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"Prayers for Victory by Mystics in Meron"

Prayers for victory
The Palestine Post, Jerusalem, March 3, 1944
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tags: religious life Zionism

type: Newspaper Article

The Palestine Post was the main English-language Zionist daily in Palestine under the British Mandate in the interwar period. It was an influential newspaper with ties to the Jewish Agency Executive, the de facto Jewish government in Palestine. Like other Jewish newspapers in the country, it followed with apprehension the developments in Europe, and firmly supported the British war effort against Nazi Germany. At the time when news leaked from Europe, in the fall of 1942, about the systematic, genocidal nature of the German assault on the Jews, Jewish newspapers in Palestine dedicated more coverage to this topic. By the following year, however, news from the frontlines were again dominating the war coverage.1

The Jewish population of Palestine and its institutions could not do much to help the European Jews during the Holocaust. This was a minority population in a British dominion, and the once mighty British Empire itself was having troubles fighting Hitler. As much as they wanted to, they were incapable of doing anything substantial to stop the genocide; and, of course, it did not become known that this was a genocide until already too long into the war. The Jewish Agency Executive devised a number of rescue actions and military plans for helping the Jews in Europe.2 But for all practical purposes, Jewish reactions in Palestine rarely went beyond what the helpless population could do: public mourning ceremonies, general fasts, black flags in public, debates whether a general strike or adding work hours to workers' days in support of the war effort would make a difference.

A news item in the Palestine Post on the third page of the March 3, 1944 edition, featured here, points to some of the properties of these almost ritualized ways in which the Jews in Palestine mourned and commemorated the catastrophe in Europe. The short note hints at the formulaic and pervasive nature of such gatherings, even if the one recounted must have been one of the less ordinary ones.

For the history of Jews in Palestine during the British Mandate and the war, see Dina Porat, The Blue and the Yellow Stars of David: The Zionist Leadership in Palestine and the Holocaust, 1939-1945 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990); and Tom Segev, One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate (New York: Henry Holt, 1999).

See Porat, The Blue and the Yellow Stars of David.

This was the official name of the antifascist coalition led by the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union.

Zohar is the core text of Jewish mysticism, the Kabbalah. Safed was the center of Kabbalah thought in the early modern period. See Moshe Idel, Messianic Mystics (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1998); and Moshe Idel, Kabbalah: New Perspectives (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1988).

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Prayers for Victory By Mystics in Meron

SAFAD, Thursday. — Special prayers for persecuted Jews in Europe and for the victory of the United Nations1 were offered throughout the day by a large congregation including several hundred orthodox Jews and mystics from Safad and Jerusalem at the tombs of the Rabbi Shimon Ben Yohai and his son Eleazar at Kfar Meron in Galilee, in commemoration of the anniversary of the death of Moses, on the seventh day of the Hebrew month of Adar.

The traditional Light was rekindled at the graveside of Shimon Ben Yohai, author of the cabbalist writings, the Zohar.2

In Jersualem the anniversary was observed at morning service in the Hurva Synagogue in the Old City, when special prayers for the victims of Nazi persecution were offered. Memorial prayers were also held on the Mount of Olives and at the afternoon service at the Yeshurun Synagogue.

Archival Information for This Item

Source (Credit)
The Palestine Post, Jerusalem, March 3, 1944
Date Created
March 3, 1944
Page(s) 1
Publisher
The Palestine Post
Language(s)
English
Location
Jerusalem, Israel
Jerusalem, Palestine (historical)
Reference Location
Kfar Meron, Israel
Kfar Meron, Palestine (historical)
Safed, Israel
Safed, Palestine (historical)
Document Type Newspaper Article
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