Traditions handed down for generations, including customs, legends, superstitions, beliefs, and folk songs current among the folk or common people.

Jewish folklore is varied and rich in content, partly because it has absorbed the folkways of many other peoples. In addition, the Jewish people’s close tie to the Bible and the long periods of persecution and isolation gave rise to a distinctively Jewish folklore. The Talmud and Midrash, as well as theological, ethical, and moral works of later centuries, contain a wealth of customs and beliefs. The legend of the Golem and of the 36 anonymous righteous men (Lamed Vav) for whose sake the world survives, tales about the Dybbuk, and superstitions about the Evil Eye, or Ayin-Hara, are a few examples.

In the modern period beginning in the mid-18th century, Jewish emancipation and assimilation have led to the disappearance of many of these traditions. The Nazis’ destruction of the Jewish culture centers in Eastern Europe during World War II aided the process. A number of individuals and institutions have collected and published volumes on Jewish folkways. The YIVO Institute of Jewish Research in New York and the new Yad Vashem Institute in Israel are currently making important contributions to the collection and study of Jewish folklore.


See Sukkot.


The first Jews to reach France probably traveled in the wake of conquering Roman legions. Historical records show that, in the 7th century, Jewish farmers, artisans, and merchants had settled in most French provinces. During the reign of Charlemagne from 768-814, Jews controlled the country’s import-export trade and enjoyed considerable civil and religious freedom. A century later, when Charlemagne’s empire began to break up, harsh restrictions were imposed. Then the Crusades, beginning in 1096, brought persecution and often death. Entire communities were martyred for their faith. The Church brought every possible charge against them. Beginning in 1171, when all the Jews of Blois were burnt at the stake, the community was beset with blood accusations and repeated charges that Jews desecrated Catholic forms of worship. Four years later, the French king ordered 24 wagon loads of the Talmud burnt publicly in Paris after a “disputation” on the merits of the Jewish faith. Nonetheless, two great centers of learning flourished in medieval France: one in the northeast, mainly in Champagne, the other in the south, in Provence and Languedoc. Rashi, the “Prince of Bible commentators,” was perhaps the greatest French Jewish scholar.

Persecution by both church and state culminated in the decree of 1394, expelling the entire community from France. Nevertheless, scattered settlements remained, especially in the south. These grew during the following centuries, as ever greater numbers of Spanish and Portuguese refugees from the Inquisition sought haven in France. A further addition came in 1648, when Alsace, with its ancient Jewish community, was annexed by France. By the time of the Revolution of 1789, France was home to 40,000 Jews, most of whom were forced to live in ghettos where they were deprived of all legal rights.

The revolution wrought a radical change in this respect. A decree promulgated in 1791 declared Jews to be full citizens of France. Napoleon, however, soon curbed this freedom. Calling a Sanhedrin of Jewish notables, he gained approval for a program that placed Jews directly under his control. He then proceeded to restrict their economic and political activities.

These restrictions remained in force after the emperor’s downfall; it was not, in fact, until 1846 that the last of the disabilities was removed. Yet even then the battle against antisemitism had not ended: as Jews began to take a prominent place in the social, cultural, and political life of France, reactionary elements in the Church and army began a campaign to undermine the Jewish position. The strength of these elements was shown in the 1890’s, when the conviction on falsified charges of treason of a Jewish army officer named Dreyfus set off a conflict between the liberal and reactionary forces in the country. It took almost a decade, and the efforts of such men as Emile Zola, to free Dreyfus, despite clear evidence of innocence. His exoneration, however, marked the defeat of Church and army, and the beginning of a new era in the history of France, as well as French Jewry.

The subjugation of France by Germany in 1940 brought about a revival of antisemitism on a scale never before known to the country: the entire Nazi program of racism became law. Yet with the help of the French population, more Jews survived the war in France than in any other West European country. Since the war, the life of the Jewish community has returned to pre-war normalcy. Again, Jews such as Pierre Mendes France, who served as premier in 1955, have risen to eminence. In 1998, there were about 525,000 Jews in France, many of them refugees of World War II. This figure includes those who came to France since 1961 from North Africa: 100,000 from Algeria, 30,000 from Tunisia and Morocco. Jewish life is organized in consistories, boards of one rabbi and four laymen, concerned with Jewish affairs in each of the seven districts into which the community is divided. A central consistory, made up of the chief rabbi and a representative of each consistory, coordinates activities on a national level, and serves as a link between the Jewish community and the ministry of public worship. Since 1860, the Alliance Isra

FRANK, ANNE (1929-1945).

Anne FrankJewish Dutch girl. Hiding from the Nazis during the occupation of Holland, she wrote a diary of the events and her thoughts, showing extraordinarily mature understanding. She and her family were captured in Summer 1944, and she was sent to the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp where she died in 1945. The diary, published as The Diary of Anne Frank is still widely-read and also staged as drama in many countries. It is probably the best known Jewish book to come out of the Holocaust.

FRANK, JACOB (1726-1791).

False messiah and leader of a sect that brought pain and strife during half a century of Jewish life. Jacob Frank spent the formative years of his life in Romania and Turkey. Having little education, his contact through his father with secret followers of Sabbatai Zevi, the 17th-century false messiah, proved to be a decisive influence on his unstable personality. He assumed the role of a messiah and went to Poland where he proclaimed himself a reincarnation of Sabbatai Zevi. Polish Jewry was reeling from the cruel blows of Cossack pogroms and were vunerable to the idea of a messiah who would save them. He began to teach the Kabbalah and represented himself as the reincarnation of all the prophets and messiahs who had come before him. He and his disciples outraged the Jewish community with their immoral and unorthodox behavior; finally, the local authorities banished Frank from Poland. Wherever Frank went, he brought trouble and calumny upon the Jewish people, causing a revival of the old accusation that Jews used human blood for ritual purposes. To discipline Frank and his followers, a conference of rabbis met in 1756. They banned the Frankist sect from the Jewish community and forbade the study of the Kabbalah by anyone under 30 years of age. The Frankists appealed to the Catholic bishop Dembowsky, claiming that they were Kabbalists at war with the Talmud which was full of error and blasphemy. They hinted that their beliefs resembled Christian tenets. The bishop summoned the rabbis to answer the charges against the Talmud in a public debate. As a result, thousands of copies of the Talmud were seized and publicly burned. Eventually, Frank and a thousand of his followers were baptized. Great pomp attended these baptisms, to which Frank came dressed in magnificent Turkish robes. But the Church, never trusting these converts, watched them closely and later imprisoned Frank for conversion under false pretenses. The Frankist sect survived him for a time but no longer had any importance.


German rabbi who sought to liberalize Judaism. He took a moderate position between Geiger‘s Reform and Samson Raphael Hirsch‘s modern Orthdoxy, since he was unwilling to go to the Reform extreme of giving up such things as Hebrew as the language of prayer.


U.S. Supreme Court Justice. He came to the U.S. from Vienna at the age of 12, and earned his law degree at Harvard University in 1906. While at Harvard he was deeply influenced by the new liberal doctrines of a group of rising lawyers that included Oliver Wendell Holmes and Louis Brandeis. These doctrines formed the basis of his later teachings. While holding the professorship at Harvard, Frankfurter served intermittently in various government departments. His brilliant plea in defense of the convicted anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti in 1927 earned him a national reputation and brought him to the forefront of American liberalism. During the Roosevelt administration (1933-1945), Frankfurter and many of the young lawyers he had trained played influential roles in drafting much of the liberal legislation of the “New Deal.” Appointed to the Supreme Court in 1939, he advocated “judicial restraint” and deference to the will of the people. He resigned in 1962 due to ill health. Throughout his career he took an active interest in Jewish and Zionist affairs; in 1919, he was legal advisor to the Zionist delegation at the Versailles Peace Conference.

FRANKL, VIKTOR (1905-1997).

Psychotherapist. His logotherapy, or therapy through finding meaning in one’s life, evolved from his experience in Auschwitz where he survived because he was determined to be reunited with his wife. He describes this experience in his widely read book Man’s Search for Meaning.

FRANKLIN, SIDNEY (1903-1976).

Bullfighter, born in Brooklyn. He went to Mexico at age 18 and learned the art of bullfighting. In 1929, he went to Spain where, according to Ernest Hemingway, he became one of the best matadors of his day.

FREIER, RECHA (1892-1984).

Initiator of Youth Aliyah. A teacher and the wife of a Berlin rabbi, she began in 1932 to help Jewish youth in Germany prepare for agricultural life in Palestine. After 1933, she organized similar training in other countries. She settled in Palestine in 1941.

FREUD, ANNA (1895-1982).

Child psychologist. Daughter of Sigmund Freud, she left Austria in 1938 after the Nazi occupation and took her father to England, where she developed her child psychoanalysis, and became a renowned authority on child and adolescent psychology.

FREUD, SIGMUND (1856-1939).

Founder of psychoanalysis. Freud was born in Austria to a scholarly, aloof father and a vivacious mother who was usually the center of attention in the household. He graduated from the University of Vienna Medical School, and one of his earliest original research projects in 1884 resulted in his discovery of the anesthetic properties of cocaine. Even as a general practitioner, Freud was interested in nervous disturbances. In collaboration with Joseph Breuer, he published Selected Papers on Hysteria in 1895. Before these studies of hypnosis as a means of studying the origins of hysteria were published, Freud replaced the use of hypnosis with his method of “free association” which became a basic technique of psychoanalysis. In 1900, with the publication of his book The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud ended his career as a general practitioner and devoted himself completely to the development and practice of psychoanalysis. His investigations into the unconscious strata of the mind helped to raise the curtain on the mysteries of the human personality and have laid the foundations for later investigations.

Freud was the first to demonstrate the importance of earliest childhood experiences and the crucial importance of the sexual life of the individual in the development of personality. The ideas presented in his books were hotly rejected and disputed. Freud’s work remained unrecognized in his native Austria until late in his life, the first acclaim coming to him from Germany and English-speaking countries. After the Nazi invasion of Austria in 1938 he settled in England.

Freud was constantly aware of being a Jew, though his attitude toward Jewishness was highly complicated, both negative and positive. He was a member of B’nai B’rith in Vienna. At a time when antisemitism was widespread in Vienna, a friend asked Freud whether he ought to baptize his newborn son. Freud advised against this action. “If you do not let your son grow up as a Jew,” he said, “you will deprive him of those sources of energy which cannot be replaced by anything else. He will have to struggle as a Jew, and you ought to develop in him all the energy he will need for that struggle. Do not deprive him of that advantage.”

FRIEDAN, BETTY (1921- ).

Born Naomi Goldstein, she is often called the founder of the women’s movement. Her book The Feminine Mystique, which revealed the unsatisfying lives of American middle-class housewives, made her one of the main figures of feminism in the U.S. In 1966, she co-founded the National Organization for Women (NOW).


See Sports.

FRIEDMAN, MILTON (1912-2006).

American conservative economist. He became one of the leading economists of the post-war era. He advocated minimal government control and saw money supply rather than fiscal policy as controlling the business cycle. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1976, and was invited by Prime Minister Begin to help transform Israel’s economy into a free market economy.

FROMM, ERICH (1900-1980).

German-born American psychoanalyst and social philosopher. He wrote about the major social issues of the 20th century, such as the causes of Naziism in Escape from Freedom, the meaning of religion in our time in Psychoanalysis and Religion, and the meaning of love in The Art of Loving.