The Emancipation of the Jews 1789

New Address of the Jews to the National Assembly

Source: Nouvelle addresse des Juifs a L'Assemblée Nationale. Paris, Imprimerie Prault, 1789;
Translated: for by Mitchell Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) 2017.

December 24, 1789
Our Lords:

Can the hopes we were led to form and by your decrees be allowed to vanish? Can it be that we have not deserved well of the government after the testimonies of support we received from you?

As regenerators of the French empire, no, you do not want us to cease being citizens when for the past six months we have so assiduously fulfilled those duties, and the reward for our zeal in accelerating the revolution shall not be our being condemned to not being allowed to participate in any of its advantages when it is consummated.

Nevertheless, some of the members of your assembly are opposing a lively resistance to our demands and rights.

They claim that we have vices that render us unworthy of the status of citizens. But it was the former institutions that gave us and maintained these vices. Establish no distinctions between other men and ourselves and we will be every bit as capable of virtues as they are.

They say that we have holidays that are not on the same dates as those of Catholics, and that on those days we would refuse to fulfill our duty to bear arms for the fatherland. But ask the leaders of the National Guard, ask the brave officers of the militias, ask the different officers of the brave militias, ask the courageous soldiers of the citizen troops if every time it was necessary to take up arms for public salvation – day, night, the days of our holidays – we haven’t left behind our most cherished occupations to go wherever the threatened fatherland called us. Ask them if they had reason to regret our incorporation into their midst and if we haven’t earned the friendship of some and the esteem of all.

We would like to know the other objections through which they want to degrade us, and we dare say that we will answer them just as advantageously.

But all the objections that can be made against us were made by the generous and eloquent pastor from the region of Metz [1] in his motion regarding us. Other members every bit as distinguished [2] recalled them at yesterday’s session, and all were victoriously refuted.

We have confidence in them and we ask them to be, in the most noble cause that has ever been presented to any tribunal, the advocates of 50,000 unfortunate citizens. Or rather, our lords, we have confidence in all of you. And your well-known respect for the rights of man, the impossibility for you of putting yourselves in contradiction with all the acts of wisdom and justice that have emanated from you; the pain you would suffer in dishonoring by a flagrant injustice a constitution that should be the happiness of France and the object of admiration of foreigners; all of this guarantees that our cause, that yesterday found so many enemies among you, will today find in all of you just as many defenders and supporters.

It is time that our long misfortunes come to an end, and they would be greater than they ever were if we weren’t to obtain the justice we demand. In effect, we would be more than degraded to the extent that other citizens would be more honored. And the liberty that we would see reigning around us without our being able to enjoy it would make us more sensitive to the servitude to which we'd be condemned, and would worsen the evils which for so long have weighed on our heads.

Our lords, we are all good citizens, and in this memorable revolution we dare say that there are none of us who haven’t given proof of this. We will show ourselves to be such in all the occasions that will offer themselves to our zeal. And our efforts to sustain the constitution that France owes to you will not differ from that we have set in play to assist you in establishing it.

We thus ask you to consult your customary justice. And then the consternation we felt yesterday when we learned of the oppositions formed by some members of your assembly at the easing of our lot, will, by the decree that you will render, be changed to a sweet joy that all Frenchmen will share with us.

1. Abbé Grégoire

2. Messrs de Clermont-Tonerre, Duport, etc.