Passover is coming and there are still people in Russia who believe the holiday is a time when Jews wander around at night stealing innocent Christian children they can kill in order to get blood which is used to make matzah. Dozens of posters have appeared in the Siberian city of Novosibirst which say: “These vermin are still performing rituals , stealing small children and draining their blood to make their sacred bread.” The posters m ay be connecd with the disappearance of some children in the area. The blood libel has been around for centuries in Europe and has usually been used as a means of initiating violence against Jewish residents. At present the Russian Jewish population is about 1.5 million since at least a million left twenty years ago to seek refuge in Israel.
After Russia was defeated in the Russo-Japanese War early in the 20th century, the Russian secret police instigated riots against Jews in order to deflect anger away from the government, an old trick which served well the purposes of the nation’s incompetent leaders. My father was among Jews who were beaten, some killed, and many had shops destroyed by angry mobs who had to blame someone for Russia’s defeat. The latest manifestation of the blood libel is a sad commentary of the virulence of hatred that still lingers on in Russia.
Of course, when the matzahs were originally made by Jews fleeing Egypt, there were as of yet no Christians living in the world.