February 1 In History
682: Visigoth King Erwig pressed for the "utter extirpation of the pest of the Jews," and made it illegal to practice any Jewish rites in an area that corresponds to much of modern day
. This put
further pressure on the Jews to convert or emigrate Spain
1605: Birthdate of Aboab de Fonseca, the Portuguese born Dutch Rabbi and Mystic. In 1642, when Brazil was under Dutch control the 600 Jews of Recife established a synagogue where they could worship in public. They recruited de Fonseca, who was living in Amsterdam, to come to Brazil and serve as their Hocham or spiritual leader. This means that Aboab de Fonseca was the first congregational rabbi in the New World. In 1654, when the Portuguese defeated the Dutch and seized Recife, he joined a group of Jews returning to the Netherlands and successfully said back to Amsterdam. Aboab was held in high esteem by his former Amsterdam congregants, that he was reappointed as hocham in the synagogue and made teacher in the city’s Talmud Torah, principal of its yeshiva and member of the city’s bet din, or rabbinic court. He died in 1693 at the age of 88, having served the Jewish community of
for 50 years
after his return from Amsterdam .
While Aboab spent his final years as a man of letters, engaged in teaching and spiritual
contemplation, “the adventuresome Isaac Aboab de Fonseca had been, from 1642 to
1654, America’s first rabbi, first Hebrew poet and a man who risked his life
for Jewish religious freedom.” (One can only wonder what would have happened if
Aboab had joined the group of Jews who left Recife in 1654 and ended up in New
Amsterdam. Would he have been the first
rabbi in New York/) Recife
1682(5442): Asser Levy, the "founding father" of North American Jewry passed away.. He was survived by his wife Miriam (aka Maria). Though Levy and the "Levy" family of
are thought of
as Sephardic with roots in New York
and even further roots in Holland ,
he might have been the son of Benjamin Levy, an Ashkenazi shochet from Spain . Recife, Brazil
1733: King Augustus II of Poland passed away. Born in 1670, Augustus II was the Elector of Saxony (Germany) before gaining Augustus gained the Polish throne. His rise to power was facilitated by his “court Jew” and financier Issachar Berend Lehmann. August II was a contemporary of the Besht who was making his public personna known at about the same time as the Polish King passed away.
1765(10th of Shevat, 5525): Rebecca Mendez Furtado, the first wife of Benjamin D’Israeli, the grandfather of his more famous namesake, passed away today.
1796: The capital of Upper Canada is moved from Newark to York. Jews did not settle in Canada until the British defeated the French in 1760, at which time the French ban on Jewish settlement in the area became null and void. By the time of this move, the Jews had already built their first synagogue, The Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue of Montreal also known as Shearith Israel which was established in 1768.
1798(15th of Shevat, 5558): Tu B’Shevat
1799: The French army under Napoleon left for Palestine to forestall a Turco-British invasion through the Palestinian land-bridge.
1810(27 Shevat 5570): Rabbi Mechel Scheuer passed away. He was born in Frankfurt am Main in 1739. His father was Rabbi David Tebele Scheuer and he led his father's Yeshiva in Mainz as its Rosh Yeshiva during the years 1776 and 1777. In 1778 he became rabbi of Worms and in 1782 was appointed rabbi of Manheim. At the time of his death, he was the rabbi of Coblence.
1827: Birthdate of Alphonse de Rothschild, French banker, philanthropist and member of the French branch of the fabled Rothschild family.
1836: Birthdate of Francis Lewis Cardozo, the Charleston, SC native who was the son of Lydia Weston, a free black woman and Isaac a Sephardic (Portuguese) Jews.
as the Auburn
University . Today East Alabama Male
College has 60 Jewish
students out of an undergraduate population of 19,000 students. Auburn
does not offer Jewish studies classes but does have a Hillel Chapter. Auburn
1860: Rabbi Morris Raphall becomes the first Jewish clergyman to opena session of the House of Representatives. Raphall’s son-in-law would serve in the Union Army and after he had committed some unspecified infraction,
pardoned him. Raphall’s letter
thanking Lincoln is still in existence today. Lincoln
1861: Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise published an article in The Israelite entitled “No Political Preaching” in which he explained why he had refrained from preaching a sermon on January 4, 1861. President James Buchanan had designated that date “ ‘as a day of feasting and prayer, that God might have mercy upon us and save this Union.’” [This was just about the only action that Buchanan took to preserve the Union!]
1862(1st of Adar I, 5622): Rosh Chodesh Adar I
1862: The will of Samuel Samuels was admitted to probate today. According to the terms of the will, Samuels left $100 to the Jewish congregation, "Bnai Jeshurun," on Greene-street, and $100 for the benefit of the Orphan Asylum under the charge of the Hebrew Benevolent Society.
1868(8th of Shevat, 5628): Isaac Leeser passed away. Born in 1806, he “was an American Jewish minister of religion, author, translator, editor, and publisher; pioneer of the Jewish pulpit in the United States, and founder of the Jewish press of America. He produced the first Jewish translation of the Bible into English to be published in the United States. He is considered one of the most important American Jewish personalities of the nineteenth century America.”
1878: George Cruikshank the British illustrator who created “Fagan” in his cell passed away.
1879: It was reported today that the Purim Association of New York will resume hosting a masked ball after a hiatus of 10 years. The ball is scheduled to be held on Purim night.
1880: In St. Louis, the Young Men's Hebrew Association was organized.
1883: Theodore Hoffman was arrested this evening and charged with the murder of Zife Marks, a Jewish peddler whose body had been on the road outside of Port Chester, NY. (Hoffman would eventually be found guilty and executed for the murder.)
1885(16th of Shevat, 5645): Peretz Smolenskin, the Russian born Jewish novelist whose works in Hebrew including A Wander (Ha-toeh be-darkhe ha-Hayyim, התועה בדרכי החיים) on the Path of Life passed away today.
1887: Birthdate of Harry Scherman, American economist, author and co-founder of the Book of the Month Club.
1897: As of this date, the officers of the United Hebrew Charities of the City of New York say they will no long be able to respond to all of the demands of the needy without additional funds. They received 250 applications a day, many of which come from people who have never applied before and they need at least $15,000 just to provide minimal aid.
1890: “Castle Garden’s Autocrat” published today described Commissioner Edmund Stephenson’s capricious and semi-dictatorial control over the lives of immigrants, including Jews escaping the Czar’s tyranny, to whom he showed distinct hostility.
1891: It was reported today that Mr. Rheinherz an agent of the United Hebrew Charities was among those who testified before the Congressional Committee investigating the operation of the Barge Office which was the main immigrant processing center in New York City.
1892: It was reported today that Moritz Cohn, Morris Hertz, Max Jacob, Ignatz Boskowitz, Henry Rice and Simon L. Duetsch had served as pall bearers at the funeral of Benjamin Russak.
1893(15th of Shevat, 5653): Tu B’Shevat
1895: It was reported today that the Federation of East Side Workers “consisting of the pastors, priests and rabbis of the churches and congregations in New York south of 14th Street and east of Broadax…expresses its grateful appreciation to the chairman and members of the Tenement House Committee…” (Compare the active , positive role played by Rabbis in the United States with the anti-Semitism found at the same time in Russia, Germany and France).
1897: “The Future of Palestine” published today provided the views of Professor Richard J.H. Gottheil’s views on the Jewish settlement in this part of the Ottoman Empire. Gottheil contended the Jews could again become “agriculturists” and that Palestine could “support a large agricultural and industrial population.”
1897: “Harm Done By Alarmists” published today includes the views of Rabbi Gustav Gottheil who expressed his sympathy for the working man, opposition to Socialism and defense of the expendiures of the wealthy as exemplified by the upcoming Bradley Martin-Ball
1897: It was reported today that Dr. Emil G. Hirsch said the work of the Jewish charities in Chicago has been complicated by the problems created by the influx of Jews flee the Czar who have taken “refuge in the larger cities of America.”
1897: It was reported today the delegates attending the Jewish Socialists Convention had voted to start a newspaper of their own after the managers of the Abendblatt, a Jewish socialist paper that had been founded in 1894, had made known their decision not relinquish control of the paper.
1899: It was reported today that Professor Richard J.H. Gottheil of Columbia University read a “paper by Albert Ulmann on the Jews in New York during the Dutch colonial period. Mr. Ulmann gave as the earliest date when Jews this city as 1652, when some Jewish farmers were sent over from Holland to serve a year’s time a soldiers…” He also “described the fight the Jews had to make against the religious bigotry of Stuyvesant.”
1899: “Dr. Gottheheil’s Successor” published today relied on information that first appeared in the New York Tribune to report that Dr. Gustav Gottheil is preparing to retire after serving as Rabbi at Temple Emanu-El for the past 25 years and that went to provide a brief history of the Reform movement in the United States.
1901: A Memorial Service for Queen Victoria was held at the Hurva synagogue in Jerusalem. Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Samuel Salant officiated at the service which was so well attended that local police were called to control the crowd.
1904: Birthdate of Sidney Joseph Perelman. Better known as S. J. Perelman, he was a humorist, author, and screenwriter. He is primarily known for his humorous short pieces written over many years for The New Yorker magazine. His most famous cinematic venture was writing the script for the Academy Award-winning screenplay Around the World in Eighty Days starring David Niven.
1905: Birthdate of Emilio Segre. The Italian born physicist worked on the Manhattan Project and won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1959.
1915: A dispatch from the London Daily News datelined Cairo, based, in part on reports from “Vladimir Jabotinsky, a well-known Moscow journalist” describes the deteriorating conditions faced by the Jews living under Ottoman rule in Eretz Israel. Mr. Jabotinksy “entertains the graves fears for the safety of the 15,000 colonists in Galilee, Judea and Samaria should the Turkish army in Syria” suffer a defeat since the Turkish government will blame it on the Jews. The government “is doing its utmost to stir up feelings against the Zionists. The Turks have declared Zionism to a be a revolutionary, anti-Turkish movement “which must be stamped out.” The Anglo-Palestine bank has been liquidated which will lead to ruin for many of the Jewish settlers. A large number of Jewish refugees have fled to Alexandria among them “1,000 young men who have have declared their eagerness to join the British army.” The report closes with expression of concern for the 5,000 Jews and 12,000 Christians living in Jerusalem who are trying to survive on American relief supplies described as “insufficient to maintain life.”
1918: Russia adopted the Gregorian Calendar. Russia’s comparatively late adoption of the calendar used by most of the western world makes precise dating of certain events all the more difficult.
1919: The First Congress of Muslim-Christian Assocations began its deliberations in Jersualem.
1923: Birthdate of Canadian businessman Benjamin Weider who “was the co-founder of the International Federation of BodyBuilding & Fitness (IFBB).”
1925: Today, Sophie Udin and six other women who had been active in the labor Zionist organization Poale Zion, created the Pioneer Women’s Organization of America The organization was renamed Pioneer Women in 1947 and Na'amat (a Hebrew acronym for "Movement of Working Women and Volunteers") USA in 1981.
1928: Birthdate of Representative Tom Lantos. This California Democrat took his seat in Congress in 1981. He is the only survivor of the Holocaust serving in Congress.
1930: Birthdate of
Pong or Table Tennis Champion, Marty Reisman.
1932: Birthdate of Batsheva Esther Eliashiv, the Jerusalem native who was the daughter of Rabbi Shalom Elisahiv and who became Rebbetzin Batsheva Esther Kanievskey when she married Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky.
1935: At the annual convention of the Palestine Jewish Farmers Federation, Moshe Smilansky, veteran farmer economist, poet, writer and journalist, shocked the assembled gathering when in his opening address as president he announced that in the present circumstances in Palestine Jewish farmers and colonists should employ Jewish labor only
1941: Prime Minister Churchill instructed his Foreign Minister, Anthony Eden, to send a warning to Romanian dictator Ion Antonescu telling him “that we will hold him and immediate circle personally responsible in life and limb” if the Iron Cross did not stop their murderous attacks on the Jews.
1943: Most of the 1,500 Jews remaining in Buczacz who had not been sent to Belzac were murdered. One survivor, Netka Goldberg, lost three sisters, two brothers and her mother. Her father would be killed seven months later.
1946: Norwegian statesman Trygve Lie was chosen to be the first secretary-general of the United Nations. Lie was head of the U.N. when
was created and was supportive
of creating the Jewish state. Israel
1947: Birthdate of American television journalist Jessica Savitch.
1948: The Arabs bombed the Palestine Post (a.k.a. Jerusalem Post) building in
1950(14th of Shevat, 5710): French sociologist. Marcel Mauss passed away.
1951: During the Presidency of Harry Truman, Monnett B. Davis was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Israel.
1952: SN (Samuel Nathaniel) Behrman's "Jane" premiered in New York City. Behrman
, was a popular and prolific dramatist
who tackled a number of topics in his works including what it was like to grow
up Jewish in a small town as the 19th gave way to the 20th
1955: Lord Rothschild wrote to Churchill “thanking him for the fact that in
in 1921 ‘you laid the foundation of the Jewish State by separating Abdullah’s
Kingdom from the rest of Jerusalem . Without this much-opposed prophetic foresight
there would not have been an Palestine
and Egypt announced
plans to merge into Syria United Arab Republic. This was one of those failed attempts at
pan-Arabism that was really a military alliance designed to destroy . The U.A.R. was neither united or a real
republic. The Syrians pulled out in
1961, but the name lingered on for many years after. Israel
1959(23rd of Shevat, 5719): Rabbi Jonah Bondi Wise passed away. He “was an American Rabbi and leader of the Reform Judaism movement, who served for over thirty years as rabbi of the Central Synagogue in Manhattan and was a founder of the United Jewish Appeal, serving as its chairman from its creation in 1939 until 1958.”
1968: Birthdate of comedic actor Pauly Shore best known for his role in “Encino Man.”
1969: Birthdate of jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman son of a legendary jazz musician and Jewish dancer from
1967: As part of their confrontation with the unionized bagel bakers, owners shut the doors to their bakeries claiming “that they did not have enough work.”
1970: The New York Times includes a review of Mr. Sammler’s Planet by Saul Bellow.
1976: "Rich Man, Poor Man" mini-series based on the work of Irwin Shaw, premieres on
1978: Director Roman Polanski skipped bail and fled to
after pleading guilty to charges of engaging in sex with a 13-year-old
girl. The father of the Polish born
director was Jewish. His mother died in
a concentration camp. Polanski avoided
being trapped in the ghetto and spent the war wandering the woods of France . Poland
1979: Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returns to
years in exile. This marked a major
turning point in the Islamic world as religious fundamentalists began coming to
power. There are those who would say
that there is a direct line between the success of Khomeini and the victory of
Hamas in the Palestinian elections in 2006. After 28 years, Iran boasts a
leader who denies the Holocaust happened and calls for the destruction of the
state of Iran . Israel
1984: Daniel Stern became NBA commissioner. Jews seem to gravitate to the position since at one point the commissioners of most major sports were Jewish: Commissioner of Major League Baseball: Bud Selig, Commissioner of the National Basketball Association: David Stern and Commissioner of the National Hockey League: Gary Bettman. According to one Urban Legend, there was a move to get Commissioner of the National Football League: Paul Tagliabue to convert to Judaism so that it would be four for four!
1985: Morton I. Abramowitz began serving as President Reagan’s Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research.
1985: In Leadville, CO, The Harvey/Martin Construction Company convey the Temple Israel property to William H. Copper whose family trust would convey it to the Temple Israel Foundation
1988: Two Palestinians were shot dead today near Anabta in a fracas on the Nablus road north of Jerusalem that involved demonstrators and settlers. Military authorities said settlers were trapped at roadblocks by stone throwers and drew their guns and opened fire. Soldiers also shot at the demonstrators. Another account said a convoy of 75 settlers returned when the trouble subsided and vandalized a score of Arab cars.
1989(26th of Shevat,5749): Eighty-nine year old Marie Syrkin, an author, editor and teacher who was active in the Zionist cause for many decades, died of cancer today at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, Calif. (As reported by Glenn Fowler)
1992(27th of Shevat, 5752): U.S. District Court Judge Irving R Kaufman, who presided at the Rosenberg Spy Case, passed away at the age of 81.
1993: Gary Bettman becomes the NHL's first commissioner
1998: The New York Times featured reviews of books by Jewish authors and/or of special interest to Jewish readers including On the Possibility of Jewish Mysticism in Our Time by Gershom Scholem and Selected Poems by Harvey Shapiro
2002(19th of Shevat, 5762): Daniel Pearl, a journalist for the Wall Street Journal was beheaded today.
2003(25th of Tevet, 5771): The Space Shuttle Columbia burned up on re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere killing the crew of six including Israel’s first man in space, Ilan Ramon. Ilan Ramon was born in 1954. He was a combat pilot in the Israeli Air Force. He was a graduate of Tel Aviv University and held the rank of Colonel at the time of his death. Ramon was a veteran of the Yom Kippur War, one of the first Israeli pilots to fly the then new F-16 jet and was part of the group that destroyed the Iraqi nueclar reactor before it could go on line.
2004: Jonathan Andrew Kaye won the FBR Open
2004: The New York Times featured reviews of books by Jewish authors and/or of special interest to Jewish readers including The Liberated Bride by A.B. Yehoshua; translated by Hillel Halkin and The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill by Ron Suskind.
2005: One of the highlights of the completion of the most recent Talmud cyle of study was the Siyum HaShas celebration at Madison Square Garden. At Madison Square Garden this evening, “a handful of the 25,000 people there taking part in the 11th Siyum HaShas Daf Yomi celebration recalled some of the more unusual settings in which they have demonstrated their commitment to the daily study of Talmud, which was completed — and renewed for a new seven-and-a-half-year cycle — this week. Daf Yomi, or daily page, was introduced in 1923 at the First International Congress of Agudath Israel in Vienna by a young Polish rabbi, Meir Shapiro, as a way to bring uniformity to the worldwide study of Shas, an acronym for the names of the six orders of the Mishna, on which the Talmudic sages recorded their commentaries around 200 C.E. Agudah said 120,000 North American Jews were taking part in the celebration this year.”
2006: Despite violent protests, Israel successfully completed the evacuation of the West Bank outpost of Amona. This is in line with the policy of the Sharon government provide security for the state of Israel and ensuring that Israel remains both a democratic nation and a Jewish homeland. The withdrawal policy has the support of the majority of Israelis.
2007: The Sarah Silverman Program premiered on Comedy Central
2007: The first exhibition of female architects in the history of Israeli architecture entitled "The feminine presence in Israeli architecture," opened at the gallery of the Union of Architects in Jaffa.
Twenty-two female architects participated and displayed works they have planned in the past few years and which have since been built.
2007: As part of a kosher cooking contest, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued a proclamation naming this date as Simply Manischewitz Cook-off Day. Candace McMenamin, a non-Jew from Lexington, S.C. won with her sweet potato encrusted chicken. Only in America
2008: Six gunmen opened fire on the Israeli Embassy in Mauritania early this morning, trading fire with guards before fleeing screaming "Allah Akbar," witnesses said. The six men arrived by car and regrouped in front of a discotheque that is just beside the embassy, said Hamza Ould Bilal, a taxi driver who was parked outside the club, called the
VIP. He saw
them pull out their automatic weapons and scream "God is Great!" in
Arabic, before assailing the embassy, he said.
2008: “Praying With Lior,” a new documentary about a
boy with Down syndrome preparing for his bar mitzvah opens at the Philadelphia
in Cinema Village . New York
CAMERA, Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in Yale University
presents “Palestinian Issues in Israeli Journalism: A conversation with Khalid
Abu Toameh, a journalist who writes for the Jerusalem
2009: The New York Times and the Washington Post each featured a review of Innocent Abroad: An Intimate Account of American Peace Diplomacy in the Middle East by Martin Indyk, the assistant secretary of state for near east affairs during the Clinton Administration and the first Jewish American to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Israel.
2010: The Center for Jewish History and the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation is scheduled to present “Diplomacy and Genocide: Challenges for the Future” .
2010: Two barrels of explosives were discovered on Israeli beaches today, which were dispatched into the sea as part of a large-scale Palestinian terror attack against Israeli navy ships.
2010: Seven American and European scientists were named winners of Israel's prestigious $100,000 Wolf Prize today. The Wolf Foundation said its prize in medicine went to Axel Ullrich of Germany for groundbreaking cancer research that has led to development of new drugs. Sir David Baulcombe of Cambridge University was awarded Wolf Prize for agriculture research in defending plants against viruses. The physics prize was shared by US professor John F. Clauser, Alain Aspect of France and Anton Zeilinger of Austria for their work in quantum physics. The mathematics prize was shared by two US-based professors: Shing-Tung Yau for geometric analysis, and Dennis Sullivan for contributions to algebraic topology and conformal dynamics.
2010(17th of Shevat): Ninety-two year old Selma G. Hirsh, a humanitarian and an author who was associated with the American Jewish Committee for many years, passed away today at her home in Stamford, Conn. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/25/nyregion/25hirsh.html?pagewanted=print
2011: Virginia Jewish Advocacy Day is scheduled to take placed in Richmond, VA.
2011: The Leo Baeck Institute and American Council on Germany are scheduled to present a lecture by Joschka Fischer and Norbert Frei entitled "The German Foreign Office and the Nazi Past"
2011: At Tulane University, Dean Carole Haber announced that Prof. Ronna Burger, Chair of the Department of Philosophy, has been appointed at the Catherine and Henry J. Gaisman Chair in Judeo-Christian Studies.
2011: Six Senate Democrats rejected a deficit-driven proposal by a new Republican senator to cut United States aid to Israel. In a letter sent today to the top House Republicans on the Appropriations and Budget committees, the Democrats said aid to Israel, the only democratic nation in the Middle East, is imperative. They backed the $3 billion in foreign military assistance that the U.S. provides annually to Israel. Republican Sen. Rand Paul said last week that the nation faces a fiscal crisis and argued that the U.S. cannot give money away, even to allies, as the debt grows.
2011: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak informed Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant today that they have cancelled his upcoming appointment to the post of Israel Defense Forces chief.
2011: A Tunisian Jewish leader said today that the burning of a building that served as a synagogue in the South of the country was not an attack on the local Jewish community. Roger Bismuth, the president of the Jewish community in Tunisia, told The Jerusalem Post that the fire that broke out at a makeshift Jewish place of worship in the town of Ghabes was probably not an act of anti-Semitism, but one of vandalism. “
2011(27th of Shevat, 5771): Seventeen year old Mitchell Perlmeter, the son of rabbi Rex Perlmeter and Rabbi Rachel Hertzman, passed away today in his home at Montclair, NJ.
2012: “Mamele” is scheduled to be shown at Congregation Etz Chaim in Toledo, Ohio.
2012: “Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg” is scheduled to be shown at temple Jeremiah in Northfield, Illinois.
2012: Liel Leibovitz is scheduled to moderate a presentation by New York Times columnist David Brooks at the 92nd Street Y.
2012: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told President Shimon Peres today he was worried about the possible military aspects of Iran's nuclear program, laid out in a recent IAEA report, and called on Iran to prove that the program is peaceful.
2012: Israelis are in danger of waking up one morning to a different Israel, Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni said at the Herzliya Conference today. Livni asserted that Israelis today are not debating the true issue - that the state's minority will impose its will on the Zionist majority.
2012(8th of Shevat, 5772): Eighty-six year old Robert B. Cohen, the president of the Hudson County News Company passed away today. (As reported by Denis Hevesi)
2013: Students and members of the Jewish community are scheduled to present poems by Jewish poets including works by Yehuda Acmichai following a Friday night Shabbat dinner at the Hillel at the University of Iowa.
2013: Tenth anniversary of the Columbia Shuttle disaster which claimed the lives of all on board including Israeli Astronaut Ilan Ramon. The event is the subject of a special documentary entitled "Space Shuttle Columbia: Mission of Hope" which is scheduled to be aired today on Iowa Public Television.
2013: “Not By Bread Alone” is scheduled to be performed at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts.
2013: On the secular calendar, 11th anniversary of the beheading of Daniel Pearl.