, Michael Freund, told the Forward. “Either way, they deserve a chance to learn more and to engage their Jewishness, just like any other Diaspora Jewish community.”

The latest arrivals spent their first six months in Israel on Sde Eliyahu, a religious kibbutz in the north of the country. They took Hebrew-language classes in the morning and worked in the afternoon. For one month, they then lived in an apartment in Jerusalem and studied at the Machon Meir yeshiva. And since the beginning of July they have been studying in a program that Shavei compiled especially for them at Hamivtar yeshiva in Efrat, which is headed by the founding rabbi of New York’s Lincoln Square Synagogue, Shlomo Riskin. After such intensive preparations for conversion, all of Israel’s local rabbinates — even the strictest ones, which in recent years have controversially contested some conversions — are expected to accept the students’ Jewishness.

The students’ relationship to Judaism varies: Some only learned of their heritage during their teens; others grew up in families that always avoided pork, and with grandparents that tried to inculcate something on Jewish tradition. Wang Yaacov, 24, is amused by the widespread assumption that he took on his last name in Israel. “My grandfather found it in the Chumash,” he said.

The parents of all the students are happy that their children are in Israel, “because in the Bible it says from every different country, all the Jews will come back here,” 22-year-old Xue Fei said.

Most in the group grew up without making the connection that modern Israel was the Jewish state. For 23-year-old Shi Yuguan — who simply goes by Shai in Hebrew — this discovery was a relatively recent one. “About six or seven years ago, I found out that there are many Jews in Israel, so Israel is a place where many, many Jews came together. So after this, I started to find out more about Israel,” he recalled. “After this [conversion], I want to learn more about Israel — I want to learn more and more and more.”

With the exception of their language classes, their studies have been in English, which they all speak fluently.
Their take on Judaism and on life in Israel is interesting. It’s not the strictness of Jewish law that they find tough, but the leniencies. The fact that the halachic texts they are studying makes provision for situations when a laxer view of law can be taken is confusing. They don’t feel slighted that they already feel a strong connection to Judaism but need to convert — they recognize that their forebears intermarried.

They have no complaints about their treatment in Israel. One of the advantages of aliyah is the possibility of having a family of more than one child (they decry Chinese children as spoiled as a result of the one-child-per-family law). Though they don’t fit the Sephardic-Ashkenazi mold, they think they will consider themselves Sephardic after they convert and ideally, several say, marry Persian-Jewish women. All want to serve in the army, and some have career plans. Xue wants to become a dentist.

But the most resolute statement comes in response to a question about food. Israelis are crazy about Chinese food, and there are Chinese restaurants everywhere, but these men keep well away. “In Israel, the Chinese [restaurants] are not like Chinese foods — they have to change the flavors for Israelis,” Shi said. So what do they like to eat? In chorus, all the students replied, “Shwarma.”
Nathan Jeffay is the Forward’s Israel correspondent.

Wikileaks emails reveal Bin Laden not buried at sea

Wikileaks emails reveal Bin Laden not buried at sea

September 19, 2012 - Osama Bin Laden was apparently buried in the waters of the north Arabian sea, but internal emails from intelligence service Stratfor, obtained by hacker group Anonymous and posted by WikiLeaks suggest otherwise.

According to official accounts, he was wrapped in a sheet and “eased” off the decks of the U.S.S Carl Vinson just hours after he was killed on May 2 in a United States-led operation, in accordance with Muslim tradition.

But a leaked email from Stratfor vice president for intelligence Fred Burton, sent on 2 May 2011, at 5.26am states: “Reportedly, we took the body with us. Thank goodness.” ( http://wikileaks.org/gifiles/docs/1094322_-alpha-obl-.html )

A subsequent email on the same day at 5.51am states: “Body bound for Dover, DE on CIA plane. Than (sic) onward to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Bethesda.”

US forces said Bin Laden was killed in a siege at his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on 2 May 2011, just after 1am local time.

At 6.26am Burton wrote: “If body dumped at sea, which I doubt, the touch is very Adolph Eichman like. ( http://wikileaks.org/gifiles/docs/1097638_re-obl-s-corpse-.html ) The Tribe did the same thing with the Nazi's ashes. We would want to photograph, DNA, fingerprint, etc.

“His body is a crime scene and I don't see the FBI nor DOJ letting that happen.”

The reference to Eichmann regards the cremation of the Nazi’s body following his capture, trial and execution, in order to prevent any memorial or shrine being built.

Stratfor CEO George Friedman appears to agree, noting: “Eichmann was seen alive for many months on trial before being sentenced to death and executed. No comparison with suddenly burying him at sea without any chance to view him which I doubt happened.”

By 1.36pm Burton writes again: “Body is Dover bound, should be here by now.” ( http://wikileaks.org/gifiles/docs/1097638_re-obl-s-corpse-.html )

The conversation takes a puzzling turn at 3.11pm, with Burton stating: “Down and dirty done, He already sleeps with the fish…”

A note adds: “It seems to me that by dropping the corpse in the ocean, the body will come back to haunt us… gotta be violating some sort of obscure heathen religious rule that will inflame islam?

"The US Govt needs to make body pics available like the MX’s do, with OBL’s pants pulled down, to shout down the lunatics like Alex Jones and Glenn Beck.”

The exchange casts a mystery over just what happened to the body of the Al Qaeda leader.

In an official statement, John O. Brennan, President Barack Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, said earlier this year, “The disposal of – the burial of Bin Laden’s remains was done in strict conformance with Islamic precepts and practices… it was prepared in accordance with the Islamic requirements.”

According to Islamic tradition, a body must be buried in a timely fashion, washed, shrouded in white cloth and a ritual prayer must be performed. After these rites are fulfilled, the body is buried in the ground.

It seems that was obviously not the case.

13 Deadliest Corporations

  1. These corporations, if they were individual human beings, would be locked up for life. Instead, they continue raking in the big bucks. Human rights abuses, murder, war, eco disasters, and animal exploitation keep these evil companies raking...
    in the green. Prepare to be disgusted.

    1. Monsanto

    Big Agra makes the list with Monsanto, pushers of genetically modified foods, bovine growth hormones, and poison. Monsanto’s list of evils includes creating the “terminator” seed which creates plants which never fruit or flower so that farmers must purchase them anew yearly, lobbying to have “hormone-free” labels removed from the labels of milk and infant milk replacer (through bovine growth hormone is believed to be a cancer-accelerator) as well as a wide range of environmental and human health violations associated with use of Monsanto’s poisons — most notably “Agent Orange.” Between 1965 and 1972, Monsanto illegally dumped thousands of tons of highly toxic waste in UK landfills. According to the Environment Agency the chemicals were polluting groundwater and air 30 years after they were dumped. Alabama sued Monsanto for 40 years of dumping mercury and PCB into local creeks. Plus, Monsanto is infamous for sticking it to the very farmers it claims to be helping, such as when it sued and jailed a farmer for saving seed from one season’s crop to plant the next.

    2. Chevron

    Several big oil companies make this list, but Chevron deserves a special place in Hell. Between 1972 to 1993, Chevron (then Texaco) discharged 18 billion gallons of toxic water into the rain forests of Ecuador without any remediation, destroying the livelihoods of local farmers and sickening indigenous populations. Chevron has also done plenty of polluting right here in the U.S.: In 1998, Richmond, California sued Chevron for illegally bypassing waste water treatments and contaminating local water supplies, ditto in New Hampshire in 2003. Chevron was responsible for the death of several Nigerians who protested the company’s polluting, exploiting presence in the Nigerian Delta. Chevron paid the local militia, known for its human rights abuses, to squash the protests, and even supplied them with choppers and boats. The military opened fire on the protesters, then burned their villages to the ground.

    3. DeBeers

    Diamonds are a girl’s best friend — unless she lives in the Ivory Coast. “Blood” or “conflict” diamonds are the name given to minerals purchased from insurgencies in war-torn countries. Prior to 2000 when the U.N. finally took a stand against the practice, DeBeers was knowingly funding violent guerrilla movements in Angola, Sierra Nevada, and the Congo with its diamond purchases. In Botswana, DeBeers has been blamed for the “clearing” of land to be mined for diamonds — including the forcible removal of indigenous peoples who had lived there for thousands of years. The government allegedly cut off the tribe’s water supplies, threatened, tortured and even hanged resisters.

    4. Tyson

    Even if you don’t care about the horrendous animal abuse that has been documented in Tyson’s factory farms, you have to flinch at Tyson’s appalling environmental abuses and workers’ rights violations, as well as the fact that on several occasions, Tyson has allowed e coli tainted beef to enter the food supply. A recent study showed that Tyson’s chickens were the most salmonella-and-campylobactor filled poultry of all the major suppliers. As if that wasn’t gross enough, Tyson has been sued repeatedly for illegally dumping untreated wastewater into Tulsa’s water supply; after they were sued the first time, they simply paid the fine and continued the practice. Tyson has made people seriously ill with the ammonia from their factory farms. Tyson is infamous for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants and has even been accused of human trafficking to supply themselves with cheap labor.

    5. Phillip Morris

    Phillip Morris is the largest manufacturer of cigarettes in the U.S. Cigarettes are known to cause cancer in smokers, as well as birth defects in unborn children if the mother smokes while pregnant. Cigarette smoke contains 43 known carcinogens and over 4,000 chemicals, including carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide, nicotine, ammonia and arsenic. Nicotine, the primary psychoactive chemical in tobacco, has been shown to be psychologically addictive. Smoking raises blood pressure, affects the central nervous system, and constricts the blood vessels. Discarded cigarette butts are a major pollutant as smokers routinely toss their slow-to-degrade filters on the ground. Many of these filters make their way into salt or fresh water bodies, where their chemicals leech out into the water. Then again, cigarettes make you look cool.

    6. Halliburton

    Any corporation that has Dick Cheney as a CEO has got to be evil. Haliburton, a huge “oilfield services” company, profited big time from the U.S.’s invasion of Iraq when Cheney called in his boys to quell burning oil wells — and to “help” the Iraq oil ministry pump and distribute oil. Haliburton has also been implicated in countless oil spills, including the BP disaster of 2010.

    7. Coca Cola

    Check out my other article “Coca Cola” Supporting The Regime of Swaziland Dictator King Mswati III

    America’s favorite soft drink, deadly? Well, even if you choose to overlook the childhood obesity epidemic and how soft drinks market to children to get them to buy something really, really bad for them, Coca Cola corporation has wrought devastation in India, where its factories use up to one million liters of water per day, leaving tens of thousands of nearby residents dry during the drought months. Then the factories dispose of the wastewater improperly, contaminating whatever water is left. A lawsuit in 2001 accused Coca Cola of hiring paramilitaries in Columbia which suppressed unionization in the cola plant there through intimidation, torture and murder.

    8. Pfizer

    Big Pharma gets rich when you get sick. Pfizer, the largest pharmaceutical corporation in the U.S., pleaded guilty in 2009 to the largest health care fraud in U.S. history, receiving the largest criminal penalty ever for illegally marketing four of its drugs. It was Pfizer’s fourth such case. As if Pfizer’s massive use of animal experimentation wasn’t heart wrenching enough, Pfizer decided to use Nigerian children as guinea pigs. In 1996, Pfizer traveled to Kano, Nigeria to try out an experimental antibiotic on third-world diseases such as measles, cholera, and bacterial meningitis. They gave trovafloxacin to approximately 200 children. Dozens of them died in the experiment, while many others developed mental and physical deformities. According to the EPA, Pfizer can also proudly claim to be among the top ten companies in America causing the most air pollution.

    9. ExxonMobil

    Another oil company that makes the list, ExxonMobil is perhaps best known for the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill which resulted in 11 million gallons of oil contaminating Prince William Sound. But they have also been responsible for a huge oil spill in Brooklyn and for aiding in the decline of Russia’s critically endangered grey whale because of drilling in its habitat. The Political Economy Research Institute ranks ExxonMobil sixth among corporations emitting airborne pollutants in the United States. ExxonMobil counters not by cleaning up its act, but by funding scientific studies which refute global warming. ExxonMobil was targeted by human rights activists in 2001 when a lawsuit alleged that ExxonMobil hired Indonesian military who raped, tortured and murdered while serving as security at their plant in Aceh.

    10. Caterpillar Company

    Caterpillar sells all kind of tractors, trucks and machinery — including many of the vehicles, ships and submarines used by the U.S. military. Caterpillar also supplies the Israeli army with bulldozers which are used to demolish Palestinian homes — sometimes with the people still inside. In 2003 a Caterpillar bulldozer ran over and killed Rachel Corrie, an American protesting in Gaza who stood in front of the tractor to prevent the destruction of a Palestinian home.

    11. Nestle

    Sticky-sweet image aside, Nestle’s crimes against man and nature include massive deforestation in Borneo — the habitat of the critically endangered orangutan — to grow palm oil, and buying milk from farms illegally-seized by a despot in Zimbabwe. Nestle drew fire from environmentalists for its ridiculous claims that bottled water is “eco-friendly” when the exact opposite is true. Nestle attracted worldwide boycott efforts for urging mothers in third-world countries to use their infant milk replacer instead of breastfeeding, without warning them of the possible negative effects. Supposedly, Nestle hired women to dress as nurses to hand out free infant formula, which was frequently mixed with contaminated water, or the children starved when the formula ran out and their mothers could not afford more and their breast milk had already dried up from disuse. Nestle, of course, denies contributing to the death of thousands of infants.

    12. British Petroleum

    Who can forget 2010′s oil rig explosion in the Gulf Coast which killed 11 workers and thousands of birds, sea turtles, dolphins and other animals, effectively destroying the fishing and tourism industry in the region? This was not BP’s first crime against nature. In fact, between January 1997 and March 1998, BP was responsible for a whopping 104 oil spills. Thirteen rig workers will killed in 1965 during one explosion; 15 in a 2005 explosion. Also in 2005, a BP ferry carrying oil workers crashed, killing 16. In 1991, the EPA cited BP as the most polluting company in the U.S.. In 1999, BP was charged with illegal toxic dumping in Alaska, then in 2010 for leaking highly dangerous poisons into the air in Texas. In July 2006, Colombian farmers won a settlement from BP after they accused the company of benefiting from a regime of terror carried out by Colombian government paramilitaries protecting the Ocensa pipeline. Clearly, there is no way BP will ever “make it right.”

    13. Dyncorp

    This privatized military company is often hired by the U.S. government to protect American interests overseas — and so the government can claim no responsibility for Dyncorp’s actions. Dyncorp is best known for its brutality in impoverished countries, for trafficking in child sex slaves, for slaughtering civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, and for training rebels in Haiti. Among some stiff competition, mercenary Dyncorp may be the deadliest and most evil corporation in the United States.

Kirkuk to Haifa Pipeline: Reason for the War? Oil For Israel?

Kirkuk to Haifa Pipeline: Reason for the War?
In 2003, Bush invaded Iraq, partly to topple Saddam Hussein, partly to
revive the pipeline to Haifa


US discusses plan to pump fuel to its regional ally and solve energy
headache at a stroke Ed Vuillamy in Washington Sunday April 20, 2003

The Observer
By Steven Scheer

LONDON (Reuters) - Israeli Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he
expected an oil pipeline from Iraq to Israel to be reopened in the
near future after being closed when Israel became a state in 1948.

"It won't be long when you will see Iraqi oil flowing to Haifa," the
port city in northern Israel, Netanyahu told a group of British
investors, declining to give a timetable.

"It is just a matter of time until the pipeline is reconstituted and
Iraqi oil will flow to the Mediterranean."

Netanyahu later told Reuters the government was in the early stages of
looking into the possibility of reopening the pipeline, which during
the British Mandate sent oil from Mosul to Haifa via Jordan.

"It's not a pipe-dream," Netanyahu said.

Plans to build a pipeline to siphon oil from newly conquered Iraq to
Israel are being
discussed between Washington, Tel Aviv and potential future government
figures in Baghdad.The plan envisages the reconstruction of an old
pipeline, inactive since the end of the British mandate in Palestine
in 1948, when the flow from Iraq's northern oilfields to Palestine was
re-directed to Syria.

Sunday, November 4, 2007
Iraqi invasion: oil perspective

The British built the Kirkuk-to-Haifa pipeline in 1927. In 1934, they
completed a 12-inch pipeline from the Kirkuk fields to Al-Haditha on
the Euphrates River. At that point the pipeline forked. One branch
went through Syria to Tripoli (Lebanon). The other went across Jordan
to Haifa. The British built refineries at both Tripoli and Haifa to
handle this Iraq oil. (In World War II, Germany wanted to get control
of this oil.)

In 1945 the British added a parallel 16-inch pipeline in Syria.

When Jews started to invade Palestine in 1945, Syria shut down its
branch to Tripoli. Iraq shut down all oil from from Kirkuk to Haifa.
At that point, most of northern Iraq's oil went to the Turkish port
city of Gihan, which was OK with the US, since Turkey was a US ally
against the USSR. Turkey collect transit fees for this oil.

In 1947 the British oil refinery at Haifa still handled trickle of oil
from miscellaneous areas, and still employed some 1,700 Arab workers,
plus 360 Jewish employees. The Arab and Jewish workers formed a union
to oppose British tyranny. Then Israel was created. Immediately Irgun
(commanded by Menachem Begin), the Hagana and other terrorist groups
moved in. Irgun had bombed the King David Hotel the year before, and
they started massacring Arabs in Haifa and elsewhere.

In 1952, western oil companies built two new lines through Syria to
Tripoli. The pipeline to Haifa was allowed to decay. Pieces of it were
dismantled. Various interests used the pieces to build water

In 2003, Bush invaded Iraq, partly to topple Saddam Hussein, partly to
revive the pipeline to Haifa (Kirkuk oil fields were said to contain
perhaps 40% of Iraq's oil), and partly to bring oil deals to his
personal friends, such as Ray L. Hunt. Small American oil companies
like Hunt Oil will extract Kurdish oil as soon as and if Mosul and
Kirkuk are broken off from Iraq (17 November 2007). Mosul is the first
stop for Kirkuk oil.

When the Haifa pipeline opens back up, only Jordan (not Israel) will
collect hefty transit fees. Kurdish oil will go to Europe via Israel,
not Turkey. This might be a reason why Turkey is threatening to
invade. The minute Bush invaded Iraq, the Turkish realized that the
pipeline to Haifa would be opened back up. Therefore Turkey tried to
make deals with Central Asian states (such as Azerbaijan) to get new
pipelines to Turkey, but now Iran and Russia have foiled Turkish plans
by forming the new alliance of Caspian Sea states. Turkey feels
squeezed. This is yet another reason why they are threatening to
invade northern Iraq.

Shortly after the 2003 invasion, Benyamin Netanyahu (the then Israeli
finance minister) boasted, "Soon you will see Iraqi oil flowing to
Haifa. It is just a matter of time until the pipeline is
reconstituted, and Iraqi oil will flow to the Mediterranean. It's not
a pipe dream."

Under a 1975 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) the US guaranteed all
Israel's oil needs in the event of a crisis. This MoU is quietly
renewed every five years. It commits US taxpayers to maintain a
strategic US reserve for Israel, equivalent to $3 billion in 2002
dollars. Special legislation was enacted to exempt Israel from
restrictions on oil exports from the US. Moreover, the US government
agreed to divert oil from the US, even in case of oil shortages in the
US. The US government also guaranteed delivery of oil in US tankers
commercial shippers become unable or unwilling to carry oil from the
US to Israel.

Israel-United States Memorandum of Understanding
(September 1, 1975)


Israel can wrench lot of oil from the region if the pipeline were used
again and Kurds were willing to sell the oil. It would also make Kurds
dependent on Israelis for oil revenues and thus give a greater
leverage to Israelis over Kurds of the region...

We are All Jews Now
Aidel gepotchket - Delicately brought up

Consider the present crisis in America and the rise of anti-
Americanism worldwide. "The US has become a Jewish state in more ways
than one. It has the same security checks, the same holocaust museums,
the same poverty for many and riches for a few as Israel


Azoy gait es! - That's how it goes!

The Yiddish Quran

Sect Publishes Holy Book for Very Few Readers

An Unusual Holy Book: The Islamic Ahmadiyya sect translated parts of the Koran into Yiddish.
Haggai Frid/Courtesy HaAretz
An Unusual Holy Book: The Islamic Ahmadiyya sect translated parts of the Koran into Yiddish.
By Philologos

There was an unusual event in Haifa the other day. Muhammad Sharif Odeh, the leader of the Israeli community of the Ahmadiyya sect of Islam, announced the 25th anniversary of an Ahmadiyya-sponsored translation into Yiddish of selections from the Quran. Called by Haifa’s Jewish mayor, Yona Yahav, the “Reform Jews of Islam,” the Ahmadiyyas, who claim tens of millions of followers around the world, are among the most moderate of Muslims. Their Yiddish Quran project, the only one of its kind, represents a reaching out to Jews — a touchingly naive one, it must be said, since just about the only native Yiddish speakers left are Haredim, who are about as likely to read the Quran as they are to replace their black hats with Arab keffiyehs. (And who could, in any case, read the Quran in the full Hebrew translations that already exist.)

Yet even if, out of sheer curiosity, an ultra-Orthodox Jew were to read the Quran in the Ahmadiyyas’ Yiddish, he would find it a disconcerting experience. This is not because the Yiddish is unidiomatic; on the contrary, it is clearly that of a native Yiddish speaker who either knew classical Arabic or worked with someone who did. Nor is it because of the Quran itself — a book, I must admit, of which I am not a great admirer. Rather, it is because Yiddish is so closely, so intimately, so inextricably linked to Judaism that there is something singularly odd about encountering it in the service of another, and in some ways anti-Jewish, religion. (The same thing can be said, I’m sure, of Yiddish versions of the New Testament, with which I don’t happen to be familiar.)

It’s enough to read the Quran’s opening verse, the well-known Arabic Bismi Allahi er-raḥmani er-raḥim, “In the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful,” which is rendered in Yiddish as In nomen fun Allah, dem gnediken, dem barmhartzigen, to feel a bit of a shock. In English, “Allah” simply comes across as the Arabic name of God. In Yiddish, in which God has His own special names, too (ha-shem, der koydesh-borekh-hu, der eybishter, etc.), it sounds blasphemous, as if one were acknowledging the existence of another God in the world besides the Jewish one.

Or take the translation of verse 137 in the Quran’s fourth chapter, the Al-Nisa Surah. The verse begins, “O ye who believe, believe in Allah and His messenger, and in the book which He has revealed to His messenger, and in the book which He revealed before.” These two books are, of course, the Quran and the Torah, both referred to as kitab in Arabic, and the Yiddish translation of the second half of the verse goes, “… un in dem seyfer, vos er hot entplekt tsu zayn sholiakh, un in dem seyfer, vos er hot entplekt friyer.”

Since the Hebrew-derived word seyfer, “book,” is used in Yiddish only for a Jewish religious text, this sounds strange to a Yiddish speaker when applied to the Quran. And on the other hand, although a seyfer-toyreh is a parchment scroll of the Pentateuch, the Torah itself is never referred to in Yiddish as a seyfer, let alone as der seyfer fun Moyshe,“Moses’ seyfer,” as it is elsewhere in our translation. It is simply the toyre, unique and unparalleled, and to speak of it as if it were just one more book among many has a demeaning ring, certainly to ultra-Orthodox ears.

Of course, the Yiddish translator had a dilemma: Had he used the word toyreh, he would have been promoting the Jewish rather than the Muslim sense of things. He had a similar dilemma with Verse 81 of Surah 3: “And when Allah made a covenant [with the Jews] through the prophets [saying]…. Do you affirm and accept My compact in this? They said: We do affirm.” This is translated into Yiddish as “…. Er hot azoy gezogt: zayt ir maskim, nemt ir oyf zikh di akhrayes, velkhe ikh leyg aroyf af aykh in dem inyen? Hobn zey hobn gezogt: Mir zenen maskim” — that is, “He [God] said: Do you agree to accept the responsibility [akhrayes] that I am putting on you in this matter?” [and] they said: “We agree.”

An ultra-Orthodox reader would have no difficulty identifying this as a Muslim retelling of the story in Exodus about the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, according to which God asks the Israelites if they will “keep his covenant” (im shmartem et briti, in Hebrew), to which they reply, “Na’aseh ve’nishma,” “We will do [it] and we will obey.” Had the Yiddish translation used the Hebrew of the Bible, which any Haredi reader would have been familiar with, such a reader would have recognized the Quran’s source at once — which is precisely what both the Quran and the Yiddish translation do not want him to do. The Jewish story had to be de-Judaized in order to be Islamized. Much of the Quran works this way.

None of this, needless to say, is a criticism of the Ahmaddiyyas. They were trying not to proselytize, but simply to make the Quran available to a specific audience of Jews. The fact that this audience could not possibly have appreciated it in the form in which it was made available does not detract from their good intentions