The only recorded blood libel accusation against American Jews occurred in 1928 in Massena, N.Y., a small industrial town on the Canadian border that for the next 84 years never brought up the episode. But today, Debbie Fuehring, program director at Massena Public Library, is eager to show a visiting reporter the box of rugelach and mandelbrot she had shipped in specially for the library’s October Jewish history program. The delicacies will be served during the program, at which, for the first time, Massena will publicly discuss the blood libel affair.
The public reckoning comes at an unusual moment in the town’s history. As it happens, Massena’s Jewish community, which traces its roots back to the 19th century, is liquidating its presence after years of shrinking membership. It’s a common story in America today. Jewish communities once proliferated across New England, the Deep South and even the Far West, as immigrant peddlers and shopkeepers found homes and acceptance, they thought, in the nation’s countless towns and villages.
Read the full story at the Forward.