Warning: Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /home/shengold/public_html/wp-content/themes/enc/functions.php:14) in /home/shengold/public_html/wp-content/plugins/sg-cachepress/core/Supercacher/Supercacher_Helper.php on line 77
DA-DM Archives | Shengold Jewish Encyclopedia
  • DA-DM

DACHAU.

Village in Bavaria, Germany; site of the first Nazi concentration camp in 1933. Here the Nazis brought from Germany and elsewhere a variety of people, including Jews, who were brutalized and either killed or left to die, and conducted, among other things, medical experiments on humans. It was liberated by the U.S. Army in 1945.

DALET.

Fourth letter of the Hebrew alphabet; numerically, four.

DAMASCUS.

Syrian city, “half as old as time.” When Abraham fought King Chedorlaomer for the liberation of Lot, he pursued Chedorlaomer to Hobah, north of Damascus (Gen. 14:15). For intermittent periods beginning with David, Jewish kings ruled this capital of Aram. Finally, it fell to the Assyrian empire of Tiglat-Pileser in 732 B.C.E. Ruled at different times by almost every aggressive power of the Mid-East, Damascus fell to the Arabs and became their imperial city in 635 C.E. In 1516 C.E., Ottoman Turks held Damascus as one of their important ruling centers until World War I. To this day, the Jewish settlement of Damascus has been almost unbroken since the time of King Herod (40-4 B.C.E.). After World War I, Arab nationalism made life difficult for the Jews, and they began to move away, mostly to Israel. Once the Syrian government allowed Jews to emigrate in 1996, only 200 old and poor Jews remained.

DAMASCUS AFFAIR.

In 1840, while Syria was under Egyptian rule, the Jewish community in Damascus was accused of killing a Franciscan friar, Father Tomaso, in order to use his blood for ritual purposes. Influenced by the French consul Ratti Menton, an inquiry was undertaken by the local governor. Jewish leaders of the community were arrested and tortured. One died in prison, and eight others were condemned to death. Isaac Adolphe Cr

DAN.

Jacob‘s fifth son; founder of the tribe known for its fighting men. The tribe of Dan settled in the area around Ekron in the south of Canaan and along the coast north of Jaffa. Dan is also the name of a settlement established later by Danites in the north near the headwaters of the Jordan. The modern Kibbutz Dan was established in 1939 near the site of its ancient namesake.

DANCE.

As in all other ancient cultures, dance in Judaism reaches back to earliest recorded times. It is associated with personal, communal, and historical occasions, often of a religious nature. Invariably it was accompanied by instrumental music. Miriam and other women performed a victory dance after crossing of the Red Sea, and other women celebrated this way. Jewish dances are mainly folk dances, performed in a group, often in a circle rather than a solo performance, and most often by women.

With the birth of Hasidism (18th century), a new cultural phenomenon emerges: men dancing together, without women, mostly in a circle but also in pair or line formations. In fact, the Hasidim consider dance a form of expressing love and devotion to God.

Zionism seems to have borrowed the Hasidic dancing fervor in creating its own circle dance, the horah, and in borrowing folk dances from other cultures such as Russian, Polish, Romanian, and Middle Eastern (notably Yemenite). Dancing helped the early pioneers in Palestine overcome hardship and forged a group spirit.

Dance today has become an important aspect of Israeli culture, and there are Israeli folk dance groups there and around the world. Jews in general have incorporated dancing into all special life occasions, notably Bar Mitzvahs and weddings, and dancing has become a communal experience in all Jewish groups and communities.

DANIEL, BOOK OF.

The Book of Daniel is in the section of the Bible known as Writings. The book tells the story of the prophet Daniel who was taken captive to Babylon and trained for the king’s service. He became a favorite of King Belshazzar by interpreting his dreams. When the mysterious writing Mene, mene, tekel upharsin appeared on a wall in the King’s palace during a feast, Daniel explained that it foretold the downfall of the King. As a punishment, he was cast into a lion’s den but was miraculously saved from death. This story, written in Aramaic, occupies the first six chapters of the book. The last six chapters, written in Hebrew, are mystic revelations about the end of days, the day of judgment in which the wicked world powers would be destroyed and the Jewish people would be restored to their home.

DANIEL DERONDA.

Novel by George Eliot, published in 1877. It tells the story of Daniel Deronda, English-born and completely unaware of his Jewish ancestry, who finds his way back to Judaism and tries to recreate a Jewish state in Palestine. Written 20 years before Herzl‘s The Jewish State, Daniel Deronda makes a passionate plea for the “revival of the organic center” for the Jewish people.

DAVID (r.1010-970 B.C.E.).

Second king of Israel. A shepherd lad, David, youngest son of Jesse, was taken from grazing his father’s sheep near Bethlehem in Judah and brought to court to soothe King Saul. David played his harp to calm the king when he was depressed by an “evil spirit,” and Saul took a liking to him. A deep friendship also developed between David and Saul’s son, Jonathan. When the Philistine giant Goliath taunted and challenged Saul’s army, David killed the giant with a stone from his slingshot. He distinguished himself in battle and married Saul’s daughter Michal. The king grew jealous of David’s popularity and repeatedly tried to kill him. David became a refugee, hiding from Saul in the mountains and later among the Philistines. Yet he managed not to fight for the Philistines when they faced Saul in battle on Mt. Gilboa and defeated him. David mourned the death of Saul and his beloved friend Jonathan in a beautiful elegy (II Sam. 1:17-27).

Long before Saul’s death, the prophet Samuel anointed David secretly, and now his own tribe, Judah, chose him king. The other tribes had crowned Saul’s son Ishbaal, and the civil war that resulted lasted two years. On the death of Ishbaal, David was acclaimed king over all Israel and ruled for 40 years.

Under David’s reign, the tribes of Israel were united and became a nation. He defeated the Philistines so soundly that they were not heard from again for centuries. He subdued the surrounding Canaanite peoples, including Aram and its capital Damascus in the north. By defeating the Edomites in the south, David gave the Israelites an outlet to the Red Sea at Ezion-Geber. David’s crowning achievement was the capture of Jerusalem from the Jebusites; he made this ancient city, sitting up on the rocky heights of Zion, the capital of Israel. There he built a splendid new tabernacle to which he brought up the Ark of the Covenant. Thus, David made Zion the center of worship and the holy city of religious pilgrimage. Jerusalem came to be called the City of David, the heart of his kingdom. David extended the boundaries of Israel to an area never again attained, except for a short period under the Hasmoneans.

King David suffered much grief. His greatest sorrow was the rebellion and death of his beloved son Absalom. David died at the age of 71, the beloved hero of his people leaving the throne of Israel to his son Solomon. He is remembered as a great warrior, as a loyal friend, and as the erring king who bowed with meekness to the prophet’s reprimand.

David is remembered as the “sweet singer of Israel”; author of the Psalms, or Tehillim; and the son of Jesse from whose stem the Messiah would spring to lead a scattered Israel back to Zion.

DAVID, TOMB OF.

The Bible relates that David was buried in Jerusalem (I Kings 2:10). Though the site of the tomb is not certain, it is placed at the south of old Jerusalem, on what is erroneously called Mount Zion. Between 1948 and 1967, when the Western Wall was not accessible to Jews, pilgrimages were made to the tomb on Mount Zion.

DAYAN, MOSHE (1915-1981).

Israeli soldier and statesman. Born in Kibbutz Degania “A,” he received his early education at Nahalal, a settlement which his parents helped found. He joined the Haganah when still a boy. After the Arab disturbances in 1936, Dayan first served as an instructor in the Supernumerary Police Force and later with General Orde Charles Wingate‘s Special Night Squads. In 1939, he was arrested by the British authorities and served two years of a five-year sentence. He resumed his service in the Haganah and fought in the Syrian border area. In the invasion of Syria, then held by Vichy France, by the Allied forces, Dayan was seriously wounded, losing an eye.

In the War of Independence, Dayan commanded a battalion on the Syrian front. During the siege of Jerusalem he served as military commander. He participated in the Rhodes Armistice talks with the Kingdom of Jordan and served with the Mixed Armistice Commission. In 1953, after attending a course of military studies in England, he became Chief of Staff of the Israeli army with the rank of Major General, a position he held during the Sinai Campaign of 1956. He was released from active service in the Israeli Defense Forces in 1958. He was elected to the Knesset and served as minister of agriculture from 1959 to 1964. In 1967, he was appointed minister of defense. He played an important role in planning the strategy that brought Israel victory in the Six-Day War. He left his post when Golda Meir’s government resigned in 1974. In 1977, he quit the Labor party to become Israel’s foreign minister under Menachem Begin. In this position he played a key role in the negotiations between Israel and Egypt initiated by the visit of Egypt’s President Anwar el-Sadat to Jerusalem in November 1977. In 1965, he wrote the Diary of the Sinai Campaign.

DEAD SEA.

Inland sea located at the lowest point on earth. It is 47 miles long by 9.5 miles wide, in the deepest pit of the Jordan depression, fed by the Jordan and Arnon rivers. Compressed between the mountains of Moab in the east and the Judean hills in the west, the Dead Sea was the stage for the tragic biblical drama of Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction for their sins. Its historic character is reflected in its numerous names: in Hebrew, the Salt Sea, in Arabic, the Sea of Lot; and to Josephus Flavius, the Asphalt Sea. The Greeks, who called it the Dead Sea, believed that nothing could live in it, though microscopic life has recently been discovered in its silt. Its waters are so heavy that they hold the human body buoyant. The first attempt to tap the treasures of this “fluid mine” was made before World War II, when two plants were set up at northern and southern ends. The northern plant was destroyed by the Arabs in 1948, but the second at Sodom has been restored by Israel for the exploitation of its millions of tons of salt, potash, bromides, and other minerals. A winter health resort and hotels are located on the coast. In the last few decades, due to the diversion of its natural water sources for civilian use, the Dead Sea has been shrinking. Many possibilities have been studied of diverting water back into the Dead Sea, but more and more it seems in danger of disappearing in the not-too-distant future.

DEAD SEA SCROLLS.

Ancient biblical manuscripts discovered in the spring of 1947 by Arab Bedouins in the Qumran caves at Ain Fashka on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea. As part of a hidden library of hundreds of fragments and scrolls, seven leather manuscripts were salvaged, still wrapped in linen and enclosed in earthen jars. Briefly, they contain:

First, the Book of Isaiah in its entirety, written in 54 columns. This copy differs in some details from the Masoretic text in the Hebrew Bible.

Second, a second Isaiah Scroll, containing most of Chapters 38-66, is closer to the Bible text. This second copy was acquired by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem through the efforts of eminent archeologist Eliezer L. Sukenik. He also published the first accounts of his findings in two volumes. After much difficulty all seven scrolls came into the possession of the State of Israel.

Third, a Midrash on the Book of Habakkuk, consisting of a commentary on “the end of the days” and of the imminent visitation of God pronounced by the “Teacher of Righteousness,” prefaced by verses from the biblical book of Habakkuk.

Fourth, The Manual of Discipline, in two fragments, is a “constitution” of a religious sect, probably the Essenes, setting forth the righteous way of life and admonishing the members of the sect to battle for truth and virtue.

Fifth, The War of the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness, presumably a manual on the conduct of war on the religious and the military level. The “Sons of Light” are defined as “the sons of Levi, the sons of Judah and the sons of Benjamin,” while the “Sons of Darkness” include “the bands of Edomites, Moabites

DEBORAH.

Prophet and judge of Israel who held court “under the palm tree of Deborah, between Ramah and Bethel on the mountain of Ephraim.” When Yabin, King of Chazor, oppressed the Children of Israel, Deborah summoned Barak to lead the tribes in the battle of Megiddo against the Canaanites. Deborah planned the strategy which brought Barak victory, though the Canaanite general, Sisera, had “900 chariots of iron.” She celebrated this victory with a stirring ode of thanksgiving (Judges 4 and 5).

DECALOGUE.

See Ten Commandments

DELAWARE.

Few Jews lived in Delaware prior to the 1880’s when the first congregation was organized in Wilmington. Today, most of Delaware’s well-organized community of 13,500 Jews lives in that city. The Jewish Voice covers Jewish affairs in the state. The Dupont corporation, the most dominant company in Delaware, was the first major industrial corporation in the U.S. to engage a Jewish CEO, Irving S. Shapiro.

DENMARK.

Jews have lived in Denmark since 1622, when King Christian IV invited them to migrate from the Netherlands to his country. Enjoying civic rights and the friendship of the rulers, they concentrated chiefly in the capital city, Copen­hagen. Danish Jews engaged widely in commerce, and a number of them attained wealth and influence. By the 18th century, leading Danish Jewish families had established close ties with the world of secular Danish culture.
The Jewish community of Denmark was the largest in the Scandinavian countries but small in proportion to the general popula­tion. Nevertheless, Jews of Denmark have played a significant role in that country’s culture, especially in literature, art, science, music, and the world of finance.

During World War I, Copenhagen served as a haven for many refugees from Eastern Europe. But on April 9, 1940, the Germans occupied Den­mark and attempted to persecute the Jews there. Both the government and the people of Den­mark protested and succeeded in preventing the maltreatment of their Jewish neighbors. In 1943, when the Danish people learned of Gestapo plans for the deportation and extermination of Danish Jewry, they organized a rescue plan: all Danish Jews were secretly gathered at the ports and smuggled in ships and boats to Sweden. Both the Swedish and Danish governments supported this humanitarian operation. As a result, the Germans seized no more than 467 people who were de­ported to Theresienstadt. What became known as “Little Dunkirk” was the only organized non-Jewish rescue operation during the Nazi period.

After the war, virtually all Danish Jews who escaped to Sweden were repatriated. Today, there were 6,500 Jews living in Denmark, more than 90% of whom lived in Copenhagen, the seat of the country’s only Jewish congregation. Danish Jews were active in the textile industry, publishing, and book selling. A Jewish elementary school in Copenhagen has existed since 1850, offering general as well as religious education. The Danish Jewish community was pro-Zionist and actively interested in Israel affairs.

DERRIDA, JACQUES (1930-2004).

Algerian-born Jewish French philosopher. The basic premise of deconstruction, a notion Derrida effectively founded and which underlies much of his thought, is that to promote one view of some sort entails suppressing a variety of equally pertinent other views, though these may seem peripheral. He was also very politically active, most famously in petitioning for the independence of Algeria.

DETROIT.

See Michigan.

DEUTERONOMY.

In Hebrew Devarim, or Words. Latinized version of the Greek, meaning repetition of the law. Fifth book of the Bible. Named in Hebrew after the second word of the opening verse of the book: “These are the words which Moses spoke unto all Israel on this side of the Jordan, in the wilderness.” The book is thought to be identified, in part, with the book of the Torah found in the Temple during the reign of King Josiah (640-609 B.C.E.). It retells the story of Israel from the time of the exodus from Egypt. This Book is also termed in Jewish tradition as Mishneh Torah, a “repetition of the laws” given in the books of Exodus and Leviticus. Many of the ethical ideas found in the earlier books of the Pentateuch reach their loftiest form in Deuteronomy. The book closes in noble verse as Moses bids farewell to the people and gives his blessings to the tribes one by one.

DEUTSCH, BABETTE (1895-1982).

20th century American poet. With her husband, Avrahm Yarmolinsky, she is also known for her translations of poets like Rilke, Pushkin, and Blok from German and Russian.

DIBBUK.

Leading Israeli museum since 1978, located on the Tel Aviv University campus. It has permanent and interactive displays of Jewish life, culture, and history, as well as temporary exhibits. It also maintains a research center with visual archives, a genealogical database documenting the Jewish communities of Europe and the world, and a Jewish music center.

Literally, attachment. Name given to the soul of the deceased, usually evil, which has entered a living person in order to find its salvation. Belief in the transmigration of the soul is ancient; it is mentioned in the Talmud. The books of the Kabbalah gave this belief widespread circulation. Special rites, or exorcism, were prescribed to drive out the evil spirit. By the use of holy names and assurances of salvation, certain “miracle workers” were believed to be capable of inducing the dybbuk to leave. S. Anski made use of the legend in his famous play The Dybbuk.

DIETARY LAWS.

Code of law restricting the foods Jews may eat and controlling the prepara­tion of permitted foods. According to the story of Creation (Gen. 1:29), all fruits and vegetables may be eaten. The Bible separates animals into clean—tahor—and unclean—tameh (Lev. 1:1). Israel, as a holy people, is allowed to eat only the flesh of “clean” animals, mammals which chew the cud and have cloven hooves. Rabbis have restricted the birds considered fit for food, since it has been difficult to identify all those mentioned in Leviticus. Permitted animals, before they may be eaten, must be ritually slaughtered. Since the eating of blood is forbid­den, the meat must be soaked and salted to withdraw as much blood as possible. It is not per­missible to use the hindquarter of cattle unless cer­tain veins are removed. If the animal is sick, or if after slaughtering the vital organs show signs of fatal disease, the animal becomes “unclean.” Fish with both scales and fins may be eaten, but shellfish, reptiles, and insects are forbidden.

The products of unclean animals, such as their milk or eggs, are also unclean. In several places the Bible commands, “Thou shalt not seethe a kid in the milk of its mother” (Exod. 34:26; Deut. 14:21). From this comes the command to separate meat and dairy foods to the extent of us­ing separate utensils for their preparation and ser­ving. Explanations for the dietary laws are manifold. Some feel they are hygienic in origin, others that they are spiritual. Historically, they were important in helping Jews maintain their identity and added a measure of sanctity to their daily lives.

DISRAELI, BENJAMIN (1804-1881).

Benjamin Disraeli(First Earl of Beaconsfield.) British statesman and author. He was born in London to a long line of Jewish ancestors who had come to England after having been driven out of Spain by the Inquisition. Benjamin was twelve when his father, Isaac, a well-known writer, withdrew from his Sephardic congregation. Isaac had his son baptized because of the political and social discrimination practiced against Jews in England at that time. Yet Benjamin Disraeli never lost his pride in his Jewish ancestry. After completing his education, he spent three years traveling in southern Europe and the Near East. Impressions of his travels, particularly of the Holy Land, never left him. In Disraeli’s books all the heroes go to Palestine for inspiration. One of his novels, David Alroy, is the romantic story of the 12th century Jewish revolt against Persia led by Alroy, who planned to reconquer Jerusalem for the Jews.

Disraeli had a trigger-quick wit, and some of his novels, beginning with Vivian Greyin 1826, were amusing satires that made him the idol of London society. Disraeli’s career in British politics was remarkable. His political novels, pamphlets, and speeches helped reshape the Conservative Party, and his influence continued long after his death. He served for a time as leader of the House of Commons, and twice as chancellor of the exchequer. In 1868, and again from 1874 to 1880, he was Prime Minister. During these years, his domestic policies reflected Disraeli’s sympathy for the working class and resulted in a number of progressive health, housing, and factory laws. He consistently supported the struggle for obtaining the vote for Jews, despite opposition from his own party. His foreign policy was outstanding. Disraeli obtained for Britain a controlling interest in the Suez Canal in Egypt. He arranged to have Queen Victoria proclaimed Empress of India and brought about the cession of Cyprus to Great Britain. He enlarged and strengthened the power of the British Empire. His policies and courtliness brought him Queen Victoria’s deep affection, while his swift repartee and political and diplomatic victories made Benjamin Disraeli one of the most fascinating figures of the 19th century. For Jews, Disraeli had a rare tenderness and respect. Of them he wrote, “That is the aristocracy of nature, the purest race, the chosen people.”

DIZENGOFF, MEIR (1861-1936).

Zionist leader and mayor of Tel Aviv. Joining the Zionist movement in the 1880’s, Dizengoff visited Palestine several times before settling there in 1905. In 1909, he laid the cornerstone of Tel Aviv, the first all-Jewish city, and was elected its mayor in 1921. His devoted efforts were important in making Tel Aviv a flourishing city of 100,000 before he died in 1936.

LOADING...