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BEILIS, MENDEL (1874-1934).

Central figure in a notorious ritual murder trial in 1913 in Kiev, Russia. Beilis, a worker in a brick kiln, was accused of murdering a Russian boy whose body had been found near the kiln in March 1911. Although an investigation soon established that the boy had been murdered by non-Jewish thieves, the “Beilis Affair” dragged on for more than two years. The government of Czarist Russia stepped in and accused Beilis of committing this crime to use the boy’s blood in the baking of matzos for Passover. To discredit the Jewish people, the antisemitic Russian government revived the centuries-old yet preposterous belief that Jews use Christian blood for such ritual purposes. The atmosphere surrounding the trial was charged with hate. Russian “experts” gave false testimony, and the judges and jury were prejudiced. Yet Beilis was acquitted thanks to his brilliant team of defense lawyers and because of international protests of the trial. Shortly after his acquittal, Beilis settled in Palestine, where he lived for eight years. He came to the U.S. in 1924 and lived there until his death in 1934 at Saratoga Springs.

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