Jewish Disabilities…A “Did You Know” Service Announcement
Disabilities were legal restrictions and limitations placed on Jewish persons in the Middle Ages. These restrictions included provisions requiring Jewish persons to wear specific and identifying clothing, such as the Jewish cap (Jewish males were required to wear while outside the ghetto in order to distinguish them from others) and the yellow badge (a cloth badge also worn to mark the individual as Jewish and intended to shame them). Other provisions included restricting the Jewish to certain cities and towns or within certain areas of town, called ghettos. Jewish individuals were even restricted from entering into certain trades.
Disabilities also included levying special taxes, exclusion from public life, and restraints on the performances of religious ceremonies.
Some countries took Disabilities even further, completely expelling Jews from their country. England, for example, expelled the Jewish community from its island, only readmitting Jews in 1665. Jews were also expelled from Spain in 1492 and were readmitted in 1868.
The Disabilities were lifted in the late 18th and 19th century, Revolutionary France being the first country to abolish them all together in 1791. Prussia soon followed suit in 1848. The United Kingdom followed a deacde later in 1858 and the Jewish Disabilities Bill of 1859 was passed, granting basic civil and political rights to Jews. The emancipation was made possible by the efforts of financier of precious metals Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid. Goldsmid went to become Britains first Jewish baronet. The newly united Germany completed the aboilition of Jewish Disabilities in 1871.
For more information on Jewish Disabilities, as well as services, events, and more on disabilities and the Jewish community. visit Jewish Family Service website.