August 21 In History

1165: Birthdate of Philip II Augustus, the French king who first imprisoned his Jewish subjects; then extorted ransom from them before banning them from Paris and its environs.

1321: Jews in France were accused of encouraging lepers to poison Christian wells. This directly led to the graver accusations of the same kind during the Black Plague. This time, five thousand Jews were killed. At Chinon, 160 Jews were burned in a pit on an island outside of town. Eventually the King, Philip the Tall, admitted that the Jews were innocent. The island is still known as Ile de Juifs (
of the Jews).

1379: In Spain, Fernan Martin, King John’s executioner accompanied by Don Zulema Solmon and Don Zag Isaac, went to the home of Joseph Pinchon, Martin beheaded Pinchon per the order of the king.  Because of the scandal surrounding the event it led to the repeal of Jewish jurisdiction in criminal cases in Castile

1486: Volume II of a Mahzor, using the Roman Rite was printed for the first time at Casal Maggiore, Italy.

1684: In response to a letter from the Dutch commander of Essequibo and Pomeroon explaining that the trade in vanilla had come to an end because of the death of a Jew named Salomon de la Roche, representatives of the Dutch West India company wrote “As to the vanilla trade, which we recommend you carry on for the company, where you answer us saying this trade has come to an end through the death of a Jew, Salomon de la Roche...a meager and poor excuse.” This correspondence is one example of the important role that Jews played in the vanilla trade.

1770: Marcus Herz, the German Jewish physician and philosopher traveled Berlin to Königsberg so he could as respondent when Emmanuel Kant presented his inaugural dissertation at the University of Königsberg

1811: Birthdate of Joseph Derenbourg, or Joseph Naftali Derenburg, Franco-German author, historian and a prime mover in the rehabilitation of Jewish education in France

1820(11thof Elul, 5580): Haim Farhi who known as the Hakham Haim, a prominent Palestinian Jewish leader in the days of the Ottoman Empire passed away.


1829: Birthdate of Otto Moritz David Goldschmidt “a German composer, conductor and pianist, known for his piano concertos and other piano pieces” who “married the ‘Swedish Nightingale’, soprano Jenny Lind.” He passed away in 1907.

1835: Parliament passes the Sheriff’s Declaration Bill which allowed Jews to hold the ancient and important office of Sheriff. Passage of this bill was an intermediate step in Parliamentary efforts to pass the so-called Jew Bill.

1840: Persecution of the Jews of Damascus brought together Congregation B'nai Jesheran in New York City to declare: "Resolved, that we do most emphatically and solemnly deny, as well in our own name as in that of the whole Jewish people, that murder was ever committed by the Jews of Damascus, or those of any other part of the world for the purpose of using the blood or any part of a human being in the ceremonies of our religion."   U.S. President Van Buren instructed his officer at
to help the persecuted Jew of Damascus

1852:  Birthdate of British historian Arnold Toynbee.  Toynbee was baffled by the continued existence of the Jewish people whom he described as a fossil of history.  Not only was he baffled the Jews continued existence, he did not approve of it either.

1852(6th of Elul, 5612): Marchand Ennery passed away.  Born at Nancy in 1792 he studied Talmud under Baruch Guggenheim and at the rabbinical school of Herz Scheuer, in Mainz. He went to Paris, became teacher in the family of a wealthy coreligionist, and in 1819 was appointed director of the new Jewish school at Nancy. At this time he published his Hebrew-French lexicon, the first of its kind to appear in France. In 1829 he became chief rabbi of Paris; in 1846 chief rabbi of the Central Consistory; in 1850 chevalier of the Legion of Honor. He was succeeded as chief rabbi by Salomon Ulmann.

1852: "Bohemia: A Visit to Prague" published today included a description of the current conditions and history of the Jews living in this ancient central European City.

1860:The “Hebrew Son” is scheduled to be performed tonight at the New Bowery Theatre in New York City.

1861: According to a report placed on board the the steamer Saladin which is sailing from Kingston, Jamaica tonight for New York City, Commercial matters seem to become worse every day. Fresh failures are announced before people have time to recover the shock occasioned by previous ones. The greatest of all has been that of Mr. Lucas, a prince among the Jews, whose books, it is said, show a very unpleasant state of things for his creditors, and whose self is now non est inventus. There will, doubtless, be very great depression for a time in the trade of the country; but a conviction is felt that a crisis like the present was necessary to correct the fictitious and corrupt business that was for some time done here by a certain class of merchants, and that when the country has passed over the trials of the present ordeal, there will be a healthy state of things, and the prosperity indicated by our agriculture will be permanent and lasting.

1863: In describing his uneventful trip down the Mississippi River from St. Louis to New Orleans, the New York Times correspondent offers as proof the peaceful conditions that "This circumstance is shown by the crowds of civilians -- Jews and others -- who may be seen besieging the authorities at every point from Cairo to the Gulf, asking only the permission to bring in clothing, drugs, staples, to buy cotton, or, in short, do anything whereby they can realize quick sales and a thousand per cent profits. There are many long faces and much cursing, but all uselessly, for Gen. Grant will, so long as he can influence the matter, refuse to open trade at any point in his Department."

1864(19th of Av, 5624): Isaac J. Levy (CSA) was killed in the trenches at Petersburg, He was 21 years old. Isaac is buried in the Hebrew Cemetery on Shockoe Hill in Richmond, in the Levy family plot.

1864: An article published today entitled “Turkey: The Missionary Difficulty at Constantinople” recounts the failure of the European missionaries to convert the locals. Citing information supplied by the Times of Londoncorrespondent in the Turkish capital the article reports that the efforts of missionaries - both English and American -"The influence of these preachings among the Jews and Greeks, with the exception of isolated cases, some of which do not bear much examination as regards the conviction and good faith of the proselytes, has been comparatively a failure."

1865:As evidence of how the Jew’s Hospital is now serving the general population, a maid named Ellen Murray was rushed to the hospital for treatment after she was burned when trying to start a fire in a stove.  Unfortunately, “she suffered mortal injuries” and died at the hospital. The hospital, which would be re-named Mt. Sinai, came into general use during the Civil War when it was used to treat the Union soldiers wounded during McClellan’s ill-fated Peninsula Campaign in 1862.

1870: It was reported today that of the 31 chaplains serving with the Army of the Rhine, 3 of them are Jews.

1871: It was reported today that Rabbi Elkan Herzman has been fired from his position at an Orthodox synagogue in Chicago for eating ice cream on the Jewish fast day of Tish’a B’Av. According to the report first published in the Jewish Times, the issue was not so much one of violating the law about the fast as one of hypocrisy.

1873: The Grand lodge of the Kesher She Barzel reopened this morning at Pythagoras Hall under the leadership of Grand Saar Rosenthal.

1874: It was reported today that Sol Mortiz, a prominent Jewish merchant from Indianapolis, Indiana has denied all the charges that he had an improper relationship with the 18 year old daughter and wife of George C. Harding.  Harding and Mortiz were friends but this did not keep the enraged newspaper proprietor from shooting the merchant several times. Moritz said he will prove his innocence once he has recovered from his wounds.

1878: The London World published a commentary about the Earl of Beaconsfield’s (Benjamin Disraeli) religious beliefs and his plans for his burial.  According to a Jewish source, Beaconsfield will pull of the greatest surprise of his life by having himself buried beside his father at the “graveyard of the Jews at Mile-end.”  After all he had been baptized by trickery and “no Jew is ever sincere in renouncing” his religion. The correspondent for the World takes the opposite view and is sure that he will be “true to the religion of his knighthood” and will be content to be buried beside his wife instead of beside his father.

1878: In Washington, DC, Simon Wolf served as chairman of a meeting attended by Jews who had gathered to raise money for southerners suffering from the current Yellow Fever Epidemic.  The meeting was poorly attended because of a lack of notice so only $180 was raised.

1879: Justice Flammer sent  5 year old Liba and 2 year old Louis Wildever to a Jewish charitable institution after they were discovered along with their mother Sarah starving in a room on Franklin Street.  According to Mrs. Wildever, an immigrant from Russia, the children’s father (and her husband) and had deserted them.

1879: An assignment for the benefit of creditors by Nathan Mayer, to Isaac D. Einstein, with $16,110 preferences was filed in the County Clerk’s office today

1881: It was reported today that the Young Men’s Hebrew Union is planning to sponsor a concert in New York’s Washington Park.

1882: It was reported today that Florence Templeton, the daughter of the banker John Templeton is engaged to marry Jack Springfield the adopted son of an Anglo-Jewish financier.

1884(30thof Av, 5644): Rosh Chodesh Elul

1884: Alexander Labotsky, a Polish Jew was arrested today after his wife Frieda had charged him with abandonment.

1884: It was reported today that Annie Lifcawitz, a young girl living in an apartment above the store owned by Solomon Ellinsohn was the first one to discover the fire that local ruffians had started.  Ellinsohn had complained to the police about these young ruffians terrifying people living on the Lower East Side, but the authorities had taken no action.

1885: Dr. Cyrus Edson, Chief of the Second Sanitary division made another raid on the Jewish owned truck stores on the Lower East Side.  Edson and his staff seized “a half ton of bad fish and some unwholesome meat” along with seven boxes of fruits and vegetables.

1887(1stof Elul, 5647): Rosh Chodesh Elul

1887(1stof Elul, 5647): In London, Israel Lipski was hanged at Newgate Prison after having been convicted of murdering Miriam Agel.

1888: Congressman Ford’s Immigration Committee completed its hearings in New York and made plans to move on to Boston.  The thrust of the hearings is that immigrants, especially Jews from Russia and other parts of eastern Europe, are responsible for depressing wages for American workers.

1888: Funeral services will be held at one o’clock this afternoon for Marks Laski, a prominent Jewish merchant who had passed away unexpectedly with internment in Cypress Hill Cemetery. The 52 year old Laski arrived in New York from Poland in 1850 and entered into the wholesale dry goods business where he enjoyed enough success to become a prominent philanthropist.

1889(24th of Av, 5649): A man thought to be Adolph Cohn a resident of the Hebrew Home for the Aged in New York City appeared to have jumped overboard as the Hoboken ferryboat Hopatcong was pulling into the slip at Christopher Street.  The identification is based on papers and memos that the man placed on the cabin floor just before jumping.

1889: The 9th free excursion sponsored by the Sanitarium for Hebrew Children is scheduled to leave this morning at 9 o’clock.

1890(5th of Elul, 5650): Albert (Aaron) Siegfried Bettelheim, Hungarian born American Rabbi died at sea while returning to the United States from a visit to Europe.  Born in 1830, he led a rather colorful life before coming to the United States in 1867 where he had pulpits in Philadelphia, Richmond, San Francisco and finally in Baltimore, MD.  While in Richmond, he studied medicine but accepted a position in San Francisco rather pursue a medical career.  According to one source he was buried at sea under the supervision of two Catholic priests that Bettelheim had met on the voyage.  The clerics reportedly recited the Kaddish as the body was consigned to the depths. (As reported by Isidore Singer, et al)

1903: Herzl reports the Uganda offer and the Russian journey to the Greater Actions Committee.

1905(20th of Av, 5665): French-German Assyriologist Julius Oppert passed away. Born in 1825 at Hamburg, he studied at Heidelberg, Bonn and Berlin, before graduating at Kiel in 1847. In 1848, Oppert went to France, where he was teacher of German at Laval and at Reims. In his spare time he continued his Oriental studies which he had begun while living in German. In 1851, he joined the French archaeological mission to Mesopotamia and Media under Fulgence Fresnel. On his return in 1854, he was naturalized as a French citizen in recognition of his services. He occupied himself with analyzing the results of the expedition, with special attention to the cuneiform inscriptions he had collected. During 1855, he published Écriture Anarienne, advancing the theory that the language spoken originally in Assyria was Turanian (related to Turkish and Mongolian), rather than Aryan or Semitic in origin, and that its speakers had invented the cuneiform writing system. Although the classification of the "Casdo-Scythian" inscriptions as Turanian would later be rejected by scholars, research would confirm Oppert in his identification of the distinctness of the Sumerian language (as he renamed it in 1869) and the origin of its script.During 1856 he published Chronologie des Assyriens et des Babyloniens. During 1857, he was appointed professor of Sanskrit and comparative philology in the school of languages connected with the National Library of France, and in this capacity he produced his Grammaire Sanscrite (1859). But his attention was chiefly given to Assyrian and cognate subjects. His account of the Fresnel mission and the results of his consequent study were published as Expédition Scientifique en Mésopotamie (1859-1863), with the second volume entitled Déchiffrement des inscriptions cunéiformes. During 1865 he published a history of Assyria and Chaldaea (Histoire des Empires de Chaldée et d'Assyrie) in the context of new archaeological findings. His Assyrian grammar, Éléments de la grammaire assyrienne, was published in 1868. During 1869 Oppert was appointed professor of Assyrian philology and archaeology at the College de France. During 1876, Oppert began to focus on the antiquities of ancient Media and its language, writing Le Peuple et la langue des Médes (1879). During 1881, he was admitted to the Academy of Inscriptions and in 1890, he was elected to its presidency.

1906:  Birthdate of Fritz Frelang.  Born in

Kansas City

, Frelang was one of the great cartoon animators.  He worked for Warner Brothers for over thirty years.  His work includes the Merry Melody series, The Pink Panther, Tweety Bird and Yosemite Sam.  He passed away in 1996.

1911: Following the outbreak of anti-Semitic riots in

New South Wales

, the British Home Secretary assured local Jewish leaders that no precautions would be overlooked by the civil and military authorities to prevent a recurrence of such outbreaks.

1915: Birthdate of Sir Joshua Abraham Hassan, the first mayor and chief minister of Gibraltar.

1918: The Second Battle of the Somme, the offensive that would lead to the end of WW I began today.  Among those participating was the Australian Jewish General, Sir John Monash.

1921:Birthdate of Reuven Feuerstein the Romanian born Israeli clinical, developmental, cognitive psychologist who is renowned for his theory of intelligence which states “it is not ‘fixed’, but rather modifiable”.

1921: Birthdate of Ruth Charlotte Barcan Marcus, “a philosopher esteemed for her advances in logic, a traditionally male-dominated subset of a traditionally male-dominated field…” (As reported by Margalit Fox)

1921: A Sephardic organization which was to include all Sephardic Jews from around the world was founded in


. It planned to defend Jewish interests everywhere.

1922: An appeal signed by Samuel Gompers, President, and eight Vice Presidents of the American Federation of Labor was issued today to organized labor, urging the fullest moral and financial support of the railroad shopmen now on strike.

1925:“Tumultuous scenes occurred at the Zionist Congress when Vladimir Jabotinsky, founder of the Jewish Legion, which fought together with the British Army in Palestine during the war, took the floor. When the majority gave Jabotinsky permission to continue his speech after his time limit had expired, the Labor groups renewed their protest.”

1926: Birthdate of Ben-Zion Orgad, the German born Israeli composer.

1933:Dr. Nahum Sokolow, president of the World Zionist Organization, asserted in opening the eighteenth world Zionist congress in


tonight that as a result of the persecutions in


the Jewish question must be brought before the international forum and fugitives must find a refuge in



1935: Speaking in Lucerne, Switzerland, David Ben-Gurion, Palestine labor leader, accused the British Government today of having committed "robbery" by artificially cutting the immigration quota of Jews seeking to enter Palestine.

1935: The “swing era” of the Big Band Sound starts when Jewish Jazz clarinet player performs at the Palomar Theatre in

Los Angeles


1936: Tel Aviv Mayor Meier Dizengoff charged the British government with “playing a ‘diabolical game’ in handling its mandate over Palestine.  He told the British High Commissioner for Palestine that evidence showed the (British) administration was blocking the Jewish National Home.”  He was especially critical of the government’s behavior during the latest wave of Arab violence which has “introduced demoralization, anarchy and lawlessness into the country…”

1936(3rd of Elul, 5696): Arab gunmen attacked a car filled with five Jews traveling towards Tel Aviv.  Seventeen year old Shoshana Laznicki was wound in the attack and three other Jews were killed by the Arabs.

1937: The General Zionist Council Executive meeting in


composed of both Zionist and non-Zionist members authorized the Jewish Agency's Executive to seek the establishment of a Jewish state and to try to arrange a Jewish-Arab conference to discuss the matter.

1937: The Hon. Cyril Asquith, in a letter to The Times of London wrote that the pledges given to Jews by the British government explicitly promised to establish a Jewish state in the whole of


. He explained that after the separation of
, the offer made to Jews under the Royal (Peel) Commission Report granted them less than 10 percent of the country's territory.



banned Jews from teaching in public and high-schools.

1939: When the World Zionist Congress reconvened its plenary session this morning Joshua Suprasky, leader of Group B of the General Zionists, one of the minority parties, announced that his party had decided to abstain from further participation

1940: Junior Hadassah, the Young Women's Zionist Organization of America will award gold keys to forty-one members at the seventeenth annual convention which begins this evening in Chicago

1940(17th of Av, 5700): Leon Trotsky dies as a result of wounds suffered on August 20that the hands of an assassin working for Stalin. Born Lev Davidovich Bronstein in 1879, Trotsky was the son of a Jewish farmer from Odessa (Russia). Believing there was no future for the Jewish people as a people, he became a contemporary of Lenin's, helping him with his publication of Iskra (Spark). He was exiled and arrested many times before the revolution. Trotsky played an important role in the Communist government and only after Lenin's death did Stalin expel him from the party. He was exiled in 1928 first to


, then


, and finally


. Trotsky’s Jewish origins helped buttress the claims of anti-Semites that Communism was part of Jewish conspiracy.  At the same time, Trotsky Jewish origins were used by Stalin to demonize his opponents in the
Soviet Union

1941:  The authorities send 5,000 Jews to


, the detention camp outside


.  This will be their last stop as the move to “the East” for “Re-settlement.”

1941: A concentration camp begins operations at



1941(28th of Av, 5701): The Nazis murdered 3500 Jews from Minsk Mazowiecki, Poland, at Treblinka.

1942(8th of Elul, 5702): The Jewish community at Ozorków, Poland, is destroyed.

1942: Etty Hillesum returned to Westerbork.

1944: Photo-journalist Julia Pirotte participated in  the Marseille Uprising which began today.

1944(2nd of Elul, 5704):  Sarah Vasen, first Jewish woman doctor in L.A. and first superintendent and resident physician of Kaspare Cohn Hospital (later Cedars-Sinai Hospital) passed away.

1945: At the urging of Lt. Colonel Judah Nadich, the rabbi serving as senior Jewish chaplain in
, General Eisenhower issued an order reversing the policy that would have required Jewish displaced persons to return to their native countries.

1949: Gertrude Samuels describes the story of one group of participants in the seventh aliyah to


who are traveling from


, the home of Nazism, to


. Of all the aliyot -- waves of immigration to


-- the present is the most dramatic and, in terms of numbers and ultimate goals, perhaps the most important. To the desperate and the idealistic streaming in the new State of Israel is a miracle born of years of longing

1959(17th of Av, 5719): Eighty-one year old Publisher and businessman Salman Schocken passed away.


1959: President Eisenhower signs an executive order proclaiming Hawaii the 50th state of the union. Today Hawaii has a Jewish population of 10,000 out of a total population of about 1.2 million people.  In 2002, Linda Lingle, 49, won the Hawaii governor's race.  Lingle was the first Republican to win the job in forty years and she was the first Jewish governor of the state. “Lingle says her Jewish heritage has aided her political career in


because it has given her a better understanding of diversity, helping her connect with citizens of different religious and ethnic backgrounds. Lingle is a member of a Jewish congregation on the


and attends Lubavitch services in


on the


. There also are a Reform synagogue and a Conservative synagogue in



1960(28th of Av, 5720): David Barnard Steinman passed away.  Born to immigrant parents in 1886 on New York’s Lower East Side, Steinman became one of America’s top civil engineers and bridge designers.  The capstone of his career was the designing and building of the Mackinac Bridge in Michigan, referred to by some as the Greatest Bridge in the world.

1961: In what may have been some sort of record two Jewish hurlers, Sandy Koufax and Larry Sherry, pitch their team to defeat as the Griants beat “the Bums.”

1969, Michael Dennis Rohan, a tourist from Australia and a member of the "Church of God," a Protestant sect, set fire to the mosque on the Temple Mount in an attempt to hasten the coming of the Messiah. He was judged insane and deported by



1971(30th of Av, 5731): Rosh Chodesh Elul

1973: Birthdate of Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google.

1977: A small group of young West Bank intellectuals tried to set up a political faction aimed at challenging the Palestine Liberation Organization’s claim of being the sole representatives of the Palestine Arabs in the administered territories. The group vehemently opposed Yasser Arafat and blamed him for plunging


into bloody strife and for the failure to safeguard the Arab people's political interests. (Sounds an awful lot like what some of Arafat’s critics are saying 25 years later.)

1977: In


the US State Department announced that the current disagreements on the question of the settlements in the administered areas did not harm the long-standing Israeli-American friendship.

1977: Moshe Dayan met secretly with King Hussein in


marking the first time that any member of the Begin government had direct talks with any Arab leader.

1982: Palestinian terrorists are dispersed from Beirut.

1983 La Cage aux Folles  opened on Broadway at the Palace Theatre today. It could be seen as “Jewish affair” since the book was by Harvey Fierstein, the music and lyrics were by Jerry Herman and the director was Arthur Laurents

1990(30th of Av, 5750): Rosh Chodesh Elul

1991: As violence continued for another day following a traffic accident that had resulted in the death of a seven year old boy, hundreds of marchers gathered at 770 Eastern Parkway--Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters. An Israeli flag was burned. Lubavitchers took to the streets in response. Groups of blacks and Jews assailed each other with bottles.

1994(14thof Elul, 5754): German born American sociologist Rose Laub Coser passed away.


1995(25thof Av, 5755): Five Israelis were killed and at least 100 injured when an Arab bomb ripped apart a bus in a residential neighborhood of Jerusalem

2005: The Sunday edition of the Washington Postfeatured a review of A History of the Jews in the Modern World by Howard M. Sachar that covers events from the 18th century to present times.

2005: The Sunday edition of the New York Timesfeatured a review of Redemption: The Life of Henry Roth by Steven G. Kellman.  Roth is best known as the author of Call It Sleep which is now considered a classic in Jewish-American Literature.

2005: Israeli poet Dahlia Ravikovitch was found dead in her apartment. Initial reports speculated the cause of death to be suicide, but the autopsy determined the cause to be sudden heart irregularities. A literary celebrity in Israel, Dahlia Ravikovitch who was born in 1936 is barely known in the United States, and far too small a presence in the English-reading world. Ravikovitch is not only one of the towering figures of 20th-century Israeli poetry, but also one of the strongest female poets in the history of Hebrew verse; she was so present here that she used to make frequent appearances on television, in which she was asked for her views on political or military developments. Long active in the peace movement, she often mixed the contemporary with the ancient and the biblical in her poetic responses to the news. While Ravikovitch is not an easy poet or a simple one, there is an approachability to the best of her work, and also, fortunately, to the best of a new translation entitled Hovering at a Low Altitude: The Collected Poetry of Dahlia Ravikovitch; translated by Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld. One of her strongest poems “Like Rachel” is quoted below.

Like Rachel

To die like Rachel

when the soul shudders like a


wants to break free.

Behind the tent, in fear and


Jacob and Joseph speak of her,


All the days of her life

turn head over heels inside her

like a baby that wants to be


How grueling. How

Jacob's love ate away at her

with a greedy mouth.

As the soul takes leave now,

she has no use for any of that.

Suddenly the baby screeches,

Jacob comes into the tent -

but Rachel does not even sense


Rapture washes over her face,

her head.

* * *

Then did a great repose descend

upon her.

The breath of her nostrils would

not stir a feather.

They laid her down among

mountain stones

and made her no lament.

To die like Rachel,

that's what I want.

2006 (27 Av, 5766): Yahrzeit of Mathilde Schechter. Schechter “was the United States founder of the US National Women's League of Conservative Judaism in 1918. She was married to Rabbi Dr. Solomon Schechter, a prominent rabbi who was Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary. She founded and taught at the Columbia Religious and Industrial School for Jewish Girls. After assisting Henrietta Szold in creating Hadassah, Schechter later served as its national chairwoman of education. The Mathilde Schchter Residence Hall (MSRH), named for Schechter, contains undergraduate housing for students of the Jewish Theological Seminary's List College.” She passed away in 1924.

2006 (27 Av, 5766): Yizhar Smilansky passed away. Known by his pen name S. Yizhar or Samech Yizhar, he was an Israeli writer and a great innovator in Modern Hebrew literature. His pen name S. Yizhar was given to him by the poet and editor Yitzhak Lamdan, when in 1938 he published Yizhar's first story Ephraim Goes Back to Alfalfa in his literary journal Galleons. From then on, Yizhar signed his works with his pen name.

2006: The New York Times reported that Dina Najmin aged 38, a wife; mother of three and an expert in Jewish bioethics will become the spiritual leader of Kehilat Orach Eliezer.  As the Times said, “The appointment is a milestone for advocates of an expanded role for women Orthodox Judaism, but one bursting with the kind of contradictions and tensions that come with trying to reconcile modern egalitarian impulses with fidelity to ancient religious texts that often defy them.” “Kehilat Orach Eliezer is a non-denominational synagogue on


Upper West Side

The congregation traces its roots to 1983 when Rabbi Rabbi Louis (Eliezer) Finkelstein, former chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, became unable to leave his home to attend Shabbat and holiday services. At that time, a small group of people dedicated to the mitzvah of bikkur cholim (visiting the ill) and interested in serious prayer began to meet at his apartment. This practice continued for nearly eight years until Rabbi Finkelstein's death in 1991.
At that time, under the guidance of Rabbi David Weiss Halivni, the group decided to continue meeting in

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