Here's an excerpt:
Toaff offers as an example the case of Saint Simonino of
After a medieval trial in which confessions were extracted by torture, 16 members of
Toaff reveals that the accusations against the Jews of Trent "might have been true."
Toaff refers to kabbalistic descriptions of the therapeutic uses of blood and asserts that "a black market flourished on both sides of the
Yesterday Bar-Ilan University responded by releasing a statement condemning "any attempt to justify the awful blood libels against Jews" stating that Professor Toaff will be summoned to the president of the university to explain his research, arguing that it is not clear whether the reports in the press accurately describe the research. At the same time the statement asserts that the university "champions freedom of academic and scientific expression as the basis for its research activity."
Bar-Ilan's predicament - balancing academic freedom with basic Jewish beliefs - is one that educators (and parents) face daily. While we aspire to teach our children to be inquisitive, open-minded and critical thinkers, we also want them to come to accept religious dogmas that are difficult to fully explain or prove definitively. Does there come a time when it is appropriate to say to a child "you cannot make a statement like that" or "you cannot ask questions like that"? Can a student be allowed to engage in Holocaust denial? In rejecting Zionism? In questioning the historical accuracy of Megillat Esther? At what point – if at all – do we say "now you've crossed the line"?