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Rabbi Scores Doctor, Medical Journal on Jewish Blood Libel

November 30, 1971
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The director of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University has excoriated a pathologist and the New York State Journal of Medicine for publishing an “infamous accusation” of Jewish blood libel. Rabbi Zevulun Charlop, who is also the rabbi of Young Israel of Mosholu Parkway, the Bronx, cited the article “Strange Murder of William Of Norwich, 1144” in the November issue of the Journal. Its author is Dr. William D. Sharpe of New York, director of laboratories at Columbus Hospital and professor at the College of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey at Newark.

Dr. Sharpe presents a five-page “medicolegal analysis” of Thomas of Monmouth’s account of the murder of a Christian teenager, William, in the Jewish quarter of Norwich, England, during Holy Week, 1144. Dr. Sharpe writes: “It is…definite that the Jews claimed the sheriff’s protection and bribed him before William’s body was found and that the Jewish community knew of his death long before the Christian community….”

The last time William was seen alive. Dr. Sharpe continues, “he was seen entering a house in the Jewish quarter, and his dead body was first seen in the custody of two Jews. In modern terms, the Jewish community were at least accessories after the fact…Ritual murder can be neither implicated nor excluded on the evidence, but the death’s careful planning and sadistic nature raise the possibility of cultist murder….Sadistic murder by a Jewish psychopath, followed by a united Jewish community attempt to avoid the possible bloodshed which might follow, would best explain Thomas’ account….”


Rabbi Charlop told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that “it was altogether incredible, almost a macabre nightmare, to discover this infamous accusation alive and well, exhumed for the pages of New York’s official medical publication.” He continued: “Stripped away of all its niceties and scientific gibberish, (it) is little more than an ingenious rehashing of one of the basest canards invented by medieval Christianity to hold the Jew at bay.”

Especially disturbing. Rabbi Charlop said, “is Dr. Sharpe’s reliance on the word of a man. Thomas of Norwich, who wrote his account 29 years after the alleged incident and suffered from ludicrous anti-Semitic feeling.” Dr. Sharpe “should have told us that the linchpin of Thomas’ version rests upon the hateful testimony of Theobald, a Jewish apostate who afterwards became a monk,” the rabbi added.

He concluded: “One can only hope that the lack of objectivity, at once grossly and subtly pervasive, in Dr. Sharpe’s offering is not reflective of the scientific inquiry which ordinarily carries the imprimatur of the (New York Medical) Society.” Dr. Sharpe, a Christian, asked for comment on Rabbi Charlop’s charges, told the JTA: “I’ve heard this accusation several times–the familiar old thing.” He said such charges were made by those who were “uninformed.”

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