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CA-CM Archives | Shengold Jewish Encyclopedia
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CAESAREA.

Town on Israel’s coast, south of Haifa, dating back to the 4th century B.C.E. It was named Caesarea by King Herod, in honor of Augustus Caesar. Herod built a major port and town, the remains of which are still there. Jewish, Christian, and Muslim communities flourished and declined in Caesarea over the ages. Today, the town has some of Israel’s most interesting archeological discoveries, and is growing into a major seaside resort.

CAHAN, ABRAHAM (1860-1952).

Socialist leader and founder and editor of the influential Yiddish newspaper in New York, The Forward. He studied for the rabbinate in his native Russia, but soon turned toward radical and socialist views. Upon his arrival in America in 1882, he found a fertile field for his ideas among immigrant Jewry. Cahan worked actively as labor organizer, lecturer, and editor of various Yiddish periodicals. In 1902, he became the editor of The Forward, a post he held until his death. A talented writer, he published successful short stories and novels in English, notably The Rise of David Levinsky. In this work Cahan described his generation’s problems in a way that has been recognized as a classic of immigrant literature in the U.S.

CAIN.

See Abel.

CALDER, ALEXANDER.

See Art.

CALENDAR.

Unlike the general, solar-based calendar, the Jewish calendar is lunar, consisting of twelve 29- and 30-day-long months, based on the new moon. Thus, the year has 354, rather than 365 days. To make up for this difference, the Jewish leap year has an additional month after Adar, called Second Adar, which occurs every third, 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th, and 19th year. In ancient times, before astronomical calculations became mathematically exact, the people of Judea watched the skies for the appearance of the new moon. As soon as the new moon was spotted by witnesses, bonfires were lit on the hilltops to spread the news. Burning torches signaled from mountain to mountain, beginning with Jerusalem‘s Mount of Olives and on as far as the Babylonian frontier. In the Holy Land the Sanhedrin, the highest legislative and judicial council, set the dates of the holidays and the festivals, and fast messengers relayed the information as far as Babylonia. By the middle of the 4th century, persecution had made conditions in Palestine difficult and uncertain. The head of the scattered Sanhedrin, Hillel II, introduced then a final and fixed calendar. He published the mathematical and astronomical information for it and made it possible for all Jewish communities in the Dispersion to use this knowledge. This uniformity removed uncertainty from the date of the Rosh Hodesh, the New Moon, and the first day of the year from which the dates of all holidays are set.

CALIFORNIA.

Around the time of the Gold Rush in 1849, Jews discovered California. The first community was established in San Francisco, where the first West Coast Jewish paper, The Gleaner, was started in 1855. Soon communities were established in San Diego, Sacramento, San Jose, and Los Angeles. Today, there are close to one million Jews living in California, with 668,000 in Los Angeles, 210,000 in the San Francisco area (including San Jose), 75,000 in Orange County, and 70,000 in San Diego. Among the Jewish institutions of higher learning are the University of Judaism (Conservative) and the West Coast branch of the Hebrew Union College (Reform), both in Los Angeles. Jews have played a prominent role in the motion picture industry in Los Angeles, accounting for many of the producers who established the big studios, such as MGM, as well as for many of the actors (See Stage and Screen).

California is second only to New York as a center of Jewish life in the U.S., with many Reform and Conservative congregations, as well as Jewish cultural institutions, such as the Judah Magnes Art Museum in Berkeley and the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. In the U.S. Senate, California has been represented by two Jewish women, Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein. Los Angeles also has a large, active community of Israeli expatriates.

CALLIGRAPHY.

See Ketubah, Scribe.

CAMPS.

Jewish youth camps in the United States are a major source of social and sports activities, as well as Jewish living and learning. Every summer, many thousands of Jewish youth under the age of 18 participate in camp programs throughout the country. These programs are run by local Jewish federations and national Jewish organizations.

Founded in 1919, Camp Cejwin in Port Jervis, N.Y., was the pioneer of Jewish educational camps.

Ramah camps, run by the Conservative movement, are located in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, California, New York, Ontario (Canada), and Israel. Ramah also conducts an annual teen study program in Israel and a training institute for future counselors. Organized by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 1947, Ramah offers a Jewish educational program conducted in Hebrew, with formal instruction in classical Hebrew texts.

The Reform movement has camps in Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Georgia, California, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, and Texas. The program emphasizes innovative approaches to Jewish learning and worship, social justice, Israel, and Jewish culture.

B’nai B’rith Youth Organization (BBYO) has camps in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which focus on leadership training and general Jewish experience. All of these organizations have summer youth programs in Israel.

The Federation of Jewish Philanthropies runs 16 camp sites in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Some 6,500 youngsters attend Federation camps. The best-known is Surprise Lake Camp in New York.

In recent years Orthodox groups

CANAAN.

Son of Ham and grandson of Noah, ancestor of seven Canaanite tribes, sometimes identified with the Phoenicians. In the biblical account, Canaan, the coastal plain west of the Jordan, is the land God promised to Abraham, “To your seed will I give this land” (Gen. 12:17).

CANETTI, ELIAS (1905-1994).

Larger in area than the U.S., the British Dominion of Canada has only one-tenth of the U.S. population. In a population of over 30,000,000, about 375,000 are Jews, with 95,000 in Montreal and 180,000 in Toronto Until 1760, Canada formed a part of a vast French colony in which few Jews had been allowed to settle. In 1763, however, the British defeated the French and established British rule over the country. Several Jews had served as officers in the British army. One of them, Aaron Hart, settled in Trois Rivieres, a small town in the province of Quebec. Later, his son, Ezekiel Hart, was elected to the legislature of Lower Canada. His political opponents objected to his position in the legislature because, as a Jew, he refused to take the prescribed oath, “on my faith as a Christian.” For a while, the law was on their side, but in 1829, it was amended to extend equal political rights to Jews. In 1832, the Jews were granted full political equality

CANTILLATION.

See Hazan.

CANTONISTS.

Jewish children in Russia drafted for military service. In 1827, Czar Nicholas I extended military service to include Jews. The Russian conscripts served in the army for 25 years, beginning at age 18. Jewish children, however, were taken at the age of 12 and placed in “canton,” or district, schools of six years of preliminary training. They were sent as far away from any Jewish settlement as possible, and every effort was made to convert them to Christianity. Many cantonists did not survive the cruel treatment in these schools; many saved themselves by conversion. For this reason, Jews did everything in their power to keep their children from being taken into the Russian army. The government simply compelled the heads of each Jewish community to produce the community’s quota of children. The rich often tried to buy substitutes for their children, while informers and professional kidnappers added to the terror within the Jewish communities. This state of affairs lasted for 30 years until Alexander II abolished the system in 1857.

CANTOR

. See Hazan.

CANTOR, EDDIE.

See Stage and Screen.

CANTOR, GEORGE (1845-1918).

German mathematician. Born to a converted family of Jewish extraction, he founded the theory of sets, which revolutionized modern mathematics.

CARDOZO, BENJAMIN NATHAN (1870-1938).

U.S. Supreme Court justice. Born in New York City into a family of Sephardic Jews, Cardozo was graduated with high honors from Columbia College, and in 1891, received his degree in law from the Columbia University Law School. He practiced law in New York, and was elected justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York in 1913. President Herbert Hoover appointed Cardozo to succeed Oliver Wendell Holmes as Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1932.

Cardozo was a trustee of Columbia University; a member of the Board of Governors of the American Friends of the Hebrew University; and a member of the executive committees of the National Jewish Welfare Board and of the American Jewish Committee. He also distinguished himself in legal literature. His books include The Nature of the Judicial Process, Paradoxes of the Legal Sciences, and Law and Literature. In his writings, he always endeavored to reconcile the law with the spirit and needs of the times. Yeshiva University’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law was named after him.

CARLEBACH, SHLOMO (1925-1995).

Rabbi, teacher, neo-Hasidic composer. He became known in the 60’s to American and world Jewry as a revitalizer of Jewish faith, peoplehood, and music. His widely popular neo-Hasidic melodies, his participation in causes like the struggle for Soviet Jewry, his work with Jewish students on campus in the U.S. and Israel, and his unique style of storytelling contributed to this rebirth. Jews across the spectrum of the Jewish world have been influenced by his work, and some of his melodies remain popular to this day.

CARO, JOSEPH (1488-1575).

Born in Spain, Caro settled in Palestine, where he wrote the Shulhan Arukh

CENTRAL CONFERENCE OF AMERICAN RABBIS.

Oldest of American rabbinic associations (about 1,100 members), founded for Reform rabbis by Isaac Mayer Wise in 1889. A leading spokesman for Reform Judaism, the CCAR publishes prayer books, hymnals, a home prayerbook, proceedings of its annual conventions, reports of its commissions, and other volumes. Since 1954, the conference has had a permanent office in New York City. Membership includes Reform rabbis around the world.

CHABAD.

See Shneerson.

CHAGALL, MARC (1899-1985).

Artist; born in a small town near Vitebsk, White Russia. As a young man Chagall settled in France. He is the most eminent member of the

CHAIN, ERNEST BORIS (1906-1979).

Biochemist, discoverer of the curative properties of penicillin and its adapter for use on the human body. Chain was born in Berlin to Russian-Jewish parents, and came to England in 1933. He worked at Cambridge and Oxford universities and was subsequently Director of the Instituto Superiore di Sanita in Rome. He returned to England to become a professor of biochemistry at the Imperial College of Science and Technology in London.

CHARITY.

In Hebrew, tsedakah, meaning righteousness or justice, since helping the needy is considered a duty. In biblical times, when the Jews were agriculturists, they gave charity by letting the poor glean, that is, gather the grain dropped in harvesting (see Ruth 2: 2-16). According to biblical law the corners of the field were to be left unreaped for the poor, who also had the right to all sheaves found uncollected. A tithe, or tenth, of all farm produce was offered to charity; untithed food could not be eaten. Biblical law required that the tithe be distributed to the needy, particularly “to the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow.”

By Talmudic times each community had a kuppah, or charity fund. The community had absolute power to levy taxes for this purpose. From the kuppah the community’s poor were given money for fourteen meals per week. Distinguished members of the community were collectors for the kuppah, and a board of three men was responsible for allocating the funds. Some rabbis divided charity into seven categories: feeding the hungry; clothing the naked; visiting the sick; burying the dead and comforting mourners; ransoming captives; educating orphans and housing the homeless; and providing dowries for poor brides.

The lending of money without interest, helping the non-Jewish poor in the community, and giving preference to women and students were all part of the system of Jewish charity. Maimonides listed eight degrees of charity: the lowest was to give grudgingly; the highest to help a person to become self-supporting.

Charity was also an important act leading to the pardoning of personal transgressions or sins. The Yom Kippur service states that “repentance and prayer and charity avert the harshness of God’s decree.” The Jew believes that to ask God to have pity upon one’s own misfortune, one must have pity for others’ misfortune. Charity is therefore distributed on the eve of Yom Kippur in atonement for one’s sins. Because charity is considered effective in redeeming the souls of the dead as well as of the living, alms are also generously distributed at funerals.

Gifts to the poor are not merely associated with mournful occasions and fear of punishment. Rather, they are a basic principle of Judaism and are offered on joyous occasions as well. Thus, the merry Purim festivities include the custom of mishloah manot, or the delivery of gifts to the poor, and it is customary to raise maot hittim, or wheat money, before Passover. This money is used to provide matzo, wine, and the other ritual needs of the holiday for those who cannot afford them. Similarly, the Passover Seder ceremony includes an invitation to “all the poor to come and eat.” In Eastern Europe it was common for the poor to be invited to all ritual celebrations.

In the U.S. today and throughout the Jewish world, charity continues to be one of the main aspects of organized Jewish life.

CHICAGO.

With more than 270,000 Jews, Chicago has the third largest Jewish population in the U.S. Organized Jewish life dates to the 1830’s when the first Jews arrived from central Europe. Reform temples were founded in the 1840’s and 1850’s, and today Chicago has more than 100 congregations of all three major movements.

Chicago’s institutions of higher learning include the Hebrew Theological College, the Jewish People’s Institute, and the College of Jewish Studies.

One of the most ethnic cities in the U.S., Chicago has absorbed Jewish immigration from many countries. The Skokie suburb is known for its active community of Holocaust survivors.

Chicago’s Jewry has supported many civic and Jewish causes and produced many outstanding personalities who have enriched Jewish and general culture. One example is Julius Rosenwald, who developed the Sears company and contributed millions to general and Jewish causes. Another is Saul Bellow, considered America’s most distinguished writer of the post-World War II era.

CHILE.

Republic on the west coast of South America. In 1998, the total population was 16 million; the Jewish population was 21,000. Like other Spanish colonies in South America, Chile had a flourishing Marrano community in the 16th and 17th centuries. But while the Inquisition succeeded in suppressing such communities elsewhere, Chile is still home to a group of colonial Jews. The Sabatarios, descendants of Marranos who fled to the interior to escape the Inquisition, survive in the mountain province of Cautin. Nothing was known of them until 1919, when a letter requesting admission to the South American Zionist Organization revealed their presence in the country. An investigation disclosed that, despite intermarriage with Spaniards and Indians and a total lack of contact with other Jewish communities, they had preserved a number of Jewish customs and beliefs.

Aside from the Sabatarios, however, the entire colonial community was lost. Jewish life in Chile was renewed only after 1810 when the country gained independence and offered guarantees of religious freedom. The first communities were small. At the time of World War I, there were about 3,000 Jews in Chile, mostly Sephardic Jews from Macedonia and the Balkans. The waves of immigration from Eastern and Central Europe in the following decades, increased the number of Jews to 30,000, and made Chile’s Jewish community the fourth largest in Latin America. It is also most highly organized. The Central Committee of the Jewish Community of Chile coordinates the activities of all local organizations, represents Chile’s Jews in the World Jewish Congress, and is recognized by the government as the spokesman for the community.

Jews in Chile are mainly engaged in trade, crafts, and small industry. They are more active in national politics than Jews in other South American republics. The degree of their cultural integration is shown by the fact that Nosotros, the leading Jewish periodical of the country, is published in Spanish, rather than Yiddish or Hebrew. Yet the Chilean Jews have shown concern for Israel, and the Zionist Federation, a central organization of all Zionist parties, is active in the Central Committee of the community.

CHINA, PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF.

Chinese Jewry consisted of two communities. The older group believed that its forbears reached China after the destruction of the First Temple (586 B.C.E.). Early Chinese documents indeed mention Jewish traders several centuries before the Common Era. Much later, in the 14th century, Marco Polo wrote of influential Jews at the court of Kublai Khan. After 1650, this community, which had preserved its religious traditions for more than 2,000 years, declined rapidly. By the middle of the 19th century its last synagogues

CHMIELNICKI.

See Ukraine.

CHOFETZ CHAIM.

See Hofetz Haim.

CHOMSKY, NOAM (1928- ).

Leading authority on linguistics, the study of languages. The son of Jewish educator William Chomsky, he has been a professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) since 1957 and has espoused many radical causes, especially in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

CHOSEN PEOPLE.

According to the Bible, God entered into a convenant with Abraham and his descendants, to be God’s servants and witnesses in the world. This concept has been distorted through the ages to mean that Jews regard themselves as God’s chosen, thus superior to other people. In actual fact, this “chosenness” puts a heavy burden on the Jewish people, rather than endowing them with special privileges. The Hebrew prophets make it clear that being chosen does not mean being better than others, but rather having a special mission which requires a high moral code and an unshaken faith.

CHRISTIANITY.

The most dominant religion of the Western world. Christianity originated in the Land of Israel with a Jew from the Galilee named Jesus, all of whose disciples were Jews, and was spread throughout the ancient world by another Jew named Saul, whose name was later changed to Paul. Today’s Catholic Church is more aware than ever of the common heritage of Jews and Christians, and recent Popes have referred to Jews as our “elder brothers.”

This, however, was not always the case with the relationship between the two religions. When Christianity first began to spread in the Roman Empire, the rabbis of the time regarded this new offshoot of Judaism as a heresy, and opposed it. As Jews lost their national independence and were scattered in the new Christian world, the Church doctrine developed strong anti-Jewish views, including the view that the Jews, rather than the Romans, were responsible for the death of Jesus, and therefore were cursed by God to roam the earth and find no rest or fulfilment. During the Middle Ages the Church was instrumental in introducing many restrictions against the Jews, and, in effect, forced them to become second-class residents of the host countries in Europe. Perhaps the most radical example of persecution against Jews by the Church was the Spanish Inquisition in the 15th and 16th centuries, which specialized in torture, often against innocents. It was not until the 19th century that Jews started to obtain citizenship rights, and even then the Church did not accept Jews as the equals of their Christian compatriots.

The church, however, never condemned the Jewish people to die, as did the Nazi regime in Germany in the 1930’s and 40’s. Some argue that centuries of antisemitic preaching by the Church culminated in the Holocaust, but this may be only partially true. Today, a new era in Christian-Jewish relations has begun, due to the birth of Israel and the Church’s awareness of the Holocaust. The Vatican has officially condemned antisemitism and recognized the State of Israel, and many Christian groups, both Catholic and Protestant, support the Jewish state.

CHRONICLES.

The first and second Books of Chronicles form the last book of the Bible. Chronicles retells the history of the Jewish people from Creation to the close of the Babylonian exile. It omits the history of the northern Kingdom of Israel to concentrate on the history of the Kingdom of Judah and stress priestly duties and Temple ritual.

CIRCUMCISION.

Performed upon the Jewish male child on the eighth day of life. In Genesis 17:10-14, God commands Abraham to circumcise the foreskin of all males of the house as the sign of the covenant between God and the children of Abraham. It has become a basic law among Jews. In times of persecution, Jews risked their lives to fulfill the commandment. Traditionally, the ceremony is performed by a trained mohel, or circumciser, the child being held by an honored guest, the sandek, or godfather, who occupies a seat designated as Elijah’s chair in honor of the prophet Elijah. This custom stems from the belief that the prophet is witness to the ritual. The circumcision ceremony is an occasion for rejoicing and feasting, accompanied by special blessings and prayers.

CLEVELAND.

See Ohio.

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