1126: Alfonso VII is proclaimed king of Castile and Leon, after the death of his mother Urraca. Under the reign of Alfonso Christian Spain “became a refuge for the persecuted Andalusian Jews. The capital city of Toledo became a new center for Jewish learning. The major reason for this positive turn of fortune for the Jews was the king’s positive relationship with Yehuda Ibn-Ezra. After taking the fortress of Calatrava, the king appointed Ibn-Ezra as its commander as a reward for his bravery. Ibn-Ezra used his influence to create a refuge for the Jews who were fleeing Almohades, a religiously fervent Berber Moslem dynasty that had crossed into Spain after successful conquests in parts of North Africa. Those who equate the Golden Age of Spain with Moslem rule would do well to remember that life for the Jews was much more varied than that.
1255: King Przemysl Ottocar II renewed the charter granting favorable rights to his Jewish subjects.
1607: A complaint was filed today by the Inquisition “against Jorge de Almeida, a Portuguese domiciled in the City of Mexico, husband of Dona Lenor de Andrada” who had been convicted of observing Mosaic law” which makes her a Jewess.
1688: On this night a large group of secret Jews planned to escape from the island of Majorca by booking passage on an English ship. They were looking for religious freedom. A storm delayed their departure, and their plan was betrayed. All those planning to leave were put in prison. In the spring of 1691 these prisoners were sentenced at an auto-de-fe, where 37 were burned at the stake.
1702: King William II of England passed away today. Antonio Lopez Suasso, later Baron Avernes de Gras had provided financing for William who had been Prince of Orange to take the English throne. In 1700 William knighted Solomon de Medina who had served as an army contractor making him the first Jew to be so honored.
1731: In Mladá Boleslav, David Brandeis a Jewish shopkeeper who had been accused of poising a local Christian printer with plum jam was released today after the accusation was proven to be untrue.
1768: In the Netherlands, synagogues held services of thanks-giving on the day that “King William V entered the legislature on the day of his majority.” “Under the government of William V the country was troubled by internal dissensions; the Jews, however, remained loyal to him” and William did not forget the loyalty of his Jewish subjects.
1799(1st of Adar II, 5559): Rosh Chodesh Adar II
Great Sanhedrin presented its conclusions at its final session. France
, the Stockbrokers Guild formerly incorporates
itself and becomes the New York Stock Exchange.
Among the founders were several prominent Jewish financiers including
Benjamin Seixas, Isaac Gomez, Alexander Zuntz and Ephraim Hart. Ephraim Hart’s son’ Bernhard, became
Secretary of the NYSE. Bernhard was also
the grandfather of writer Bret Harte. New
1817: Joseph Jonas the first Jew to settle in Cincinnati, Ohio arrived in the Queen City today. He was an English-born peddler who had come from Philadelphia, PA. “He became a successful watchmaker and silversmith and lived on Broadway between Fifth Street and Harrison. Jonas, like most early Jews, settled in downtown Cincinnati. Jonas wrote letters describing the opportunities that existed in the Ohio River valley. This convinced other Jews to join him including two younger brothers. In 1821, when Benjamin Lieb was dying, he begged to be buried as a Jew. He was the first Jew to die in Cincinnati. In response to his request, Joseph Jonas and Morris Moses, two of Cincinnati's six Jews, purchased the lot for Cincinnati's first Jewish cemetery from Nicholas Longworth for $75.00, and then buried Lieb there. This cemetery known as the Old Jewish Community or the Chestnut Street Cemetery is the oldest Jewish cemetery west of the Alleghenies. By 1824 there were enough Jewish residents to fulfill the requirement of ten adult males so that regular religious services could be held, and the first Jewish congregation beyond the Allegheny Mountains was established. This congregation became the Rockdale Temple. Most of the early Jews were British.”
1831: Birthdate of French photographer Félix Bonfils who created one of the first modern photographic records of the Middle East including Palestine including the Wall of the Second Temple.
1857: Today one of the first real organized actions of women's solidarity took place in New York City when hundreds of women staged a strike against the garment and textile factories in New York City, protesting low wages, long working hours and inhumane working conditions. This strike, which undoubtedly included Jewish workers took place 54 years before the Triangle Shirt Factory Fire.
1857: Reverend Charles Harris, "a Christian Jew" is scheduled to preach twice today at the John Street First M.E. Church in New York City. [The Jews for Jesus concept obviously was not a 20th century phenomenon.]
1860(14th of Adar): As war clouds loom in the United States, celebration of Purim
1871(15th of Adar, 5631): Shushan Purim
1871: The New York Times reviewed “The Recovery of Jerusalem: A Narrative of Exploration in the City and the Holy Land” by two legendary British officers, Captains Wilson and Warren, who, among other accomplishments, conducting the first modern mapping of the ancient Jewish capital.
1871: “The Purim Festival” published today described the history of the holiday as well as local observances including the celebrations at the Asylum for the Aged and Infirm, the Orphans’ Home and the Industrial Home on West 17th Street.
1872: Four years after Abraham Oppenheim had been enobled, German-Jewish banker Gerson von Bleichröder and his family were made Prussian nobles; making them the second Jewish family to have been so honored.
1874: “The Prince of Printers” published today traces the history of printing in Italy including the rise of the printers of Soncino who were the first to print texts using Hebrew letters. Although they would set up presses at other locations, they always used the name of their home town which they adopted as their family name.
1875(1st of Adar II, 5635): Rosh Chodesh Adar II
1875: It was reported that next week’s Hebrew Charity Ball will include music supplied by two bands and a supper catered by Delmonico’s served at the Academy of Music.
1877: The Hebrew Lodge, Number 5 of the International order of B’nai Brit is sponsoring a fundraiser at the Steinway Hall tonight to aid those who suffered loss in the recent fire in Brooklyn. Entertainment will included vocalists and violinists.
1879: Birthdate of Otto Hahn. In 1944, he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering the fission of heavy nuclei, which made the atomic bomb possible.
1879: It was reported today that the Young Men’s Hebrew Association of Harlem are sponsoring a Purim Calico Ball which will be held on the day that coincides with Shushan Purim.
1879: The Young Men’s Hebrew Association of Manhattan will host its fourth annual Purim celebration at the Lexington Avenue Opera House.
1881: The town of Seligman, MO, which was named for Joseph Seligman, was incorporated today.
1890: “The charity ball of the Hebrew Benevolent Society of Long Island City took place tonight at Ahler’s Astoria Assembly Rooms.
1891: “Palestine for the Jews” published today described the plan “advocated by prominent men of the leading cities” including such philo-Semites as Yale Professor Charles Toten “to obtain in a peaceable way” the “old homes in Palestine for Jews through… an international conference.”
1891: “Electric Light In The Holy Land” published today relied on information that first appeared in the Pall Mall Gazette to described the introduction of electric light at a new flour mill located near the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem.
1891(28th of Adar I, 5651: Seventy year old Benjamin Feuerstein, a clothing cutter, passed away while riding the elevated on his way to a meeting of a Jewish charitable society.
1891: Birthdate of American film and television actor Sam Jaffee. His film career included the role of Gunga Din in the movie of the same name and “Doc”, the criminal mastermind in the film noire classic “The Asphalt Jungle.” His film career came to a halt as a result of the infamous blacklist. He returned to acting as the wise old Dr.Zorba in the television medical melodrama “Ben Casey.”
1892: As public health workers in New York cope with the latest outbreak of typhus, 20 year old Sarah Koslofsky who was living in a tenement occupied by 18 Jewish families was taken to the hospital after she was found to suffering with the fever. Thirteen year old Baruch Stelson who was also found to be suffering from the disease was taken the facility at North Brother Island.
1894: “Benny” Weiss” saw Wardman Jeremiah Levy and Charles Krumm shake hands without exchanging any money.
1894: “Brooklyn Bridge Trustees” published today described Senator Cantor’s objection “to removing men from office upon charges of dishonesty unless the charges were shown to be true.”
1894: “Mr. Ainsworth Makes an Apology to the Hebrews” published today described New York Assemblyman Ainsworth’s public recantation of his use of the term “Jew pawnbrokers’ claiming that he spoke hastily during the debate on reforming pawn-brokering “and did not think of my Hebrew brethren on the floor of the house.”
1895: “Unparalleled” published today, relying on information first appearing in the Cincinnati Tribune described the United as “perfect in a religious way” because it is the only country on earth where “a Hebrew Mayor” could “call for the troops to keep the Catholics and Protestants from getting into a riot.”
1896: “Rabbi Morais’s Anniversary” published today described plans for the upcoming celebration of Dr. Sabato Morais’s 45th anniversary as the Rabbi of Philadelphia’s Congregation Mikve Israel.
1897(4th of Adar II, 5657): Frederick C. Salomon passed away. A native of Prussia where he trained as a surveyor, Salomon moved to Wisconsin where he worked as a surveyor, registrar of deed and chief engineer on a local railroad. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he joined the Union Army where he served with such distinction that he rose to the rank of Major General (Brevet) by the time he mustered out in 1865. After the war he served as the Surveyor General of Utah Territory and settled in Salt Lake City where he passed away.
1898(14th of Adar, 5658): Purim
1898(14th of Adar, 5658): Sixty-eight year old Moses Bruckheimer, a pawnbroker living in Brooklyn passed away today. He was active in the Jewish community serving as trustee of Temple Beth Elohim and the Hebrew Orphan Asylum.
1899: At the annual diplomatic dinner given by the Emperor of Germany Today, the Kaiser looked “robust,” having “fully recovered from the effects of his Palestine” trip where he sought to strengthen the German role in the Ottoman Empire.
1899: In Albany, State Senator Elsberg introduced a bill “authorizing the consolidation of the Education Alliance and the Hebrew Free School Association of New York City.
1899: At the Bloomingdale Church in Manhattan Dr. Madison C. Peters will deliver a lecture on “Justice to the Jew,” “which is intended to refute popular fallacies and prove that the movements of civilization have hung upon the Jew.” “Dr. Peters claims that he will show that the Jew is in the front rank as patriot, lawyer, statesman, scientist, philosopher, artist, dramatist, poet, physician, musician, mathematician, astronomer, actor, discoverer, philologist, physiologist – in every department of human acti
1900: Ray Emanuel, the daughter of David and Amelia Emanuel married Joseph Jewell at the Central Synagogue.
1906: In New York City, Rebecca (née Green) and Dr. Isidore L. Marrow gave birth to Alfred J. Marrow “American industrial psychologist, executive, civil rights leader, and philanthropist.”
1906: Po’alei Zion was organized underground in Poltava, Russia
1908: The Federation of Rumanian Jews in America was founded
1908(5th of Adar II, 5668): Adolph Meyer, a native of Natchez, Mississippi, who served as a member of the House of Representatives from Louisiana, passed away today.
1908: Miss Dora Brachman married Louis Ginsberg in Marietta, Ohio where they will make their home.
1910: Birthdate of Louis “Lulu” Bender, “an all-American basketball player at Columbia whose stellar play during the Depression helped popularize the game and make Madison Square Garden a magnet for college basketball…” (As reported by Vincent M. Mallozzi)
1911: International Women's Day is launched in Copenhagen, Denmark, by Clara Zetkin, leader of the Women's Office for the Social Democratic Party. Born Clara Eissner, she married a Russian Jewish socialist leader named Ossip Zetkin.
1912: The Greek town of
was devastated by an earthquake. The
Jewish quarter was destroyed, and more than 100 Jewish families are homeless Zante
1912: Marco Besso of
and Errea Cavalieri of Trieste were both elected
as Senators in Ferrara . Italy
1914: Birthdate of Yakov Borisovich Zel'dovich who played a key role in the development of nuclear weapons for the Soviet Union
1914: Mrs. Simon Baruch hosted a party at her home today for twenty-one Italian children from the Bronx as part of an attempt to combat anarchist propaganda and to the immigrant a children a sense of American history and patriotism. Mrs. Baruch is the wife of Dr. Simon Baruch. They are the parents of Bernard Baruch.
1918: The first issue of Di varhayt (The Truth), the first Yiddish communist paper in the world, was published today. Di varhayt was published in Petrograd, Russia by the People's Commissariat for Jewish Affairs. It was closed down after a brief existence, as the People's Commissariat was shifted to the new capital Moscow and the lack of Yiddish journalists in Petrograd. The paper was later re-started as Der Emes.
1918: Ukrainian mobs massacred the Jews of Seredino Buda
1918: Jews of Gloucher were massacred by Ukrainians. At this point in Russian history, the empire was in chaos. The Czar had been deposed. Kerensky and his Social Democrats were trying to rule the country. The Bolsheviks under Lenin and Trotsky were plotting to replace the Provisional Government. In the mean time, the Ukrainians continued their tradition of anti-Semitism and killing Jews whenever they had the chance.
1918: The Government of Greece decides to exempt Jewish Ottoman subjects living in
regulations prohibiting commercial transactions with subjects of enemy states. Greece
1919: Representative Julius Kahn, Republican congressman from
expressed his opposition to
Zionism. He said “that the Zionist Congress which was recently held in Philadelphia
had asserted that it represented 150,000 out of approximately 3,000,000
American Jews. These figures would seem to indicate that the so-called Zionist
number only a small minority” of American Jewry. “The reason I am opposed to a
Jewish state is that experience has shown that the Jew becomes a good patriotic
citizen of any country giving him full citizenship and civil and religious
liberty….I am afraid that many avowed Zionists are also internationalists. I am not.
I believe that the we in California
should stand for this country and its institutions against all the world. In fact, I believe that as nationalist we
make of our religion a secondary matter.
Our country comes first. Our
Judaism is simply our religious faith.”
1920: During a series of Arab protest demonstrations “led to several Arab attacks on Jewish passers-by and shop owners. The British authorities were alarmed at the violent tone of the Arab protests, in which calls to kill the Jews were heard alongside the popular slogan ‘
is our land and
the Jews are our dogs.’” Palestine
1921: In Paris, Marguerite and Paul Rosenberg, “a key figure in the Parisian art world in the first half of the century” gave birth to “Alexandre P. Rosenberg, founding president of the Art Dealers Association of America and for many years a prominent art dealer in New York.” (As reported by John Russell)
1927: Birthdate of Dick Hyman, composer and conductor.
1929: Financier Paul Warburg warned that the wild speculation gripping the stock market could lead to disaster. [Bernard Baruch was another Jewish financier who expressed the same concern.]
1936(14th of Adar, 5696): Purim
1937: Helmut Hirsch, a Jewish architectural student originally from Stuttgart was sentenced to death today for his role in the attempted murder of Julius Streicher.
1937: The New York Times reported on acts of human kindness and brotherhood during the ongoing wave of terrorism in
. “During recent disturbances a Jewish
chauffeur took the son of an Arab who was killed to a hospital and an Arab
driver resuced on the Jews hurt by stone-throwing.” Palestine
1938: The Jewish Theological Seminary of America observed the twenty-fifth anniversary of Dr. Joseph H. Hertz as Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Empire in a broadcast from Radio Station WHN. Dr. Hertz was the first graduate of the seminary.
1941: In a prelude to her famous diary, Esther "Etty" Hillesum wrote a letter addressed to Julius Spier in an exercise book. These would provide a picture of life in Amsterdam under Nazi occupation.
1943(1st of Adar, 5703): Rosh Chodesh Adar II
1943: Greek Jews of Salonika were transported to Nazi extermination camps.
1943: The Sokolovo Czech battalion battled the Germans for three days. Of the 1,000 Czech soldiers, 600 are Jews.
1944: In the Warsaw Ghetto 37 Jews are given away in their hiding places. Emanuel Ringelblum, noted historian and author of a detailed chronicle of the plight of the Warsaw Jews is one of the group that is captured. Ringelblum was tortured for three days during which he revealed nothing about his fellow Jews in hiding. A few days later Ringelblum aged 43, his wife, and 13 year old son Uri were executed.
, "in the morning there
is a knock on the door at the apartment of Hélène Berr's family." Her
parents Raymond and Antoinette will die later that year in France Auschwitz.
Helene will survive until 1945 when she will die at Bergen Belsen where she was
beaten to death five days before the camp was liberated by the British.
1947: The Committee organizing the second International Music Festival to be held in Prague has invited Leonard Bernstein to conduct the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra when it performs in May of this year.
1947: The refugee-filled SS Ben Hecht also called the Abril is intercepted by British ships off the coast of Palestine.
1947: Dr. Ludwig Fischer was executed for his role in the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto
1947: Jewish terrorists defy British Martial law by launching a series of attacks in Tel Aviv tonight that injure 17 people, including 15 Jews, one British constable and one Arab constable.
1948: Birthdate of Yaakov Zvi, the London native we know as Jonathan Henry Sacks, the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth and one of the most influential Jewish leaders of his time.
1948: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that religious instruction in public schools was unconstitutional.
1949: During Operation Uvda, as the defending Jordanian forces withdrew, the Golani forces took Ein Ghamr.
1949: During the day the IDF moved towards Umm Rashrash through the Valley of the Fingers which in the evening the Alexandroni Brigade set sail from Sodom on the Dead Sea with the intent of seizing Ein Gedi.
1949: Following elections, David Ben-Gurion formed the first government of Israel. In what would prove to be the curse of the Israeli political system, it was a coalition government led by Mapai but including two other smaller parties. Ben-Gurion served both as Prime Minister and Defense Minister. Future Prime Minister Golda Meir served as the Minister of Labor and Social Security.
1949: "In a Knesset session in Tel Aviv...Eliahu Eliashar, a parliamentary representative of the Sephardi Jews, spoke on behalf of the Jews from Muslim lands."
1950: An overflow crowd of one thousand mourners filled New York’s Park West Memorial Chapel and spilled out into the street at the funeral services for Daniel Frisch, the president of the Zionist Organization of America. Rabbi Bernard Bergman officiated at the service and he was assisted by Cantor Robert Segal. Numerous tributes were paid to Frisch for his support of Jewish causes and Zionism by several famous dignitaries include Eliahu Elath, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Louis Lips, chairman of the American Zionist council and Dr. Nahum Goldmann, chairman of the American section of the Jewish Agency for Palestine. Following the service, Mr. Frisch’s body will be taken to Indianapolis for burial.
1950: Judge Morris Rothenberg, National Chairman of the United Palestine Appeal, issued a report today that funds raised by American Jews “had made possible” the establishment” of 3,000 small businesses for the rehabilitation and resettlement of invalid immigrants in Israel at a cost of five million dollars.”
1951: The International Table Tennis Federation banned Egypt for refusing to play Israel. You have to give some points to the ping pong players. They were one of the few international organizations that has not knuckled under to the Arabs and their supporters.
1951: Release date for “Royal Wedding” the Alan Jay Lerner musical comedy directed by Stanley Donen.
1951: Release date for “Lemon Drop Kid,” a comedy directed by Sidney Lanfield, featuring Sid Melton as “Little Louie” and Ben Welden as “Singing Solly.”
1952: Birthdate of former U.S. Senator George Allen. According to Jewish law, Allen is Jewish since his mother was Jewish. This information surfaced during Allen’s campaign for re-election in 2006. He did not find out that his mother was Jewish until sometime after he became an adult. His mother had lived in
during World War II and seen her father hauled off by the authorities. She did not want her children to know about
their Jewish heritage because she saw being Jewish as threat to their physical
well-being. If it could happen in Tunisia , she
reasoned, it could happen again, even in the Tunisia , United States
1955(14th of Adar, 5715): Purim
1959: George Lincoln Rockwell founded the American Nazi Party
1961: Birthdate of actress Camryn Manheim. She has appeared in such movies as “Bonfire of the Vanities” and television programs as “The Practice.” In 1999 she published her autobiography entitled Wake Up, I'm Fat!
1965: The Knesset passed the “Broadcasting Authority Law” which is the basis for the Israeli Broadcasting Authority’s operations. The Israeli Broadcasting Authority (IBA) was formed as an independent corporation responsible for all broadcasts in Israel and to the Diaspora. Until 1965, Kol
under the Office of the Prime Minister. Israel
1969: During “The War of Attrition” a massive artillery barrage marked the start of the Egyptian campaign to destroy the Bar Lev Line. The plan was under the direct supervision of General Abdul Munim Riad, the chief of Staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces.
1971: William Davidon, a Jewish physics professor at Haverford College led “a group of anti-war activists” who “broke into a small FBI satellite office in the town of Media,” Pennsylvania.
1971: Dorothy Fields was inducted into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame. She was the only woman in the first class of inductees. Two of her songs that are still played today are"I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby" and "On the Sunny Side of the Street." The song "The Way You Look Tonight" an Academy Award for "Best Song" in 1936
1977: First International Women’s Day as proclaimed by the United Nations.
1993(15th of Adar, 5753): Uri Magidish was stabbed to death by two Palestinians while working in a hothouse at Gan Or.
1998: The New York Times featured reviews of books by Jewish authors and/or special interest to Jewish readers including The Picasso Papers by Rosalind Krauss, Mahler by Jonathan Carr and Conversations With Joseph Brodsky: A Poet's Journey Through the Twentieth Century by Solomon Volkov.
2006: French born, American-Jewish businessman Roland Arnall begins serving as United States Ambassador to the Netherlands.
2006: Zubin Mehta, conductor of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, is honored as a Dan David Laureate the annual awards ceremony at the Opera Garnier in Paris. The Dan David Prize annually awards 3 prizes of US$ 1 million each for achievements having an outstanding scientific, technological, cultural or social impact on our world.
2007: Haaretz reports the 2006 war in
triggered a baby boom. According to health maintenance organization statistics show
that the number of women now in their fifth, sixth or seventh month of
pregnancy was 35 percent higher than the figure a year ago. Lebanon
2008: A scaled down London revival Jerry Herman’s and Harvey Fierstein’s “La Cage aux Folles” came to a close at the Menier Chocolate Factory
2008: Rosh Chodesh Adar II, 5768, First Day of Adar II
2008: Shabbat Shekalim, 5768
2008: (1 Adar II 5763) Yahrzeit for the passengers killed on Egged Bus #53 five years ago in Tel Aviv:
· Kmer Abu Khamed, 12, from Daliyat al Karmel
· Yuval Mendelevitch, 13, from Haifa
· Smadar Firstatter, 17, from Haifa
· Avigail Lietel, 14, from Haifa
· Asaf Tzur, 16, from Haifa
· Daniel Harush, 16 , from Safed
· Tom Hershko, 16, from Haifa, and his father-
· Motti Hershko, 41, from Haifa
· Tal Kehrmann, 17, from Haifa
· Elizabeth (Liz) Katzman, 17, from Haifa
· Meital Katav, 20, from Haifa
· Moran Shushan, 20, from Haifa
· Anatoly Biryakov, 20, from Haifa
· Be'eri Ovad, 21 , from Rosh Pina
· Eliyahu Laham, 22, from Haifa
· Miriam Atar, 27, from Haifa
· Mark Takash, 54, from Haifa
2009: In Chicago final performances of two plays by Lillian Hellman – “The Little Foxes” and “Scoundrel Time.”
2009: The New York Times featured reviews of books by Jewish authors and/or of special interest to Jewish readers including Pictures at an Exhibition by Sara Houghteling, The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell, The Believers by Zoe Heller and the recently published paperback edition of The Forger by Cioma Schönhaus.
2009: In its on-line edition The Washington Post featured reviews of books by Jewish authors and/or of special interest to Jewish readers including The Believers by Zoe Heller and Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors And a Young Spy Agency Chased Down The World's Most Notorious Nazi by Neal Bascomb.
2009: Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin said today at the weekly cabinet meeting that "Iran has crossed the technological threshold" in its quest for nuclear arms.
2009: In articled entitled “They Lived in our midst: Area was haven for Nazi-era figures,” published today, Ron Grossman reports on Nazis who moved to Chicago after World War II. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-chicago-nazis-08-mar08,0,758025,print.story
2009: Israel advanced to the Davis Cup quarterfinals for the first time since 1987 after rallying to beat seven-time champion Sweden 3-2 today in a close series overshadowed by political protests. Harel Levy beat Andreas Vinciguerra 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 8-6 to decide the World Group first-round series in a near-empty arena in Malmo.Only about 300 special invitees were allowed to watch the match because city officials said they couldn't guarantee security at the venue. Critics, including the Israeli team, said
caving in to threats of violence from anti-Israel groups. Malmo
2009: In an article “Even Among Venerable Texts, a Torah Like No Other,” published today Sophia Hollander describes the discovery of an 800 year-old Torah and the unique career of Yitzchok Reisman who is both a rabbi and a sofer.
The weathered brown parchment with its frayed edges and inked Hebrew letters seemed beautiful but unremarkable. Itzhak Winer, a 34-year-old Torah scribe turned Judaica seller, considered the item a nice find, but just one of the 30 or more Torahs he buys and sells in a year. From his Jerusalem dealer, he learned that the Torah had been owned by a family in Morocco and was in excellent condition. “He knew that it’s old, but he didn’t really know — and neither did I — how special it was,” said Mr. Winer, who works out of his home in Willowbrook, Staten Island. Curious about the item’s origins, Mr. Winer took it to a Lower East Side rabbi named Yitzchok Reisman, an expert in identifying antique Torahs, the scrolls containing the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures. Rabbi Reisman, born in 1938 in Flatbush, Brooklyn, found himself drawn as a teenager to the scribes who congregated on the Lower East Side. They shared their craft with him, passing down stories and lore of ancient scrolls. Rabbi Reisman also became attracted to the buying and selling of Torahs. “There were 400 congregations that were declining, closing up and selling off the Torahs and the assets,” he said. As Torahs from the Lower East Side migrated to the suburbs and across the continent, the sellers, he saw, “helped transfer the Torah scrolls on to the rest of America.” Today, Rabbi Reisman restores Torahs using handmade ink and carved turkey feathers at his workshop on Grand Street. Heaps of wooden rollers and antique furniture obscure treasures like the gleaming copper case of a 300-year-old Yemenite Torah and an elaborately woven Torah cover from Iraq. Rabbi Reisman quickly realized that Mr. Winer’s Torah was unique. The materials and calligraphic style identified it as Spanish, which meant that it was written before 1492, when the Jews were expelled from Spain. In addition, the strong swirls on the top of certain letters matched the style favored in Kabbalah, the Jewish mystical movement. “There are very, very few manuscripts and pieces of manuscripts that are older than the 1400s,” Rabbi Reisman said on a recent day in his ramshackle office as Mr. Winer looked on. And the kabbalistic flourishes, the rabbi added, make it “the only Spanish Torah known done in that way.”
These special markings are “like thorns that appear in certain letters that only show up in a small window of time,” Rabbi Reisman said. “No!” Mr. Winer interrupted. “A few hundred years.” “That’s a small window,” Rabbi Reisman retorted. As they bickered gently over nearly every detail, the two men also said that their research suggested that the Torah was created between 1272 and 1302, and that it could be connected to a famous Spanish scribe, Shem-Tob ben Abraham ibn Gaon. But they did seem to agree on who should get the Torah. “We’re hoping to get somebody or some community or some organization that wants to preserve the Spanish kabalistic tradition,” Mr. Winer said, “and it’s important to them to give it the
2010: CJH, LBI and YIVO are scheduled to present “Czernowitz in Jewish Memory” during which a panel of historians and writers, including Marianne Hirsch and Leo Spitzer, the authors of a new volume entitled Ghosts of Home: The Afterlife of Czernowitz in Jewish Memory, will discuss and debate the reconciliation of the two different memories Czernowtiz within the broader history of Jewish emancipation, assimilation and resistance in Eastern Europe.
2010(22nd of Adar, 5770: David Kimche, reputed Israeli spymaster and diplomat passed away. A native of London who made Aliyah in 1936 he fought in the War of Independence before attending the Sorbonne and Hebrew University.
2010: Ronald Florence is scheduled to discuss Emissary Of The Doomed: Bargaining For Lives In The Holocaust his new book on the fate of Hungary’s Jews during World War II at noon today in the James Madison Building of the Library of Congress.
2010: Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. began a five-day visit to the Middle East today, part of a concerted American effort to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and keep Israel focused on relying on sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program rather than on unilateral military action.
2010: George J. Mitchell, the administration’s Middle East envoy, announced today in Jerusalem that Israel and the Palestinians had agreed to start indirect negotiations and that he would be back next week to continue structuring those talks.
2010: The Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO) hosted a ceremony at the Tel Aviv Opera Housed at which it presented mock awards for what the nonprofit organization has termed the “most sexist advertisements” of the year.
2011: At the Crowden Music Center, in Berkley, CA, violinist Noah Bendix-Balgley is scheduled to perform the “rarely heard works from the St. Petersburg Society for Jewish Folk Music, a turn-of-the-century movement that brought Jewish folk music into European classical form” during the Jewish Music Festival.
2011: The Center for Jewish History is scheduled to host a panel discussion entitled “The Rebbe, Charismatic Leadership and the American Spiritual Landscape.”
2011: The New York Times featured reviews of books by Jewish authors and/or of special interest to Jewish readers including Moonwalking With Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer
2011: A recent blast of cold air from Scandinavia coupled with warm Mediterranean Sea influence created torrential rain and thunderstorms today. Snow fell in the Hermon and other areas in the north. The morning hours saw between 10-30 mm of rainfall in the country's center, and between 5-15 mm in the North, with the Israeli Meteorological Service reporting up to 32 mm in the Tel Aviv area.
2011: A film festival on women and religion is launching today at the Jerusalem Cinematheque.
2011: The Hurva Synagogue, which was officially rededicated a year ago, celebrated a milestone today. For the first time since its destruction by the Jordanian Arab Legion in May 1948, the Ashkenazi synagogue in the Old City of Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter hosted a wedding ceremony as an operational house of worship. Avraham Pashnov and Rachel-Orli Journo were married in the Hurva’s courtyard. During the ceremony, Pashnov said he and his wife are “only a tiny chain link that brings together the past and the future.”
2011: In an interview published today by the Wall Street Journal, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that Israel was considering asking the United States for an additional $20 billion in aid due to the increased volatility in the Middle East.
2012(14th of Adar, 5772): Purim
2012: Under the leadership of Rabbi Pinchas Ciment, Chabad Lubavitch of Arkansas is scheduled to sponsor the Royal Purim Feast With The Stars in Little Rock, AR.
2012: “Grace Paley: Collected Shorts” is scheduled to be shown at the Farthest North Jewish Film Festival in Fairbanks, Alaska.
2012: Professors Jerome Copulsky and Alison Peterman are scheduled to lead “Scripture and Spinoza,” a backstage discussion following tonight’s performance of “New Jerusalem: The Interrogation of Baruch De Spinoza.
2012: A Palestinian stabbed an IDF soldier in the village of Yata in the southern Hebron Hills today. The soldier returned fire, injuring the attacker and killing another Palestinian with him. The two Palestinians that were shot were both teenagers. The soldier was moderately wounded and evacuated to Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital in Jerusalem.
2012: Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon was appointed head of the Central Command in place of Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrahi. Alon, who in the past served as commander of the Judea and Samaria Division will officially take up his post on the first day of next week at a ceremony at Central Command headquarters in Jerusalem.
2012: As Israel struggles with how to keep Iran from going nuclear “Six world powers called on Iran today to let international inspectors visit a military site where the UN nuclear watchdog says development work relevant to nuclear weapons may have taken place.”
2013: Soloists and Ensembles of the Jerusalem Conservatory of Music and Dance are scheduled to perform at the Eden-Tamir Music Center.
2013: Eva Erben who as a young girl “ was forced by the Nazis to leave her home in Prague and join one of the transports to the Theresienstadt Ghetto” is scheduled to speak at the Wiener Library on “Escape Story: Surviving the Holocaust as a Young Girl.”
2013: The Maccabeats are scheduled to perform at Beth Jacob Congregation in Beverly Hills, CA.
2014: Nir Areli’s, “Inframan” in which he created a series of portraits using an infrared technique is scheduled to have its final showing at the Daniel Cooney Gallery.
2014: In London the Girls in Trouble duo (poet and multi-instrumentalist Alicia Jo Rabins, accompanied by bassist Aaron Hartman) are scheduled to perform songs from their two albums; Girls in Trouble and Half You Half Me.
2014: “Natan” and “When Jews Were Funny” are scheduled to be shown at the Washington Jewish Film Festival.
2014: “The Jewish Cardinal” is scheduled to be shown at the Northern Virginia Jewish Film Festival.
2014: “A Little String Music” featuring performances of Israeli and klezmer music by Ruth Navarre is scheduled to take place this evening at “LIMMUD” New Orleans.