Saturday, February 18, 2017

This Day, February 19, In Jewish History by Mitchell A. Levin


February 19

197: Emperor Septimius Severus defeated the usurper Clodius Albinus in the Battle of Lugdunum, Severus was trying to use syncretism to maintain imperial unity and authority.  Since Jews, as well as Christian, resisted this concept, the Emperor outlawed conversion to either of these religions. 

356: Following in the footsteps of his father Constantine the Great Constantius II closed all pagan temples. During his reign, he would also issue a series of edicts designed to limit the economic and social activities of Jews. All of this was part of the drive to make Christianity the state religion which would then serve as a unifying force for the empire that was past its zenith.

607: Boniface III is named Pope.  His papacy only lasted for nine months but during that time he “ensured that the title of ‘Universal Bishop’ belonged exclusively to the Bishop of Rome” thus ensuring the primacy of the Pope as head of the Catholic Church. The impact of this decision would indirectly affect the Jews for centuries to come as they were forced to deal with Church sponsored persecution and/or to seek Papal protection from a variety of murderous enemies.

842: The Medieval Iconoclastic Controversy ended, when a Council in Constantinople formally reinstated the veneration of images (icons) in the churches. This debate over icons is often considered the last event which led to the Great Schism between the Eastern and Western Churches. This split continues to this day between the Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox.  As those studying in Cedar Rapids now know, many of the things done to the Jews by Christians were by-products of these various squabbles between various Christian sects.

1090: In Speyer, Germany, Emperor Henry IV renewed to Rabbi Judah ben Kalonymus, the poet David ben Meshullam, and Rabbi Moses ben Yekuthiel the pledges granted six years earlier by Bishop Ruediger. In addition the emperor guaranteed the Jews freedom of trade in his empire as well as his protection. Within six years Speyer became one of the first communities on the Rhine to be attacked. After the attacks Rabbi Moses took it upon himself to care for and protect the orphans created by this violence.

1229: During the Sixth Crusade: Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor signed “a ten-year truce with al-Kamil, regaining Jerusalem, Nazareth, and Bethlehem with neither military engagements nor support from the Pope Gregory IX.” The Sixth Crusade is remembered as one that did not result in the massive slaughter of Jews in Europe or Palestine. Gregory is remember as the Pope who created the dreaded institution known as the Inquisition. During his reign, Frederick “decided to combine the manufacturing of silk and the dying trades and to give them over to a number of Jewish families. For many years both of these industries were “almost the exclusive activities of Jews in Sicily, Naples, and other parts of Italy” which were part of the Holy Roman Empire.

1461: Birthdate of Cardinal Domenico Grimani who was a close enough friend of Rabbi Obadiah ben Jacob Sforno that he recommended him to those who were looking for a Hebrew teacher.

1539: The Jews of Tyrnau Hungary (then Trnava Czechoslovakia) who had “first been punished for alleged ritual murder” were expelled today.  In case you had not noticed, there seems to be an expulsion somewhere on almost every day of the year. 

1543: The Vatican established the House of Catechumens (Casa dei Catecumeni). The purpose of the house, supported by Jewish taxation was solely to convert Jews. Those sent there were subjected to 40 days of intense “instruction”. If after that time he still refused baptism he was allowed to return to his home – few did. Until it was abolished in 1810 around 2440 Jews were converted in Rome alone. Other houses were set up in various Italian cities. On this same day three Portuguese Marranos from Ferrara were burned in Rome's Campo dei Fiori.

1560: The third volume of the Zohar was printed for the first time in Mantua, Italy

1583(27th of Shevat): In Italy, Joseph Saralbo was burned at the stake at the command of Pope Gregory XIII. Saralbo was accused of returning to Judaism and of trying to convince other Marranos in Ferrara to join him. According to reports he proudly proclaimed that he had helped 800 Marranos return to Judaism.  He asked the Jews of Rome not to mourn for him stating “I am on my way to meet immortality.”

 1594: King Sigismund III ruler of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth is crowned King of Sweden. Under King Sigismund’s rule, conditions for Polish and Lithuanian Jews continued to deteriorate.  Such could not be said of his Swedish realm since there was no Jewish community in Sweden at this time.

1674:  England and the Netherlands sign the Peace of Westminster, ending the Third Anglo-Dutch War. A provision of the agreement transfers the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam to England, which renamed it New York.  If the war had turned out otherwise, comedians would have been talking about New Amsterdam Jews instead of New York Jews. Think of Seinfeld in Dutch.

1707(17th of Adar l, 5467): Jonah Abravanel, “a learned and highly respected” member of the Amsterdam Jewish community passed away. [Jonah Abravanel was a fairly a common name and this individual should not be confused with  the16th century poet who was the son of the physician Joseph Abravanel, and a nephew of Manasseh ben Israel]

1732: In Cambridge, UK, Johanna Bentley and Dr. Denison Cumberland gave birth to dramatist Richard Cumberland, author of “The Jew of Magadore” and “The Jew,” “the first playing the English theatre to portray a Jewish moneylender as the hero of a stage production.” In 2012, the play was published as “Sheva, the Benevolent.”

1740(22nd of Shevat): Rabbi Jacob ben Benjamin Papiers of Frankfort author of Shev Ya’akov passed away.

1758: Birthdate of Austrian educator Peter Beer.

1810(15th of Adar I, 5570): David Friedrichsfeld, the native of Berlin who went to Amsterdam in 1781 to fight for the emancipation of the Jews and whose written works included a biography of fellow Hebraist Naphtali Hirz Wessely, passed away today.

1815: Yitzchak Alter and Feigele Lipschitz gave birth to Abraham Mordka Alter.

1819: Under the influence of Rabbi Moses Münz, Rabbi Aron Chorin “recalled” Ḳin'at ha-Emet (Zeal for Truth), a paper written on April 7, 1818, and published in the collection Nogah ha-Ẓedeḳ (Light of Righteousness),” in which “he declared himself in favor of reforms, such as German prayers, the use of the organ, and other liturgical modifications. The principal prayers, the Shema', and the eighteen benedictions, however, should be said in Hebrew, he declared, as this language keeps alive the belief in the restoration of Israel. He also pleaded for opening the temple for daily service.” A year later he would publish Dabar be-'Itto (A Word in Its Time), in which he reaffirmed the views expressed in Ḳin'at ha-Emet, and pleaded strongly for the right of Reform.

1825: Birthdate of Abraham Pereira Mendes, the native of Kingston, Jamaica who was trained in London by Rabbi David Meldola and Rabbi D.A. de Sola and who led several Sephardic congregations in the United Kingdom and the United States.

1835: Birthdate of Austrian Rabbi Moritz Güdemann who passed away in 1918.  
 
1843: A committee of representatives, including eight from the Great Synagogue, met under the chairmanship of Isaac Cohen in the Vestry room in Duke's Place

1843: In Madrid, Salvatore Patti and Salvatore Patti gave birth to Adelina Patti, the 19th century opera start who was discovered by Jewish impresario Max Maretzek.

1848: Thirty-year old Emanuel Nunes Carvalho and Caroline A. Carvalho gave birth to Isaac Woolf Nunes Carvalho

1850: In Hamburg, Emma Simon and Louis Bernheim gave birth to German historian Ernst Bernheim who would lose his position when he fell afoul of the Nazi racial laws.

1854: In Charleston, SC, W.J. Jacobi, Esq., married Hester E. Hertz, “the eldest daughter of the late Jacob Hertz.”

1856: During the current session of the New York Legislature,today Mr. Brooks gave notice that he planned to introduce a bill "to increase the number of trustees of the Jews Hospital" in New York City.

1857: Moses Polydore Millaud, the French banker who owned La Presse “hosted a banquet for the Goncourt brothers, but later that year he was faced with financial difficulties and sold the newspaper to Felix Solar.”

1858: Birthdate of mechanical engineer Ernest D. Lowy, the native of London who married Henrietta Solomon, the daughter of Joseph Solomon in 1886 and whose activities in the Jewish community included serving as a Warden of the West London Synagogue and a member of the Jewish Board of Guardians.

1861: As part of his reforms, Czar Alexander II abolished serfdom. Although the Jews were not directly affected by the emancipation of the serfs, they benefited from other reforms initiated by Alexander II including putting an end to the drafting of Jews into the Russian Army and the opening of some educational institutions and occupations to the Jews of Russia.  This gave rise to the masklim movement in Russia.  Unfortunately, all of this came to an end when the Czar was assassinated in 1881 which led to Pogroms and reactionary regimes.

1863: An article published today entitled “The Doom of Memphis” described the desperate economic conditions in Memphis including the fact that many of the city’s prominent businessman have joined the retreating Rebel Army and their homes have been occupied by “military Generals or Hebrews, who have turned them into Sutlers' establishments.

1867: In New York City, Robert Weeks Nathan and Anne Augusta Florance gave birth Annie Nathan who married Dr. Alfred Meyer and gained fame as Annie Nathan Meyer, a founder of Bernard College and American author whose works included Women’s Work in America and Helen Brent, M.D.

1870: In Brooklyn, Congregation Beth Elohim which had been conducted services in “the traditional manner” adopted a moderate reform ritual in its worship.

1871: “Abraham’s Sacrifice” which was published today included a description of Rembrandt’s relationship with the local Jewish population including the fact that after the death of his wife, the Dutch painter “retired to an old house on the Rue des Juifs in Amsterdam.”

1875(14th of Adar I, 5635): Purim Katan

1876: Australian native Martha May Cohen and Louis Samuel Cohen gave birth Rex David Cohen

1881: Seventeen year old Marion Calisch, the Hebrew teacher at Professor Felix Adler’s Kindergarten at 45th and Broadway disappeared today.

1882: President Isaac Marx addressed the opening session of annual convention of the Grand Lodge of the order Kesher Shel Barzel, District Number 1. During his speech, Marx expressed remorse at the recent death of President Garfield and concern for the plight of the Jews of Russia.  Marks praised the work of the Hebrew Emigrant Aid Society in aiding the Russian Jews. He suggested that the Order should emulate the action of the Free Sons of Israel and make a generous contribution to HIAS.

1882: It was reported today that in the upcoming session of Parliament, the Opposition plans to pepper Prime Minister Gladstone with “taunts and jibes” over his denunciation of the Bulgarian atrocities while remaining silent about the Russian persecution of the Jews.  The difference they claim has nothing to do with the Jews and everything to do with the fact the Turks are weak and the Russians are strong.

1882: In London, the Lord Mayor’s relief fund to aid the Jews of Russia has reached £50,000.

1882: Reverend Jacob Freshman addressed a large gathering this afternoon at Cooper Union on the subject of “Hebrew and Christian Unity.”  Freshman, the son of a rabbi, had converted to Christianity.  The meeting was part of a movement “looking toward the converting and Christianizing of the Jews.”

1882: In St. Petersburg, Count Nikolay Pavlovich Ignatyev, the Russian Minster of the Interior told a Rabbi that the government would neither encourage nor oppose the emigration of the Jews.[This statement does not conform with reality.  The Russian government was committed to the one-third, one-third, one-third policy: One third of the Jews would convert; one-third would emigrate; one-third would die.]

1887: Rabbi Alexander Kohut of Ahawath Chesed is scheduled to host a reception for members of his congregation at his home in Beekman Place

1888: In Amsterdam, and Adriana Rosa Gustaaf Wertheim Enthoven gave birth to pianist Rosalie Marie Wertheim who gave “secret conferences in cellars” during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.

1892: Birthdate of Elinor Fatman Morgenthau, the wife of Secretary Treasury Henry Morgenthau and a friend and Hyde Park neighbor of Eleanor Roosevelt.

1894: “Huxley on the Bible” published today provides a detailed review of Science and Hebrew Traditions, a collection by Thomas H. Huxley. (Huxley was a 19th century scientist who was an enthusiastic advocate of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution)

1894: The United Hebrew Charities was one of the recipients of money given to New York charities by the Distribution Committee of the Citizens’ Relief Committee when it met today in the office of J. Pierpont Morgan.

1897: Birthdate of silent screen star Alma Rubens. The San Francisco native’s mother was Irish Catholic and her father was Jewish.

1897(17th of Adar I, 5657): In New York, Simon Goldenberg, the husband of Mary Goldenberg and member of Temple Beth El who left an estate of $200,000 in real property and $100,000 in personal property passed away today.

1897: Mrs. Rolla Hewitt who has said that “she had a mission” which was to “convert every Jew” at Woodbine disappeared from her home at Sea Isle City, NJ.

1898: “It is said that the taking of testimony” in the trial of Emile Zola “will be concluded tonight.”  There are only five or six more witnesses to be heard.

1898(27th of Shevat, 5658): Five year old Tina Fein passed away at the Hebrew Orphan Asylum.

1898: “Grant Allen’s Book on God” published today provides a review of The Evolution of the Idea of God: An Inquiry Into the Origins of Religion by Grant Allen in which the author say, “The only people who ever invented or evolved a pure monotheism at first hand were the Jews.  It is the peculiar glory of Israel to have evolved God.  The mistake Jews make, is to believe that Abraham…was always a monotheist…and that monotheism was smitten out at a single blow by the genius of…Moses at the moment of the Hebrew exodus from Egypt.”

1899: It was reported today that in the past year the Gemilath Chasodim Committee lent $68,110 to 3,917 needy families comprised 19,000 individuals.  The American Hebrew described the committees practicing of providing small loans as “The Help that Helps.”

1889: The resignation of Morris I. Schamberg, D.D.S., MD who had enlisted in Company D of the 1st Pennsylvania on June 14, 1898 and who rose to the rank of 1st Lieutenant and Acting Surgeon for his work at the Military Hospital at Ponce and the U.S. Military Hospital at San Juan, was accepted today.

1899: Rabbi Gustav Gottheil delivered a sermon entitled “Was Christ a Christian?” today at Temple Emanu-El.

1900: Birthdate of Morris Glassman, the native of Russia, who despite having never gone to college played two years for the Columbus Panhandles alternating between defensive lineman and offensive end.

1903: Birthdate of Louis Slobodkin, the sculptor and award winning illustrator of children’s books who was the father of “pioneering ecologist” Lawrence Slobodkin.

1909: Auguste Leon Luzatto Pasha, the director-general of the Banque d’Egypte, passed away.  Following his death, his heirs sold his home to the Curciel family – the Jewish family that owned Egypt’s largest department store chain.

1909: Birthdate of Enrico Donati the Italian economics student who became a leading surrealist painter.

1912(1st of Adar I, 5672): Rosh Chodesh Adar

1912(1st of Adar I, 5672): In Joplin, MO, 69 year old Albert Cahn who earned the rank of Captain while serving the Civil War passed away today.

1912: Birthdate of Saul Chaplin. Born Saul Kaplan in Brooklyn, Chaplin won four Oscars his work on the scores and orchestrations for An American in Paris (1951, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954) and West Side Story (1961).

1915: During World War I, The Battle of Gallipoli began as Allied forces attack the Turks. The Battle of Gallipoli took place on the Turkish Peninsula at the Dardanelles.  The idea was to break the stalemate on the Western Front and at the same time open the Dardanelles to Allied ships carrying supplies to the Russians.  If the attacks had been executed as planned, World War I might have ended in 1915 or 1916 which would have meant a lot less bloodshed, no Russian Revolution and no Versailles Treaty.  The Battle of Gallipoli saw the appearance of the Zion Mule Corps – the first all Jewish fighting unit to operate in World War I.  The Zion Mule Corps paved the way for the Jewish Legion in the British Army. The Zion Mule Corps was one of the progenitors of the modern I.D.F.

1915: It was reported today that there were more than 60, 000 pupils attending the schools operated by the Alliance Israelite Universelle in Palestine, Turkey, Algeria, Egypt and other parts of Asia Minor at an annual cost of $400,000.

1915: Among those listed today as contributors to the American Jewish Relief Committee for Sufferers from the War are the Jewish Federation of Ft. Wayne, Indiana, the Ladies’ Auxiliary Society of Harrisonburg, VA, Beth Israel Congregation of Clarksdale, MS and Temple Emanuel of San Francisco, CA.

1915: It was reported today that “Talaat Bey, Minister of Marine, Finance and Interior in the Turkish Cabinet and the leader of the Young Turks Party was a graduate of a school operated by the Alliance Israelite Universelle.

1916: William Phillips, the Third Assistant (US) Secretary of State wrote to Simon Wolf that in compliance with the wishes of President Wilson, the American government had requested permission from the British to ship Passover flour to those in territory occupied by the Germans and the Austrians, but the British had rejected the request saying that the Austrians and Germans had adequate supplies to meet the need.  (This was not anti-Semitism.  One of the few things the Allies had going for them at this point in WW I was the blockade of the Central Powers and they resisted any attempt to ship any kind of goods to the enemy.)

1916: A meeting held this afternoon at the Republican Club in New York, proponents of a constitutional amendment banning “the sale of intoxicating liquors” faced off against opponents of such a measure including Charles M. Bryan of Memphis who cited the Jews as an illustration of a “race which had indulged in the moderate use of liquors without its virility” saying “The Jewish people have been drinking liquor moderately since Pharaoh had them working on the pyramids” and “when you consider what the Jews have done I ask you if that is your idea of degeneration?”

1917: According to reports first published in Geneva, “the representatives of American Jewish societies who came to Germany to arrange an opening of communication between Polish Jews and relatives in America and for the sending of relief funds conferred with General von Ludendorff” who is called “the real boss” of Germany before the plans were finally approved.

1917: An interview was conducted today at Rotterdam with “a Pole who has just arrived from Warsaw” in which he said, “There is also a very strong propaganda in full swing against the Jews, and measure of an outrageously unlawful kind have been put in force against them” by their new German masters.

1917: According to reports from the Russkaya Volya now published by the London Mail, “the Minister of the Interior proposes to past into law by means of Paragraph 87 of the Constitution without parliamentary sanction a measure for the partial relief of Jewish disabilities” which “is intended to remove all restriction preventing Jews from entering freely into trade and commerce, contracting for building of railways and found new limited companies.”

1917: At Temple Emanu-El, Dr. Enelow is scheduled to deliver a talk on “The Jewish Element in the Teachings of Jesus” followed by the “Daily Noon Service.”

1918: In London, “celebration of the inauguration of the Palestine Workers’ Fund and the fiftieth anniversary of the birthday of David Jochelman, a proponent of the Territorialist point of view.

1918: Birthdate of Benjamin Miedzyrzecki, the Warsaw native who would survive the Warsaw Ghetto and after coming to the United States would change his name to Benjamin Meed. Meed would parlay eight dollars into a successful import-export business and become a leading advocate for Jewish Holocaust survivors before passing away at the age of 88 in 2006

1920(30th of Shevat, 5680): Rosh Chodesh Adar

1920: Jews in London celebrated “the inauguration of the Palestine Worker’s Fund

1921: Birthdate of Leonard Bernard “Butch” Levy the native of Minneapolis who played college and pro-football, wrestled professionally and was active in the Jewish community

1922: Birthdate of Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, a Roman Catholic who grew up in a Jewish neighborhood in Warsaw, battled both the Nazis and Communists, survived Auschwitz and was given honorary Israeli citizenship for his work to save Jews during World War II.” (As reported by Rick Lyman)

1922:  Ed Wynn became the first talent to sign as a radio entertainer.  Born in 1886, Wynn started out as a haberdasher.  He starred in the Ziegfield Follies in 1915 and 1916.  He translated his success in vaudeville to radio and later to both movies and television.  In this way, he was part of a long line of Jewish comedians who made the same trek including George Burns, Jack Benny and Eddie Cantor.  Wynn was the father of character actor Kennan Wynn.  He passed away in 1966.

1924: Birthdate of David Bronstein, Ukrainian born chess player

1925: In Germany, premiere of “Peter the Pirate,” a silent movie filmed by cinematographer Rudolph Mate and produced by Erich Pommer who although not Jewish fled Germany rather than live under the Nazis.

1927: Isadore “Izzy” Zarakov, a member of Zeta Beta Tau who lettered at Harvard in football, hockey and baseball “scored two goals” in a Harvard victory over arch-rival Yale in hockey. (As reported by Bob Wechsler)

1927(17th of Adar I, 5687): Georg (Morris Cohen) Brandes passed away at the age of 85.  Born in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1842, Brandes gained fame as a critic and literary historian.  Among those whose careers he affected were Henrik Ibsen and Friedrich Nietzsche.  Brandes was an outspoken  critic of Herzl, but he switched to a pro-Zionist position with the issuing of the Balfour Declaration

1928 In St. Mortiz, the II Olympic Winter games during which speedskater Irving Jaffee “finished four in the 5000 meter skate” which was the best showing by American in the event to date, came to an end today.

1930: Birthdate of movie director John Frankenheimer.

1931: Birthdate of Dr. Meir Rosenne, the native of Jassy, Romania who immigrated to Palestine in 1944 and becameone of Israel’s most distinguished jurists and scholars of international law.

1932: A subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee was scheduled to hold hearings today where those who opposed the nomination of Judge Cardoza to the Supreme Court, including O.R. Miller of Albany could testifty.

1932: “An immediate favorable report on the nomination of Judge Benjamin N. Cardozo as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States was approved unanimously today by a Senate Judiciary subcommittee.”

1935: Publication of “Brown Shirts in Zion” by Robert Gessner in The New Masses

1935: Clifford Odets' "Awake and Sing," premieres in New York City at the Belasco Theatre. The play explores the experiences of one Jewish family during the Great Depression. The original production starred Luther and Stella Adler. The play tells the story of the impoverished Berger family and their conflicts as the parents scheme to manipulate their children's relationships to their own ends, while their children strive for their own dreams.

1936: “When Knights Were Bold,” a musical comedy produced by Max Schach was released in the United Kingdom today.

1936: “Major General Sir Neill Malcom…the League of Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Come From Germany…said tonight that he hoped to work ‘in perfect cooperation’ with Sir Herbert Samuel and his associates in their new drive to help the Jews in Germany.”

1936: A manifesto adopted “at Toronto by leading representatives of all Christian denominations in Canada” denounced “the Nazi Government’s treatment of Jews, ‘non-Aryan’ Christians and ‘various Gentiles’” and “urging Canada to provide a haven for a ‘reasonable number’ of ‘selected’ refugees from Germany if the flow of exiles from that country does not cease.”

1936: Before sailing for England, Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, the son of the late President issued a statement declaring “that class hatred” had “caused the persecution of the Jews in Germany.”

1936: It was reported today “that in the future, refugee work would be conducted by an organization working under the plan recently proposed by a British delegation headed by Sir Herbert Samuel, whereby 100,000 Jews would be expatriated from Germany over for years at an estimated cost of fifteen million dollars…”

1937: During the Arab Uprising, violence comes to Tiberias a city known, until now, for peaceful relations between Arabs and Jews. After a week of an Arab boycott in Tiberias, Erev Shabbat, the Jews retaliated by boycotting Arab fish mongers.  Arab youths began pelting Jews walking in the town with oranges and then escalated to throwing stones.  As the Jews retreated to the town’s Jewish quarter, the clashes became more intense as Revisionists who were passing through town in two buses stopped to come to the aid of their co-religionists.  Arabs in the hills above Tiberias began firing shots into the town and at least one Jew was stabbed in the back while another had his head split open with a stone.  By the time the British intervened, thirty Jews and thirty Arabs were “slightly injured and two Jews were seriously hurt.”

1938(18th of Adar I, 5698): Sixty-one year old Edmund Georg Hermann Landau a German Jewish mathematician who worked in the fields of number theory and complex analysis passed away.  Born in 1877, he married Marianne Ehrlich, the daughter of Nobel Prize winner Paul Ehrlich.

1941: The Nazis raided Koco Amsterdam and seized 425 young Jews who were sent to Beuchenwald.  Koco was described as an isolated Jewish section in Amsterdam.  This roundup was part of a week of violence aimed against the 70,000 Jews of this Dutch city.  On February 9, Dutch Nazis sparked the first anti-Jewish riots in Amsterdam.  Although there was considerable damage and destruction, the Jews along with many of the Dutch countrymen fought back.  After the arrests on the 20th, tens of thousands of Dutch men and women went on strike in protest.  The stunned Nazi occupiers struck back brutally and crushed the strike.  However, this would not be the last time that the embattled people of Holland worked to protect their Jewish fellow countrymen.

1942(1st of Adar, 5702): In the Dvinsk Ghetto (Latvia), Chaya Mayerova was murdered for trading a bit of cloth with a non- Jew for a two-kilogram bag of flour. The entire Jewish population was gathered to witness the execution. There were over 11,000 Jews living in Divinsk when the war broke out.  By 1970 there were fewer than 2,000.  Divinsk should be remembered for more than this tragic entry.  It was the home to one of the sages of the 19th and early 20th century Rabbi Meir Simcha HaKohen.  Reb Meir was not just a Talmudist whose learning was so great that Chaim Nachmann Bialik called him “a walking encyclopedia.”  He was also a man of courage.  During World War I, Reb Meir refused to leave Divinsk even though it was in a combat zone.  If there were only nine Jews left in the town, he said he must remain so there would be a minyan.  Reb Meir supported Zionism but in 1906 he turned down an offer to be the Rabbi in Jerusalem.  The people of Divinsk convinced them that Divinsk needed him more than Jerusalem so he stayed with his kinsman.  It is important to remember the texture of the civilization that the Holocaust sought to destroy.  What was lost was so much more than a cold listing of numbers will ever convey.

1942: During WW II, the Japanese bombed the northern Australian city of Darwin making the threat of invasion of the island/continent very real

1943: As Major General Henning von Tresckow contemplated when and where to assassinate Hitler, the German dictator “flew to his ‘field headquarters’ near Vinnitsa today.

1943: German tanks under Brigadier General Buelowius attacked the U.S. Army at the Kasserine Pass in Tunisia.  This little known battle was the first contest between the German Army and the U.S. Army.  The Americans took a real beating and it took them months to recover.  There are those who think that World War II was a string of victories for the Americans.  Such was not the case.  The precarious nature of the war as well a streak of anti-Semitism helps to explain why Roosevelt did not “do more to help the Jews.”  This is not a defense of FDR; merely an attempt to provide historic context for his behavior.

1945: Edward "Eddie Jacobson" opened a menswear store in Kansas City, MO.

1945: Battle of Iwo Jima begins. There were approximately 1,500 Jewish Leathernecks among the 70,000 Marines who fought in this climactic battle of the war in the Pacific. On the 60th anniversary of the start of the battle Sam Bernstein, a 20-year-old (Jewish) Marine corporal at the time of the battle reminisced about the fight. “I thought it appropriate to spotlight some news and information about the Jews who fought and died in the five-week battle between 70,000 American Marines (1,500 of which were Jewish) and an unknown number of deeply entrenched Japanese defenders. “Bernstein chuckles when he remembers the Tootsie Rolls he put in his cartridge belt. I chose Tootsie Rolls because they wouldn't melt and they were just the size of a bullet. At the same time, I strapped on three or four bandoliers full of ammunition. Still, if the officers had known what I was doing, they probably would have shot me instead of the Japanese! He does not chuckle when he remembers the two men who were killed in his foxhole. Or the day he helped the Jewish chaplain bury some Marines.” The Jewish Chaplain was Rabbi Roland B. Gittelsohn, assigned to the Fifth Marine Division who was the first Jewish chaplain the Marine Corps ever appointed. Rabbi Gittelsohn was in the thick of the fray, ministering to Marines of all faiths in the combat zone.  His tireless efforts to comfort the wounded and encourage the fearful won him three service ribbons.  When the fighting was over, Rabbi Gittelsohn was asked to deliver the memorial sermon at a combined religious service dedicating the Marine Cemetery. Unfortunately, racial and religious prejudice led to problems with the ceremony. What happened next immortalized Rabbi Gittelsohn and his sermon forever. It was Division Chaplain Warren Cuthriell, a Protestant minister, who originally asked Rabbi Gittelsohn to deliver the memorial sermon.  Cuthriel wanted all the fallen Marines (black and white, Protestant, Catholic and Jewish) honored in a single, nondenominational ceremony.  However, according to Rabbi Gittelsohn's autobiography, the majority of Christian chaplains objected to having a rabbi preach over predominantly Christian graves The Catholic chaplains, in keeping with church doctrine opposed any form of joint religious service. To his credit, Cuthriell refused to alter his plans. Gittelsohn, on the other hand, wanted to save his friend Cuthriell further embarrassment and so decided it was best not to deliver his sermon.  Instead, three separate religious services were held.  At the Jewish service, to a congregation of 70 or so who attended, Rabbi Gittelsohn delivered the powerful eulogy he originally wrote for the combined service:

"Here lie men who loved America because their ancestors’ generations ago helped in her founding.  And other men who loved her with equal passion because they themselves or their own fathers escaped from oppression to her blessed shores.  Here lie officers and men, Negroes and Whites, rich men and poor, together.  Here are Protestants, Catholics, and Jews together.  Here no man  prefers another because of his faith or despises him because of his color.  Here there are no quotas of how many from each group are admitted or allowed.

"Among these men there is no discrimination. No prejudices. No hatred.  Theirs is the highest and purest democracy!  Whosoever of us lifts his hand in hate against a brother, or who thinks himself superior to those who happen to be in the minority, makes of this ceremony and the bloody sacrifice it commemorates, an empty, hollow mockery.  To this then, as our solemn sacred duty, do we the living now dedicate ourselves:  To the right of Protestants, Catholics, and Jews, of White men and Negroes alike, to enjoy the democracy for which all of them have here paid the price.
"We here solemnly swear this shall not be in vain.  Out of this and from the suffering and sorrow of those who mourn this, will come, we promise, the birth of a new freedom for the sons of men everywhere."

Among Gittelsohn's listeners were three Protestant chaplains so incensed by the prejudice voiced by their colleagues that they boycotted their own service to attend Gittelsohn's.  One of them borrowed the manuscript and, unknown to Gittelsohn, circulated several thousand copies to his regiment.  Some Marines enclosed the copies in letters to their families.  An avalanche of coverage resulted.  Time magazine published excerpts, which wire services spread even further.  The entire sermon was inserted into the Congressional Record, the Army released the eulogy for short-wave broadcast to American troops throughout the world and radio commentator Robert St. John read it on his program and on many succeeding Memorial Days. In 1995, in his last major public appearance before his death, Gittelsohn reread a portion of the eulogy at the 50th commemoration ceremony at the Iwo Jima statue in Washington, D.C.  In his autobiography, Gittelsohn reflected, I have often wondered whether anyone would ever have heard of my Iwo Jima sermon had it not been for the bigoted attempt to ban it.

1949: U.S. premiere “The Clay Pigeon,” a film noir “directed by Richard Fleischer and written by Carl Foreman.”

1953: The Jerusalem Post reported that Israel US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles invited Israel to join his new Middle Eastern Defense Organization. (Note: If this is the organization that would be known as CENTO, neither the United States nor Israel would ultimately join the organization.)

1953: The Jerusalem Post reported that Pravda, the official Communist party newspaper, charged that Israel was joining NATO and allowing the US to build military bases on its territory. (This was pure propaganda designed that was part of the shift in Stalin’s foreign policy.)

1953: The Jerusalem Post reported that The State Comptroller's Report for 1951-1952, prepared under the supervision of the Comptroller, Dr. Siegfried Moses, marked a definite improvement of the Israeli Civil Service.

1956: The Sephardic Jewish Brotherhood of America dedicated a community center in New York, with impressive ceremonies. Speakers included Judge Jonah J. Goldstein and the late Judge Edgar J. Nathan, Jr. The Brotherhood Memorial Post presented the colors (flags).

1957: Recording today of “Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella” with music by Sammy Fain and lyrics co-authored by Irving Kahal.

1959: The United Kingdom grants Cyprus its independence. Jewish settlement in Cyprus dates back to Biblical times.  In the first century, the Jews of Cyprus rebelled against the Romans.  In modern times, Cyprus was the site for the camps housing Jews who tried to run the British blockade and enter Eretz Israel before 1948.  For more about the Jews of Cyprus, you might want to read Place of Refuge: A  History of the Jews in Cyprus by Stavros Panteli.

1960: In Bloomington, the dedicatory weekend for new Moses Montefiore began today.

1963: Following his conviction for the 1962 murders of two New York City police detectives, Jerry “the Jew” Rosenberg began serving his sentence today. By the time he died in 2009, he would have set a record for length of incarceration in the state of New York.

1964: In Brooklyn, Richard Brown Lethem and Jewish political activist Judith Frank Lethem gave birth to best-selling author and MacArthur Fellowship recipient Jonathan Lethem.

1964: Paul Simon wrote "The Sounds of Silence," the song which, in a year and a half, will catapult him and Art Garfunkel to stardom as Simon & Garfunkel.

1965: Seventy-four year old Captain Koreshige Inuzuka who was the head of the Japanese Imperial Navy's Advisory Bureau on Jewish Affairs from March 1939 until April 1942 and who established the Japan-Israel Association of which he was the President, in 1952, passed away today. (He was rather complex when it came to the Jews.  But in one of those great ironies of history, he was given a silver cigarette case by the Union of Orthodox Rabbis in the United States for his help in rescuing Jewish refugees from the Hitler’s Europe)

1967: An article published in the American Journal of Cardiology described an electronic device capable of recording arterial pulsations and the mechanical events of the heart without actually making contact with the chest wall.  This device was the product of combined efforts led by Dr. Aaron Valero who brought together the clinical medical staff at Rambam Hospital and the engineers at the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology.  Dr. Valero organized and put together teams from the two institutions, which he headed up. This unique cooperation led to the first product of the soon to be established Biomedical Engineering Department of The Technion - Israel Institute of Technology. It was an electronic device capable of recording arterial pulsations and the mechanical events of the heart without actually making contact with the chest wall.

1969(1st of Adar, 5729): Rosh Chodesh Adar is observed for the first time during the Presidency of Richard Nixon.

1970(13th of Adar I, 5730): Seventy-three year old Otto Heller, the Prague born British cinematographer passed away today.

1970(13th of Adar I, 5730): Fifty-four year old multi-talented actor Jules Munshin passed away today.

1971: In Urbana, Illinois, astrophysicist Jacob Shaham and cytogeneticist Meira Diskin gave birth to violinist Gil Shaham who was the sister of pianist Orli Shaham.

1973(17th of Adar I, 5733): Hungarian born violin virtuoso Joseph Szigeti passed away at his home in Switzerland.

1973: “S'13, Unit 707, and Sayeret Tzanhanim commandos jointly raided guerrilla bases in Nahr al-Bared and Beddawi today in Operation Bardas 54–55 during which about 40 guerillas were killed and 60 wounded, and a Turkish military trainer was taken prisoner

1976(18th of Adar I, 5736): Seventy-four year old seamstress Ruth Rosenfeld Taffel, the widow of Frank Taffel passed away today.

1976: In Brussels, The Second World Conference of Jewish Communities on Jewry which was attended by over 1,000 delegates from over 32 countries including Prime Minister Golda Meir came to an end.

1977(14th of Adar I, 5559): Purim Katan

1978: The Jerusalem Post reported that, two Arab terrorists assassinated Youseff el-Sibaei, the editor of the semi-official Egyptian Al-Ahram newspaper at the Larnaca Hilton hotel, in Cyprus and took 11 Egyptian hostages to the local airport in an apparent reaction to Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's peace initiative.

1978: One Arab died and another was injured by a terrorist bombing at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.1978: The Jerusalem Post reported that US President Jimmy Carter defended his offer of jet fighters to "staunch, friendly Arab allies." In his comment, Defense Minister Ezer Weizman said that the worst effect of the aircraft sale proposed by the Carter administration was the fact that it put Israel together with Egypt and Saudi Arabia in a "package deal."

1980(2nd of Adar, 5740): Nathan Yellin-Mor the Lehi leader who became a pacifist passed away.

1985: The first episode of EastEnders, a British soap opera featuring “Clare Moody” was broadcast in the United Kingdom on BBC One

1986: Robert Badinter completed his service as French Minister of Justice began serving as President of the Constitutional Council of France.

1988(1st of Adar, 5748): Rosh Chodesh Adar

1988: A memorial service is scheduled to be held tonight at 8 P.M. at Beth Am, The People's Temple in Manhattan to honor Rabbi Israel Raphael Margolies, of blessed memory who passed away earlier this week at the age of 72.  Rabbi Margolies had served at Temple Emanu-el in Engelwood, N.J. at Beth Am, The People's Temple in Manhattan. He “frequently called for equality for minority group members and for women. He was a supporter of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and once marched alongside him in a civil rights parade in Englewood.”

1989: After 99 performances the curtain came down on the off-Broadway production of Wendy Wasserstein’s “The Heidi Chronicles” at Playwrights Horizons.

1990: The Soviet Union, under heavy pressure from Arab countries, has rejected an appeal from the Bush Administration to allow direct flights for Soviet Jews from Moscow to Israel, Administration officials said today. American and Israeli officials said that in the absence of such flights, thousands of Soviet Jews were in effect trapped in the Soviet Union at a time of rising anti-Semitism.

1994 (8th of Adar, 5754): Zipora Sasson, five months pregnant, was killed on the trans-Samaria highway in an ambush by shots fired at her car. The terrorists were members of HAMAS.

1994(8th of Adar, 5754: Fifty-seven educator and MK Yitzhak Yitzhaky passed away today.

1995(19th of Adar I, 5755): Israeli Rabbi Shlomo Averbach passed away at the age of 84.

1995: Poet Kenneth Koch wins Bollingen Prize.

1997(12th of Adar I, 5757): Leo Rosten passed away at the age of 88.  Born in 1908, Rosten was an amazingly prolific writer on a variety of topics.  While best known for his writings on Jewish topics - The Joys of Yiddish, Treasury of Jewish Quotations and Hooray Yiddish - he also wrote such works as Religions In America and Captain Newman, M.D.  (As reported by Margalit Fox)

1999: Actor Dennis Franz receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

1999: In New York, the Museum of Jewish Heritage features an exhibit entitled “A Living Memorial to the Holocaust” featuring artifacts, documents, photographs, videos and film clips are included in exhibitions on the Holocaust and on Jewish life before and after World War II.

2001(26th of Shevat, 5761): Eighty-seven year old director and producer Stanley Kramer passed away.(As reported by Rick Lyman)

2003: Iranian officials announced that they had released the five last remaining Jews imprisoned in the city of Shiraz. The men: Dani (Hamid) Tefillen; Asher Zadmehr; Naser Levy Hayim; Farhad Saleh and Ramin Farzam, where the last 5 out of 13 Jews on trial for spying for the "Zionist regime" and "world arrogance." Ten of the men were convicted and sentenced to prison. Since their sentencing in July 2001, five had already been quietly released.

2004: Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal was awarded an honorary knighthood in recognition of a "lifetime of service to humanity."

2005:  Fred Rodgers, who just celebrated his birthday on February 17, joined his sister Hilda for her 85th birthday.  Fred is a pillar of the Jewish community in Cedar Rapids.   He and his sister were two of those who were not lost in the European Holocaust, Baruch Ha'shem.

2006: The New York Times Book Section features a review of Barney Ross by Douglas Century. “

2007(1st of Adar, 5767): Rosh Chodesh Adar

2008: Veteran broadcast journalist Daniel Schorr discusses his new book, Come to Think of It: Notes on the Turn of the Millennium, at a luncheon event at the Woman's National Democratic Club in Washington, D.C.

2009: It was reported today that all ten members of Yisrael Chala's family had been flown from Yemen to Israel.  Two months earlier, two firebombs had been thrown into the courtyard of the family's home. 

2009: In New York City, the American Friends of Tel Aviv University and the Simon Wiesenthal Center co-host a lecture by Professor Dina Porat, head of the Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism at Tel Aviv University entitled "Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism: Which is the chicken and which is the egg?"

2009: Israeli Andy Ram will be allowed to compete in a Dubai tennis tournament next week after the Arab country said today that it would permit the seventh-ranked doubles player to enter the country.

2009: In Manhattan, the exhibition of the Valmadonna Trust Library at Sotheby’s comes to an end.  “A Lifetime’s Collection of Texts in Hebrew, at Sotheby’s”  explains the significance of this collection and provides a useful description of the importance that the printed word plays for Jews and Judaism.

2010: In Jerusalem, Beit Avi Chai presents "Kalabbat Shabbat" featuring Kobi Arieli.

2010: The opening of the opera "La Juive" (The Jewish Woman) at St. Petersburg's Mikhailovsky Theater was postponed from last night to tonight by a bomb threat that proved to be false, according to the ITAR-TASS news agency.

2010: Omri Caspi, the first Israeli to play in North America's National Basketball Association, will participate in a special Friday-evening service and Shabbat meal this evening with hundreds of members of the Los Angeles Jewish community, ahead of the Sacramento Kings' game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night.

2010: The Washington Post features a review of Making Toast: A Family Story by Roger Rosenblatt.

2011: The Matchmaker a coming-of-age drama directed by Avi Nesher that “tells the story of a relationship between an Israeli teen and a Holocaust survivor who makes ends meet by brokering marriages” is scheduled to be shown at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival.

2011: A documentary entitled Jewish Soldiers in Blue and Gray is scheduled to be shown at the 21st Annual San Diego Jewish Film Festival.

2011: President Shimon Peres called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas today to discuss the failed United Nations resolution condemning Israeli settlement building.

2011: The family of kidnapped Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit marked the 1,700th day of his captivity today along with hundreds of supporters in front of the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem.

2011: Canadian born professional tennis player Sharon Fichman was the runner-up in the Copa Colsanitas Tournament in Bogotá, Columbia.2011(15th of Adar I, 5771): Sanford C. Sigoloff, a Los Angeles-based turnaround expert nicknamed “Mr. Chapter 11,” who also did what he could for employees when they were fired, passed away today at the age of 80. (As reported by Mary Williams Walsh)http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/25/business/25sigoloff.html

2012(26th of Shevat, 5772): Ninety-year old “Ruth Barcan Marcus, a philosopher esteemed for her advances in logic, a traditionally male-dominated subset of a traditionally male-dominated field” passed away today.  (As reported by Margalit Fox)

2012: The New York Times featured reviews of books by Jewish authors and/or of special interest to Jewish readers including “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank” by Nathan Englander and ‘Liebestod: Opera Buffa With Leib Goldkorn’ by Leslie Epstein.

2012: LimmudLA is scheduled to come to an end at Costa Mesa.

2012: The IDF is planning to deploy an Iron Dome battery in the Tel Aviv Metropolitan Area for the first time as part of a drill simulating a missile attack, Ynet learned today. 

2012: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the 38th Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem today.

2012: Funeral services are scheduled to be held this morning for Dr. Ethel Stark, “the conductor of the first women's symphony orchestra of Montreal and the first woman to conduct at Carnegie Hall in New York” followed by burial at the Spanish & Portuguese Congregation Cemetery.

2013: Kobi Kablek is scheduled to present “Failure and Memory: How the Rescue of Jews During the Holocaust is Depicted in Post-War German Film” at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC

2013: YIVO is scheduled to present “It Was a Long Time Ago, and It Never Happened Anyway: Russia and the Communist Past” featuring author David Satter.

2013: In Iowa City, Iowa, the Bijou Theatre is scheduled to present “The Rabbi’s Cat,” a film that tells the tale of a talking cat owned by a rabbi.

2013: “Uproar Over Netanyahu’s Ice Cream Is Welcome in One Parlor” described how Prime Minister spent $2,700 on ice cream including his favorite, pistachio. (As reported by Isabel Kershner)

2014: “Putzel” is scheduled to be shown at the DPJCC's 14th Annual Jewish Film Festival

2014: The Center for Jewish History is scheduled to present “Light and Shadows: The Story of Iranian Jews.”

2014: Palestinian Arab teenagers hurled rocks at an Israeli car just outside the Samaria community of Eli this afternoon. While the victims of the attack are shaken, no one was hurt. (As reported by Tova Dvorin)

2014: The JCC of Northern Virginia is scheduled to host Bob Budoff’s “Analysis of Current Developments in Israel and the Middle East.”

2014: After much disagreement among the coalition, The Knesset's Special Committee for the Equal Sharing of the Burden Bill, headed by Knesset Member Ayelet Shaked, convened this evening to vote on the most dramatic article in the much-debated bill, which concerns the imprisonment of haredim who dodge military or civil service (criminal sanctions). (As reported by Moran Azulay)

2015: Marvin Pinkert, Executive Director, Jewish Museum of Maryland is scheduled to deliver a lecture on the “Civil War in Maryland Through a Jewish Lens” at the Lilian & Albert Small Jewish Museum in Washington, DC.

2015: Services are scheduled to be held at the Frank E. Campbell funeral home on Madison Avenue for “Singer-songwriter Lesley Gore, who topped the charts in 1963 at age 16 with her epic song of teenage angst, “It’s My Party,” and followed it up with the hits “Judy’s Turn to Cry,” and the feminist anthem “You Don’t Own Me.” (As reported by JTA and Times of Israel)

2015(30th of Shevat, 5775): Rosh Chodesh Adar

2016: Twenty-one year old Tuvia Yanai Weissman who was stabbed to death yesterday in a supermarket was buried today on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.  “A soldier in the Nachal infantry brigade, he is survived by his wife and 4-month-old daughter.”

2016(10th of Adar I, 5776): Eighty-three year old Tel Aviv born actor Yossi Graber passed away today in Tzrifin, Iisrael.
2017: An exhibition “WOMEN: New Portraits Annie Leibovitz” is scheduled to come to a close in Zurich.

2016: In Washington, DC, Temple Sinai is scheduled to host an evening of Jewish A Cappella with Six13.

2017: The New York Times featured reviews of books by Jewish authors and/or of special interest to Jewish readers including the recently released paperback edition of A Perfect Life by Eileen Pollack and The Year of Lear: Shakespeare In 1606 by James Shapiro as well as a list of “17 Great Books About American Presidents for President’s Day Weekend” that included Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow, Wilson by A. Scott Berg, No Ordinary Time. Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II by Doris Kearns Goodwin and Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson,” by Robert A. Caro.

2017: “The one and only black tie, Oxford JSoc Ball” is scheduled to take place this evening at the Oxford Town Hall.

2017: “Zero Motivation” is scheduled to be shown on the final night of San Diego Jewish Film Festival.

2017: Zerach Greenfield is scheduled to lead a hands-on workshop on “The Making of Tefillin” this morning at Limmud NY

2017: In New York, the curtain is scheduled to come down on the final performance of “Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill: A Musical Voyage.”

2017: In Atlanta, GA, the Breman Museum is scheduled to host an afternoon with Benjamin Hirsch who will describe Kristallnacht as seen through the eyes of a six year old and then recount the travels with four of his siblings on a Kindertransport to France that ultimately led to his arrival in Atlanta.

2017: Avner Avraham, Exhibition Curator and former Mossad agent; Orit Shaham Gover, Chief Curator of Beit Hatfutsot—The Museum of the Jewish People, Tel Aviv; Ariel Efron, Media Creative Director, Gallagher and Associates; Ellen Rudolph, Executive Director, Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage, Cleveland are scheduled to attend the opening of “Operation Finale” an exhibit at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center depicting the capture and trial of Adolf Eichman.

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