May 22 In History

124 BCE :  Simon the Hasmonean, drove the “Greeks” – the Syrians and their Hellenized Jewish allies – out of the citadel which was their last stronghold in Jerusalem. While Jews celebrate Chanukah, it is this victory, 40 years later, under Judah’s youngest brother that marks the defeat of the Syrians that led to an independent Jewish state under the Hasmonean dynasty.

334 BCE:  The Macedonian army of Alexander the Great defeated Darius III of Persia in the Battle of the Granicus. This was the first step of a “journey” that would lead to the turning Egypt and Asia Minor (a territory that included Jerusalem and Judea) into bastions of Hellenistic culture.  This would create a collision course with Jewish values that would lead to the Maccabee Revolt followed by decades of internecine fighting that would really not come to an end until the Second Temple was destroyed.

337:  Birthdate of Constantine, known as the first Christian Emperor of the Roman Emperor for legalizing the practice of Christianity in the Roman Empire. As the following entry shows, Constantine not only promoted Christianity, he was instrumental in the creation of hostile environment for the Jewish people. “Constantine instituted several legislative measures regarding the Jews: they were forbidden to own Christian slaves or to circumcise their slaves. Conversion of Christians to Judaism was outlawed. Congregations for religious services were restricted, but Jews were allowed to enter Jerusalem on Tisha B'Av, the anniversary of the destruction of the Temple. Constantine also supported the separation of the date of Easter from the Jewish Passover stating in his letter after the First Council of Nicaea: "... it appeared an unworthy thing that in the celebration of this most holy feast we should follow the practice of the Jews, who have impiously defiled their hands with enormous sin, and are, therefore, deservedly afflicted with blindness of soul. ... Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd; for we have received from our Saviour a different way." Theodoret's Ecclesiastical History 1.9 records the Epistle of the Emperor Constantine addressed to those Bishops who were not present at the Council: "It was, in the first place, declared improper to follow the custom of the Jews in the celebration of this holy festival, because, their hands having been stained with crime, the minds of these wretched men are necessarily blinded. ... Let us, then, have nothing in common with the Jews, who are our adversaries. ... avoiding all contact with that evil way. ... who, after having compassed the death of the Lord, being out of their minds, are guided not by sound reason, but by an unrestrained passion, wherever their innate madness carries them. ... a people so utterly depraved. ... Therefore, this irregularity must be corrected, in order that we may no more have any thing in common with those parricides and the murderers of our Lord. ... no single point in common with the perjury of the Jews."

1176:  Murder attempt by the Hashshashin (Assassins) on Saladin near Aleppo. This attempt on the Muslim Warrior-King was part of the on-going clash between sects of Islam.  From the Jewish point of view, Saladin’s survival is good news.  After capturing Jerusalem from the Crusaders, Saladin allowed the Jews to return to the City of David during a century long ban imposed by the Christians.  The event was eloquently described by the Jewish poet Al-harizi in 1190.  Saladin reportedly hired Moses Maimonides to serve as his personal physician.

1370: After killing a rich Jew in Brussels, Belgium, the perpetrators tried to cover their tracks by accusing the Jews of host desecration. The perpetrators escaped in the ensuing confusion. A few hundred Jews were killed and the rest banished from the country. A holiday was declared by the local churches.

1377: Pope Gregory XI issues five papal bulls to denounce the doctrines of English theologian John Wycliffe. Wycliffe’s doctrines were part of the heresies threatening Papal authority through out northern Europe. This is the same Pope Gregory who had ordered the burning of Jewish books a year earlier in 1376, an act that might be seen more as a way of enforcing Papal authority and the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church.

1760(7th of Sivan, 5520): Second Day of Shavuot

1760(7th of Sivan, 5520): Rabbi Israel (Yisroel) ben Eliezer (רבי ישראל בן אליעזר better known as the Baal Shem Tov, founder of Chasidic Judaism, passed away. [Hopefully this brief entry will spur readers to find out more about a person who had such an impact on the Jewish people.]


1793(17th of Iyar 5553): Rabbi Ezekeil Landau passed away. Born in 1713, in Prague, he was a brilliant Talmudist and Halachic authority. Landau was also unusual in that he endorsed the idea of leaning math and science, and supported the traditionalist element within the Maskilim (Enlightenment) movement. Landau helped to establish the first Jewish school in Prague. His magnum opus is called the Nodeh B'Yehuda which is still very popular today. It contains eight hundred and fifty-five Responsa divided into two volumes.

1799: In Paris, Le Moniteur Universal published a short statement sent from the French forces besieging Acre that: "Buonaparte a fait publier une proclamation, dans laquelle il invite les juifs de l'Asie et de l'Afrique à venir se ranger sous ses drapeaux, pour rétablir l'ancienne Jérusalem; il en a déjà armé un grand nombre, et leurs bataillons menacent Alep." This has been translated in English as: "Bonaparte has published a proclamation in which he invites all the Jews of Asia and Africa to gather under his flag in order to re-establish the ancient Jerusalem. He has already given arms to a great number, and their battalions threaten Aleppo.”  Unbeknownst to the newspaper, Napoleon had already abandoned the siege of the Acre, leaving it in the hands of the Ottomans and surrendering his designs to create a French empire in the Orient.

1809(7th of Sivan, 5569): Second Day of Shavuot

1817(7thof Sivan, 5577): Second day of Shavuot; Yizkor

1820: Birthdate of Isidor Binswanger, a leader of the Philadelphia Jewish community who served as President of Maimonides College, the first Jewish institution of higher learning in the United States and the father of Fanny Binswanger Hoffman.

1843: “The first major wagon train” heading for that part of the Northwest Territory now known as Oregon…”departs from Elm Grove, Missouri traveling along the Oregon Trail.  According to Scott Cline, author of Community Structure on the Urban Frontier: The Jews of Portland, Oregon Jacob Goldsmith and Lewis May who arrived in Portland, Oregon in 1849. They were the first Jewish settlers in Portland and possibly in all of Oregon.

1846: A wagon train owned by Albert Speyer left Independence, MO today headed for Santa Fe New Mexico.  A native of Prussia, Speyer had been operating wagon trains since 1843.  Two of the 25 wagons making this trip were reportedly filled with Yager rifles and ammunition that had been ordered by Angel Trias, the governor of Chihuahua, Mexico.  At this time, Santa Fe was still a part of Mexico and Speyer had no way of knowing the United States was about to go to war with its neighbor to the south.

1847(7thof Sivan, 5607): 2nd Day of Shavuot, Yizkor

1850: The following article published today entitled “Paris—Foundation of a Jewish Hospital” described work being done to establish a Jewish hospital in Paris and provided a snapshot of the French Jewish community.

The editor of the “Archives Israelites,” in his May number, says: “Among the establishments, the most imperiously demanded is a Jewish hospital. Let the individual opinions of each of us concerning our ceremonies, especially those which concern dietetic laws, be more or less rigid, it is nevertheless the duty of an Israelitish administration to take care of those under their charge, who would sooner die than enter an hospital, where the observance of their religious rules is impossible. Moreover, when we think of the interference of the clergy, who seek to fish for souls, and who often find auxiliaries against the tolerant wishes of the directors of hospitals, in the sisters (of charity) who attend on the sick, no one can deny that a Jewish hospital is necessary.”—After some farther remarks he continues: “Thanks to Mr. James Rothschild, Paris will have a Jewish hospital. He has just purchased a piece of ground in Rue Picpus, Nos. 62, 64, and 66, measuring 7,500 metres, of which 800 are occupied by buildings, and the other 6,700 are laid out in gardens, walks, &c. The buildings consist of three houses contiguous to each other. The price of the purchase, with the expenses and building, will reach nearly 120,000 francs, about $22,800. A large portion of the land can be taken, independently of the hospital, for the use of the poor class.” The consistory of Paris very properly called on Mr. Rothschild, on the 22d of May, to thank him for his generosity. Dr. Cahen, in a few, well-chosen words, expressed the gratitude felt by the whole community, and used this remarkable phrase: “God has given you wealth, but He has also given you a heart to make, so charitable a use of it as this is.” Mr. R. was greatly moved by the act, and the words addressed to him; and made a suitable reply. His wife was present, and active as she is in all that is charitable, she took part in the conversation which afterwards sprang up between them and the deputation, and Mr. R. made particular inquiries after many matters of interest to the congregation, and showed himself ready to continue them his kindness.—It is not often, our readers will confess, that we praise the rich; but such an act of true benevolence as this just exhibited by Mr. Rothschild of Paris richly deserves to be recorded in our magazine; and we hope to hear that he has found imitators in this country; for though we have none who control such ample resources, there is no lack of means among us, if their possessors could once be persuaded that they could devote a considerable portion of their wealth to worthy objects of charity without robbing their families, the usual

1851(20th of Iyar, 5611): Mordecai Manuel Noah, author, diplomat and one of the most influential Jewish leaders in the first half of the 19th century passed away. Born in 1785, he was a diplomatic representative for the U.S.in North Africa when the new nation was making its foray into the Moslem world.  In a later episode he gained the support of Adams, Jefferson and Madison (all founding fathers and U.S. Presidents) in reiterating the American belief in the separation of church and state.  He may best be remembered for his attempt to create a utopian refuge for displaced European Jewry on an island on the Niagara River called Ararat.  [Editor’s note: this blog does not have a enough space to do justify to the life of this fascinating Jewish American leader who set the tone for American Jewry – proud to be both Jewish and a citizen of the United States.]

1851: In Luxembourg, Rabbi Samuel Hirsch and his wife gave birth to Emil Gustav Hirsch, the American Rabbi was a major leader of Reform Judaism.

1852: Birthdate of Emil Gustav Hirsch the son of Rabbi Samuel Hirsh and the son-in-law of Rabbi David Einhorn who was a major leader in the Reform movement in the United States.

1859(18th of Iyar, 5619): Lag B’Omer

1871: Reverend Howard Crosby chaired a meeting at New York’s Fourth Avenue Presbyterian Church where plans were discussed to explore the area along the Jordan River this October.  The explorers hoped to find tombs of the Israelite Kings, the Ark of the Covenant and/or the tablets of stone.  Crosby pointed out that a previous expedition had found a large Moabite stone with letters that were more like English than ancient Hebrew.

1872: “Another Influential Southerner Declares For Grant” published today described the decision of Georgia General Henry C. Wayne to support the man who defeated the Confederacy because he did not want to support a party “being carried in the pockets of a foreign Jew banker” referring to August Belmont.

1874(6thof Sivan, 5634): Shavuot

1875: Henrietta Held joined the people of Israel in conversion ceremony held following afternoon services at a the synagogue located on Sixth Street near Second avenue in New York City

1878: The funeral of Rabbi Samuel M. Isaacs took place this morning at Shaari Tephila on West 44th Street in New York City.  Rabbis A.S. Solomon, Menes and Morais of Philadelphia participated in the service.  Burial took place at Cypress Hill Cemetery

1883: One hundred thirty houses belonging to Jews were destroyed during a riot tonight at Rostoff.  The riot began after it was reported that an unnamed Jew had murder a Russian.

1891: Sir Robert Fowler passed.  In 1883 while serving as Lord Mayor of London refused to allow Adolf Stocker, the German “Jew-baiter” to lecture at the Mansion House.

1892: It was reported today that in 1891 The Maimonides Library circulations amounted to 47,471, an increase of 20 per cent over that of 1890 and 30 per cent over that of 1888.

1894: The first conference of Hebrew and Christian Workers Israel in the United States and Canada was held today at Park Street Church in Boston, MA.

1893: A number of the Polish and Russian Jews who arrived yesterday aboard the SS Amalfi are being held at Ellis Island because they are destitute which means they may not be able to enter the United States.

1894: The first American Congress of Liberal Religious Societies met at Temple Sinai in Chicago, Illinois.

1895: The Monte Relief Society, which was founded by Mrs. Sofia Monte Loebinger, is scheduled to host a fund raising festival today at the Grand Central Palace

1898: The Grand Lodge No. 1 of the Independent Order Free Sons of Israel hosted a patriotic service tonight at Temple Rodolph Sholom.

1898: “In Foreign Lands” published today described the “about-face” taken by French journalist Henri Rochefort, a leading anti-Dreyfus leader.  At first he accused Dreyfus and his family of being responsible for the Spanish-American War.  Now he claims that the Dreyfus family and the Rothschilds are responsible for the support shown by the French press for the cause of Spain.

1899: The Clara de Hirsch Home for Working Girls opened its doors on New York's East 63rd Street.


1899: The widow of Leopold S. Levy who died when ruffians fractured his skills has been hospitalized in New York Hospital following a failed attempt to take her own life.  According to a note that was found, she was despondent and depressed by the death of her husband.

1906: Birthdate of comic Harry Ritz of the Ritz Brothers. Born Harry Joachim, Harry was the 'middleman' of the Ritz Brothers, and was an inspiration for Danny Kaye and Sid Caesar. In 1934, The Ritz Brothers appeared in their first film, "Hotel Anchovy". The team worked for Fox and later Universal. He died of cancer in 1986

1912(6thof Sivan, 5672): Shavuot

1912:  Birthdate of Herbert C. Brown.  Born in England, this son of Jewish immigrants from the Ukraine moved to the United States where he earned both his B.S. and PhD in Chemistry at the University of Chicago.  Brown won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1979, sharing it with Georg Witttig.  He passed away in 2004.

1914: The Becker-Rosenthal trial in which Charles Becker and members of the Lenox Avenue Gang faced charges for having murdered bookmaker Herman Rosenthal came to a close.

1916: The Senate Committee on the Judiciary today distributed a letter from Dr. Charles W. Eliot, President Emeritus of Harvard University, endorsing Louis D. Brandeis of Boston for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Dr. Lowell, President of Harvard, had signed a memorial opposing Mr. Brandeis's confirmation on the ground that he was unfit for the Supreme bench. The confirmation process for Brandeis was a bruising affair laced with anti-Semitism.

1919: The Rumanian government granted citizenship to all native-born Jews.

1920: The Dearborn Independent, owned by Henry Ford, began publishing the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

1920:  Birthdate of astrophysicist Thomas Gold. Gold was bron in Austria and educated in Switzerland and Great Britain, In early 1959, when Cornell University offered him the opportunity to set up an interdisciplinary unit for radio-physics and space research, and take charge of the Department of Astronomy, he accepted the appointment. He remained at Cornell until his death.

1922:  Birthdate of Quinn Martin, head of Quinn Martin Productions

1922: In Manhattan, Mr. and Mrs. Solomon Klein gave birth to Judith Klein whom the world would come to know as film critic Judith Crist.

1924: Cornerstone laying ceremony for the construction of the building housing the Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva began today.

1924: In Romania students hired a servant girl to run through the street screaming, "My Jewish employers dragged me down into the cellar and wanted my blood for ritual purposes."  This had the result of causing attacks on Jews in the country. Several months later in Aleppo, Syria, the same charges of "blood ritual" surfaced against the Jews.

1924: In Chicago, Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb kidnapped and killed Robert Franks. All of the parties in this "Crime of the Century" were Jewish except for the lawyer who would defend Leopold Loeb - Clarence Darrow.  The story provided the basis for the novel (and film by the same name) called Compulsion.

1926: It was announced today that Mrs. Bertha V. Guggenheimer of Lynchburg, Va., has a established a $50,000 trust fund that will build playgrounds in Jerusalem, Haifa and Tel Aviv, as well as other cities and farming settlements in Palestine. The playgrounds will operate on a non-sectarian basis meaning they are open to Christian, Moslem and Jewish children.

1930: The Jewish community in Palestine begins a general strike to protest the blocking of immigration

1930: Birthdate of Harvey Milk, San Francisco’s first openly homosexual member of the City Council.  Milk and the Mayor of San Francisco were brutally gunned down in 1978 by a political rival who would get off on the Twinkie Defense.

1931: Confirmation Services were held today at Congregation Beth-El in Camden, NJ.

1933(22ndof Iyar, 5693): Fifty-nine year old Sandor Ferenczi, the noted Hungarian psychoanalyst and friend of Sigmund Freud passed away today.http://www.maccoby.com/Articles/ReviewSFerenczi.shtml

1932: The Hakoah All-Stars rallied in the second half to gain a tie with the German All-Stars in what was billed as goodwill soccer game at the Polo Grounds. The contest was sponsored by leading Jewish and German citizens as a means of promoting interracial understanding. Mayor Walker, honorary chairman of the sponsoring committee kicked off the ball at the start of play. At half time, Carol Sherman, former Attorney General of New York Stated presented medal to the Americans who had competed in the International Jewish Olympics recently held in Tel Aviv.

1932: Birthdate of Yosef Haim Yerushalmi, a groundbreaking and wide-ranging scholar of Jewish history whose meditation on the tension between collective memory of a people and the more prosaic factual record of the past influenced a generation of thinkers.

1934: Birthdate of Ya'acov Ra'anan, the native of Vienna who made Aliyah in 1939, who served as the commander of the INS Dakar on its last voyage.

1935(19th of Iyar, 5695): Max Hans Kohn, a Jewish student died in Dachau. Reportedly he was the first Jew to die there in 10 months.

1936(1stof Sivan, 5696): Rosh Chodesh Sivan

1936(1stof Sivan, 5696): Seventy-three year old Richard Gottheil the son of Rabbi Gustav Gottheil, passed away. Dr. Gottheil was a noted scholar, Zionist leader and the founder of Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT).


1936: Jewish-operated buses were again fired at today on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv road, but there were no casualties and the curfew in Jerusalem was extended starting a half hour earlier (6:30 p.m.) in response to escalating Arab violence.

1938: Birthdate of actor/ director Richard Benjamin whose work includes Goodbye Columbus and He& She.

1938: As Arab terrorism escalated, The Palestine Post reported that the Government forces practically occupied Arab villages in Galilee in an effort to check the increasing terror and lawlessness. Jewish settlements of Ein Hazorea and Mishmar Haemek came under a concentrated Arab terrorist fire. The Iraq Petroleum Company pipeline was cut once more and set on fire near Nazareth.

1938: The Palestine Post published a special, 20-page Palestine-British supplement to mark the Empire Day.

1938: Birthdate of actress Susan Strasberg whose work includes “In Praise of Older Women” and “Manitou”

1938(21st of Iyar, 5698): Rabbi Simon Glazer passed away.  Born in 1878 at Kovno Russia, Glazer the Chief Rabbi of the United Synagogues in Montreal (1907-1918); Chief Rabbi of Kansas City (1920-1923); Rabbi of Beth Hamidrash Hagadol in NYC (1923-1927); Temple Beth-El in Brooklyn (1927-1930); Maimonides Synagogue of NYC starting in 1930.  Glazer had also served as President of the Central Council of Rabbis of America and Chairman of its Executive Committee.  He wrote or translated 26 books including a “History of Israel” and translations of the works of Maimonides and the High Holiday prayer books.

1939: Germany signs a "Pact of Steel" with Italy.  This is one more step on the road to World War II.

1939(4th of Sivan, 5699): Ernst Toller, a German-Jewish playwright and active anti-fascist, who had fought for the Kaiser in World War I and whose sister and brother had been taken to a concentration camp, hung himself at the Mayflower Hotel.  W.H. Auden memorialized him with a poem entitled “In Memory of Ernst Toller” published in 1940 in an anthology called Another Time.

1941: Jews in Croatia are forced to wear yellow badges.

1941: Germans stole a 16th century Torah scroll from the Sephardic community at Salonica.   This Torah was said to have come from Spain. The Germans then burned all the books and three Sefer Torahs. When the chief rabbi returned, he found all of the libraries and Jewish manuscripts destroyed.

1942(6th of Sivan, 5702): First Day of Shavuot

1942(6th of Sivan, 5702): In an exercise conducted in a forest outside Mielec, Poland, Gestapo agents "cast" Jews as partisans, beat and mutilate them, and then kill them.

1942(6th of Sivan, 5702): Three hundred children are taken away and sent to Chelmno where they were gassed to death.

1944(29th of Iyar, 5704): For five days Jews readied for rail transport from Munkács, Ukraine, and from the Hungarian town of Sátoraljaújhely resist being loaded. Some are shot.  Resistance began on May 22 and ended on May 27.

1945(10th of Sivan, 5705): Polish freebooters stop a train in the Bialystok region of Poland and beat and abduct a Jew named Mejer Sznajder. This took place after V.E. Day and the end of Holocaust.

1946: Karl Frank, Nazi protector of Bohemia-Moravia, was executed in Prague.

1946(21st of Iyar, 5706): Two Jews were killed and another fifteen were injured in pogrom begun because a crowd of Hungarians in Kunmadras believed the Jews had made sausage out of Christian children.

1948: David Ben-Gurion ordered Yigal Yadin, the Chief of Staff, to launch an attack on the police fort at Laturun “without delay.”  Ben-Gurion wanted Yadin to use the Seventh Brigade for the attack.  Yadin was opposed to the attack.  The brigade was composed of 2,000 troops several hundred of whom were Holocaust survivors who had just gotten off the boat from the Cyprus detention camps.  They had little or no training.  Many of them did not speak Hebrew.  In other words, the Seventh Brigade was a brigade in name only.  Yadin knew they were not a fighting force and sending them to attack a hilltop fortress manned by the Jordanian Arab Legion was a recipe for disaster.  To make matters worse, the Seventh lacked basic equipment, including water bottles or canteens.  Considering the heat, a lack of water would hamper even veteran troops.  Ben-Gurion’s stubborn insistence must be seen against the backdrop of the times.  Despite a great deal of criticism, Ben-Gurion had accepted the partition plan even though it meant Jerusalem would not be part of the Jewish state,  Instead it was to governed by an international body.  The Arabs rejected this concept and turned Jerusalem into a battleground.  They laid siege to the city and sought to cut it off from the rest of the Jewish state.  Ben-Gurion was determined to do whatever it took to ensure that Jerusalem would be Jewish.  The hilltop fortress of Latrun was the main obstacle to opening the road to from the coast to Jerusalem.  Hence his insistence on the attack even if it flew in the face of the best advice from is commanders

1948: Troops from the Carmeli Brigade took up positions at Masada and Sha'ar HaGolan in expectation of a counter-attack from the Arabs that did not come.  After a week, despite their edge in armor and artillery, apparently, they had had enough.

1948: The fighting that had begun on May 15 known collectively as the Battles of the Kinarot Valley came to an end. The most memorable fighting took place between the Israelis and the Syrians at Dagania Alef and Degania Bet. Words cannot describe the heroism of the Jewish fighters who stood their ground against overwhelming odds.

1950(6th of Sivan, 5710): First Day of Shavuot

1953: The Jerusalem Post reported that according to the Jordanian complaint, Israel occupied three Arab villages in the Jordanian-occupied Latrun area and two in the Tulkarm District. Israel denied all such allegations, but claimed frequent Jordanian marauders' infiltration.

1953: The Jerusalem Post reported that Mr. Shimon Peres, the Director-General of the Ministry of Defense, claimed at an exhibition of the locally-manufactured products, that few countries in the world produced as wide a variety of armaments as Israel.

1954: Bar Mitzvah of Robert Zimmerman who gained famed as Bob Dylan.

1955: Final broadcast of the “Jack Benny Program” on CBS radio. Benny, whose real name was Benjamin Kubelsky, would continue to broadcast on television until 1965.

1959: Birthdate of David Blatt, the Princeton graduate who played for and coached several Israeli basketball teams.

1965: Birthdate of Shlomo Lahiani, the Israeli political leader who has served as mayor of Bat Yam.

1967: In violation of international agreements, Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran, blocking all Israeli shipping from the south, thereby raising tension in the Middle East. In Israel, a broad based coalition was formed under Levi Eshkol with Menachem Begin and Yoseph Sapir and Moshe Dayan who became the Minister of Defense. Under international law, blockade is an act of war and this action by Egypt actually gave Israel the legal right to go to war, a fact conveniently ignored at that time and by the current generation of revisionist historians.

1969(5th of Sivan, 5729): Erev of Shavuot

1969: Mayor John V. Lindsay greeted his Jewish constituency today on the eve of Shavuot, which begins tomorrow. Speaking of the Jewish people's receiving of the Torah, which the holiday celebrates, the Mayor said: "From that hallowed event on Mount Sinai, through the ages, from the days of ancient Palestine, and up to our times and the rebirth of the State of Israel, the Torah has been at the very heart of the Jewish experience. Moses...stands as a towering figure not only in the life of the Jewish people but in the life of our civilization."

1970(16th of Iyar, 5730): Arab terrorists killed 9 children and 3 adults on a school bus

1972: Time magazine published “Israel: Battle of Flight 517”

Sabena Flight 517 from Brussels to Tel Aviv was 20 minutes out of Vienna last week when two Arabs waving pistols rushed the cockpit. "As you can see," Captain Reginald Levy calmly informed his 90 passengers, "we have friends aboard." The friends—the men and two women, who produced explosives from under their skirts—were members of a Palestinian guerrilla organization called Black September.* Their audacious plan: to land the Boeing 707 at Tel Aviv and embarrass Israel by threatening to blow up the plane on a Lod Airport runway unless 317 imprisoned fedayeen were released.  Levy's radioed alert that his plane had been commandeered rang top-level alarms in Israel. Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and Chief of Staff General David Elazar hurried to the airport to supervise the troops mustered to meet the jet. As soon as Levy touched down in the Tel Aviv dusk and rolled to an isolated runway, mechanics at Dayan's orders immobilized the plane by deflating its tires and draining the hydraulic system.  After presenting their demands for the prisoners' release to Lod's control tower, the skyjackers were alarmed to discover that they could not take off again. Emotionally, they kissed one another goodbye and prepared to detonate the explosives. Levy started a conversation to calm them down, and kept on chatting through the night. "I talked about everything under the sun," he said later, "from navigation to sex."  Next morning, in response to Levy's plea, Dayan promised to prepare the plane for takeoff and produce the fedayeen. A group of bogus prisoners were shown to the skyjackers from a distance and Dayan had an airplane taken out to a runway, supposedly to fly the released fedayeen to Cairo. From the control tower, one of the "prisoners"—actually an Arabic-speaking Israeli soldier—lulled the skyjackers: "They tell me I'm being sent to Cairo. Is that true? Praised be Allah." Meanwhile, out of sight, commandos were practicing assault tactics on a 707. When they were able to force the doors, swing aboard and start shooting in 90 seconds, Elazar deemed them ready. His "ground crew" approached the jet, allowed themselves to be frisked by Red Cross negotiators who had been called in at Arab request. No pistols turned up in the search; they had been hidden in boots or tool boxes. Suddenly the "mechanics" burst into the plane with guns blazing. The two male skyjackers died from bullets in the head and one of the two women was wounded. In all, the action took precisely 90 seconds.  Israelis hailed the jet's recapture as a military victory—and as an example of how other nations ought to handle skyjacking. Dayan himself was host at a dinner for Levy, a British citizen with a Jewish father and a Christian mother who was celebrating his 50th birthday. Prime Minister Golda Meir later threw a second dinner for all the participants. She kissed Levy and cried, "We love you." Publicly, Mrs. Meir justified the recapture, citing "the terrible significance of submission" to terrorism.  Elsewhere the response was less enthusiastic. The International Air Line Pilots Association protested the danger to passengers in such go-for-broke shootouts. As it happened, three aboard Flight 517 had been wounded. One 22-year-old Israeli was in critical condition; she had leaped up in panic when the firing started and was shot in the head by a commando who mistook her for one of the Arabs. The International Red Cross angrily cried that it had been duped by the Israelis. Arabs nevertheless accused the agency of complicity. In Beirut, where Red Cross week was in progress, volunteers soliciting donations were attacked on the street by Black September supporters. The leader of the group, who called himself Captain Rafat, was later identified as Ali Tasha, 34, a onetime Jerusalem tour guide and seasoned skyjacker.  In 1968 he helped divert an El Al jet to Algeria.

1977(5th of Sivan, 5737): Erev of Shavuot

1978: The Jerusalem Post reported that Israel empowered the Minister of Defense and the Chief of Staff to discuss with U.N. and UNIFIL the arrangements aimed to prevent the terrorists in South Lebanon from attacking Israel and harming local inhabitants. The UNIFIL assured the Christian leader, Major Saad Haddad, that it is prepared to recognize his 600-men strong force and that the humanitarian "Good Fence", which allowed Lebanese villagers to receive aid and work in Israel, will continue even after the complete Israeli withdrawal.

1980(7thof Shavuot, 5740): 2nd day of Shavuot, Yizkor

1981(18th of Iyar, 5741): Lag B’Omer

1981: Antatole Boyard reviewed Where the Jackals Howl and Other Stories by Israeli author Amos Oz.

1983: The New York Times featured a review of Art & Ardor by Cynthia Ozick.

1988(6th of Sivan, 5748): First Day of Shavuot

1990: In The Los Angeles Times, Sheldon Teitelbuam reviewed A Miracle, A Universe: Settling Accounts With Torturersby Lawrence Weschler, the grandson of Viennese-Jewish émigré composer and Pulitzer Prize-winner Ernst Toch.

1998: The Times of London included a review ofIsrael by Martin Gilbert which like all of his work is historically accurate while having the flow of a well written novel.  If you read no other book about the history of the Jewish state, this is the one you must read.

1998: The Baltimore Jewish Times described the New Yorker who is the first rabbi to win honor from pope

As another in a series of recent Roman Catholic overtures toward the Jewish community, Baltimore's Cardinal William H. Keeler last week presented a papal honor to a New York rabbi long active in Catholic-Jewish relations. In an afternoon ceremony at St. Mary's Seminary and University in Baltimore, Rabbi Mordecai Waxman of Great Neck, N.Y., became the fifth Jew, and the first rabbi ever, named a Knight Commander of Saint Gregory the Great. Pope John Paul II bestowed the award on Waxman "in recognition of his extraordinary leadership over the past several decades in fostering improved relations between the Jewish people and the Catholic Church," Keeler said. Waxman, 81, is chairman of the National Council of Synagogues and a past chairman of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations, where he did much of his work toward healing Catholic-Jewish relations, according to Keeler. In 1987, when Waxman was president of the Synagogue Council of America, the predecessor to the National Council, he and then-Bishop Keeler began a tradition of regular meetings between rabbis and Catholic bishops that continues today, Keeler said. Waxman helped prepare the pope's visits with American Jewish leaders in 1987, and he addressed the pontiff on behalf of the Jewish community in Miami that year. "Over the years, Rabbi Waxman has been a consistent peacemaker and worked for reconciliation between the Jewish people and the Catholic Church," Keeler said. Waxman praised the pontiff for his interest in Catholic-Jewish enterprises, including the Vatican's recent statement of repentance for the Holocaust. "That he has undertaken to honor Jews for such activities and has bestowed such recognition upon several of my co-religionists for their notable contributions is typical of the innovative thinking which he has brought to world affairs," Waxman told an audience of more than 100, including scores of his congregants who traveled from Temple Israel, where the rabbi has presided for 50 years. The Order of St. Gregory the Great was created by Pope Gregory XVI in 1831 in honor of his predecessor, Pope St. Gregory. It has several classes, the highest being the Grand Cross. Previous Jewish recipients include Sir Sigmund Sternberg of London, a recent Templeton Prize winner; the late Joseph Lichten, who was European director of the Anti-Defamation League; Gerhardt Riegner, a former general secretary of the World Jewish Congress; and, most recently, conductor Gilbert Levine, one of Waxman's congregants. For his part, the rabbi acknowledged and tried to assuage the continuing suspicion many Jews hold toward the Catholic Church, despite 30 years of papal teachings against anti-Semitism. But he said future generations will see the fruits of the current efforts. "That perhaps is what the Talmud means when it says, `There are things that take fruit of which a man enjoys in this world...but the capital endures for all time. And among these is the effectings of peace between man and his fellows.'"

1998(26th of Iyar, 5758): Seventy-two year old Yitzhak Moda’I passed away. Born in Tel Aviv in 1926, he became an Israeli political leader who served in the Knesset and who held several cabinet positions including Minister of Justice and Minister of Economics which is fitting for a man who studied both at the London School of Economics.

1999(7thof Sivan, 5758): Shavuot is observed for the last time in the 20thcentury.

2005: The Wolf Prizes were awarded by the President of the State of Israel Mr. Moshe Katzav at the Chagall Hall at the Knesset, in the presence of the Minister of Education and Chairperson of the Wolf Foundation Council, Mrs. Limor Livnat, the Speaker of the Knesset MK Reuven Rivlin and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Mr. Zeev Schleisner

2005: The New York Times included reviews of books by Jewish authors and/or of special interest to Jewish readers including The Good, The Bad, And Me In My Anecdotageby Eli Wallach and The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank by Ellen Feldman, an appealing and inventive novel about Peter van Daan, one of Anne Frank’s companions in the secret annex that imagines what his life might have been like if he'd survived to take on a new identity as a gentile in postwar America.

2006: Haaretz reported that the Dan David Prizes went to cellist Yo-Yo Ma, four journalist and two medical researchers.  The Dan David Prizes are distributed annually to people who embody realms of human achievement related to the past, present and future.  They are endowed by the Dan David Foundation headquartered at Tel Aviv University.

2007: Nineteen tombstones were toppled in the Jewish cemetery in Chernigov, an eastern Ukraine city.

2007: As part of Jewish Heritage Month, the National Archives presents a lecture entitled “Einstein: His Life and Universe” during which Walter Isaacson will discuss his latest work, Einstein: His Life and Universe. Albert Einstein was the most influential scientist of the 20th century, and Isaacson’s book is the first full biography of this great icon of our age since all of his papers have become available. Isaacson looks at Einstein’s science, personal life, and politics and explains how his mind worked, what he was really like, and the mysteries of the universe that he discovered. Isaacson, the CEO of the Aspen Institute, has been chairman of CNN and managing editor of Time magazine.

2007(5th of Sivan, 5767): Erev of Shavuot – Confirmation Ceremony at Temple Judah in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Those reaching this milestone are Zach Burstain, son of Jennifer and Todd Burstain; Nathan Cooper, son of Mary and Bob Cooper; Kelsey Fisher, daughter of Ann Hagie; Joel Gasway, son of Julie and Scott Gasway; Cassy Novick, daughter of Denise Novick and Don Novick of blessed memory; Josh Siegel, son of Kris and Ken Siegel.  This is an impressive number for a “small community” on the banks of the Cedar River.  Am Yisroail Chai – The Jewish People Lives!

2007: A rare Torah scroll fragment from the Book of Exodus dating back to the 7th century that includes the famous “Song of the Sea” is put on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, The manuscript, which is a fragment of a Torah scroll from the Book of Exodus (13:19-16:1), comes from the six-hundred year period from the 3rd through 8th centuries known as the "silent era," from which almost no Hebrew manuscripts have survived.

2008: The JCC Manhattan and The Museum of Biblical Art in New York presents “The History and Legacy of Greek Jews” during which Steve Bowman, Professor of Judaic Studies, University of Cincinnati Professor Bowman looks at the history of Jews in Greece - their ancient origins, their contribution to Jewish culture, and fate within the larger Christian community.

2008: As part of the celebrations of Israel at 60, The Quad Cities Jewish Federation sponsors a recital by Carmel Harel, Israeli Shlicha of New Hampshire. A graduate of Israel Art and Science Academy in Jerusalem, she will play the piano and sing Israeli songs from the last 60 years.

2008: In Israel's answer to the Woodstock Festival, nearly half a million people gather on a Galilee mountaintop, where they pitch tents and engage in 24 hours of feasting, singing and ecstatic dancing. They are taking part in the annual celebrations held on the Yahrzeit of second-century sage Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai at his burial place on Mount Meron, near the northern Israeli city of Safed. The Yahrzeit coincides with the minor festival of Lag B’Omer. The celebrations are widely viewed as a resounding display of Jewish unity. "All shades of the rainbow come. There are Ashkenazim and Sephardim, Hasidim and knitted kippah-wearers, religious and secular," said Shlomo Shalvash, head of the Sephardic trust for the upkeep of the site. What makes bar Yohai such a crowd pleaser is the fact that he did not merely rule on matters of Jewish law. He is believed to have left the answers to life, the universe and everything, making him a figure of fascination for all these people. Bar Yohai is the purported author of the “Zohar,” the central text of Kabbalah.

2008: The Cedar Rapids Jewish community watches with pride as Ben Handler and Vanezzia Levi take part in the graduation ceremonies at Washington High School.

2009(28th of Iyar, 5769): Yom Yerushalayim – Jerusalem Reunification Day

2009: Opening of Conference 2009 hosted by The Philadelphia Kehila for Secular Jews

2009(28th of Iyar, 5769: Funeral services are held at Temple B’nai Israel in Little Rock, AR, for Mrs. Joyce Ehrenberg, “dear and loving wife of Mr. Harry L. Ehrenberg, Sr. of blessed memory, and deeply proud mother of Harry L. Jr., and his sisters Linda and Terry. A consummate promoter in helping those that were less fortunate, Mrs. Ehrenberg lived a richly meaningful life.”

2009: IDF forces killed two armed terrorists who approached a security fence in s

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