Thursday, January 12, 2017

This Day, January 13, In Jewish History by Mitchell A. Levin



January 13

519 BCE: Darius had “a crown made for Zerubbabel out of gold sent by Jews in Babylon.”

915: Birthdate of Al-Hakam II, the second Caliph of Cordoba from 961 to 976 whose subjects included Hasdai ibn Shaprut and Enoch Ben Moses both of whom were leaders of the Jewish community in Andalusia. 

1151: Abbot Suger of Saint-Denis who in 1122 was granted five houses belonging to Jews in Tours by King Louis VI, passed away today.

1334: Birthdate of King Henry II of Castile who “was arguably the first ruler since the Visigothic King Ergica to utilise opposition to Jewish activities in Iberian Peninsula as part of his policy.”

1435: Pope Eugene IV, who would issue an edict prohibiting: building of synagogues, money-lending for interest, holding public office, testifying against Christians, issued “Sicut Dubum,” a bull banning the enslavement of inhabitants of the Canary Islands who had converted to Christianity.  Both measures had the same purpose – the growth of Christianity at all costs.

1505: Birthdate of Joachim II Hector the Elector of Brandenburg who allowed the Jews to return to his realm after he was told that the charges of host desecration that had led to their expulsion were false.

1546(10th of Shevat): The responsa of Rabbi Nissim ben Reuben Gerondi were printed for the first time in Rome

1625:  John Milton, author of “Paradise Lost” is admitted to Christ's College, Cambridge at the age of 16. During Milton’s lifetime, Jews were still officially not allowed to settle in the British Isles.  Like many Puritans living in the England of Oliver Cromwell, Milton saw a connection between his brand of Christianity and the Israelites.  Until his eyes weakened, he read the Hebrew Bible on a daily basis and expressed a positive view of Mosaic Law.  Milton was a politician as well as a poet.  He served as a secretary to Oliver Cromwell and, according to one of his biographers, was part of the group who negotiated for the return of the Jewish community to England.

1635: Birthdate of German Protestant theologian Philipp Jakob Spencer who differed with Lutherans on two major points one of which their belief that the conversion of the Jews was a required prelude to “the triumph of the church.”

1691: George Fox, the founder of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) who probably never met a Jew but who believed that “the Jews were descendants of the Pharisees and caused the death of Jews” passed away today.

1733: James Oglethorpe and 130 colonists arrive in Charleston, South Carolina on their way to found the colony of Georgia.  The first Jews would arrive in Georgia with the second boatload of colonists who will arrive in July of 1733.

1754(19th of Tevet, 5514): Jacob Ḥayyim de Fonseca, the Hamburg born son of Joseph de Fonseca, who earned a medical degree from Leyden University passed away today.

1773: In Mackinac, Marie Elizabeth Louise Dubois and Ezekiel Solomons gave birth to Sophie Solomons

1777: During the American Revolution, Lewis Bush, a Jew from Philadelphia, was transferred from the 6th Pennsylvania Battalion to Colonel Thomas Hartley’s Additional Continental Regiment.

1778:  Birthdate of Sir Isaac Goldsmid. A Sephardic Jew, Goldsmid was a prominent London banker who was a founder of the University of London.  He passed away in 1859.

1797: Birthdate of Emanuel Schwab the native of Roedelheim, Germany who married Sophie Hirsch in 1862 and served as a rabbi for congregations in Schenectady, New York and Bridgeport, CT.

1803: Birthdate of Dr. Nathan Marcus Adler, Chief Rabbi of the British Empire and one of the most prominent Jewish clerics of the 19th century.

1807 (4th of Shevat, 5567): Reb Moshe Leib of Sassov passed away. Born in 1745, Rav Moshe Leib was a disciple of Rabbi Shmelke of Nikolsburg, who was in turn a disciple of the Maggid of Mezeritch. As the many stories about his life demonstrate, Rav Moshe was committed to all three forms of love as enumerated by the Baal Shem Tov: love of God, love of Torah and love of Israel.

1810: Birthdate of Ernestine Louise Polowsky, the daughter of a wealthy Polish rabbi who gained fame as Ernestine Louise Rose, the American feminist and abolitionist.

1814: Birthdate of Michael H. Godefroi, the native of Amsterdam and Dutch minister of justice who was the first of his people “to fill a cabinet position in Holland.”

1818: Birthdate of Abraham Stein, the Prussian born rabbi who became the leader of the Meisel Synagogue at Prague when in 1864 “it was changed to a modern temple with choir, organ and sermon.”

1821: In London, an unnamed visitor came to the Exchange and reported to Mr. Rothschild that he was the intended victim of an assassination plot, one possibly being hatched in Austria.  Rothschild gave no credence to the threat and was prepared to let the man depart.  Others insisted that he be held.  He was taken into custody, questioned by authorities and then released.  The name of the informant has not been made public.

1825: Prior to his death Czar Alexander I expelled all the Jews from Mohilev and Vitebsk.

1830: When the Great Fire began in New Orleans today, the Jewish community numbered little more than thirty members but had already formed a congregation, Shaarai Chesed (Gates of Mercy), under the direction of Jacob Solis.

1847: Birthdate of Morris Rich, founder of Atlanta’s Rich’s Department Store.

1854(13th of Tevet, 5614): Judah Touro passed away.  A native of Newport, Rhode, Island born in the same year as Lexington & Concord, Touro spent most of his adult life in New Orleans where he was a successful businessman and real estate investor. Touro also took part in the city’s signature event serving as a volunteer with Andrew Jackson’s forces that defeated the British in 1815.  Touro was one of the great philanthropists of his time.  Beneficiaries of his generosity included Touro Infirmary in New Orleans, The Bunker Hill (MA) Monument Fund and a residential settlement and almshouse in Jerusalem.

1858: In Charleston, SC, Rabbi Henry Jacobs officiated at the marriage of Joseph Heilbrun of Baltimore to Lizzie L. Sommers.

1866: Former U.S. Senator and Confederate cabinet member Judah P. Benjamin, who had fled the United States after the Civil War “enrolled at Lincoln’s Inn and soon thereafter was admitted to read law

1873: It was reported today that the London Jewish Chronicle has published a story about the murder of a Russian Jewish family.  Two laborers ordered brandy from Jewish innkeeper and then refused to pay for their drinks. They became abusive and eventually were forced to leave the tavern. Later that night, he innkeeper, his wife, his children and his brother were awakened by cries of “fire.” When they ran outside they were attacked by a mob of eight people including the two laborers.  The mob ransacked the inn, set fire to the building and then threw the Jews in.  They all burned to death except for a 12 year old boy who escaped into the woods.

1873: It was reported today that President Grant has instructed all United States ministers to inform the governments to which they are accredited that the U.S. has taken a “deep interest” in the Jews of Romania and would expect these governments to do what they can to intervene on behalf of this persecuted minority. Benjamin Franklin Peixotto, the American-Jew who is the U.S. Consul at Bucharest expressed his pleasure with the American government’s intervention. [This would be another example of the bogus charge that President Grant was an anti-Semite.]

1876(16th of Tevet, 5636): Ḥayyim Löb ben Hirsch Katzenellenbogen who followed in his father’s footsteps as the head of the rabbinical school in Vilna which closed in 1873 leaving him destitute passed away today.

1877: Rustic Wedding Symphony, Op. 26 (Ländliche Hochzeit) a symphony in E flat major by Karl Goldmark was performed for the first time in the United States “at a New York Philharmonic Society concert.”

1877: It was reported today that Lord Beaconsfield who celebrated his 71st birthday on December 27 “is now utterly enfeebled and exhausted and reduced to a condition of intellectual decrepitude by the strains of office.”

1878: The Young Men’s Hebrew Association of Newark, NJ, held its first meeting this afternoon.  The 172 members elected the following officers: President – Frank Marx; Vice President – Leopold Harzfeld; Recording Secretary – Oscar Wiener; Financial Secretary – Edward Hirschler; Treasurer – Joseph Goetz.  The members voted to raise $2,000 by issuing 400 shares of stock at $5 a share.

1878: It was reported today that David Rosenberg of Columbus, Ohio whom it is assumed is a Jew “has issued a call for a national convention of all Israelites who are now willing to accept Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah of the world.” The Jews promptly repudiated the man and his scheme.

1878:  It was reported today that The Jewish Messenger sees the “present tendency to break down the barriers of synagognism” and replace it with a “brotherhood of synagogues” as one of the most promising features of the Jewish-American landscape.

1879: In Kiev, Herman Panken and Feiga Berman Panken, who after moving to New York in 1890 eventually became an organizer of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, a member of the Socialist Party and a municipal judge.

1879: It was reported today that Thomas D. Conygham, the forger who swindled the people of Wilkes-Barre, PA out of $250,000 before fleeing the country was in turn the victim of a swindle perpetrated by Lazarus, a Sephardic Jew who conned him out of $70,000 in Haiti.

1882: The second of two articles by Joseph Jacobs which provided “an account of the persecution of the Jews in Russia” appeared in The Times of London.

1882: In Paris, Adolphe and Noémie Bloch gave birth to Darius Paul Bloch dit Dassault.

1882:  The Young Men’s Hebrew Association, whose members included Israel Cohen, Jacob Rosenthal, Moses Scheinfeldt and Mark Wolf was founded today in Boston, MA.

1882: The Louisville Courier published an account of the final disposition “of the Confederate bullion” in which Captain M.H. Clark that “before reaching Washington, Georgia,” he “was halted by Major Raphael J. Moses,” the member of an old Southern Jewish family to whom he turned over all of the wagons filled with silver bullion as order by President Davis so that it might be used “to feed the paroled soldiers” to keep them from stripping the area of supplies.”

1883: De Witt J. (David) Seligman and Addie Seligman gave birth to Alma Seligman who became Alma Hochstadter when she married Walter Hoschstadter.

1884:  Birthdate of Sophie Tucker, “last of the Red Hot Momma.”  The daughter of Russian-Jewish immigrants, Tucker exploited her size and loud voice to fashion a successful career in vaudeville, burlesque and night clubs.  She used part of her fortune to endow a chair at Brandeis University.  She passed away in 1966.

1884: The Hebrew Technical Institute elected the following as its first slate of officers: President- James Hoffman; Vice President – Leo Schlesinger; Treasurer – David L. Einhorn; Secretary – M.A. Kursheedt.

1886: In a small village near Minsk, Brokhe Tsharni (née Hurwitz) and Zev Volf, “a fervent Lubavitcher” gave birth to Baruch Charney Vladeck who gained famed as Baruch Nachman Charney, an American Jewish Labor Leader and manager of the Jewish Daily Forward

1890: It was reported today that the Hebrew Technical Institute is currently 120 pupils who are supported by the efforts of 557 patrons and members.

1890: It was reported today that Harmony Club, a Jewish social club, suffered 3,000 in damages as a result of the cyclone that recently struck St. Louis, MO.

1891(4th of Shevat, 5651): Ninety year old Anton Ree the son of a Jewish banker who served as director at the Jewish Free School who was elected to the Hamburg Constituent Assembly where he worked as an advocate for Jewish Emancipation passed away today.

1891: A ship carrying five hundred Jewish men, women and children who were all from Russia, arrived at Dover, UK

1891: It was reported today that the Hebrew Benevolent Society and the Sanitarium for Hebrew Children were among the charities named to receive bequests in the will of the late Emma Abbot Wetherwall who was not Jewish.

1891: “Objects To Working Saturday” described the objections that Judge Joseph E. Newberger, an Orthodox Jew has raised to hearing matters on Saturday morning. While at least one of his colleagues has agreed to cover for him, Chief Justice Ehrlich responded by saying that Newberger should have considered this before running for election.”

1892: Second day of a three day celebration marking opening of the Jewish Maternity Association's facility in Philadelphia, PA

1892: Charles Spurgeon, a leading British Baptist minister was quoted today as expressing his displeasure with the Russian treatment of her Jewish citizens.  “If I had all the health and strength that could fall to the lot of man, I should be quite unable to express my feelings on reading of Russia’ intolerance of the Jews…The Czar is greatly injuring his own country by driving out God’s ancient people.  No country can trample upon Israel with impunity…

1892: It was reported today that the annual expenses for the Hebrew Sheltering Guardian Society for the fiscal year ending October 1, 1891 were in excess of $92,000,000.  The expenditures included part of the payment for the society’s new building. (More 2014)

1893: Birthdate of Chaim Sutin, the native of Belarus who gained fame as French painter Cahim Soutine. He owed part of his success to the support of Paul Guilluam, the French art dealer who championed the works of another Jewish artist, Amedeo Modigliani.

1893(25th of Tevet, 5653): Russian biographer Israel Tobiah Eisenstadt a descendant of Tobiah Bacharach and Israel ben Shalom, who were executed in 1659 on charges of “ritual murder” passed away today in St. Petersburg.

1893(25th of Tevet, 5653): Eighty-eight year old Alice Aarons, the daughter of Aron Aarons who died at the age of 78 in 1849, passed away today in the United Kingdom.

1894: Sixty-two year old Nadezhda von Meck, the widow of Karl von Meck, who joined with Dubrovnik native Samuel Polyakov, the Jew known as “the railroad king” to create Russia’s modern railway system, passed away today.

1894: Sixty-seven year old William Waddington who as French Foreign minister in 1879 supported Laurence Oliphant’s plan for “large scale Jewish settlement in Palestine” passed away today.

1894: Adolph L. Sanger lost in his bid to be elected President of the Board of Education in New York City.

1895: English author and historian Sir John Robert Seely, author of Ecce Homo and Natural Religion passed away. He believed that “the Hebrew Scriptures express in poetic for…the spirit of modern science”

1896: It was reported that a course in Hebrew will be offered by New York University as one of its summer school offerings starting this July.

1896(27th of Tevet, 5656): Sixty-seven year old businessman, philanthropist and “patron of the arts” Seilg Meier Goldschmidt passed away today in Frankfurt, Germany.  *When his children urged Selig Goldschmidt to retire from business, he replied "This is impossible for me.  There may well be enough to live on, both for you and myself, but I must certainly continue to work for my poor people, because for them I need a great deal of Maaser."

1896: “Dr. Cohen On ‘Judaism A Force’: published today includes Dr. Cohen’s message that “the wealthy Jewish merchants of Philadelphia…built large temples, patronized the arts and sciences and were charitable…but was there one among them who paid his employees liberally?  In Philadelphia, as in other cities he knew of clothing fortunes that had been built from the blood of the poor Russian Jews…”

1898: Emile Zola published "J'Accuse." This famous letter appeared in Clemenceau's paper L'Aurore.  Zola was a supporter of Alfred Dreyfus and the letter condemned the French establishment for wrongly convicting Dreyfus.  (The Clemenceau mentioned above is the same Clemenceau who led France to victory in World War I.)

1898: Auguste Scheurer-Kestner failed to convince his colleagues in the Senate to join with him in the battle for rehabilitation of Captain Dreyfus

1898(19th of Tevet, 5658): Eighty-one year old Talmudist and Biblical commentator Yehoshua Yehudah Leib Diskin also known as the Maharil Diskin, who established the Diskin Orphanage in Jerusalem and the Ohel Moshe (Tent of Moses) Yeishiva passed away today.

1899: Magistrate Sims is scheduled to hear a case in which Mrs. Esther Wallenstein, President of the Hebrew Infant Asylum, has brought charges of trespass against the builders working on the asylum’s building.  She is represented by Maurice Untermyer.

1899: It was reported today that Liebler & Company are committed to producing a dramatization of Israel Zangwill’s Children of the Ghetto which will be produced at the Herald Square Theatre starting in October.  The theatrical company has accepted the scenario he presented and the Jewish author is now working on a multi-act treatment.

1902: In Chicago, “wealthy shoe manufacturer Emmanual Rosenbaum” and his wife gave birth to bronze medal winning shot putter Maud Rosenbaum who married Baron Giacomo Giorgio Levi in 1927 and after getting a divorce married H. Walter Blumenthal in 1935.

1903: Herzl begins the preparations for the meetings with the Foreign Ministry and with Lord Rothschild.

1904(25th of Tevet, 5664): Leo Napoleon Levi, a lawyer and one of the first Jews from Texas to gain national recognition, died of a heart attack. He was born in 1856 in Victoria, TX.  “At age sixteen he enrolled at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where he received the medal for being the best university debater and at age twenty received his law degree. He married Ray Bachrach, and they had six children. He settled in Galveston and became associated with the law firm Flournoy and Scott in 1876; later he became a partner in Scott, Levi, and Smith. Levi was a well-known orator, and officials at the University of Texas invited him to give the commencement address in June 1899. The Independent Order of B'nai B'rith published this speech and others by Levi in a book in 1905. In 1887 Levi was elected president of Temple B'nai Israel, and the next year he brought Rabbi Henry Cohen to Texas. Levi retained the presidency for twelve years. In Galveston he joined the Independent Order of B'nai B'rith, a Jewish fraternal organization, and was elected president of District Seven, which comprised seven Southern states. In 1900 Levi was elected national president of the IOBB. That same year he moved to New York City to pursue his work with B'nai B'rith. As president of B'nai B'rith, Levi he sent a petition to Czar Nicholas II, after the massacre at Kishinev, that demanded Russians stop abusing Jews. Secretary of State John Hay signed the Kishinev petition, and President Theodore Roosevelt endorsed it.

 1904(N.S): Birthdate of Nathan Mironovich Milstein) a Russian-born American virtuoso violinist.

1907: A new building, which resulted from the remodeling of two townhouses opened today for the use of Congregation Orach Chaim.

1908: The Times of London published the obituary for Major General Sir Frederic John Goldsmid who passed away yesterday without mentioning the fact that his family was Jewish.

1912: Centenary celebration of the birth of Dr. Liebman Adler. Adler began his career in Germany as a public school teacher and cantor at a local synagogue. He moved to Detroit Michigan in 1854 where he served as rabbi and cantor at Congregation Bethel. Adler was the father of famed architect Dankmar Adler.  The younger Adler’s mother died in childbirth so the father named him “Dank” (thanks), Mar (bitter).  Liebman Adler moved to Chicago in 1861 when he was named rabbi of Kehilath Anshe Ma'ariv Synagogue.  Dankmar would build a new synagogue before his father passed away in 1891.

1915:  Winston Churchill presented plans for an assault on the Dardanelles.  This plan would come to be known as the ill-fated Gallipoli Campaign.  If the campaign had succeeded, Turkey would have been knocked out World War I.  Russia would have been re-supplied meaning no Russian Revolution.  The stalemate on the Western Front would have ended and World War I would have ended without the United States joining the fray.  But the campaign failed which ironically had a positive effect on one small aspect of Jewish history.  Gallipoli consumed a great deal of Allied manpower.  In desperation, the British were even willing to use an-all Jewish unit called the “Zion Mule Corps.”  The corps acquitted itself with valor and honor, making it possible for the British to create an all Jewish combat unit that saw service under Allenby in the fight against the Turks in Palestine.

1915: The London Chronicle “editorially” suggested today “that America may eventually be called upon to exercise a sort of suzerainty over Palestine.”

1915: Hyman G. Enelow, Louis Marshall, the Chairman of the American Jewish Relief Committee and Meyer London, “the only Socialist elected to Congress last November” are scheduled to address a mass meeting this evening a Temple Emanu-El where “they will tell the consequences of the war upon 7,000,000 Jews of Europe and Palestine.

1915: Louis Marshall, the Chairman of the American Jewish Relief Committee today “deplored what he termed the failure of  the Jews of America, particularly in New York, t realize the terrible calamity that has overtaken the millions of Jews whose home are in the eastern theatre of the European war.”

 1916: Birthdate of Bella Lewitzky, founder of the internationally acclaimed Bella Lewitzky Dance Company.  When she appeared before the House Un-American Activities Committee, Lewitzky declined to testify saying, “I am a dancer, not a singer.”

1916: The note that accompanied violinist Mischa Elman’s check in the amount of $5,869.94 for the Jews of Europe which was published today read “Enclosed please find check for the receipts from the benefit concert which I had the pleasure of giving for the Jewish war sufferers.  I cannot tell you what pleasure it gives me to able to donate this amount to this cause.”

1916: It was reported today that President Wilson’s proclamation concerning a day set aside for raising funds for the Jews of Europe included the announcement that “Contributions” for that purpose “may be addressed to the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C. which will take care of their proper distribution.”

1917: Birthdate of New York native Morris R. “Moe” Becker the All-American Duquesne University basketball star who played college ball from 1939 through 1941 before turning with pro staring with the Philadelphia Sphas and finishing with NBA teams including the Boston Celtics.

1917: An early step towards the founding of UFA, the German film production company whose original owners included Hermann Frenkel, was taken today with the creation of the Bild- und Filmamt (Bufa) by Germany's Supreme Army Command.

1917: The Directors of the Montefiore Home gave a private dinner this evening at Sherry’s in honor of banker Jacob H. Schiff who had just turned seventy during which Samuel Sachs presented the guest of honor “with a three-quarter length oil painting of himself” which “will hang in his home until his death, after which it wll be hung in the Montefiore Home of which he is the President.”

1917: “The midwinter dance of the junior workers of the New York Guild for the Jewish Blind” is scheduled to “be held at the Plaza Hotel” this evening.

1917: In Manhattan, The First Hungarian Congregation Ohab`Zedak offered a special thanksgiving prayer composed by Rabbis Bernhard Drachman and Philip Klein for the life and works of Jacob Schiff who had just turned seventy at a service “conducted by Cantor Joseph Rosenblatt and the full choir.”

1917: During services at Temple Israel in Harlem, Rabbi M.H. Harris “paid tribute to” Jacob Schiff.

1922: Today, Nahum Sokolow, President of the Executive Committee of the World Zionist organization, who is visiting the United States as the head of a European delegation of Zionist leaders, met with U.S. President Warren G. Harding.

1924: In Philadelphia, Sol and Rae Breslow gave birth to Lillian Breslow who gained fame as Lillian B. Rubin, a sociologist and psychotherapist who wrote a series of popular books about the crippling effects of gender and class norms on human potential.” (As reported by Paul Vitello)

1926:  Birthdate of author and feminist Carolyn Gold Heilbrun.

1927: Birthdate of British born biologist Sydney Brenner. He shared the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with H. Robert Horvitz and John Sulston.

1929: Wyatt Earp, Western legend, passed away. Earp was not Jewish.  But his wife was and she conspired to have him buried in a Jewish cemetery.  This gave rise to erroneous rumor that Earp had converted before his death.

1931: “Allie Schukman scored eight points” and Max Posnack scored another seven “as St. John’s beat L.I.U. for the fourth year in a row.” (As reported by Wechsler)

1935: Germany regains control of a valuable resource as the Saar rejoins the Reich following a plebiscite conducted by the League of Nations.

1936(18th of Tevet, 5696): Seventy-nine old educator Sir Meyer Spielman, the son of Adam Spielmann and the brother of Isador and Aarib  Spielmann, the president of the Keren Hayesod Committee and author of “The Romance of Child” who was knighted in 1928 passed away today.

1936: During today’s celebration of the first anniversary of the Saar Plebiscite that led to Nazi Germany taking control of this valuable territory, District Leader Joseph Buerckel responded to questions by foreign correspondents by insisting “that all Jews in the Saar still enjoyed double protection under the Rome agreement – namely a Jews and as status quo voters” but also announced that this protection would end on March 1 when the Jews would come under the Nuremberg laws…”

1936(18th of Tevet, 5696): Samuel Lionel "Roxy" Rothafel passed away. Born in 1882 at Stillwater, Minnesota “was a showman of the 1920s silent film era and the impresario for many of the great New York movie palaces that he managed such as the Strand, Rialto, Rivoli, Capitol, and his eponymous Roxy Theatre in New York City He also opened Radio City Music Hall in 1932, which featured the precision dance troupe, the "Roxyettes", later renamed the Rockettes.” Roxy also made a name for himself on radio, where he began broadcasting in mid-November 1922, and throughout the 1920s, his live broadcasts from the Capitol Theatre became increasingly popular. One estimate from 1924 placed his typical radio audience at about five million listeners, and he was said to receive thousands of pieces of fan mail weekly. (His weekly variety show, "Roxy and His Gang," was later heard on the NBC Blue network, by that time broadcasting from the Roxy Theatre. Rothafel has been credited with many movie presentation innovations, including synchronizing orchestral music to movies (in the silent film era) and having multiple projectors to effect seamless reel changes. The book The Best Remaining Seats by Ben Hall (1961), gives a good overview of the movie palaces of the 1920s and, specifically, of Roxy himself. Rothafel is buried in Linden Hill Jewish Cemetery in Queens, New York.”

1936: It was announced today that the annual donor luncheon of the Women’s League will be held at the Waldorf Astoria on January 15, 1936.  Proceeds from the event will be used to pay for the completion of a facility being built in Tel Aviv for female refugees fleeing Hitler’s Germany.

1936: The Ministry of Public Instruction announced the closing of the University of Vilna for the rest of the school term because of “continued anti-Semitic demonstrations by Polish Nationalist students” who began to riot after their demands that they be separated from the Jewish students were not met.

1937: Speaking on behalf of the Arab High Committee, Jerusalem lawyer Auni Bey Abdulhadi told the Peel Commission that “the Arabs will not compromise” and “they will negotiate only with the British government, not the Jews and they will never agree to cantonization.” (Editor’s Note – Cantonization was the pre-war term for Partition, which is the key to the “two state solution”.)

1937: Brooklyn Republican Assemblyman introduced “a bill to shift the date of the primary election this year from September 14, which “is the eve of the Jewish Day of Atonement” to September 16.

1937: “Joseph C. Hyman, executive director of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee announced” today “that late in 1936” the committee made “a $1,000 contribution for school and cultural work among the Falasha Jews of Ethiopia” which “has been acknowledge by Professor Taamarat Emanuel, the director of the Jewish School in Addis Ababa.

1937: “Crooked Cross” Sally Carson’s play about “a Bavarian girl’s love for a Jewish doctor in the early days of the Nazi revolution” opened tonight at the Westminster Theatre in London.

1938: The Palestine Post reported on the opening of the Rockefeller archeological museum in Jerusalem, founded by John Rockefeller and named in his honor. The museum's permanent exhibition revealed the history of mankind as recorded in local archeological finds. No festive opening ceremony took place, due to the tragic murder of archeologist John Starkey. 

1938: The Palestine Post reported that Jewish buses were shot at in Haifa and there were various shooting incidents in Jerusalem.

1938: An article in The Palestine Post quoted extensively from the London's Financial Times, which reviewed the hopeless position of over five million Jews in Central and Eastern Europe, denied the means of existence or possible emigration. The report concluded that "it seemed too much to hope in the present state of the world that a political and economic effort will be made to stop this tragedy."

1938(11th of Shevat, 5698): Albert Ottinger, the former New York State Attorney General who was the Republican candidate for governor defeated by FDR in 1928 passed away today at the age of 59. He used his governmental positions to fight corruption and prosecuted those responsible for perpetrating frauds in the financial services industry. He was responsible for the introduction of voting machines.  Ottinger was also active in Jewish communal affairs. [Many younger readers may be surprised to find out that the Republican Party in New York had a history of using government to protect the citizens from abuses by rapacious and/or crooked “capitalists.]

1941: James Joyce passed away. His most famous novel, Ulysses, featured a Jewish protagonist, Leopold Bloom.

1941: Governor Herbert H. Lehman appointed Philip M. Kleinfeld to the New York Supreme Court.

 1942: The deportation of 10,000 Jews from Lodz began at the rate of 700 a day. They are all sent to Chelmno to be gassed. Nine transports of about 90 people each were buried in Chelmno. Five of the nine men unloading the corpses were shot when the day was done.

1943: The German Foreign Minister, Ribbentrop, warned Italians that they would permit Jews to live in areas under German rule until March 31. After that time, "the Government won't be able to make any exceptions."   In other words, Italian Jews would now become candidates for the Final Solution.

1943: Fifteen hundred Jews are deported from Radom, Poland, to Treblinka.

1944: Two United States Treasury Department officials--Josiah DuBois and Randolph Paul--threaten to resign and make public the report on their investigation into the State Department's scandalous activities in regard to the Jews. The report is originally entitled "Report to the Secretary [of the Treasury] on the Acquiescence of This Government in the Murder of the Jews." The report indicts officials of the State Department for their "willful attempts to prevent action from being taken to rescue Jews from Hitler." "They have not only failed to use the governmental machinery at their disposal to rescue Jews from Hitler, but have even gone so far as to use this governmental machinery to prevent rescue of the Jews.

1944: “The Sosnowiec labor camp, which had been established on the site of the Srodula ghetto was liquidated today and its prisoners sent to Auschwitz.”

1948 (2nd of Shevat, 5708): Solomon Mikhoels was killed by the secret police under Stalin's orders, as part of a campaign to eradicate Jewish intellectualism and culture.  Born in 1890, Mikhoels was a leading Russian and Yiddish actor famed for his roles as Tevye and King Lear. During the war he had tried to win support for the Russian war effort by touring England and the United States.

1948: In attempt to secure the road to Mt. Scopus, site of Hadassah Hospital, the Haganah launched an attack on Sheikh Jarrah.  Having dislodged the Arab gunmen from the area, the Jews were forced to hand it over to the British who promised not to permit armed Arabs into the area.  Within forty eight hours, the British gave it back to the Arabs.

1949: Birthdate of television executive, Brandon Tartikoff.

1949: Boris Abramovich Shimelivoich the Russian poet and revolutionary who was part of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee was arrested during one of Stalin’s purges which would lead to his execution in 1952.

1950: Los Angeles premiere of “Samson and Deliah” with a script co-authored by Jesse Lasky, Jr. based on a work by Vladimir Jabotinsky starring Hedy Lamar as the Biblical temptress.

1953: An article published today in Pravda touched off a wave of virulent anti-Semitism throughout Russia.

1953: As the “Doctors Plot” campaign which Jewish medical professionals of planning to kill Stalin and other officials, as well as being “agents” of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), an international social welfare agency” began Pravda published “Dastardly Spies and Assassins in the Guise of Professors and Doctors.”

1953: The Jerusalem Post reported that the losses due to drought in the Negev topped $3 million. The heavy rain came too late, and not a drop fell in the Migdal-Ashkelon-Safieh region, where the loss was over IL 10m.

1954: In Johannesburg, Joy and Godfrey Rabinowitz gave birth to Trevor Rabinowitz, the South African native best known as a writer and guitarist for the band “Yes” who changed his name from Rabinowitz to Rabin and was raised in a Reform household. He grew up observing Shabbat and singing in his synagogue choir, and despite the name change, he has never really left Judaism. In 2004, he told the San Diego Jewish journal that it helps to be a Jew in the world of rock and roll, because so many other musicians are also MOT. Indeed, Rabin wasn't the only Jew affiliated with Yes--their manager, Brian Lane, was born Harvey Freed.

1958(21st of Tevet, 5718): Seventy-seven year old motion picture pioneer Jesse L. Laskey, the co-founder of Paramount Pictures, the father of three children including screenwriter Jesse L. Lasky Jr. and the brother-in-law of fellow movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn, passed away today.

1958: Shlomo-Yisrael Ben-Meir began serving Deputy Minister of Welfare.

1961: William Louis-Dreyfus and Julia Bowles gave birth to Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the actress who played Elaine on the television hit “Seinfeld.”

1962: After 400 performances, the curtain came down on the original Broadway production of Jule Styne’s musical “Do Re Mi” starring Phil Silvers and featuring Al Lewis.

1966” In Tel Aviv, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau and his wife gave birth to Rabbi David Baruch Lau.

1966: Abba Eban becomes the third Foreign Affairs Minister of Israel.

1967: Birthdate of Maria Alexandrovna Gessen the Russian born journalist who gained game as Masha Gessen.

1968: At the Martin Beck Theatre after 293 performances and 22 previews the curtain came down on the original Broadway production of “Hallelujah, Baby!, a musical with music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Adolph Green and Betty Comden, and a book by Arthur Laurents

1972: “The Cowboys” directed and produced by Mark Rydell with a screenplay co-authored by Irving Ravetch was released today in the United States by Warner Bros. (Editor’s Note:  Based on decades of experience, in my humble opinion, this is one of the best western movies ever made – a must see film.)

1974(19th of Tevet, 5734): Sholom Secunda passed away. Born in 1894 at Oleksandriia, he “was a Jewish composer, born in Ukraine and educated in the United States. He wrote the melody for the popular song "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen" in 1932. Together with Aaron Zeitlin he wrote the famous Yiddish song "Dos kelbl (The Calf)" (also known as "Donna Donna") which was covered by many musicians, including Donovan and Joan Baez. Along with Abraham Ellstein, Joseph Rumshinsky, and Alexander Olshanetsky, he was one of the "big four" composers of his era in New York City's Second Avenue Yiddish theatre scene

1974: A Gallup poll on religious worship showed that fewer Protestants and Roman Catholics were attending weekly services than ten years earlier, but that attendance at Jewish worship services had increased over the same period.

1978: The Jerusalem Post published an exclusive interview with President Anwar Sadat of Egypt, who agreed that Israel needed security, but could not keep Arab land. Sadat proposed mutual security measures for the West Bank and Sinai. He promised to build a "triple shrine" ­ a mosque, a synagogue and a church ­at the top of Jebel Musa, Mount Sinai, where according to tradition Moses received the Ten Commandments.

1978: Former Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey passed away in Waverly, Minnesota, at age 66.  As mayor of Minneapolis and Senator from Minnesota was champion of the underdog and fighter for civil rights.  These policies made him popular with Jewish voters.  During the 1950’s visitors to Humphrey’s office in the Senate Office Building were greeted by the sight of a prominently displayed JNF Tree Certificate.

1979(14th of Tevet, 5739): Parashat Vayechi

1974(14th of Tevet, 5739): One person died and five more were injured when Palestinian terrorists tried and failed to seize a hotel in Maalot.

1980: "King of Schnorrers" closes at the Playhouse Theater in New York City after 63 performances.  “King of Schnorrers” was a musical based on work of the same name by Israel Zangwill.

1981: In response to Attorney General Yitzhak Zamir’s request the Knesset voted to remove the “parliamentary immunity” of Aharon Abuhatzira “so that he could be charged with bribery.”

1981: Yigal Hurvitz, who had been serving as the Minister of Finance, left the cabinet.

1984(9th of Shevat, 5744): Seventy five year old Alfred Gilman, “founding chairman of the department of pharmacology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, in the Bronx” passed away today.

1989: “Gleaming the Cube” a murder mystery written by Michael Tolkin was released today in the United States.

1989: “Unsettled Land” an Israeli drama directed by Uri Barbash was released in the United States today.

1994(1st of Shevat, 5754): Rosh Chodesh Shevat

1994: Edward P. Djerejian, a Clinton appointee, presented his credentials as U.S. Ambassador to Israel.

1998: Daniel Charles Kurtzer presented his credentials as U.S. Ambassador to Egypt. (Yes an American Jew represented the United States in Cairo.  Jewish diplomats representing the United States in Moslem countries is nothing new. It dates back to the days of the Ottoman Empire.]

1999(25th of Tevet, 5759): Terrorists killed an Israeli soldier near Hebron

2002(29th of Tevet, 5762):  Canadian born comedian Frank Shuster, who gained fame as part of the comedy duo of Wayne and Shuster passed away.

2002: The New York Times featured reviews of books by Jewish author and/or of special interest to Jewish readers including Public Intellectuals: A Study of Decline by Richard A. Posner, Henry Ford and the Jews: The Mass Production of Hate by Neil Baldwin, two books of Al Hirschfield’s drawings -  Hirschfeld's New York and 'Hirschfeld's Hollywood and Be My Knife by David Grossman “an Israeli, widely known not just for his four previous novels but for two seminal books about the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and for his -- as the Israelis say -- dovish'' articles and editorials in major newspapers around the world. With the exception of his first novel, however, the horrific political life of Israel -- the real world of intifada and reprisal -- plays virtually no role in the universe of Grossman's fiction.”

2003(10th of Shevat, 5763): Fifty-eight year old Rabbi Steven Dworken, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Council of America, a professional body serving over 1,100 Orthodox rabbis, died suddenly at his home in Teaneck, N.J., of a heart attack

2006: Jeffrey Pollack was appointed Commissioner of the World Series of Poker.

2006: An exhibit of works by ceramicist Daisy Brand sponsored by the University of Minnesota Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and the Northern Clay Center opened today. Brand grew up in a middle-class family in eastern Czechoslovakia. At the age of 14, she was deported with her family to Auschwitz. She was later sent to a slave labor camp in Riga, and subsequently to five other camps. She was the only member of her family to survive the war. After liberation, Brand moved to Israel and then to the U.S. In 1963, she enrolled at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, where she majored in ceramics. She later studied at Boston University School for the Arts. Brand continues to maintain a studio in Boston. Brand's work is rooted in her Holocaust experiences, but does not feature traditional images of the war and genocide. Instead, she draws from her memories of the particular landscapes and architecture that surrounded her. ]

2007: Mathew Freud, the great-grandson of Sigmund Freud and Elisabeth Murdoch gave birth to their second child Samson Murdoch Freud.

2007: Senior archaeologists have come out in harsh criticism against the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) for authorizing plans for a bridge to connect the Dung Gate in Jerusalem's Old City to the Mugrabi Gate, located next to the Western Wall and leading to the Temple Mount. The archaeologists say that the bridge's pylons will damage one of the most significant archaeological parks in Israel and the world, located outside the southwestern corner of the Temple Mount. The IAA rejects the criticism outright and says "the construction of the bridge was conditioned on archaeological excavations that would expose the ancient remains completely, preserve them and present them to the public as part of the Archaeological Park." The rabbi of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinovich, who has promoted the plan, says that from his point of view, the Mugrabi Gate could be closed, but since the police insist on its continued use, and the plan was approved and alternatives carefully examined, the bridge is the lesser evil.

2008: The Sunday New York Times book section featured a review of Bleeding Kansas by Sara Paretsky who grew up in a small eastern Kansas town, where she and her brothers were the only Jewish kids in school and is best known as the creator of the fictional female detective V. I. Warshawski, Vienna Blood by Dr. Frank Tallis in which the author returns to his previous literary landscape - fin de siècle Vienna complete with Sigmund Freud and Austrian anti- Semitism and Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons by Jacob Heilbrunn. As can be seen from one typical review, the book emphasizes the Jewish nature of the Neo-Con movement. “The story of the neocons is a saga of immigrant assimilation, whose seeds lie in the Jewish intellectual circles of the 1930s, when communists loyal to Stalin clashed with Trotskyites over communist theory and its applications in the real world. In tracing the evolution of neo-conservatism (including a look at the influence of the mysterious Leo Strauss), Heilbrunn shows how generations of Jews moved from the margins of political and intellectual life to replace the old WASP elite and now play a central role in determining U.S. policy in the Middle East.”

2008: The Washington Post book section featured a review of Bleeding Kansas by Sara Paretsky and a biography about Mstislav Rostropovich the renowned Baku born Jewish musician entitled Rostropovich: The Musical Life of the Great Cellist, Teacher, and Legend by Elizabeth Wilson

2008: An exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, "Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer's Life, 1990-2005 " comes to a close in Washington, D.C.

2008: The UK's Mail on Sunday issued a free DVD of The Jazz Singer.

2008:”New Jerusalem: The Interrogation of Baruch De Spinoza at Talmud Torah Congregation: Amsterdam July 27, 1656,” a new play by David Ives about the clash between religion and modernity focuses on the interrogation of the philosopher Baruch de Spinoza opens at the Classic Stage Company in New York

2008: Leonard Cohen announced today that he would make his first concert tour in 15 years starting in May of 2008 at New Brunswick.

2008: “They Called Me Mayer July”, the first major exhibition of Mayer Kirshenblatt’s  work in the United States has its final showing at the Judah L. Magnes Museum in Berkley, California. The exhibition 65 paintings is a tribute to the 91 year old Mayer Kirshenblatt’s distinctive imagination and sharp recollection of his Polish Jewish home town before World War II, with images such as: the pregnant hunchback, who stood under the wedding canopy just hours before giving birth; the khayder teacher caught in bed with the drummer's wife; the corpse that was shaved; and the "black wedding" in the cemetery during a cholera epidemic.

2009: The 92nd St Y presents an evening with newly minted Nobel Laureate, economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.

2009: The Governor of New York nominated Jonathan Lippman to serve as the Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals.

2009:U.S. Senator Bill Nelson revealed during Hillary Clinton's confirmation hearing that he believes Robert Levinson is being held in a secret prison in Iran. "The door has been closed at every turn", Nelson said during Clinton's confirmation hearing. "We think he is being held by the government of Iran in a secret prison. (Levinson is the only Jew in this item)

2009: Hadassah began instituting a massive reduction in force today when it laid off 80 employees across the country, roughly a quarter of its national staff. The cuts are coming at all levels of the organization. Hadassah recently announced that it had in total $40 million invested in Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scam, as well as another $50 million the organization thought it had made in the scam. It was a significant hit to its endowment, which now stands at $412 million.

2010: Miriam Levinson, an expert on Jewish Cuban History is scheduled to present a lecture entitled “The Jews of Cuba: The Road to Paradise and the Land We Called Home” at the JCC of Northern Virginia

2010: The 19th annual New York Jewish Film Festival opens with a showing of “Saviors in the Night.”  “Based on the memoir of Marga Spiegel, this powerful World War II drama portrays how courageous German farmers in Westphalia risked their lives to hide a Jewish family. Passing as Aryan, Marga and her daughter develop a warm relationship with the Aschoff family, particularly young Anni, who is initially faithful to Nazism. Meanwhile Marga’s husband, sheltered by another farmer, runs the daily risk of discovery.”

2010: In “For Some, ‘Kosher; Equals Pure,” Kim Severson reported that “this year, for the first time, glatt kosher food will be sold at the Super Bowl.” She then explained why “kosher” has become so popular among the food-eating public.

2010: The 10th annual Atlanta Jewish Film Festival opens with a showing of “Berlin ’36.” 

2010: Israel’s deputy foreign minister issued a formal apology to the Turkish ambassador today after ostentatiously humiliating him earlier in the week and aggravating strains in a complex and increasingly troubled relationship between Israel and Turkey, its closest Muslim ally.

2010: According to a report made public today, the past three years have seen a huge jump in the number and variety of courses about Israel taught in America's top universities. The report, entitled "Searching for the Study of Israel," was prepared by the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University for the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation

2011: “Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness” is scheduled to have its world premier at the New York Jewish Film Festival.

2011: “The Klezmatics: On Holy Ground” is scheduled to have its New York premier at the New York Jewish Film Festival.

2011: Andrea Meislin Gallery is scheduled to host a reception in honor Naomi Leshem to mark the opening of Between Zones, an exhibition of the work of this acclaimed Israeli photographer.

2011: A group of national religious youth, known as “Ra'ananim” [waking up], plans to launch a campaign today against buying fruits, especially figs, from Turkey for the upcoming Tu B'Shvat holiday.

2011: In an unprecedented step, some twenty senior Israeli ambassadors sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today, asking him to intervene in the Foreign Ministry workers' strike "in order to save Israel's foreign service."

2012: “The Klezmatics: On Holy Ground” – a documentary about one of the premier klezmer music groups – is scheduled to be shown at The Boston Jewish Film Festival.

2012:  Avram Grant was named the new manager of Partizan Belgrade

2012: “The Last Jews of Libya” is scheduled to be shown at Temple Sinai in Springfield, MA

2012: Israel's Counter-Terrorism Bureau warned Israeli citizens today to stay away from Thailand's capital, following the arrest of a Hezbollah militant suspected of planning a terrorist attack in the city. 2013: Gary Gilson is scheduled to perform “You Don’t Have To Be Jewish…But It Couldn’t Hurt” at the Minneapolis Jewish Humor Festival

2013: Jonathan-Simon Sellem gave a speech at the National Convention of the CRIF on “from anti-Zionism to anti-Semitism.

2013: The New York Jewish Film Festival is scheduled to present “An Evening with the Safdie Brothers” featuring an in person appearance by directors Josh and Benny Safdei.

2013: The New York Times featured reviews of books by Jewish authors and/or of special interest to Jewish readers including Zoo Time by Howard Jacobson, The World Until Yesterday by Jared Diamond and She Matters: A Life in Friendships by Susanna Sonnenberg.

2013: The Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington is scheduled to co-sponsor the presentation of “Life in Stills” and “Hava Nagila” as part of the Washington Film Festival

2013: Israeli forces evacuated a Palestinian outpost built on a controversial strip of land in the West Bank early this morning, less than a day after the High Court stayed the demolition of the small tent village.

2013: Cabinet ministers voted in favor of approving an upgrade in status for the Jerusalem-based Shalem Center, making it a recognized institute of higher education, and allowing it to open a program that has been widely touted as Israel’s “first liberal arts college.”

2014: Following “a formal mourning ceremony” which is scheduled to be held at the Knesset and attended by national leaders, Ariel Sharon is scheduled to be laid to rest at Shikmim Farm in the Negev next to his second wife Lily. (As reported by Times of Israel)

2014: “The Man with the Golden Arm” and “Bethlehem” are scheduled to be shown at the New York Jewish Film Festival

2014: Professor Joel Dimsdale is scheduled to deliver a lecture “Anatomy of Malice: Rorschach Records of the Nuremberg War Criminals” at the Lawrence Family JCC.

2014: Just after the funeral services for Ariel Sharon were completed Palestinians fired rockets from Gaza into the area near Sycamore Ranch where the service had taken place. A third rocket blew up on its launcher. (As reported by Yaakov Lappin)

2014: Top Israeli tennis player Dudi Sela was eliminated from the Australian Open by Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen today.

2014: The Cedar Rapids Gazette “Homer” feature highlighting things that have gone right in the last week includes WE’RE WITH YOU: University of Iowa President Sally Mason is among academic leaders who oppose the boycott of Israeli academic institutions, of which the American Studies Association is part. Cheers to Mason. This is a misguided initiative that suppresses academic freedom and the exchange of information and ideas. - See more at: http://thegazette.com/2014/01/13/homers-whats-going-right-215/#sthash.nEmiRreq.dpuf

2015: Per the request of their families, “the victims of the terrorist attack at the Kosher supermarket in Paris -- Yoav Hattab, 22; Yohan Cohen, 22; Philippe Braham, 45; and François-Michel Saada, 55 --- were buried in Israel today.

2015: The Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education is scheduled to host a lunch to mark the upcoming opening of the exhibition “Anne Frank: A History for Today.”

2015: “Senators Dean Heller (R-NV) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) ushered in the new Congressional session by proposing legislation today to force the Obama administration to change longstanding US policy and move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”

2015: Stephanie Pollack was appointed Secretary of Transportation for the State of Massachusetts today.

2016: The American Sephardi Federation is scheduled to present a preview matinee of “The Merchant of Venice.”

2016: The New York Jewish Film Festival is scheduled to begin today.

2017: Should Jews take notice of the fact that today is Friday the 13th or should they ignore it because it is Friday, the 15th of Tevet?

2017: An episode of “The Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” entitled “Will Scarsdale Like Josh’s Shayna Punim?” in which “Rebecca Bunch (show creator and star Rachel Bloom) has to go to Westchester for a family Bar Mitzvah” which also includes the reappearance of Tovah Feldshuh as “Rebecca’s mother” is scheduled to be broadcast tonight.

2017:  In the United Kingdom, the Oxford University Jewish Society is scheduled to host a Friday Night Dinner featuring “Joanne’s chicken soup.”

 

 

 

 

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