Passover and Confederate Jews

April 18

An estimated 3,000 Jews fought for the Confederacy. On Passover, they might have held an impromptu Seder at their camp or simply acknowledged the special night for a moment as they fought for the South, according to a fascinating story  in today’s New York Times.

Writer Sue Eisenfeld said that even the idea of Jews fighting for the Confederacy, which supported slavery, is deeply offensive to modern Jews, whose worldview is deeply rooted in social justice. “But just as Robert E. lee, an Army officer for 32 years, sided with his home state in Virginia against the federal government, many Jews found a homeland in Dixie over the centuries and decided they could not take up arms against it,” she said.

As an example of Jews who have left their mark in the South, she notes the origin of the name for Manassas, Va. She said a Jew named Manasseh was a popular innkeeper in the 1700s, “and he is believed to have been immortalized in the name of his location, Manasseh’s Gap — known now as simply the famous Manassas, the site of the first major battle of the war.”

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Linda Wheeler | April 16