April 17 In History

69: After the First Battle of Bedriacum, Vitellius becomes Roman Emperor. The year 69 was called “The Year of the Four Emperors” because four different claimants held the position in this brief period of time.  According to Rome and Jerusalem, the sacking of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Second Temple were byproducts of this violent year and grew out of a need by Vitellius’ successor, Vespasian, to prove his power and legitimacy.

392: The Roman Emperors issued a new law “stating that Jewish leaders who have been expelled by their community cannot be forced back on the” Jewish community by Roman judges.  While this may seem like a gain for the Jews, the decree refers to them as “belonging to the Jewish superstition” – language that does not bode well for the long-term well-being of the Jews in the Roman Empire.

1222:  Deacon Robert of Reading (England) was burned for converting to Judaism, setting the precedent for the burning of heretics.

1397: Geoffrey Chaucer tells the Canterbury Tales for the first time at the court of Richard II. Chaucer scholars have also identified this date (in 1387) as when the book's pilgrimage to Canterbury starts. There should be no connection between the Jewish people and Chaucer since the Jews had been expelled from England a century before he told his “tales.”  But Chaucer is proof that you do not need Jews to have anti-Semitism.  The “Prioress’s Tale,” one of the the twenty-three stories contains the following plot line,  “While wandering through the Jewish section of town singing hymns of his faith an eight-year old Christian child is murdered…The frantic mother uncovers the crime when she hears her newly buried son singing Alma Redemptoris.  Justice is sternly served when the Jewish community is wiped out in retaliation.”

1506(Nisan, 5266): In Lisbon, several Conversos were discovered who had in their possession "some lambs and poultry prepared according to Jewish custom.”  They also had “unleavened bread and bitter herbs” needed “according to the regulations for the Passover, which festival they celebrated far into the night." Several of them were seized, but were released after a few days. Angered by the release, mobs would riot and attack conversos living in the Portuguese capital.

1559:  At Cremona, Italy, Sixtus Senesis, an apostate Jew, who had become a Dominican, tried to convince the local Spanish governor to burn the Talmud. The governor demanded witnesses before he would give the order. Vitttorio Eliano the converted grandson of Elias Levita and one Joshua dei Cantori bore witness that the Talmud was full of lies about Christianity. A few days later approximately 10,000 books were burned. The Zohar was not touched since the Pope and the Catholic Church was interested in its publication believing that it would supplant the Talmud and make it easier to convert the Jews. Ironically it was Eliano himself who wrote the preface to the Cremora Zohar.

1671: In Amsterdam, construction began on a synagogue under the direction of the architect, Elias Bouman. The Sephardice community had bought the land in December of 1670.

1731: Yeshivah Minhat Arab became the first Jewish day school in North American when it was founded today in the colony of New York. “The hazzan who taught the classes was instructed to teach the students ‘the Hebrew Spanish and English writing and arithmetick.’Eventually its name was changed to the Polonies Talmud Torah.”

1748(19th of Nisan, 5508): Raphael Meldola passed away at Leghorn. Born at Leghorn in 1685, he was the son of Eleazar Meldola and Reina Senior.  He served as rabbi in Pisa, Bayonne and St. Esprit.

1750:  Frederick II issued a general patent to the Jews limiting their role in the Prussian economy to activities involving commerce and industry. Jews were no longer viewed as dependents of the monarch but as citizens of the state even though they were not first class citizens. On the one hand, Jews were encouraged to be part of the state and its economy. On the other hand they were still second class citizens and divided into two classes - privileged and protected. Considered by some to be an "enlightened monarch," King Frederick wrote his “Political Testament” that was published in 1752 in which he described Jews as dangerous, superstitious and backward.

1770: Charleston (SC) merchant, Moses Lindo responded to an appeal from Hezekiah Smith and contributed five pounds to Rhode Island College which is now known as Brown University. (As reported by Abraham Bloch)  “Moses Lindo was the inspector-general and surveyor of indigo, drugs, and dyes for South Carolina.”

1775: As “Paul Revere clattered through ‘every Middlesex village and farm’  there were approximately 3,000 Jews living in the thirteen colonies to respond to his call to arms.
1782(3rd of Iyar, 5542): Chaim Samuel Jacob Falk, known as the “Baal Shem of London” passed away. Reportedly born in 1708, possibly in Furth, Germany, Falk escaped to England in 1742 after authorities in Westphalia had sentenced the Kabbalist and Mystic to death on charges of sorcery.    “Falk left a diary, now in the library of the bet ha-midrash of the United Synagogue, which is a quaint medley of dreams, records of charitable gifts, booklists, cabalistic names of angels, lists of pledges, and cooking-recipes.”

1790: American Patriot, Scientist, Printer and liver of the good life Benjamin Franklin passed away at the age of 84.  As with so many of those of his time, Franklin espoused moral values but mistrusted organize religion.  He used the Exodus from Egypt as a metaphor for the colonists clash with King George, a modern day Pharaoh.  He wanted to have a depiction of the Israelites crossing the Sea of Reeds as part of the Great Seal of the United States.  At a more practical level, his name was at the top of the list of prominent Philadelphians who contributed funds to Congregation Mikveh Israel at the time of its financial need.

1790(3rd of Iyar, 5550):  A major pogrom took place in the Jewish community of Tetouan, Morocco. On this day the Muslim ruler Mawlay Yazid entered the city, rounded up all of the Jews, men women and children, and violently stripped them of their clothing. They were left with no dignity, naked for three days in prison. Some of the Jews fearing for their lives escaped to the graves Moorish saints where they would pray for their lives. The Muslim leader had some Jews beheaded to make a statement.

1797:  In Eastern Poland, after falling to Prussia in the third partition of Poland in 1793, the government enacted "The Regulation" which removed a number of regulations regarding occupations and domicile restrictions for Jews. This still left many of the old regulations in place, including that of not being able to marry under the age of 25 and then only upon proof of a fixed income.

1802:  Birthdate of Joseph Salomons, the third son of Levi Salomons. In 1824,he married  a daughter of Joseph Monteflore. He had three daughters, one of whom became the wife of Aaron Goldsmid of London; another the wife, of Lionel Benjamin Cohen; and the third became the wife of Prof. Jacob Waley. Salomons passed away in January, 1829. (As reported by Sir David Salomons)

1817(1st of Iyar, 5577): Rosh Chodesh Iyar

1837: Albert Moses Levy's ship, the Independence, was captured by two Mexican brigs-of-war. After three months he escaped and walked back to Texas, where he set up medical practice in Matagorda. The next year he received an appointment to a medical board established by both houses of the Congress of the republic.

1848: The gates of the Rome Ghetto were pulled down during the Revolutions of 1848 that swept much of Europe in general and Italy in particular. Ciceruacchio, a popular Italian Catholic leader, led a group who tore down the gates Passover eve. The Jews in the ghetto at first thought they were being attacked and hid in their houses.

1851(15th of Nisan, 5611): Pesach

1856(12th of Nisan, 5616): Fast of the First Born.

1866: Bryants Minstrels acting as Ethiopian Fun Makers will perform “The Challenge Dance of Shylock” or “The Jew of Chatham Street” tonight in New York City.  [Most Jews are aware of Shylock as a figure of anti-Semitism.  In 19th century American references to Chatham Street were equally anti-Semitic.  Chatham Street was the local of the 2ndhand clothing business in New York.  Supposedly the trade was dominated by Jews were who always exploiting the Christians who frequented their shops]

1869: The Mercantile Club, a Jewish social club established in Philadelphia in 1853, was incorporated today. Louis Bomeisler and Clarence Wolf have served as Presidents of the club. Other Jewish clubs included The Garrick, the Progress, and the Franklin.

1870(16th of Nisan, 5630): Second day of Pesach; 1st day of the Omer

1875: “Die Maccabäer” (The Maccabees) an opera in three acts by Anton Rubinstein and Salomon Hermann Mosenthal which is itself based on the biblical story of the Maccabees was first performed today at the Hofoper, Berlin.

1878(14th of Nisan, 5638): An article entitled “The Deliverance of Israel” notes that some Jews are no longer substituting bread for Matzoth during Passover especially that who are members of the congregations led by Rabbi David Einhorn and Rabbi Gustave Gottheil. Einhorn and Gotheil were both Reform rabbis.  Eihnorn led Congregation Adath Israel and Gottheil led Temple Emanu-el.

1881: Nathan Blesenthal, a prominent Buffalo, NY, Jew became a Presbyterian today. His conversion was a condition set by Gertrude Deming if the couple was going to be wed.  Blesenthal’s mother had opposed the conversion and young Nathan only left the “faith of his fathers” after his mother passed away.

1881: It was reported today that the Jews are talking about erecting a national synagogue in Washington, DC.”

1882: Birthdate of Polish pianist and classical composer Artur Schnabel. Like so many others, he left Europe to escape Nazi persecution. The pianist was famous for his performances of Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas. He passed away in 1951.

1882(28th of Nisan, 5642): Joel Samuel Polack passed away.  Born in 1807, he was the first Jewish settler in New Zealand, arriving there in 1831.

1884(22nd of Nisan, 5644): 8th day of Pesach

1884: Birthdate of Leo Frank.  At his trial Frank would be characterized as “New York Jew” or a “Yankee.”  In point of fact he was born in Cuero, Texas and one of his uncles may have been a soldier in the Confederate Army.

1884: Theodore Hoffman who will be hanged tomorrow after having been found guilty of murdering a Jewish peddler named Zife Marks, ate a breakfast of fried oysters this morning in his cell at White Plains, NY

1887: President Levy presided over tonight’s meeting of the Jewish Immigrants’ Protective Society which was held at the synagogue on Rivington Street in New York.  In its first year of operation the society has given $1,600 to “newly arrived immigrants.

1889(16th of Nisan, 5649): Second day of Pesach; 1st day of the Omer

1891: Jacob Ezekiel Hyneman, a Union veteran of the Civil War resigned as 1st Lieutenant Veteran Corps of the First Regiment of the Pennsylvania National Guard

1892: “Jews Who Speak Spanish” published today provided a review of Biblioteca Espanola-Portugueza Judaica: Jewish Authors-Titles of their Works in Spanish and Portuguese with a notice on Spanish Jews and a Collection of Spanish Proverbs by Meir Kayserling.

1892: In Brooklyn, NY, Temple Israel dedicated its new building a the corner of Bedford and Lafayette Avenues.

1892: An article entitled “Given A Breathing Spell” attributes the sluggishness in the New York real estate market to the celebration of Easter and Passover.  As the author says, “It is a good thing for the real estate market that such holidays as the Passover and Easter do not come too often.”

1893(1st of Iyar, 5653): Rosh Chodesh Iyar

1893: The will of Mrs. Abraham Karl, the widow of Abraham Karl was executed today and Benjamin Blumenthal, Simon Goldsmith and Theodore Hirsch were named as executors.

1893: It was reported today that the leading Jews of Bulgaria have ordered from Budapest “an album inlaid with diamonds, rubies and emeralds to be given to Prince Ferdinand and his bridge on their wedding day.”

1895: As beef prices continue to rise, Jewish butchers on the lower East Side express their gloom about any chance of improvement.

1896: The wil of the late Leonard Friedman will filed for probate today in the Surrogate’s office.

1897(15th of Nisan, 5657): Pesach

1897: Art and Artists published today described recently published books including A Handful of Exotics: Scenes and Incidents Chiefly of Russo-Jewish Life by Samuel Gordon

1900: Herzl began a two week journey that would take him from Karlsruhe, to Paris and finally to London. Like so many of his trips, Herzl was again seeking support from the rich and famous for the creation of a Jewish homeland in the Land of Israel.

1902: The Dr. Joseph H. Hertz, who was a member of Lord Milner's High or Advisory Committee in South Africa, and Chaplain of the Rand Rifles, was among the passengers who arrived on the White Star liner Teutonic today.  Yes, the Rabbi Hertz who gave us the “Hertz Chumash” and the “Hertz Siddur” served as the chaplain for a military unit that helped protect Johannesburg during the Boer War

1903: Birthdate of Russian born, cellist Gregor Piatigorsky.  This musical prodigy escaped Lenin’s

made his way to the United States where he made a name for himself as a performer and academic.  He passed away in 1976

1905: The First American Rumanian Congregation was scheduled to continue distributing matzoth to poor Jews living on the Lower East Side today.

1910: By four o’clock this afternoon, at least 3,000 persons had been given supplies for Passover by the United Hebrew Community at their offices on East Broadway. Distribution of the supplies is schedule to continue throughout the week or until they run out, whichever comes first.

1910: Louis Diamond, Secretary of the United Hebrew Community called for additional contributions to help defray the costs of the increased demand for Passover supplies to help out the city’s needy Jews.

1911: According to statements made tonight, a Kheillah is meeting to consider what steps to take in the case of Esther Yachnin, the sixteen year old girl who converted to Christianity last year at the age of 15.  Esther had come to United States at the age of 13 and had enrolled in an English language class offered by the Young Women’s Christian Association which eventually led to her conversion.  The parents had no prior knowledge of the plans for the conversion.  Given the Esther’s youth and the estrangement from her family and community, Jews living on the Lower East Side question the validity of the conversion.  They may also be concerned that their unsuspecting children will become candidates for similar such conversions. The Kheillah is considering legal action if such recourse to law can be effective.

1912: Birthdate of British lawyer and patron of the arts Isador Caplan.

1913: German-born British shipbuilder and politician Gustav Wilhelm Wolff passed away. He was raised as a Lutheran because his father had converted before his birth.  This was one of many examples of Jews who were “lost” in the wake of those who thought a trip to the baptismal font was the price of economic success and/or social acceptance.  The racial policies of the Nazis would prove them wrong.

1915: The Zion Mule Corps left for Gallipoli. Commanded by Colonel Henry Patterson and organized by Trumpeldor and Jabotinsky, they were a Jewish auxiliary unit of the British Army. The British were not interested in giving them the ability to fight, so they were assigned to provide provisions to the front lines.  Gallipoli was part of the Ottoman Empire.  With the stalemate on the Western Front, Churchill convinced other Allied leaders to attack at Gallipoli in an attempt to outflank the Central Powers. Churchill thought the Allies would easily defeat the Turks, open up the water route to Russia and end the war.  Unfortunately, the plan and the Allied Forces, including the Zion Mule Corps were forced to withdraw.  The Jewish troops performed with distinction and later became the nucleus for the Jewish Legion that was formed in 1917.  This was part of the on-going process of the creation of creating what would eventually become the IDF.  While the original Zionist dream had been a peaceful, almost pacifist comments, the realities of the neighborhood forced the Jews to become adept warriors.

1917: French President Raymond Poincare bemoaned the fact that “in London our agreements are now considered null and void.”  He was upset by the fact that the British were now calling for a larger role in the post-World War Middle East including acknowledgement of Zionist plans for Palestine.

1917: During World War I, the British army employs tanks for one of the first times in the Middle East in an attempt to defeat the Turks at Gaza.  The so-called Second Battle of Gaza will prove to be a costly defeat for His Majesty’s Forces who will suffer over six thousand casualties.

1919: As part of an episode that would have far-reaching implications for the Middle East in general and Israel in particular, the French prepared a declaration today that was presented to Prince Feisal.  Feisal expected the document to be a written affirmation of Clemenceau’s promise of total Arab independence for Syria – a Syria to ruled by Feisal.  But according to the French document, the French army would occupy Damascus, and the new Arab nation would actually exist as a mere federation of local autonomous states in which all the government advisers, including the governors and heads of major government bureaus, as well as the judiciary, would be French, under Paris's control as they were in Lebanon. What's more, Faisal himself would be compelled to publicly declare the importance of France's historic relationship with the Maronite Christians. Other than that, said the French, Syria would be completely "independent."  Faisal quickly refused, encouraged by Lawrence of Arabia, who advised him to demand total independence "without conditions or reservations." Clemenceau, however, would not tolerate what he considered Arab impudence. Faisal summarily left Paris for Syria to claim his nation. Faisal, who had signed a letter welcoming the Zionists to Palestine, would fail.  The perfidy of the French would lead to an unstable Syria that would become an implacable enemy of Israel. Faisal would settle for throne of another British creation, Iraq.

1923(1st of Iyar, 5683): Rosh Chodesh Iyar

1924: In Brooklyn, Joseph Geller, an artist who earned a living painting signs, and his wife, Olga gave birth to ” Andrew Geller, an architect who embodied postwar ingenuity and optimism in a series of inexpensive beach houses in whimsical shapes, many of them in the Hamptons, and who helped bring modernism to the masses with prefabricated cottages sold at Macy’s.” (As reported by Fred A. Bernstein)

1924: Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures & Louis B Mayer Company merged to form MGM. Many of the early motion picture studios were dominated, if not owned outright, by Jews.  Many of them were immigrants who made movies idealizing America since that was what sold at the box office.  The film industry may have been run by Jews, but you sure would not have known from the content.

1928: According to an interview sent out by the Jewish Telegraph Agency, Emil Vandervelde, a member the Belgian Cabinet, is “greatly impressed” with the work being done by the Jewish settlers in Palestine. He said that it was only through personal observation that he “had he been able to understand the difficulties and appreciate their achievements in transforming deserts and swamps into flourishing” settlements.  He “cited the municipality of Tel Aviv as a marvelous expression” of the Jewish ability to build and improve the land.  Furthermore, in a speech at Hebrew University, the Belgian leader cited Zionism’s “fraternal tendencies toward the Arabs which was an important factor toward international peace.

1928: A conference of Communist youth being held in Tel Aviv was broken up by police.  Fourteen boys, including one Arab, and six girls were detained by the authorities.

1928: Birthdate of Cynthia Ozick, author of the “Puttermesser Papers”. Born in New York City to Jewish immigrants from Russia, who both worked as pharmacists, Ozick grew up in the care of her grandmother, who was always telling her stories. She grew up to write several more novels full of Jewish mysticism and history, including “The Messiah of Stockholm” and “The Puttermesser Papers” but she's perhaps best known for her essays, collected in  Art and Ardor, Metaphor and Memory and Quarrel and Quandary (2000).  Ozick said, "I believe a writer can weave in and out of genres—do it all. It is a gluttonous point of view, to be sure. Then again, when it comes to writing, that is what I truly am and nothing less: a glutton."

1931(30th of Nisan, 5691): Rosh Chodesh Iyar

1934(2ndof Iyar, 5694): Fifty-three year old Harry Krensky, a merchant in Waterloo, Iowa, passed away today.

1934: Birthdate of Don Kirshner who was “known as The Man With the Golden Ear.” He was an American song publisher and rock producer who is best known for managing songwriting talent as well as successful pop groups such as The Monkees and The Archies. He passed away in 2011.

1935: Ben Heiineman married Natalie Goldstein who as Natalie Goldstein Heineman became a pioneering national champion for children’s welfare and respected community and national leader, who changed the lives of thousands of children through her innovative and thoughtful leadership.” (As reported by Pastora San Juan Cafferty)

1936: At a funeral held this morning in Tel Aviv for a Jewish victim of Arab violence, a clash broke out between Jewish protesters and police.

1938: Arturo Toscanini conducts the Palestine Orchestra in a second performance in Tel Aviv.  Unlike last night’s performance which was given to a packed house filled with officials and those who could afford high priced tickets, tonight’s performance was for workers who paid greatly reduced prices for their tickets.

1941: Yugoslavia surrenders to the Nazis. Nearly 60,000 Jews were murdered by the German army.   Gold teeth from the murdered victims were later found in the palace of the Catholic Bishop of Zagreb (Croatia).

1941(20th of Nisan, 5701):  In Warsaw, a Jewish policeman named Ginsberg was bayoneted and shot by German soldiers after asking a soldier to return a sack of potatoes taken from a Jewish woman.

1942: French General Henri Giraud escapes from his castle prison in Festung Königstein where he was a German POW.  Giraud joined the Free French in North Africa. In 1943, while serving as High Commissioner he said that Vichy's anti-Jewish laws "no longer exist," promised to hold municipal elections in North Africa. He also revoked the Cremieux Decree of 1870, which granted French citizenship en bloc to Jews in Algeria, but excluded the Arabs. Henceforth, Moslems and Jews must complement each other economically, "the latter working in his shop, the former in the desert, without either having advantage over the other, France assuring both security and tranquility." This even-handed sounding speech is a bit disingenuous.  Many of the Vichy restrictions against Jews continued during this period in an attempt by the Allies to placate the Arabs.

1942(30th of Nisan, 5702):  The Gestapo entered the Warsaw ghetto and shot 52 people on Rosh Chodesh Iyar.

1943: In a meeting at Klessheim Castle near Salzburg, Hitler met with the Hungarian Regent, Admiral Horthy, to urge the Hungarians to deport their Jewish population. Hitler explained, ". . . they are just pure parasites . . . they had to be treated like tuberculosis bacilli which in a healthy body may become infected." Horthy and Hungary continued to hold out against Hitler's demands.  Things would change in 1944 and most of Hungary's Jews became victims of the Final Solution. [Editor’s Note:Holocaust Deniers might want to consider the findings of British author Gerald Reitlinger.  He claimed to have found conclusive proof of a Hitlerian liquidation policy in the protocol of a conversation between Hitler and Hungarian Regent Horthy on April 17, 1943. Hitler complained about the black market and subversive activities of Hungarian Jews and then made the following comment: "They have thoroughly put an end to these conditions in Poland. If the Jews don't wish to work there, they will be shot. If they cannot work, at least they won't thrive"]

1944: Mordechai (Motke) Eldar was among the Jews from Transylvanian taken to the Sltina Ghetto where he would be held until May when he was shipped to Auschwitz.

1945: Surviving inmates of Sachsenhausen and Ravenbruck were forced to march deeper into Germany. With the war coming to an end, the Germans continued to force evacuees including 17,000 women and 46,000 men to move away from the Allied armies.  Those who once boasted of their effort to make Europe "Jew Free" now worked feverishly to cover up what would come to be called "Crimes Against Humanity."

1945: Lieutenant Al Ungerleider approached Nordhausen with ordersto take and hold part of an industrial complex there. “His detachment had to fight its way through the gates and the barbed wire, dodging machine-gun fire from enemy soldiers hiding in towers near the entrance. After his men took out the enemy, the camp inmates began to appear. They were so emaciated that only a few could stand upright. Some fell over, he recalled. Still others were lying in bed, covered in lice and sores. Lt. Ungerleider sent his men to check the grounds for remaining Nazi soldiers. they captured 44 SS troopers, all of whom surrendered. Billy Millhander, one of” his “soldiers, Ungerlider  entered a large building at the center of the camp and discovered 10 huge ovens — crematoriums.” At the time, he did not know what they were. According to Ungerleider, “The ovens were cold, and the doors were closed.” he said. He began opening the doors of the oven expecting to find German troops in hiding. “The first four contained ashes. But when the lieutenant opened the fifth, Millhander immediately fired several rounds, killing an armed German guard.” They returned to the main yard, and Lt. Ungerleider spoke a mixture of Yiddish, English and German to the camp inmates. He asked how many were still alive. The reply came: maybe 250 out of thousands. He asked what they were making at the plant. Someone said V-2 rockets, missiles that were launched against England. “And that’s when the enormity of the evil that the Germans were doing to these people hit me,” Ungerleider said later. “And this was a slave labor camp, not a death camp. They were making a product for the war effort. The first thought that came into my mind is how the Germans could take [thousands of people] and put them to work. How could they not feed them, take care of their medical needs, not clothe them?” He led the survivors in the mourner’s kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead. Al Ungerleider enjoyed a successful career in the U.S. Army rising to the rank of General.  At the same time, he remained an active member of the Jewish community wherever he was stationed.

1945: Robert Limpert, the head of a genuine anti-Nazi underground group, sought to get the leaders of the Bavarian city of Ansbach to defy Wermacht fanatics and to surrender to the approaching American Army.

1945: William Scott of the 183rdCombat Engineers, an all-African-American unit took pictures of Leon Bass and other members of the unit at Buchenwald six days after its liberation by the U.S. Army.

1948(8th of Nisan, 5708): On Shabbat Hagadol news came that a convoy bringing in needed supplies to Jerusalem had broken through by night. Crowds came down to the Romema road block to greet the convoy. Over 250 lorries bringing a thousand tons of food and arms and ammunition came streaming into the entrance to the city. Written on the first lorry were the words: "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its cunning".

1948: As Jewish soldiers fight to open the road to Jerusalem and break the blockade that was strangling the city reports circulate through the City of David that five Arab villages had been taken and as many as 350 Arab fighters had been killed.

1949(18th of Nisan, 5709): Meir Bar-llan, an Orthodox Rabbi from Lithuania who was a leader of the Mizrachi movement passed away today in Jerusalem. Bar-Illan University was named in his memory.

1950: The New York Times reported that the obsolete conditions at the port of Tel Aviv pose a threat to the continued economic growth of the infant Jewish state.  According to Jose Ensuade, President of Flomarcy Company, “Israel’s maritime position and the continued growth of her foreign comer, which has had an almost phenomenal growth may be impaired unless harbor facilities are improved.”  He marveled at the fact that the port which is the nation’s entry point for 25,000 immigrants arriving each month and which has seen a remarkable growth in trade “is virtually without modern docking facilities.”

1952(22nd of Nisan, 5712): 8th day of Pesach

1954(14th of Nisan, 5714): Shabbat Ha-Gadol; Erev Pesach

1954: Aaron Jean-Marie Lustiger who was born as into an Ashkenazi Jewish family was ordained as a Roman Catholic Priest today.

1954: In Tel Aviv, the family of Emanuel Shoam celebrates the first Seder with three friends of his brother Joe, who had been held as a prisoner of war by the Jordanians during the War of Independence.  The three were a young Canadian Jew named Martin and two gentile deserters from the British army named Paddy and Harry who had stolen tanks from the British in 1948 and brought them to the Haganah.

1955: Chicago Cubs’ pitcher Hy Cohen played in his first major league baseball game.

1958(27th of Nisan, 5718): Yom HaShoah

1958: Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitcher Larry Sherry appears in his first major league baseball game.  Sherry would lead the Dodgers to a World Series Championship in 1959.

1965(15th of Nisan, 5725): 1st day of Pesach

1965: Cincinnati Reds outfielder Art Shamsky appears in his first major league baseball game.

1967:  Egypt, Syria and Iraq signed a treaty of alliance that placed their military forces under a unified command with the stated purpose of “liberating Palestine” i.e. destroying the state of Israel.

1969: Sirhan Sirhan was convicted of assassinating Senator Robert F Kennedy.  At one point, the young Arab claimed he killed Kennedy because he supported Israel.

1973(15thof Nisan, 5733): Pesach

1983(4th of Iyar, 5743): Yom HaZikaron

1984(15th of Nisan, 5744): Pesach

1986: Authorities foiled an attempted bombing at Heathrow Airport. Israeli airline security guards at Heathrow Airport in London took a hard look at Anne-Marie Murphy and her luggage as she was about to board an El Al flight for Tel Aviv. Beneath a false bottom in her bag they found 10 pounds of plastic explosive rolled paper-thin -enough, the police said, to destroy the El Al Boeing 747 and its 340 passengers. The police said Miss Murphy told them that the bag, which had passed unnoticed through Heathrow security checks, had been handed to her by Nazar Hindawi, a Jordanian who had several passports. The woman's father said Mr. Hindawi had given Miss Murphy, who is pregnant, $300 to buy a wedding dress and promised that they would be married yesterday in Israel. At the airport, according to the police, Mr. Hindawi told his fiancee he had second thoughts about flying on an Israeli plane and would take a different airline. He hurried off but was arrested later at a London hotel. A sophisticated microchip timer was set to ignite the bomb after a stopover in Munich, the police said. It was possible that Miss Murphy, who had been working as a hotel maid in the London Hilton, intended to disembark at Munich, the police said, but more likely she was an innocent victim of the plot.

1987(18th of Nisan, 5747):Comedian Dick Shawn, born Richard Schulefand, died on stage from a heart attack at age 63.

1997: The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra made its Carnegie Hall debut under the direction of Jewish conductorYakov Kreizber

1997: Joyce Shepard of the Citizens Action Committee for Change met with Alan G. Hevesi and Mayor Giuliani at City Hall where they promised her that more facilities would be provided for the victims of domestic abuse.

1997(10th of Nisan, 5757): Chaim Herzog passed away.  Born in Ireland in 1918, Herzog was the son of the distinguished Rabbi Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog. Herzog moved to Palestine in 1935 and served in the Haganah during the Arab Uprising that started in 1936.  During World War II, Herzog served in the British Army where he worked with intelligence units liberating concentration camps.  During the War for Independence, Herzog was a leader in the fighting at Latrun, part of the heroic campaign to keep the road to Jerusalem open thus ensuring that the ancient city would be part of modern Israel.  Herzog had a distinguished career in the IDF and retired in 1962 with the rank of Major General.  In civilian life he pursued a career in business and the law while also serving as a media commentator on military matters.  In the middle seventies, he returned to public service as Israel's Ambassador to the U.N. and then as a Member of the Knesset for the Labor Party.  He served two terms as Israel's President (1983-1993). His historical writings include The Arab-Israeli Wars, War of Atonement: The Inside Story of the Yom Kippur War, Who Stands Accused? and Israel's Finest Hour.

1998:  Marek Edelman one of the last surviving leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was awarded with Poland's highest decoration, the Order of the White Eagle.

2002(5th of Iyar, 5762):  Yom Ha’atzmaut.

2003(15th of Nisan, 5763): Pesach

2004:  An Israeli missile strike killed Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi.  In the words of the Associated Press, "Rantisi was Hamas' top leader in Gaza and one of the most hard-line members of the militant movement who rejects all compromise with Israel and calls for the destruction of the Jewish state."

2005: The New York Times featured reviews of books by Jewish authors and/or of special interest to Jewish readers including “The Outlaw Bible of American Literature” Edited by Alan Kaufman, Neil Ortenberg and Barney Rosset and the recently released paperback edition of “Alexander Hamilton” by Ron Chernow.

2005:  A Jewish Museum of Belmonte (Museu Judaico de Belmonte opened today. Marranos living in Belmonte are sometimes referred to as the "Belmonte Jews." They are a community that has survived in secrecy for hundreds of years by maintaining a tradition of endogamy and by hiding all the external signs of their faith. The community in the municipality of Belmonte, Cova da Beira subregion, Portugal, goes back to the 12th century and they were only discovered in 1917 by a Polish Jewish mining engineer named Samuel Schwarz. Some of them returned to Judaism in the 1970s, and opened a synagogue in 1996. In 2003, the Belmonte Project was founded under the auspices of the American Sephardi Federation, in order to raise funds to acquire Judaic educational material and services for the community which now numbers 300.William Annyas (or Anes) - a descendant of a Marrano family from Belmonte who immigrated to Ireland - became the Mayor of Youghal in County Cork in 1555, the first person of the Jewish religion to hold such an elected position in Ireland or Britain. William Annyas was the grandson of Gil Anes. Many of the first Jewish people to come to Ireland were Marrano merchants from the Iberian Peninsula. His daughter married Yacov Kassin (Shamus Ciosain) daughter of Yehuda Kassin (Juan Cassin) a Marrano merchant who had moved to Galway in Ireland.

2006: At precisely 4:00 P.M., President Moshe Katsav calls the 17th Knesset to order in its maiden session with three blows of the gavel.   MK Shimon Peres (Kadima) is invited to conduct the session. As the most senior MK, Peres will be acting speaker of the Knesset until a permanent speaker is selected.

2006: A Palestinian suicide bomber detonated his explosives outside a falafel restaurant in Tel Aviv killing nine and wounding over sixty.

2006(19th of Nisan, 5766): Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, a leading Jewish scholar and civil rights advocate known for his provocative, often contrarian views, has passed away at the age of 84.  The cause of death was heart complications. Hertzberg was president of the American Jewish Congress from 1972 to 1978, and vice president of the World Jewish Congress from 1975 to 1991. He also wrote a dozen of boo

Show more