Saturday, April 19, 2014

This Day, April 20, In Jewish History by Mitchell A. Levin

April 20

121:  Birthdate of Marcus Aurelius 16th Roman emperor.  The “Philosopher” Emperor reigned from 161-180 and he was a cut above those who came before and after him.  But he had a low opinion of the Jews, referring to them as “stinking and tumultuous” as “he rode through Judea.”  He reportedly preferred the company of the barbaric Teutons in the north to that of the Jews.  This attitude may have been shaped by the difficulty the Romans had in defeating the Jews during their successive rebellions against Rome.  Only 25 years before Marcus Aurelius came to power, it had taken the full force of the Roman Empire four years to finally defeat Bar Kochba and Rabbi Akiva.

570: Birthdate of Muhammad or Mohammad, the founder of Islam.

636:  At the Battle of Yarmuk the Arabs took control of Syria and Palestine away from the Byzantine Empire. It is considered by some historians to have been one of the most significant battles in the history of the world, since it marked the first great wave of Muslim conquests outside Arabia, and heralded the rapid advance of Islam into Christian Palestine, Syria and Mesopotamia.  The battle took place only four years after the prophet Muhammad died in 632.  Considering the way the Christians had been treating them, the conquest by the Arabs left the Jews in a comparatively better position.

1096: Approximately 40,000 peasants led by Peter Hermit left Cologne on the start of what was called the “Peasants’ Crusade.”  This populist movement among the poor was the most ill-fated part of the First Crusade.  The peasants had nothing and trusted in God to provide for them. This meant living off of the land which would bode ill for those in their path including the Jews of the Rhineland.

1191: Phillip II, who expelled the Jews from France in 1182 after extorting as much money as he could from them, arrived at Acre to perform his holy Christian obligation to take part in the Crusades.

1192: As the Christians jockey for control over the Holy Land, Richard I of England gives his support to Conrad of Montferrat’s claim to be King of Jerusalem.

1298:  In Rotttingen, a small German town in Franconia, a local noble named Rindfleish, accused the local Jews of profaning the host. He then incited the Burgher and local populace to join in the killing. Twenty one Jews were murdered. The killing soon spread to a hundred and forty communities in Bavaria and Austria. In all tens of thousands of Jews were either killed or wounded.  The killing stopped when the civil war raging through Germany ended.  Albrecht, the newly chosen Emperor, brought an to the end of the violence and even punished some the participants.

1303: Pope Boniface VIII issues the bull creating The University of Rome La Sapienza. Considering the fact that Boniface believed in the concept that “Outside the Church, no Salvation” meaning that the key to salvation required membership in the Catholic Church, it is safe to assume that there were no Jewish students or faculty at the school.  Relations between the Jews and the school have obviously changed as can be seen by the “wide-ranging cooperation agreement” that was signed by Tel Aviv University and Rome's Sapienza University in March of 2010. The agreement, allows for exchanges of students and professors, as well as joint research projects and master's programs. The Italian economist Franco Modigliani and Zionst Ze'ev Jabotinsky were two of the most prominent Jews to attend the University of Rome during the 20th century.

1314: Pope Clement V passed away.  Clement was the first of the “Avignon Popes. In the first year of his reign, 1305, he became the “first pope to threaten Jews with an economic boycott in an attempt to force them to stop charging Christians interest on loans.”

1344(28th of Nisan, 5104): Levi Ben Gershon (the RaLBaG) also known as Gersonides passed away.

1505: Philibert of Luxembourg expelled the Jews from Orange Burgundy. At this time Luxembourg is ruled by Phillip the Fair, King of Spain - where Jews had been expelled in 1492.  Phillip's mother was Marie of Burgundy.  In this case the Jews merely seemed to have gotten caught up in the dynastic swirl that was so much of European History prior to the French Revolution.

1615:  Led by Dr. Chemnitz, the guilds of Worms "non-violently" forced the Jews from the city. Chemnitz was a lawyer and he devised a series of schemes where the Jews were deprived of food and the ability to leave and enter the city.  A deputation came to them on what was the seventh day of Pesach and gave them an hour to leave the city.  As the Jews left, the thousand year old synagogue and the adjacent burial grounds were attacked and desecrated by the "non-violent" citizens of Worms, Germany.

1632(29th of Nisan): “Nicolas Antione, a convert to Judaism, was burned at the stake in Geneva

1657:  After a battle of almost two years Asser Levy one of the original 23 settlers was allowed to serve on guard duty . Levy had been denied the right to serve, having been told to pay a tax instead.  This was the European Way of doing things.  Levy would have none of it.  Serving guard duty marked him as a full-fledged citizen.  It was an early indication that the New World would indeed be a new world for the Jews. Levy who was the ritual slaughterer of the town opened his slaughterhouse on what is now Wall Street. He further petitioned to be allowed the rights as a Burgher or freeperson on the town, which he received albeit reluctantly by the burgomasters of New Amsterdam.

1728: The London Gazette reports that twelve individuals (including four Jews) who had been previously captured by Moroccan pirates are now released under a new peace treaty between England and the Emperor of Morocco. Rachel, David, and Raphael Franco along with Blanco Flora had been captured while en route from London to New York. The Gazette reports that they were returned to England on "His Majesty's Ship Monmouth." Interestingly enough, though the other victims are listed by name and nationality i.e. William Pendergrass/English, Joseph Patroon/Spanish, Alboro Tordaselas/Gibraltar— the four Jews (Rachel, David and Raphael Franco, and Blanco Flora), are listed as "Jews," under nationality. These events of 1728 preceded the era of Jew Bills and the civil and religious liberties of Jewish people were far from secure. They were indeed people without a country. Our research shows the Franco family to be of Portuguese/Sephardic extraction, who generations before undoubtedly fled the Inquisition of Portugal. Raphael Franco became a powerful merchant in the diamond and coral trade operating between India, Brazil and England.

1772(17th of Nisan, 5532): Third day of Pesach

1772(17th of Nisan, 5532): Israel Ben Moses Ha-Levi Zamosz, a Polish born Talmudist who wrote on both religious and secular subjects passed away today at Brody

 1777: At Kingston, NY, during the American Revolution the New York Convention voted to guarantee the free exercise of religion

1799(15th of Nisan, 5559): Last Pesach of the 18th century.

1799: In a proclamation, a copy of which is quoted below, Napoleon "promised" the Jews of Eretz Israel the "reestablishment of ancient Jerusalem", coupled with a plea for their support. This was the first promise by a modern government to establish a Jewish state. In 1799, the French armies under Napoleon were camped outside of Acre. Napoleon issued a letter offering Palestine as a homeland to the Jews under French protection. The project was stillborn because Napoleon was defeated and was forced to withdraw from the Near East. The letter is remarkable because it marks the coming of age of enlightenment philosophy, making it respectable at last to integrate Jews as equal citizens in Europe and because it marked the beginning of nineteenth century projects for Jewish autonomy in Palestine under a colonial protectorate. After the defeat of Napoleon, it was largely the British who carried forward these projects, which have in hindsight been given the somewhat misleading name of "British Zionism." Napoleon conquered Jaffa but retreated from Acco (Acre); Napoleon's Proclamation of a Jewish State was stillborn, and his declaration of equal rights for Jews was repealed in part in 1806.

Letter to the Jewish Nation from the French Commander-in-Chief Bonaparte issued at General Headquarters, Jerusalem 1st Floreal, April 20th, 1799, in the year of 7 of the French Republic by BUONAPARTE, COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE ARMIES OF THE FRENCH REPUBLIC IN AFRICA AND ASIA, TO THE RIGHTFUL HEIRS OF PALESTINE.

Israelites, unique nation, whom, in thousands of years, lust of conquest and tyranny have been able to be deprived of their ancestral lands, but not of name and national existence!
Attentive and impartial observers of the destinies of nations, even though not endowed with the gifts of seers like Isaiah and Joel, have long since also felt what these, with beautiful and uplifting faith, have foretold when they saw the approaching destruction of their kingdom and fatherland: And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. (Isaiah 35,10) Arise then, with gladness, ye exiled!  A war unexampled In the annals of history, waged in self-defense by a nation whose hereditary lands were regarded by its enemies as plunder to be divided, arbitrarily and at their convenience, by a stroke of the pen of Cabinets, avenges its own shame and the shame of the remotest nations, long forgotten under the yoke of slavery, and also, the almost two-thousand-year-old ignominy put upon you; and, while time and circumstances would seem to be least favorable to a restatement of your claims or even to their expression ,and indeed to be compelling their complete abandonment, it offers to you at this very time, and contrary to all expectations, Israel's patrimony! The young army with which Providence has sent me hither, let by justice and accompanied by victory, has made Jerusalem my head-quarters and will, within a few days, transfer them to Damascus, a proximity which is no longer terrifying to David's city. Rightful heirs of Palestine! The great nation which does not trade in men and countries as did those which sold your ancestors unto all people (Joel,4,6) herewith calls on you not indeed to conquer your patrimony ;nay, only to take over that which has been conquered and, with that nation's warranty and support, to remain master of it to maintain it against all comers.
Arise! Show that the former overwhelming might of your oppressors has but repressed the courage of the descendants of those heroes who alliance of brothers would have done honor even to Sparta and Rome (Maccabees 12, 15) but that the two thousand years of treatment as slaves have not succeeded in stifling it. Hasten!, Now is the moment, which may not return for thousands of years, to claim the restoration of civic rights among the population of the universe which had been shamefully withheld from you for thousands of years, your political existence as a nation among the nations, and the unlimited natural right to worship Jehovah in accordance with your faith, publicly and most probably forever (JoeI 4,20).

1808: Birthdate of Louis-Napoleon.  A nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, he became Napoleon III, Emperor of France from 1852 to 1871. On July 19, 1870, Napoleon III declared war on Prussia in what is known as the Franco-Prussian War. A number of Jews, including Jules Moch and Leopold See, attained high rank in the French army. See later became Secretary General of the Ministry of the Interior. The war also marked the beginning of Rabbis serving as chaplains in the German army. After the War the region of Alsace and part of Lorraine became annexed to Germany. Many Jewish families preferred to emigrate rather than be under German rule.

1814(30th of Nisan, 5574): Rosh Chodesh Iyar

1814(30th of Nisan, 5574): Thirty-four year old “Jewish writer, teacher, translator and publisher” Moses Philippson passed away today at Desau.

1832: Congress established a park at Hot Springs, Arkansas when it designated its famous natural springs as a natural resource preserve as people from around the country flocked to the 143 degree water as a medical treatment for arthritis and other bone ailments. Jews were connected with Hot Springs from its earliest day.  Jacob Mitchell, a Jewish immigrant from Galicia, arrived in Arkansas in 1830 along with his two brothers.  Mitchell somehow acquired an old Spanish land grant to a portion of the springs, and he and his heirs spent the next forty years unsuccessfully fighting the federal government in court over their rights to the springs. Regardless of the status of the litigation, Mitchell became an active part of the city’s commercial scene when bought a hotel in Hot Springs in 1846 and opened a bath house.

1837(1th of Nisan, 5597): Jews observe Pesach for the first time with Martin Van Buren as President of the U.S.

1838: Charlotte Beyfus married German banker Abraham Oppenheim.

1851(18th of Nisan, 5611): 4th day of Pesach

1851(18th of Nisan, 5611): Isaac Erter, the native of Galicia who gained fame as a physician and satirist passed away today at Brody.

1856(15th of Nisan, 5616): First Day of Pesach

1861, Joseph *Seligman was vice president of a Union meeting held at Union Square on this date. His firm, J. and J. Seligman & Co., sold federal bonds in the astonishing sum of $200,000,000.

1861: In Baltimore, MD, a pro-Southern mob attacked the printing shops that produced Der Wecker and Sinai, two "abolitionist publications.  Rabbi Einhorn, an out-spoken foe of slavery, felt threatened enough to agree to the request of his congregation that he leave the city.  Einhorn would move to Philadelphia where he would resume publishing the Sinai.

1865: “An estimated 25 million Americans attended memorial services for Abraham Lincoln in Washington and around the country.” In New York several synagogues held well-attended services in memory of the recently assassinated President. At Shearith Israel, after the choir sang a variety of Psalms, Rabbi J.J. Lyons “delivered a short but eloquent address, in which he frequently” referred “to the qualities of the man and the unswerving loyalty and honesty of the statesman, whose loss they were…suddenly called upon to mourn.”  This was followed by a recitation of the Kaddish and “a special prayer for the recovery of Secretary of State Seward who had been wounded on the same night that Lincoln had been killed. The service ended with a prayer for “ the future prosperity of the country” and the chanting of psalms by the choir.  At B'nai Jeshurun, the chanting of Psalms was followed by a Dr. Raphael’s sermon in which he praised the virtues of the slain President. At the Broadway Synagogue, the chanting of opening hymns was followed by a prayer for the government before the opened Ark and a sermon by Rabbi S.W. Isaacs based on Genesis, chap. xv., v. 1: "Fear not, Abraham; I am thy shield. Thy reward shall be exceedingly great.'' Services were also held at several other synagogues including the Norfolk Street Synagogue, the Greene Street Synagogue and Temple Emanu-El. The neat little synagogue of the Congregation Sheary Berochole, in East Ninth-street, was the scene of very impressive ceremonies. At noon, the building was filled to overflowing with a very respectable audience, mostly dressed in deep mourning, to participate in the services commemorative of the death of Mr. Lincoln arranged by the congregation. After reciting Psalms 1, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 10, the Kadish, or prayer for deceased persons, was said, and the Minchah Prayer intoned, at the close of which Rev. H. WASSERMAN delivered the funeral sermon. His text was from Isaiah 44, 7: "For a small moment I have forsaken thee, and all forsook thee." The tenor of his discourse was the necessity of trusting to the goodness of God, however mysterious his providences may seem. He exhorted all to imitate the honesty, charity and good will to all men which had distinguished the life and character of our deceased President. The Hebrew prayer for a deceased father was then said, coupled with an exhortation for the recovery of the Secretary of State and his son was then said, and after the recitation of five psalms, the congregation dispersed.

1866: In a plebiscite, Charles was elected in a near unanimous vote to serve as King of Romania. His government would not prove to be a protector of its Jewish citizens.

1867(15th of Nisan, 5627): Jews living in Alaska celebrate Pesach for the first time as U.S. citizens since the U.S. had purchased Seward’s Folly 30 days ago.

1871(29th of Nisan, 5631): Polish author Jacob Tugenhold who was born near Krakow and who founded a “modern Jewish school” in Warsaw, passed away today.

1874:Di Yidishe Gazeten, first influential Yiddish newspaper in the United States began publication today.

1875(15th of Nisan, 5635): Pesach

1875: Birthdate of Edouard Alexandre de Pomiane, also known as Edouard Pozerski author of the 1929 epic “The Jews of Poland: Recollections and Recipes” who passed away in 1964

1879: According to the report made by Superintendent Louis today, the Brooklyn Hebrew Orphan Asylum was home to 10 children, eight of whom were boys and two of whom were girls, ranging in age from three and half years to ten years.

1882(1st of Iyar, 5642): Rosh Chodesh Iyar

1882:  J. A. Engelbart presided over tonight’s meeting of a committee formed “raise money to feed and shelter Jewish refugees from Russia and to aid them in finding home in” in the United States.  The meeting was held at B’nai Jeshrun.  Among the attendees were Rabbi Henry S. Jacobs and Dr. Simeon N. Leo.

1882: It was reported today that a dispatch from St. Petersburg “states that the persecution of the Jews continues” unabated.  At least 17,000 Jews have been left homeless after villages in Southern Russia were destroyed.

1882: “Current Foreign Topics” published today described a private meeting that had been held in Berlin to provide assistance for Jews who wished to leave Russia.  The attendees pledged seventy thousand marks to assist in the endeavor.

1883(13th of Nisan, 5643): Ninety-one year old Asher American, who had served as the Assistant Reader at congregations on Norfolk, Stanton and Sixth Streets passed away tonight.

1883: It was reported today that The Cleveland Herald has been interviewing the city’s Jewish clergy on the possibility of Jews returning to Palestine.  Rabbi Hahn considers the idea as being impracticable and feels that “the Jewish people…are a great deal better off here than they could possibly be there.”  Rabbi Lane echoes these sentiments and “is most strongly opposed to …immigration schemes.”   The Herald believes “that these gentlemen speak the prevailing sentiment” of the Jewish people.

1884: According to “The Relations of Animal Diseases to the Public Health and Their Prevention” by Frank S. Billings which was reviewed today’s New York Times, the author  “quotes the Hebrew legislator who forbade pork as food for the chosen people of the Lord.  Moses did this with a knowledge of its ‘non- hygienic character.”

1884(25th of Nisan, 5644): Dr. Lyon Berhard, one of the oldest dentists in New York passed away today in Manhattan.  Born in Amsterdam in 1812 and a graduate of the Baltimore College of Dentistry, he came to New York 42 years ago.  He was a founding member of B’Nai  Israel and was an active member of the Hebrew Mutual Benefit Society.

1884: Rabbi Gustav Gottheil, Rabbi Kaufman Kohler and Joseph Blumenthal were among the attendees at a reception given at the new building of the Hebrew Sheltering Guardian Society.  The building which is located at Avenue A and 87th Street was originally built for the use of the late John Jacob Astor.

1886(15th of Nisan, 5646): First Day of Pesach

1888: It was reported today that in Jacksonville, FL, Rabbi of Levy of Charleston, SC had presided at the marriage of Susie Jacoby of Charleston to Mose J. Ullman of Evansville, Indiana.

1888:  The Jewish Messenger reports that Orach Chaim has contributed support for a New York City Chief Rabbi. "This action is the more significant as it is the first uptown congregation to join the downtown contingent and mostly composed of Germans while the other uptown orthodox congregations are mostly composed of the Polish element."

1888((9th of Iyar): Russian born philanthropist Samuel Poljakoff passed away.

1889: Birthdate of Otto Heinrich Frank, father of Anne Frank. Frank survived the Holocaust and passed away in 1980.

1889: Birthdate of Adolph Hitler

1889: Birthdate of Albert Jean Amateau, rabbi, businessman, lawyer and social activist.
Born a Sephardic Jew in Milas, Turkey, Amateau attended the American International College in Izmir (Smyrna), Turkey. He immigrated to the United States in 1910. In the early 1920s, Amateau began a movement to bring more Jews into the workplace and government. He was also involved largely in the affairs of deaf people. After he returned from the Army (he served in World War I), Amateau was ordained in 1920 at the Jewish Theological Seminary, and he became the first rabbi of a congregation of the deaf. In 1941, Amateau developed the Albert J. Amateau Foreign Language Service, a business providing translators for lipsync dubbing for motion pictures. The business continued in operation until 1989. An ardent supporter of his homeland of Turkey, Amateau began various Turkish-oriented organizations while residing in the United States. In 1992, at the age of 103, he helped found the American Society of Jewish Friends of Turkey and was named as its president. Amateau was also an advocate of peace, and in 1937, he assisted with negotiations between Jews and Arabs of Palestine. Amateau died in 1996 at the age of 106 years, 10 months.

1890(30th of Nisan, 5650): Rosh Chodesh Iyar

1890: It was reported today that strikers in Austria are trying to turn the labor unrest  “into an anti-Jewish crusade.  Many of the mill and mine owners in the region are Jewish and the Rothschilds own the largest iron and steel works at Witkowitz.  The strikers have turned their fury on the local Jewish merchants and their attacks have left several hundred Jewish families “camping in the fields in utter destitution.

1891: A fire broke out in a tenement house at 194 Henry Street which is home to a large number of Russian Jews.

1893(4th of Iyar, 5653): Dr. Wilhelm Lowenthal, “the Jewish scientist who had been invited to Argentina in 1890 to share his technological expertise on agricultural matters” and who “persuaded Baron de Hirsch to fund the Jewish Colonization Association (JCA) to aid Jewish settlers in Argentina” passed away today.

1894(14th of Nisan, 5654): An article entitled “Festival of the Passover” states that “Pesach, the Jewish festival of the Passover, begins the evening and continues for a week.”  Furthermore, “the households of the Orthodox and many of those who have accepted the modern or reformed” customs will host a Seder.

1895(26th of Nisan, 5655): Joseph Heiman Caro, author of Ṭevaḥ ṿe-hakhen (טבח והכן: כל דני שחיטות ובדיקות) passed away today

1895: The Hebrew Orphan Asylum Band performed at the Odd Fellows’ Home Fair which is being held at the Lenox Lyceum.

1896: “A Precious Privilege Retained” published today described a declaration published by the anti-Semitic German “National” Students at the University of Vienna stating that “they would henceforth refust to accept challenges from the Jewish Students’ Corps, as they would think themselves defiled if they fought them.”  The Rector refused to respond to an appeal from the Jewish students asking that this declaration be overturned. According to some observers, the German students’ declaration is rooted in the fact that the Jews have defeated them whenever a challenge was made and accepted.

1899: Testimony continues to be given before the Court of Cassation in the Dreyfus revision inquiry.

1900: Max Nordau introduced Herzl to Alfred Austin who gives him a friendly letter to Lord Salisbury, the British Prime Minister. Herzl sought British support in his attempts to persuade the government at Constantinople to allow the development of a Jewish homeland. . Salisbury did not receive Herzl "on account of the war worries".

1905(15th of Nisan, 5665): As Russia confronted its defeat by the Japanese and the violence of the Russian Revolution, the Jews observe Pesach.

1908: Birthdate of Yisrael Yeshayahu Sharabi, a native of Sa’dah , Yemin, who make aliyah in 1929 and eventually became the fifth Speaker of the Knesset.

1912: Birthdate of David Ginsburg, “a liberal lawyer and longtime Washington insider who helped found the Americans for Democratic Action and led the presidential commission on race relations whose report, in 1968, warned that the United States was ‘moving toward two societies — one black, one white, separate and unequal.’”

1912: In the Bronx, a memorial service is to be held at the Montifore Congregation for the crew and passengers who died when the Titanic sank.

1912: A banquet celebrating the fifth anniversary of the Free Synagogue hosted by Rabbi Stephen Wise was postponed as public mourning for those who lost their lives on the Titanic continues.

1913: A general strike by 4,000 kosher bakers began today when 1,000 of them quit work in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Brownsville.  The strike had originally been scheduled to start on April 29. The early strike date really was of little significance since the bakers would have quite working tomorrow any way do the fact that Passover starts tomorrow evening.

1913: Morris Siegel, known to his friends and family as “Morris the Apple Peddler” attended the the Brit Milah today for three boys – his three sons all of whom were born eight days ago.  The crowd of well-wishers grew even larger when the entire class of his 13 year old son Harry arrived at the event.

1915: Birthdate of South African-born, American psychologist Joseph Wolpe.

1915(6th of Iyar, 5675): Seventy-two year old Nathan Gratz, a well-known New York lawyer passed away today. He was the son of Jonathan and Rebecca Gratz (Moses) Nathan. “Mr. Nathan graduated from Columbia College in 1861. He engaged in practice in 1864 and was well known in Democratic political circles, clubs, and charitable societies. He was a member of New York law Institute, Columbia Alumni, and the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society.”

1915: Birthdate of journalist Israel Epstein

1916: Birthdate of Wiera Vera Gran, the Polish born Jewish singer who first performed under the name Sylvia Green and who became the center of a controversy surrounding her survival of the Holocaust.

1917:  As the Russian military position continued to deteriorate and Russian soldiers demanded immediate peace with the Germans, mutinies broke out.  In one instance an artillery officer named Khaust who had demanded that his fellow Russians lay down their arms was saved from an angry assembly of soldiers by a Jewish soldier known simply as Rom who intervened on their behalf.

1918: “Banquet to Jewish Soldiers” published today described plans for an upcoming banquet being hosted by the Jewish Board of Welfare and the Young Men’s Hebrew Association  under the chairmanship of Benjamin Natal for the benefit the young Jewish men who are about to leave for Fort Dix to begin serving in the U.S. Army.

1919: “The young women who worked as telephone operators at New England Telephone and Telegraph walked off the job. One of the strike leaders was Rose Finkelstein, a young Jewish worker, who had emigrated with her family as a young child from Kiev, Russia.”  (As reported by Jewish Women’s Archives)

1920: “Chaim Weizmann arrived at the Hotel Royal in San Remo, two days after the San Remo conference had convened.”  Still smarting from the failure of the British to stop the riots aimed at the Jews of Jerusalem that had broken out earlier in the month, the usually reserved Weizmann, congratulates Phillip Kerr, Lloyd George’s private secretary, on the “first pogrom ever conducted under the British flag.”  The unusual outburst took place in the hotel lobby, a public denunciation that caught the British leader off guard and led to cooling off period for the Zionist leader.

1920:  In the aftermath of World War I, Palestine ceased to be a part of the defeated Ottoman Empire (now Turkey).  The League of Nations made Palestine a British Mandate which meant recognition of the terms of the Balfour Declaration.

1921: Birthdate of Marcos Moshinsky the Ukrainian born Mexican physicist who won the Prince of Asturias Prize for Scientific and Technical Investigation in 1988 and the UNESCO Science Prize in 1997. He passed away in 2009 at the age of 87.

1922: Philadelphia Athletics 2nd baseman Heinie Scheer appeared in his first major league baseball game.

1924: Birthdate of Morris Edward Chafetz, the son of Jewish immigrants who played an important role in changing the public perception of alcoholism from social crime or personal failing to a disease requiring treatment.´ (As reported by William Grimes)

1926: Warner Brothers, which was owned by the four Warner brothers and Western Electric announced the creation of Vitaphone, a process to add sound to film. Vitaphone would be the sound system used in the making of “The Jazz Singer,” the first talking motion picture.

1936: Jews repelled an Arab attack in Petach Tikvah. This attack was part of the Arab Uprising that lasted from 1936 until 1939.  The Arabs aim was to put an end to the dream of a Jewish homeland.  While they failed militarily, they were handed victory by a British decision to virtually put an end to Jewish land purchases and immigration.  This effectively slammed the door shut on the Jews of Europe on the eve of the Shoah.   Petach Tikvah or "Gateway of Hope" was originally founded by religious Jewish pioneers who had been living in Jerusalem.  What would eventually become a city, was a collection of mud huts built by 26 families on malaria infested piece of land seven miles east of what would one day become Tel Aviv.  Petach Tikvah took its name from a verse in Hosea "And I will give her...the valley of Achor for a gateway of Hope (2:17)."  The moshav would be abandoned for a brief period and then re-started with support from Baron Rothschild.  Petach Tikvah became a model and inspiration for the moshav movement.  Unfortunately, Petach Tikvah is no stranger to Arab violence.  During the 1920's, the defense of Petach Tikvah had helped to defeat an earlier Arab attempt to destroy the efforts by Jews to resettle and rehabilitate land that had been designated as “the Jewish Home.’ In the latest Arab Uprising, Petach Tikvah has been the scene of a suicide bombing in 2002 and the scene of a thwarted bombing in 2003. 

1936(28th of Nisan, 5696): Zvi Dannenberg died today of wounds suffered on April 15 when he and Israel Khazahn were attacked by Arabs as they traveled from Nablus to Tulkarm.

1936: Bronislaw Huberman, founder and organizer of the Palestine Symphony Orchestra announced that Arturo Toscanini has decided to include music by Mendelssohn on the first program he will conduct with the symphony. There is an element of political protest in this announcement since Mendelssohn has been banned by the Nazis.

1938: Despite bomb throwing which has become a daily occurrence in Jerusalem, an enthusiastic crowd filled Jerusalem’s Edison Hall for Toscanini’s fifth concert Aprof the season with the Palestine Orchestra.

1938: German planes fly over Austria on Hitler’s birthday dropping tiny Swastikas.  This is the “new” Austria after the Anschluss which had taken place in March of 1938.

1938: The Palestine Post reported that for the third night in succession bombs had been thrown in the center of Jerusalem, injuring Edwin Eisler, 18, and Banu Baland, 35. Forty "illegal" Jewish immigrants who had been in Palestine for many years, declared a hunger strike in order to persuade the mandate's authorities to change their status from "illegal" immigrants whom the courts failed to deport, to that of recognized permanent residents, so that they could bring here their families from abroad.

1939:  On Hitler's fiftieth birthday, all Catholic churches in Greater Germany hoisted the swastika in celebration.

1939: The Wirtschafts- und Verwaltungshauptamt (WVHA; Economy and Administration Main Office) was upgraded. It was concerned with SS economic matters, particularly at concentration camps.

1939: At a meeting of the British Cabinet’s Palestine Committee, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, ever the appeaser, stressed that it of ‘immense importance’ with regard to British strategy ‘to have the Moslem world with us.  If we must offend one side, let us offend the Jews rather than the Arabs.’ This pronouncement was a complete violation of the Balfour Declaration and the terms of the Mandate.  It set the stage for the effective closing of Palestine to Jewish immigration in May of 1939; a policy that bought death for the Jews but failed to win the goodwill of the Arabs.  

1941: German newspapers in Greece come out blaming Jews for ruining Germany after World War I.   During this same period in April, the Greek newspaper New Europe wrote in capital letters “DEATH TO THE JEWS.” The paper reported that the Jews were the cause of economic problems in Germany. Levy stated the Greek paper called for the destruction of the "Jewish race once and for all."

1942: The Battle for Moscow comes to an “end.”  The war in the East will grind on.  But thanks to the gritty, desperate defense of the Soviet capital, the German Army has been stopped and what was to have been a lightning war turns into a war of attrition.  As bad as the Holocaust was, defeat at Moscow would have made it even worse.  The Soviet victory here, along with other Soviet victories later in the war caused General Douglas McArthur (of all people) to declare that the Red Army was the Hope of the World.

1942: At Mauthausen, “forty-eight people were shot at two minute intervals as a present to Hitler on his birthday.”

1942: At a birthday banquet for Hitler in East Prussia, Hermann Göring announced that he was responsible for the Reichstag fire of February 27, 1933, that set off Nazi reprisals against purported Communist subversion.

1943(15th of Nisan, 5703): Pesach

1943: On the second day of the Warsaw uprising the ghetto is bombarded with fire from, mortars and machine guns. Germans kill all the sick in the Czyste hospital. Then they set the hospital on fire. Jewish resistance was stubborn and organized.  The Nazis, who had swept France in a mere six weeks, could not believe that the Jews of all people were providing this kind of a fight.  According to one account, some of the Jews could not believe they were doing it either. 

1945(7th of Iyar, 5705): During the night 20 children and at least 28 adults were hanged at Bullenhuser Damn, one of the satellite camps of Neuengamme. The Bullenhuser Damm Memorial is dedicated to the memory of these children, who were subjected to medical experiments in the Neuengamme concentration camp before being murdered, to the 4 prisoners who cared for them, and to 24 unidentified Soviet prisoners.(Based on information supplied by the Wiener Library)

1945: Jerusalem’s District Commissioner, James Huey Hamilton Pollock, met with Arab leaders in an attempt to reach a solution as to how Jerusalem should be governed.  Jewish leaders had accepted a British proposal that would have the position of Mayor rotate among each of the three main religious groups in the city.  The Arabs had maintained that the mayor must be Muslim.  The compromise would allow for a partition plan. 

1945: Prime Minister Churchill telegraphs his wife who is in the Soviet Union stating that “Here we are all shocked by the most horrible revelations of German cruelty in the concentration camps.”

1946: The Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry completed its report, urging the British to end the land purchase restrictions imposed on the Jews as part  of the 1939 White Paper and to grant 100,000 Palestine certificates immediately.  The British rejected the proposal, reused to allow immigration on anything approaching that scale. 

1946: “Five Yemenite Jews were killed when a three-inch shell exploded…in Nathanya” a town halfway between Tel Aviv and Haifa.

1948: On the eve of Pesach, "the last food convoy after Operation Nachson, made up of some 300 trucks brought provisions to Jerusalem.

1948: A convoy that included Prime Minister David Ben Gurion set out from Tel Aviv to the besieged city of Jerusalem.  Ben Gurion wanted to spend Pesach in Jerusalem with the beleaguered defenders as a way of raising moral.  The trip was extremely dangerous because the Arabs controlled the high ground on both sides of the highway and had successfully beaten back several other such attempts.  While Ben Gurion, who was traveling in one of the lead vehicles, made it through, the rest of the convoy came under heavy attack and was forced to turn back after suffering heavy casualties.  This was only one of the many battles fought to open the road to Jerusalem.  Long after the war was over, travelers on the modern-four lane highway from the coast to Jerusalem could see the burned-out hulks of the Jewish vehicles that serve as constant reminder of the price the Jewish people paid for Jerusalem.

1949: Twenty-five year old outfielder Cal Abrams plays in his first game with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

1950: During a debate in the House of Commons Prime Minister Atlee’s Labor government announced that it would continue to refuse to sell arms to Israel while continuing to sells arms to Egypt, Iraq and Jordan.  According to sources in Tel Aviv, the British have said they would consider sales of weapons to Israel if she reaches a full settlement with the Arab states.  No such pre-condition has been attached to sales to the Arab states.

1953(5th of Iyar, 5713): Yom HaAtzma'ut

1958(30th of Nisan, 5718):Rosh Chodesh Iyar

1967: Birthdate of Mike Portnoy, drummer in the progressive metal band Dream Theatre.

1970(14th of Nisan, 5730):Ta'anit Bechorot; Erev Pesach

1970(14th of Nisan, 5730): Poet and translator Paul Celan passed away.

1970: Bruno Kreisky became the first Socialist and the first Jew to serve as Chancellor of Austria.

1970: Pini Nahmani, an Israeli pilot being held in a Damascus prison, celebrated a Seder made possible by two Haggadot and some Matzah crumbs sent by the Chief Rabbi of Zurich. 

1971: Barbra Streisand recorded "We've Only Just Begun"

1974: South African Jewish professional association footballer Martin Cohen was part of the White XI that played their black counterparts today “in a racially charged match at Rand Stadium. After initially going down 1-0 to the black side (the goal was called off-side by referee Wally Turner), Cohen scored a crucial goal before Neil Roberts put the game away.”

1975: Larry Blyden, a practicing Jew from Houston born Ivan Lawrence Blieden, co-hosted the  telecast of the Tony Awards.

1976: Paula Hyman spoke about the history of Jewish women in America on New York radio station WEVD

1977: Woody Allen's film "Annie Hall" premiered

1978: The Jerusalem Post reported that Yitzhak Navon was elected the fifth president of the State of Israel on his 57th birthday. The minister of defense, Ezer Weizmann, was expected to leave for Cairo in another bid to renew the stalled Israeli-Egyptian peace negotiations. In Washington, efforts were made to set the stage for another, possibly more promising, summit between Prime Minister Menachem Begin and US president, Jimmy Carter.

1982(27th of Nisan, 5742): Yom HaShoah

1986: An Irishwoman arrested in connection with an attempt to blow up a crowded Israeli airliner was freed tonight after two days of questioning with no charges brought against her, the police said. Anne-Marie Murphy, 32 years old, was arrested at London's Heathrow Airport carrying explosives on Thursday as she was about to board an El Al flight to Tel Aviv. She carried a bag containing about 10 pounds of explosives stashed in a false bottom. The police said she may have been duped into taking the bomb onto the plane. Detectives are still questioning her fiancé, Nezar Hindawi, a 35-year-old Jordanian

1986: World famous pianist Vladimir Horowitz performed in his Russian homeland. A non-observant Jew, this performance was one of his last before he went into his final retirement. "It's better to make your own mistakes than to copy someone else's." "My future is in my past and my past is in my present. I must now make the present my future."

1987: Two Israeli soldiers and three Palestinian guerrillas were killed today in a shootout after the Palestinians cut through a Lebanon border fence and crossed into northern Israel, an Israeli Army spokesman said. The Israeli radio said three Palestinian guerrillas who slipped past Israeli troops in southern Lebanon and crossed the border near the Menara kibbutz ''were wiped out,'' but not before they had killed the two Israeli soldiers who had tracked them to their hiding place in an apple orchard 500 yards inside Israel. Al Fatah, Yasir Arafat's faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization, took credit for the operation.

1988(20th of Iyar, 5748) Yom HaZikaron

1989(15th of Nisan, 5749): Pesach

1991(6th of Iyar, 5751: Movie director Don Siegel passed away.  Born in Chicago in 1912 and educated in England, Siegel had a long and storied career. In 1945, two shorts he directed, Hitler Lives? and A Star in the Night, won Academy Awards, which launched his career as a feature director. Among his long list of film credits were a series of Clint Eastwood films including Coogan’s Bluff, Two Mules for Sister Sarah and the classic Dirty Harry.

1993: At a solemn outdoor ceremony tonight at the place where several hundred poorly armed Jews battled the Nazis 50 years ago, the leaders of Poland and Israel hailed the valor of the uprising and called for a new beginning in the often difficult relationship between Jews and Poles.

1997: The New York Times featured reviews of Rabin: Our Life, His Legacy by Leah Rabin and The Boys: The Untold Story of 732 Young Concentration Camp Survivors by Martin Gilbert.

1999(4th of Iyar, 5759): Yom Hazkiaron

1999(4th of Iyar, 5759): Eighty-four year old Baroness Bethsabée de Rothschild passed away in Tel Aviv

2000(15th of Pesach, 5760): Pesach
2000: In Shanghai, 100 Jews attended Pesach services at Ohel Rachel Synagogue.

2002(8th of Iyar, 5762) :Border Policeman St.-Sgt. Uriel Bar-Maimon, 21 of Ashkelon was killed in an exchange of fire near the Erez industrial park in the northern Gaza Strip. Israeli forces pursued the Palestinian gunman and killed him. An explosive belt was found on his body. The Fatah Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility.

2002(8th of Iyar, 5762): Sgt. Maj. Nir Krichman, 22 of Hadera, was killed in an exchange of gunfire, when IDF forces entered the village of Asira a-Shamaliya, north of Nablus, to arrest known Hamas terrorists.

 2003: The New York Times included reviews of books by Jewish authors and/or of special interest to Jewish readers including recently released paperback versions of “Sunday Jews, by Hortense Calisher in which she “explores the disparate fortunes of an extended Jewish family living on the Upper West Side after World War II” and “Be My Knife” by David Grossman.

2003(18th of Nisan, 5763): IDF photographer Cpl. Lior Ziv, 19, of Holon, was killed and three other soldiers were wounded during an operation to destroy a Hamas smuggling tunnel in Rafah, in the Gaza Strip.

2003(18th of Nisan, 5763): Biophysicist, Sir Bernard Katz passed away. Sir Bernard Katz was born in Germany in 1911.  He fled to Great Britain when the Nazis came to power.  Katz was noted for his work on nerve biochemistry.  He shared the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1970 with Julius Axelrod and Ulf von Euler. He was knighted in 1970.

2004: The Public Law Department of the Buenos Aires University School of Law and the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation organized and presented The International Seminar "Diplomacy and the Holocaust.”

2006(22nd of Nisan, 5766): Eighth Day of Pesach including recitation of Yizkor.

2006: “President George W. Bush signed an official document declaring the month of May Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM)”

2007: Haaretz reported that sixty-six civilians were killed in hostile actions since last Independence Day, mostly during the Second Lebanon War, bringing the number of civilians killed in terror attacks since the state's establishment in 1948 to 1,635, according to National Insurance Institute (NII) Director Dr. Yigal Ben-Shalom.

2007: The Jerusalem Post reported that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had condemned as "hurtful" and "spurious" comments made by former Sephardi chief rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu that the victims of the Holocaust were made to suffer because of the sins of the Reform Movement. Olmert went on to praise the Reform Movement as an important element in the “House of Israel.”

2008(15th of Nisan, 5768): First Day of Pesach

2008: San Francisco chefs Gayle Pirie and John Cook are  a Slow Food spin on the Passover Seder for the second night of Passover. The Seder, held at Foreign Cinema is sponsored by Heeb and is the magazine’s inaugural "Slow Food Seder.”

2008: The New York Times book section featured a review of “Dictation the most recent work of Jewish author Cynthia Ozick.

2008: The Washington Post book section featured a review of a biography of the Jewish poet Louis Zukofsky entitled  “The Poem of a Life” by Mark Scroggins and an interview with American poet Edward Hirsch whose grandfather was a stringer for a Yiddish newspaper who wrote poems and copied them into the backs of books.

2008: The Sunday Chicago Tribune reported that two Torah scrolls were taken from Kenosha synagogue. Just days before the beginning of Passover, two Torah scrolls each worth an estimated $40,000 to $60,000, were reported stolen from a Jewish temple in Kenosha, officials said. On Tuesday, Rabbi Tzali Wilschanski of the Congregation Bnei Tzedek Chabad realized his laptop, which he had used during a class the night before, was missing. He checked to see whether the Torahs were safe, and discovered they were missing too. He said he last saw them April 5. Several valuable silver ornaments used to adorn the scrolls were not taken, leading Wilschanski to suspect that the robbery was not a garden-variety theft.
"If this was a hate crime, it would explain why they took something that is so dear to us," he said.
"If this was not a hate crime, it was the work of very sophisticated criminals who know that the Torah scrolls are much more valuable than the silver pieces." There were no signs of forced entry into the temple at 1602 56th St., but a deadbolt lock was open, Kenosha police Sgt. Hugh Rafferty said. While police do not have any suspects in custody, they are following several leads, he said.

2009: In Washington, D.C., Adina Hoffman, a Jerusalem-based writer, critic and founder of Ibis Editions, discusses and signs “My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness: A Poet's Life in the Palestinian Century, “her new biography of Palestinian poet Taha Muhammad Ali.

2009: Opening session of “Durban II Counter at the Fordham University School of Law. The American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists sponsor this counter-conference organized to address the real issues of "racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance."  

2009: Human Rights Watch said in a new report issued today that Hamas security forces killed at least 32 Palestinian political rivals and those suspected of collaborating with Israel during and after the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip. The report also said “unlawful arrests, torture and killings in detention” were making a mockery of Hamas’s claims to uphold the law in Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas, an Islamic group

2009: Today President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran used the platform of a United Nations conference in Geneva on combating racism to disparage Israel as a “cruel and repressive racist regime,” prompting delegates from European nations to desert the hall and earning a rare harsh rebuke from Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

2009: Lord Hoffmann (Leonard Hoffmann) completed his terms as Second Senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary in South Africa.

2009: Steve Reich was awarded the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Music, on April 20, 2009, for Double Sextet

2010(6th Iyar, 5770): Yom Ha’Atzmaut

2010: The US premier of “I Was There In Color,” is scheduled to take place as part the Yom Ha’Atzmaut celebration at the JCC in Manhattan.

2010: Or Ashual, a 17-year-old student at the Kfar Saba Amana girls’ school, became the 2010 winner of the World Bible Quiz competition today, which took place on Israel’s 62nd Independence Day at the Jerusalem Center for the Performing Arts.

2011(16th of Nisan, 5771): Second Day of Pesach

2011: Beit Avi Chai, in collaboration with Merkaz Hamagshimim Hadassah, is scheduled to hold its second annual English speaking amateur theatre festival: "Stage One".

2011: Two suspects were arrested today in connection with setting fire to a synagogue on the Greek island of Corfu a day earlier, Greek Police said. Arsonists set fire to a synagogue on the island early yesterday, damaging prayer books but causing no injuries, in the third such attack in Greece in less than two years, police said.

2011: A Haggadah Fair sponsored by Kol HaOt and the Inbal Hotel will open today in Jerusalem.

2011: One day after Steve Soboroff was hired to be the Vice Chairman of the LA Dodgers, Major League Baseball seized control of the team from Frank McCourt.

2012: “In Darkness” a film about Polish sewer worker and Jews living in the Lvov Ghetto is scheduled to be shown in Iowa City under the sponsorship of Agudas Achim.

2012: “Joanna” and “Life Is Too Long” are scheduled to be shown at the Westchester Jewish Film Festival

2012: “The Man Behind the Curtain” provides a detailed review of Mr. Broadway: The Inside Story of the Shuberts, the Shows and the Stars by Gerald Schoenfield. 

2013: “No Place on Earth” is scheduled to be shown for the first time in Claremont, CA.

2013: Adam Burstain, the son of Todd and Jennifer Burstain - pillars of the Cedar Rapids Jewish community- is scheduled to appear in the final performance of Urine Town.

2013: “Cabaret-Berlin: The Wild Scene” is scheduled to be shown at the Westchester Jewish Film Festival

2013: “Dorfman in Love” is scheduled to be shown at the Northern Virginia Jewish Film Festival.

2013: Israeli gymnast Alexander Shatilov won the gold medal in the European Men's Artistic Gymnastic individual Championships, held in Moscow today.

2013: U. S Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will finalize a huge arms deal with Israel during his visit starting today, under which Israel will for the first time be permitted to purchase US aerial refueling planes and other ultra-sophisticated military equipment that could prove vital to any Israel strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities

2014: “Igor and the Crane’s Journey” is scheduled to be shown at the JCC Rockland International Jewish Film Festival

2014:Helen Suzman: Fighter for Human Rights” an exhibition that has been on display at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center is scheduled to come to a close.

2014: The New York Times features reviews of books by Jewish authors and/or of special interest to Jewish readers including No Book But The World by Leah Hager Cohen, Updike by Adam Begley and Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein