The Liberation of the Jews 1789
Source: Addresse presentée a l’Assemblée Nationale le 26 Août 1789 par les JUIFS résidans à Paris. Paris, Imprimerie Praut, 1789;
Translated: for marxists.org by Mitchell Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) marxists.org 2010.
The Jews residing in Paris, filled with admiration and respect at the sight of the many acts of justice emanating from the National Assembly, have dared flatter themselves that their lot will not escape your attention; that they too will feel the happy effects of your wisdom. And they take the liberty of paying your august assembly the anticipated homage of their gratitude and the solemn testimony of their patriotic devotion.
Degraded till now by public opinion, offended on all sides, pursued through our very name, which others use to insult us, separated from society and participating in none of its advantages, though common charges are imposed on us, such has been our fate in this empire. And such is that of all our brothers in most countries of the universe where they are scattered. These terrible and ceaseless persecutions that we have suffered have never led us to forget that submission is the first of our duties. We have suffered all without murmuring. We have groaned without complaining. The kingdom has never been disturbed by our demands, and this long resignation on our part is perhaps the most authentic proof, gentlemen, that we are finally worthy of another fate.
We would like to think that your justice doesn’t ask to be solicited or called upon by our wishes. In restoring to man his primordial dignity, in reestablishing him in the enjoyment of his rights, it was not your intention to make any distinction between one man and another. This title belongs to all members of society, and the rights that flow from it thus belong to us equally.
This then, gentlemen, is the reassuring consequence resulting from the principles you have just established. We are certain that we will henceforth enjoy an existence different from that which we until now has been ours. In this empire, which is our fatherland, the title of man guarantees the title of citizen, and the title of citizen will give us all the rights of the city, all the civil faculties we see the members of a society of which we are a part enjoy alongside us.
But in order for there to be no ambiguity in this regard; in order for the long oppression we were victims of to not serve as a pretext in the eyes of some to continue to oppress us; in order for the people, whose ideas sometimes are difficult to change, to quickly lose – thanks to the confidence it has in your decrees – the habit it contracted of looking on us as foreign to the French nation and unworthy of having our own existence here, we come to ask you, gentlemen, to make a particular mention of the Jewish nation in your decrees and to thus consecrate our title and rights as citizens.
The submission to the law, which we have constantly given an example of, our ardent love for the monarch, the peaceful nature of our nation, the solemn vow we make to forever sacrifice our fortunes and lives for the public good, everything promises us that our prayers will not be in vain, and that our wishes will be listened to with interest.
We have a religion different from that which dominates France. We are attached to that religion. But this very attachment speaks in our favor. It serves as our guarantee. It guarantees that we will be faithful to our vow. For the attachment to a religion, whatever it might be, has more salutary effects than does indifference. Our religion will be our guide in all the actions of our lives. It will serve as the brake to the passions that might lead us astray. And since in our hands it is not a cause of trouble and discord in society, it is much more useful to that society to allow us to practice our religion than to see us indifferent to the practice of its ceremonies.
The past must answer for the future. We have never troubled nor will we will ever trouble society by the exercise of our religion. We will henceforth be what we were, and what we yet are.
One object alone dominates our souls: the good of the fatherland and the desire to dedicate all our strength to it. We won’t take second place in this regard to any inhabitant of France. We are the equal of any citizen in zeal, courage and patriotism. We so want to be rendered worthy of this title; we are so convinced of the need for all citizens of this great empire to submit to a uniform plan of regulations and jurisprudence, that we demand to be subject, like all Frenchmen, to the same jurisprudence, to the same regulations, to the same tribunals. And so, ever subordinated to the general interest, we consequently renounce, for the public good and for our own advantage, the privilege that was granted us to have leaders drawn from among us and named by the government.
Deign, gentlemen, to receive this formal renunciation, which we place in your hands.
Deign to recall the vow we made to sacrifice every instant of our lives and fortunes to the glory of the nation and the king.
Finally, deign to occupy yourselves with our lot, solemnly explain what it should be, and in this way forever save us from the proscription to which we were too long condemned.
Such, gentlemen, are the objects we have to place before the eyes of the National Assembly. Perhaps they needed to be treated more extensively, but we though that a simple overview was sufficient. Your zeal and your humanity promise us that you will weigh our demands and sacrifices with an attention worthy of the duties you have imposed on yourselves.
Raising us to the position of citizens and granting us civil rights constitutes nothing but the exercising of an act of justice. We would nevertheless consider it a beneficial act. We will publish it everywhere with gratitude. Our brothers, scattered around the different countries of the universe will share that gratitude with us. Soon, like us, they will be called to another fate, for your wisdom, gentlemen, has an influence not only over this empire, but over all the foreign nations who contemplate and admire you at this moment. What benedictions are reserved to just and humane men who, from among the universe, will have saved the JEWS from proscription and will have made them citizens!
J. Goldschmidt, President
Abraham Lopes Lagouna, Vice-president
M. Weil, elector
J. Benjamin, elector
J. Fernandès, elector
Mardoche Lévi, Deputy
Lazard Jacob, Deputy
Trenelle the elder, deputy
Mardoche elie, Deputy
Joseph Pereyra Brandon, deputy
Delcampo the younger, deputy