Throughout history, Jews have been accused of using the blood of non-Jews for “rituals.” This accusation, which as come to be called “blood libel,” dates to the second century BCE and continued to grow with the spread of Christianity. In the Middle Ages, the motif made its way into art and literature like Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. These charges continued through the Nazi era; there was even an accusation in upstate New York in 1928. Today, the Roman Catholic Church repudiates blood libel, but accusations continue throughout the world.
Join the Museum for a panel discussion about this history and the role it plays in contemporary antisemitism with Edward G. Berenson, author of The Accusation: Blood Libel in an American Town; Magda Teter, author of Blood Libel: On the Trail of an Antisemitic Myth; and Francois Soyer, author of Popularizing Anti-Semitism in Early Modern Spain and its Empire: Francisco de Torrejoncillo and the Centinela contra Judios (1674). Moderated by Sara Lipton, author of Dark Mirror: The Medieval Origins of Anti-Jewish Iconography.
Edward G. Berenson is a professor of history at New York University and NYU’s Institute of French Studies. He is a cultural historian specializing in the history of modern France and its empire, with additional interests in the history of Britain, the British Empire, and the United States. His books include Constructing Charisma: Fame, Celebrity and Power in 19th-Century Europe; The French Republic: History, Values, Debates; and The Statue of Liberty: A Transatlantic Story. Berenson has won distinguished teaching awards from UCLA and the American Historical Association and, in 2006 was decorated by the French government at Chevalier dans l’ordre du mérit.
Magda Teter is Professor of History and the Shvidler Chair of Judaic Studies at Fordham University. Teter is a fellow of the American Academy for Jewish Research and author of Jews and Heretics in Catholic Poland; Sinners on Trial; and Blood Libel: On the Trail of an Antisemitic Myth. She has been a Harry Starr Fellow in Jewish Studies at Harvard University, an Emeline Bigelow Conland Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies also at Harvard University, and the Mellon Foundation fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library.
Francois Soyer is a Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History at the University of New England in Australia, where he has worked since 2018. Soyer’s research focuses on the history of antisemitism and antisemitic propaganda in early modern Europe in general and the Iberian world in particular. He is the author of several books including The Persecution of Jews and Muslims of Portugal. King Manuel I and the End of Religious Tolerance (1496-7); Ambiguous Gender in Early Modern Spain and Portugal: Inquisitors, Doctors and the Transgressions of Gender Norms; and Popularizing Anti-Semitism in Early Modern Spain and its Empire: Francisco de Torrejoncillo and the Centinela contra Judios (1674).
Sara Lipton is Professor of History at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Her research focuses on religious identity and experience, Jewish-Christian relations, and art and culture in the high and later Middle Ages (11th-15th centuries). Her books include Dark Mirror: The Medieval Origins of Anti-Jewish Iconography and Images of Intolerance: The Representation of Jews and Judaism in the Bible moralisée. Lipton is the recipient of several awards, grants, and fellowships, including the fellowship of the Medieval Academy of America.
Image Credit: Page from The Nuremberg Chronicle: “Blood Libel,” Germany, 1493. Collection of the Museum of Jewish Heritage.