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NN-NZ Archives | Shengold Jewish Encyclopedia
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NOAH.

Literally, rest. According to the biblical account (Gen. 6:9-9), Noah’s generation, the tenth since Adam, had become so corrupt that God decreed its destruction by a deluge. Because of his righteousness, Noah and his family were the only humans preserved from the flood. At God’s command, Noah erected an ark aboard which he placed pairs of every living thing on earth. The flood poured down for 40 days; after another 150 days, every living creature had perished from the earth. Finally, the ark rested on Mount Ararat, and Noah emerged, built an altar, and offered thanksgiving sacrifices to God.

NOAH, MORDECAI MANUEL (1785-1851).

Born in Philadelphia, the son of a Revolutionary War patriot and soldier, Noah was a journalist, playwright, and visionary before entering politics. He held numerous posts, including surveyor of the Port of New York, sheriff, and judge. He was U.S. Consul in Tunisia when piracy and extortion were governmental policies in the Mediterranean world. In Tunisia, Noah studied the history and customs of the Tunisian Jewish community. In 1820, Noah petitioned the legislature of the State of New York for a grant of land to establish a Jewish colony in the U.S. Five years later, Grand Island on the Niagara River was surveyed and subdivided into farm lots. There, Noah planned to establish Ararat as a city of refuge for homeless and persecuted Jews. When this project failed, Noah began to advocate the Jewish resettlement of Palestine. Despite the fanfare and theatrics associated with Noah’s Ararat venture, he may be viewed as a forerunner of Zionism.

NOBEL PRIZE.

The Nobel Prize has five categories, awarded annually since 1901 on an international basis from a fund established under the will of Alfred Nobel, Swedish chemist and inventor (1833-96) “to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind” in the fields of physics, chemistry, physiology and medicine, literature, and in the promotion of international peace. Jews have won this prize in all categories, far beyond their numbers in the world population, and continue to win almost every year. (See the following page for Jewish Nobel Prize Winners.)

NORDAU, MAX (1849-1923).

Writer, physician, Zionist leader, and social philosopher. Born in Budapest, Hungary, the son of a rabbi, Nordau studied medicine, traveled, then came to Paris and set up practice as a neurologist in 1880. At the same time, he wrote a whole series of books of social criticism. Of these, his Conventional Lies of our Civilization and Paradoxes were the most famous and controversial.

When Theodor Herzl came to him with the manuscript of Judenstaat (The Jewish State), Nordau accepted the idea immediately and became Herzl’s first and most loyal colleague and closest advisor. His brilliant oratory and sharp pen were of enormous help to the young Zionist movement. Yet he steadily refused to hold any Zionist office, including that of president, offered to him after Herzl’s death. The last years of his life were saddened by differences of opinion with the Zionist leadership. At the Zionist Conference in London in 1920, he pleaded for immediate mass immigration of half a million Jews to Palestine. He died in Paris in January 1923. Five years later, his body was brought to Palestine and buried in Tel Aviv.

NORTH CAROLINA.

The Jewish population of 26,000 is divided as follows: Charlotte, 8,500; Raleigh, 6,000; Chapel Hill-Durham, 4,600; Greensboro, 2,500; Asheville, 1,300; and Wilmington, 1,200. North Carolina was among the first of the 13 colonies to welcome Jews. It was not until the second half of the 19th century, however, that German Jews began to arrive and establish communities and synagogues in the state. Today, there are two dozen synagogues in the state, mainly Reform and Conservative.

NORTH DAKOTA.

Jews came to North Dakota in the late 19th century, mainly from Russia, to establish agricultural settlements around Bismarck. These settlements continued into the 20th century, but have since disappeared. Today, there are 500 Jews living in Fargo, and 150 in Grand Forks.

NORWAY.

The earliest Jews in Norway were Sephardic. When the country came under Swedish rule in 1814, Jews were expelled, but were permitted to return in 1851. Full emancipation was granted in 1891.

At the time of the Nazi invasion, there were some 3,500 Jews in Norway. In 2007, there were about 1,200. Communal organizations exist in Oslo and Trondheim, the latter being the northernmost Jewish community in the world.

NUMBERS.

Fourth book of the Pentateuch in the Bible. Its Hebrew name is Bamidbar, “In the Wilderness.” The term Numbers, or Numeric, was chosen because of the two censuses of the Israelites reported in the book. The first numbering, or census, was taken at Sinai in the second year of the Exodus; the second was taken on the banks of the Jordan in the 40th year of the Exodus. The Book of Numbers contains laws given to Israel and tells the story of the 38 years the children of Israel spent wandering from Sinai to the Jordan near Jericho.

NUMERUS CLAUSUS.

Literally, Jewish quota. A restriction on the number of Jews to be admitted to schools, universities, and the professions. The first form of numerus clausus is based on special legislation, and thus is openly admitted. The second, secret type uses devious ways to achieve the same practical results. The representative country for open discrimination was Tsarist Russia, where, after 1887, Jews could make up from only 3 to 6 percent of the students at higher institutions of learning. After the 1905 Revolution the quota was abandoned in Russia, but restored in 1908. A numerus clausus based on special legislation existed in Hungary after 1920.

The secret type of numerus clausus was used in Germany prior to the revolution of 1918 to limit the number of Jewish university teachers; numerus nullus, the total exclusion of Jews, was practiced in the officer corps. Poland and Romania followed a practice similar to the Germans’. The numerus clausus practice of the Polish and Romanian authorities was largely due to the antisemitic attitude of the non-Jewish students.

NUN.

Fourteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet; numerically, fifty.

NUREMBERG LAWS.

Decreed in Nuremberg on September 15, 1935, at a rally of the Nationalist Socialist (Nazi) Party, these laws were the culmination of the anti-Jewish decrees enacted since the establishment of the Nazi government in Germany. By virtue of these highly discriminatory laws, Jews became second-class residents of Germany as compared with Aryans and were denied the rights of citizenship. Under these laws, persons who had a Jewish grandparent and persons who were married to Jews could not be classed as “Aryans.” Jews were forbidden to marry Germans or persons of “Aryan” blood. Marriages of this kind were treated as null and void, and persons entering such marriages were severely punished. They were abolished by the Allies after the defeat of Germany in 1945.

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