This man is Rabbi Judah Elfenbein. He is also Father Stanislaus Tillinger. Let me tell you the "breath-halting story" of how he lived a double life, practising as an Orthodox rabbi and a Catholic priest at the same time. 1/20
Judah Elfenbein was born in Galicia in the late 19th c, and moved to Vienna, where he trained for the rabbinate. He didn't do well, and was either eased out of his seminary before graduating, or simply struggled to find rabbinic employment thereafter. #StoryOfMyLife 2/20
Penniless, he converted (or went through the motions of converting) to Christianity at the behest of a kindly Greek Orthodox prelate who who supported him in his poverty. #NotTheStoryOfMyLife 3/20
He then popped up, under the name of Father Stanislaus Tillinger, spreading blood libels in more than a dozen articles for a Jesuit newspaper in Lviv, Ukraine, in 1899. 4/20
His stories of how Jews used Christian blood for ritual purposes earned him a place as a key prosecution witness at the anti-Semitic trial of Leopold Hilsner, an innocent Jewish man who was framed for the 'ritual murder' of two young women (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilsner_A…). 5/20
The almost comical extent of his double life is illustrated by the fact that he had a wife and children: but they were married to Rabbi Elfenbein, not to Father Tillinger, of course, because Catholic priests don't do that sort of thing. 6/20
In 1920, he emigrated to New York and held a series of rabbinic posts in Orthodox shuls throughout the US northeast. (Astonishingly, while working in a shul in Youngstown Ohio, someone from 'back home' recognised him on the street, so he had to flee the city.) 7/20
He fled to a job at a shul in the Bronx, but rumours about his past soon began circulating in the kosher delis of Second Avenue, and eventually he was outed, and summoned to a public disciplinary hearing of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis. 8/20
A journalist present at the 1923 hearing later wrote that "Tillinger-Elfenbein, if not mad, is a case for the Freudians". 9/20
On his arrival at the hearing, a rabbi from 'back home' in Galicia - who had attended the blood libel trial and seen Father Tillinger give evidence about how Jews used blood to bake matzot - immediately identified Elfenbein as the same man. 10/20
The hearing paused for minchah, and Elfenbein, "seemingly moved by prayer", confessed. He signed the statement: "I am not deserving of being a servant of the sacred profession. I pledge myself never to accept a religious position on account of the deeds of my youth." 11/20
But that's not the end of the story. Six months later, he turned up in New Orleans, where the editor of the local Jewish newspaper found him attending Presbyterian services while identifying himself as a rabbi. 12/20
Turns out Elfenbein was killing time in the city waiting for the Brazilian consul to issue him with a passport: he'd had an offer of employment as rabbi at a shul in Brazil. 13/20
Interviewed by the journalist, Elfenbein flatly denied that he'd ever promoted a blood libel, or that he'd had anything to do with the trial of poor Leopold Hilsner. 14/20
Asked about his confession, Elfenbeing said "it was a frame-up by atheists and bolsheviks". And now my favourite line of the whole interview: "But your hearing was conducted by the Union of Orthodox Rabbis, who represent the very antithesis of atheism and bolshevism!" 15/20
The journalist wrote: "New Orleans has had the distinction of harbouring the most contemptible, the most despicable creature on God's earth. The damnable scoundrel who swindled Christians in the garb of a priest and Jews in the guise of a rabbi." 16/20
He left America and pottered around the Jewish community of Czechoslovakia for a bit. His final appearance in print was in 1928, in Austria, begging for forgiveness and rehabilitation in order that he could once again resume working as a rabbi. 17/20
And that's basically the end. Amazingly, this story does not appear in any book that I've been able to find, nor any journal article. I've only been able to piece it together with the help of an intermittent series of press cuttings from @JTAnews's archives. 18/20
One of these articles wryly added: "It is this sort of thing that most people have in mind when they shake their heads sadly and wisely and say, 'All things are possible in America!'" 19/20
Now I've told you the woeful (but kind of hilarious) tale, I can show you the uncropped version of the photo from the start of this thread, with its glorious caption. Here it is. Have a lovely evening folks! 20/20

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More from @gabrielquotes

10 Aug
Time for another 📘 "Oh wow how awful this old book is" thread, but it's a newer book.
When I was small, I had a beautiful illustrated book about what you can see in other countries 🌍 I thought I'd buy a second-hand copy for m'sheaf.
Wow.
2. It's Lynn N Grundy's 1989 geographical opus. Here's the innocent-looking title page.
3. We begin our journey in 🇫🇷 France, which, as you can see, is populated solely by 🍷 wine-swigging 👨‍🎨 artists. Believe me, if you think its trip through Europe is a bit clichéd, you won't believe Africa.
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HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR CHILD, 1930s STYLE
I've been reading this wonderful book from 1939. No author named (but I suspect they're a man). Let's see how it holds up to modern standards of (i) gender equality, and (ii) not killing your baby. A rather jolly 🧵 thread:
2. It's especially important that the father shares some of the burden of childcare, otherwise the mother "has little or no time left over to share with her husband". Let's assume she doesn't have a job then...
3. What should the father be doing? Well, making sure that "his wife feels that she can come to him for advice when she needs it", for instance. It's a tough job but someone has to do it.
Read 47 tweets

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