Sunday, 7 March 2010

Jewish History 1148 - 2009


Thursday, December 31, 2009
This Day, January 1, In Jewish History
January 1 In Jewish History

630: Prophet Muhammad sets out toward Mecca with the army that will capture it bloodlessly. At first Mohammed “had hoped to find is main supporters among the Jewish tribes” of Arabia. This can be seen in his early adoption of certain laws regarding fasting and facing Jerusalem during prayer. When the Jews refused to accept him as the final line of prophets that had included Abraham and Moses, he turned against the Jews “in a cruel war of extermination.” Mohammed would die two years after the conquest of Mecca but his legacy lives on to this very day.

This Day, July 13, In Jewish History
July 13 In Jewish History

1105: On the secular calendar Rabbi Shlomo ben Isaac also known as Rashi passed away. Rashi is a Hebrew acrostic for Rabbi Shlmoh ben Isaac. Born in 1040 he was the leading rabbinic commentator in his day on the TaNaCh and Talmud. His work is so basic to Jewish study, that it is said when we study Torah we must study Rashi. Rashi lived at the time of the Crusades. He passed away five years before the birth of that other great medieval sage, Maimonides. (See the attachment for a fuller treatment of his life.) While there is much to be learned from the teachings of Rashi, there are also lessons that we can learn from his life. While he studied with the greatest teachers in Germany, he lived in a French town with a comparatively small Jewish population. For those living in small towns this should serve as a reminder that living in small town is no reason not to study. Rashi was a Rabbi. He was also a successful businessman. He was a wine merchant who was able to care for his family and support students and yeshivas. In other words, just because most of us have to work for a living, we can still find time for study. Rashi had three daughters and no sons. Unlike the example of the mythical Tevye, Rashi’s daughters were all educated scholars. According to the stories told about them, all five wore tefillin. In other words, for Rashi, women were not to be "barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen." His example means we should be providing a full Jewish education for all of our community, regardless of sex. (See Maggie Anton’s books about Rashi’s daughters for more about this)(

1148: Anti-Jewish riots take place in Cordova, Spain.

1564: In Brest Litvosk (Lithuania), Abraham, the son of a wealthy and envied Jewish tax collector was accused of killing the family's Christian servant for ritual purposes. He was tortured and executed. King Sigmund Augustus forbade the charge of ritual murder.

1787: The Continental Congress enacts the Northwest Ordinance establishing governing rules for the Northwest Territory. It is important to note that there were no religious qualifications to settling in the area, owning land or taking part in political activities. This openness encouraged Jews to settle the lands west of the Allegheny Mountains. It also forced some of the east coast states to remove their remaining religious qualifications for participating in state government
1815: Future President John Q. Adams wrote in a letter: 'The Hebrews have done more to civilize men than any other nation. If I were an atheist, I should still believe fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations.'

1841: Birthdate of Austrian architect Otto Wagner. Budapest's Rumbach Synagogue, built in the 1870s, was his first major work. There seems to be some dispute as to whether or not Wagner himself was Jewish. We post his name because of the synagogue construction since we have not been able to verify whether or not he was Jewish.

1878: At the conclusion of the Congress of Berlin, the European powers sign the Treaty of Berlin designed to officially the end of the Russo-Turkish War. One of the issues settled by the treaty was the question of independence for Romania. The Romanians promised that they would improve the treatment of the Jews living in Romania. Rather than trust the Romanian leaders, the authors of the treaty bowed to pressure from influential European Jews and insisted “that Romania must guarantee Jewish political emancipation before her sovereignty could be recognized.” The requirement was incorporated into the Treaty of Berlin under Article 62.

1894: Birthdate of Isaak Babel Russian short-story writer and dramatist. He is known by many as the author of "Red Calvary." Babel’s artistic career ended when he was arrested by the Soviet secret police in one of those periodic purges brought on by Stalin’s paranoia. Babel was shot after a secret trial proved he was a traitor.

1896: Birthdate of Israeli painter Mordecai Ardon. Born in Poland when it was part of the Russian Empire, Ardon later moved to Germany where he was a student at the "Bauhaus" School from 1920 to 1925. This was the period in German history known as the Weimar Republic. Ardon moved to Jerusalem in 1933. He had his first American exhibition at the Jewish Museum in New York in 1948. There are numerous websites where you can view his works. He passed away in 1992. One of his most famous is the "Ardon Windows" in the Jewish National and University Library

1896: Herzl meets with representatives of Hovevei Zion Britain.

1910: Fire destroys 21 buildings in the Jewish quarter of Salonica, damage near 600,000 Francs.

1913: As the wars continue in the Balkans, the Turks capture the Greek city of Didymoteikhon which is ruled by the Bulgarians. Unfortunately for the Jews, who had suffered property losses when the Bulgarians took the city in 1912, the economy continued to deteriorate under Ottoman rule.

1919: Birthdate of Eliot Asinof whose journalistic re-creation of the 1919 Black Sox scandal, Eight Men Out became a classic of both baseball literature and narrative nonfiction. 1919: London Jewish Hospital opens for out-patients

1921: Birthdate of Ernest Gold, composer of the score from the hit film “Exodus” for which he won an Oscar.

1925: Flo Ziegfeld and his Ziegfeld Follies begin the creation of what would become an American Icon. Comedian W.C. Fields went home to attend his mother's funeral. In a last minute desperate move, a comparatively unknown cowboy from Oklahoma named Will Rogers began his comedic career.

1926: Birthdate of composer Meyer Kupferman.

1930: Robert Sarnoff, head of RCA (Radio Corporation of America) tells the in New York Times "TV would be a theater in every home." Okay, so it is not Micah or Jeremiah, but it is a Jew providing prophecy in one sense of the term.

1930: Birthdate of Naomi Shemer ( נעמי שמר‎) one of Israel's most important and prolific song writers. During her lifetime, she was hailed as the "First Lady of Israeli Song." Born Naomi Sapir, Shemer did her own songwriting and composing, as well as setting famous poems to music, such as those of the Israeli poet, Rachel, and adapting well-known songs into Hebrew, such as the Beatles songs "Hey Jude" and "Let it Be" ("Lu Yehi"). Israeli songwriter Naomi Shemer's grave on the shores of the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret)]. The stones were left by visitors, in keeping with an ancient Jewish custom Naomi Shemer was born and raised in Kevutzat Kinneret, a kibbutz that her parents had helped to found, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. In the 1950s she served in the Israeli Defense Force's Nahal entertainment troupe and studied music at the Rubin Academy in Jerusalem. She married Mordechai Horowitz and had two children, Lali and Ariel. In 1983, Shemer received the Israel Prize for her contribution to Israeli culture. Several of Shemer's songs have the quality of anthems, striking deep national and emotional chords in the hearts of Israelis. Her most famous song is "Yerushalayim shel zahav" ("Jerusalem of Gold"). She wrote it in 1967, before the Six Day War, and added another stanza after Israel captured East Jerusalem and regained access to the Western Wall. In 1968, Uri Avnery, then a member of the Israeli parliament, proposed that "Jerusalem of Gold" become the Israeli anthem. The proposal was rejected, but the nomination itself says something about the power of Shemer's songs. Shemer continued to write and perform until her death. She died of cancer in 2004 at the age of seventy three.

1933: In Germany, Nazism was declared the sole German party.

1935: Birthdate of Tillie Lewis. Born Myrtle Ehrlich, in Brooklyn, NY, Lewis left high school after one year to work in a wholesale grocery. Noticing the high demand for imported cans of Italian tomatoes, she formed the idea of growing the same variety domestically. Discouraged by agriculture specialists at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, who told her it could not be done, Lewis moved on to other things, studying business and working briefly on Wall Street. However, Lewis returned to her tomato-growing idea in 1934, when the federal government raised the tariff on imported tomato products by 50%. Already on her way to Italy for a vacation, Lewis met an Italian exporter, Florindo del Gaizo, worried about losing his American customers. Lewis convinced him that Italian tomatoes could be grown in California, and they combined parts of their first names to create Flotill Products Inc. On July 13, 1935, her 34th birthday, Lewis opened the first Flotill cannery in Stockton, California. Two years later, when del Gaizo died, Lewis bought out his share of the business. By 1940, she had made San Joaquin County the top tomato-producing county in the United States. In addition to tomatoes, Lewis's Flotill Products, Inc., canned other fruits and vegetables, baby food, and frozen juices; during the Second World War, the company also became the largest producer of C-rations for the U.S. Army. By 1951, Flotill Products, later known as Tillie Lewis Foods, Inc., was earning $30 million per year, making it one of the five largest canning companies in the country. In the same year, Lewis was named "businesswoman of the year" by the Associated Press. In 1952, the company introduced a line of diet foods using low-calorie sweeteners and known as Tasti-Diet. Tillie Lewis Foods was eventually bought by the Ogden Corporation, which made Lewis one of its directors. Lewis died in 1977, but the Italian pomodora tomatoes she introduced to the U.S. are still a staple of American agriculture.

1936: The Palestine Post reported that two Jews were seriously injured by Arabs in Jerusalem. Figures prepared by this newspaper indicated that 41 Jews had been killed and over 150 seriously injured since the outbreak of the Arab disturbances on April 19. British forces lost five men. The estimated damage to Jewish property was over 100,000 pounds. The Tel Aviv Port jetty had been lengthened to 200 meters.

1938: Declaring that the maintenance of a proper Supreme Court was of paramount concern to the country, Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg urged in a speech here tonight that an extra session of the Senate be called before the Supreme Court convened in October to confirm or reject President Roosevelt's nominee to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Justice Benjamin N. Cardozo

1942: French police arrested author Irene Nemirovsky, as “a foreign Jew.” She was shipped to Auschwitz where she died five weeks later at the age of 39. She gained famed in the 21st century with posthumous publication of two newly discovered manuscripts, Suite Francaise and Fire in the Blood.

1942: Five thousand Jews of Rovno (Polish Ukraine) were executed by the Nazis.

1942: The Einsatzkommando returned to daily actions of murder. Seven thousand Jews were rounded up in Rowne ghetto. Over the next two days, the SS would slaughter 5,000 of them.

1944: The Red Army liberated Vilna, Lithuania. Eight thousand Nazis and their allies had been killed during the five day fight. The legions of the Red Army included the Jewish partisans led by Abba Kovner and his two closest associates, Vita Kempner and Ruzka Korczak. On this day, the Jewish partisans first met Ilya Ehrenburg, “a Jew from Russia, a writer and poet whose dispatches from the front had been a tremendous inspiration” for these and other partisans fighting in the woods and marshes of Eastern Europe. Ehrenburg took pictures of the Jewish brigade and was the first to tell their story to a wide, non-Jewish audience.

1946: Alfred Stieglitz passed away. Born in 1864 Stieglitz was the first born son of German Jewish immigrant parents. He became one of Americas most famous and prominent photographers. He was also instrumental in promoting modernist art to the American mainstream public.

1947: Emil Andsrom and two his UNSCOP colleagues held a secret meeting with the leaders of the Haganah in the Jerusalem suburb of Talipot. They wanted to know if the Haganah had the means and the will to protect the Jewish areas against Arab attack in the event of the establishment of a Jewish state. The six Haganah representatives, including Yigael Yadin, made a strong case in the affirmative. Their arguments were based, in part on their zeal, in part on their determination and, in part, their ability to artfully dodge the questions being asked.

1948: During the War of Independence Abba Eban spoke before the U.N. Security Council. He questioned why the Arabs had rejected the U.N. request to extend the cease fire between the Arabs and the Israelis for another ten days. Using the majestic tones of a Cambridge graduate he asked, “What are the ambitions which rest upon so flimsy a moral foundation that they cannot endure tend days and nights of peace?”

1948: During the War of Independence, Israeli forces continued their efforts to widen the corridor between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. To that end, they captured the village of Tsora – the birthplace of the Biblical figure Samson – from the Egyptians. This gave the Israelis control over another section of the railway running between the coast and the City of David.

1948: During the War of Independence, an Irgun unit began a night attack on Malah that lasted into the early hours of July 14. “Seventeen Irgunists were killed including Nathan Cahsman, from London, who had arrived in Israel on the ill-fated Atalena.

1950: At Boston’s Suffolk Downs, a three year old named Tel Aviv runs in the Fourth Race, a six furlong claiming event.

1950: In discussing the guiding principles of Israel’s foreign policy, Moshe Sharett said “that in the ideological struggle between the democratic and communist social orders Israel had definitely chosen democracy…Israel is most eager to promote friendly relations with all nations, regardless of their internal regimes. Yet it was impossible to ignore the fact that it only in democratic countries that Jewish communities enjoyed freedom of organization, expression and independent activity.”

1951: Arnold Schoenberg passed away. Born in Vienna in 1874, Schoenberg enjoyed a brilliant musical career. When the Nazis came to power in 1933, he was dismissed from his post as a director of a school for musical composition at the Prussian Academy of Arts in Berlin. His response was a formal, public return to the Jewish faith, which he had left early in life. America offered a haven and became his home. He wrote numerous works using Jewish themes including the Holocaust and the birth of the state of Israel.

1951: Birthdate of Edith Bernstein who morphed into Didi Conn, an actress who has appeared in film on the stage, and in television.

1951: The Jerusalem Post reported that 128,000 immigrants entered Israel during the first half of 1951 (one every two minutes). Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion presided over the meeting of the government-Jewish Agency's Coordination Board responsible for the newcomers' housing, employment and the state of sanitation in transit camps. "The attainment of freedom and security often takes precedence over personal convenience," David Ben-Gurion told a large audience in Beersheba.

1955: Birthdate of Ehud Havazelet an award-winning American novelist and short story writer who was born in Jerusalem. His father, Meir Havazalet, a rabbi and professor at Yeshiva University immigrated to the United States in 1957. He graduated from Columbia University in 1977, and received an M.F.A at the University of Iowa Writers Workshop in 1984. He became a Jones Lecturer at Stanford University, from 1985 to 1989, and a Wallace Stegner Fellow. He taught creative writing at Oregon State University from 1989 to 1999. Since 1999, he has taught creative writing at the University of Oregon.

1963: Israel adopts a law prohibiting the raising of pigs in Jewish settlements.

1972: Carroll Rosenbloom, owner of the Baltimore Colts, traded teams with the owner of the Los Angeles Rams. Rosenbloom was now the owner of the Los Angeles Rams, which are now the St. Louis Rams.

1976: The Jerusalem Post reported that Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin told the Knesset, at the special festive session marking the US bicentennial, that a strong and confident America was needed to assure freedom, democracy and peace. The Knesset sent a special, congratulory message to the US Congress. In London, the British minister of state announced that there was little doubt that Mrs. Dora Bloch was dead and that the Ugandan government must bring those responsible to justice. Britain regarded all Ugandan explanations as "totally unacceptable."

1978: Alexander Ginzburg, Soviet poet and political dissident was sentenced by a Soviet court to 8 years in prison. Although he was a practicing Russian Orthodox Christian, he adopted his mother's Jewish family name as a young man to protest Stalin's anti-Semitic campaigns.

1979: A 45-hour siege began at the Egyptian Embassy in Ankara, Turkey. Four Palestinian guerrillas killed two security men and seized 20 hostages. Now that Egypt was at peace with Israel, she was fair game for attack by Palestinian terrorists.

1989: At six o’clock in the evening al public transport in Jerusalem stopped for one minute in memory of a terrorist attack that had taken place on July 6 that targeted bus 405 that ran between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

1992: David Levy steps down as Israel’s Foreign Minister.

1997: In an article entitled “Israel Games Draw Westchester Athletes,” Chuck Slater provides a graphic portrait of Lorin Ambinder, Nina Zeitlin, Matthew Deutsch and Scott Grayson, the four young athletes from Westchester County who are in Israel to represent the United States in the 15th Maccabiah Games, opening tomorrow.

1997: The Sunday New York Times book section features a review of The Sense of Reality: Studies in Ideas and Their History by Isaiah Berlin and Man Without A Face the autobiography of East Germany’s spymaster Markus Wolf, the German Jew, who while head of Stasi, provided training camps for the PLO in East Germany where they could master the use of guns, explosives and guerilla tactics. Yes, Isaiah Berlin and Markus Wolf are both Jews which raises the question, “what is a typical Jew?”

2000: Jan Karski, a liaison officer of the Polish underground who infiltrated both the Warsaw Ghetto and a German concentration camp and then carried the first eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust to a mostly disbelieving “West,” died in Washington. Mr. Karski, a retired professor of history at Georgetown University, was 86 years old. He died of heart and kidney ailments at Georgetown University Hospital, the university said. In the late summer of 1942, Mr. Karski, then a 28-year-old clandestine diplomat in Warsaw for the Polish government-in-exile in London was preparing for a secret mission to carry information from Nazi-occupied Poland to London and Washington. Before leaving Warsaw, he was visited by two leaders of the Jewish underground who had managed to leave the Ghetto briefly to tell him about what they called ''Hitler's war against the Polish Jews.'' They said that by their calculations, more than 1.8 million Jews had already been killed by the Germans and that 300,000 of the 500,000 Jews jammed into the Warsaw Ghetto had been deported to an obscure village about 60 miles from Warsaw where the Germans had set up a death camp. They asked him if he could carry their information to Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt. They also asked if he would be willing to enter the Ghetto and see for himself what was happening. Mr. Karski, a Roman Catholic from a patriotic Polish family who seems to have been blessed with a photographic memory, agreed. By that time he had already endured a horrible war. Karski was his nom de guerre; he had been born Jan Kozielewski, the youngest of eight children, in Lodz, Poland's second-largest city, in 1914. He was a prize student and was recruited into the Polish diplomatic service, where he was quickly given coveted assignments to London and Paris. But as war approached, he enlisted in the army and was serving as a cavalry officer in 1939 when German soldiers, followed less than two weeks later by Russian troops, invaded Poland and divided the country. Mr. Karski was captured by the Soviets and placed in a detention camp. He escaped and joined the Polish underground; most of the Polish officers imprisoned with him were later executed by Soviet troops. Mr. Karski became a skilled courier for the underground, crossing enemy lines as a liaison between the Polish fighters and the West. He was captured by the Gestapo while on a mission in Slovakia in 1940 and was savagely tortured. Fearful that he might reveal secrets, he slashed his wrists and was put into a hospital. An underground commando team helped him escape, and he resumed his work as a clandestine liaison officer. In October 1939, the Germans enclosed the main Jewish areas in Warsaw with barbed wire. In less than a year the Ghetto was walled in, trapping half a million Jews. By July 1942 the first mass deportations of Jews to extermination camps had begun. In the third week of August 1942, Mr. Karski entered the cellar of an apartment house on the so-called Aryan side of the Ghetto wall and met with a youth from the Jewish Combat Organization, then secretly being formed in the Ghetto. The youth gave him some ragged clothes and an armband with a blue Star of David and led him through a recently dug tunnel. As they emerged, Mr. Karski saw the Ghetto streets and tenements crowded with haggard, hungry and dying Jews. Decades later, when asked to describe what he had seen, Mr. Karski would usually simply say, ''I saw terrible things.'' But on some occasions, for example in ''Shoah,'' Claude Lanzmann's classic documentary about the Holocaust, he would tell of seeing many naked dead bodies lying in the streets, and describe emaciated and starving people, listless infants and older children with expressionless eyes. He remembered watching from an apartment while two pudgy teenage boys in the uniforms of the Hitler Youth hunted Jews for sport, cheering and laughing when one of their rifle shots struck its target and brought screams of agony. One of the Jews who had prompted Mr. Karski to enter the Ghetto, and who escorted him, was Leon Feiner, a lawyer. Mr. Karski recalled that Mr. Feiner kept murmuring, ''Remember this, remember this.'' There was also another escort whose name Mr. Karski never learned. They both urged Mr. Karski to tell what he was witnessing to as many people in the West as he could, though they knew the facts would be hard to believe. At the time of Mr. Karski's visit, the expulsions from Warsaw had temporarily subsided, but they were to intensify in September as the liquidation of the Ghetto resumed in earnest. Mr. Feiner was among the hundreds of thousands who died.
There were five points that the two men in the Ghetto asked Mr. Karski to pass on to the Allied leaders:
*Preventing the extermination of the Jews should be declared an official goal of the Allies fighting Hitler.
*Allied propaganda should be used to inform the German people of the war crimes taking place and to publicize the names of German officials taking part.
*The Allies should appeal to the German people to bring pressure on Hitler's regime to stop the slaughter.
*The Allies should declare that if the genocide continued and the German masses did not rise to stop it, the German people would be held collectively responsible.
*Finally, if nothing else worked, the Allies should carry out reprisals by bombing German cultural sites and executing Germans in Allied hands who still professed loyalty to Hitler.
Mr. Karski later said that the Jews' proposals were ''bitter and unrealistic,'' as if they knew such a program could not and would not be carried out, and that he had told them their five points went beyond international law. For the rest of his life he remembered the response of the man accompanying Mr. Feiner: ''We don't know what is realistic, or not realistic. We are dying here! Say it!'' Mr. Karski asked what he should say to Jewish leaders abroad. Unhesitatingly his hosts told him that such leaders should consider hunger strikes, fasting to death if necessary, to shake the conscience of the world. Mr. Feiner then asked if Mr. Karski was still ready to carry out another fact-finding mission: Would he be willing to see for himself what was happening at one of the camps to which the trainloads of Jews were being sent? Mr. Karski consented, and a few days later he and a member of the Jewish resistance went by train from Warsaw to Izbica, a small town near Warsaw. There, his Jewish guide turned him over to the owner of a hardware store who was a member of the Polish underground. Mr. Karski was given the uniform of a Ukrainian militiaman working under the German command who had been bribed to take the day off. Another Ukrainian guard -- also bribed -- then led him to a large area encircled by barbed wire. Mr. Karski heard keening cries of men and women and thought he smelled burning flesh. Soon he witnessed the arrival of several thousand starving and frightened Jews who had been brought to the camp from Czechoslovakia. He watched as their valises and bags were taken away from them. Then he saw Jews being beaten and stabbed. Ranks of uniformed men pressed the crowd onto waiting box cars that had been coated with quicklime. Those who fell or fainted or who could not move were thrown into the cars. When no more bodies could fit inside, the doors were shut. Mr. Karski was told that the trains were heading for a camp not far away where their human cargo would be led into gas chambers. But he was also told that sometimes the trains were just left on sidings until those inside starved or suffocated. Mr. Karski returned to Warsaw to prepare himself for his dangerous journey to London. He was given a key whose soldered shaft contained microfilm of hundreds of documents. He went to a dentist and had several teeth pulled so that the resultant swelling could provide him with a reason why he couldn't talk if he was stopped by Germans; he was certain his Polish-accented German would give him away. Using local trains, he went to Berlin, the capital of the Reich, then through Vichy France to Spain, where a rendezvous led to passage to Gibraltar and then to London. He turned over the key containing the microfilm, described resistance activity and assessed as bleak the prospects of cooperation between the anti-Communist Polish underground and the partisans, who were sponsored by the same Soviets who in 1939 had joined Hitler in invading and dividing Poland. He spoke of the Jews, saying their fate was far more perilous than that of non-Jewish Poles. But for many of his Polish diplomatic superiors, the plight of the Jews remained marginal to Poland's struggle to regain its conquered land. Some even feared that any emphasis on the victimization of the Jews might detract attention from Poland's tragedy and diminish their own appeals for help. And when Mr. Karski carried his information about the destruction of the Jews to British authorities, he was met by even greater reluctance to act. ''In February 1943, I reported to Anthony Eden,'' he later wrote about a secret meeting with the British foreign secretary. ''He said that Great Britain had already done enough by accepting 100,000 refugees.'' In London, Mr. Karski met with Szmuel Zygelboym, who represented the Jewish Socialist Bund in the National Council of the Polish government-in-exile, to present the Polish Jews' urgings of active resistance. Mr. Zygelboym listened in pain but then said, ''It's impossible, utterly impossible.'' If he went on a hunger strike, he said, the authorities would send the police and drag him away to an institution. But he added: ''I'll do everything I can do to help them. I'll do everything they ask.'' A few months later, on May 12, 1943, just after the Germans put down the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Mr. Zygelboym sent a letter to the president and prime minister of the Polish government-in-exile, and then took his own life. He wrote, ''By my death I wish to make my final protest against the passivity with which the world is looking on and permitting the annihilation of the Jewish people.'' In July 1943, Mr. Karski arrived in the United States. Two months earlier, attempts by the Germans to liquidate those Jews still remaining in the Warsaw Ghetto was met with armed resistance. In a desperate, uneven struggle over three weeks, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, more than 10,000 Jews were killed in the fighting or in fires set by the Germans to destroy the Ghetto. The 56,000 Jews remaining were taken to the Treblinka death camp. ''Almost every individual was sympathetic to my reports concerning the Jews,'' Mr. Karski said. ''But when I reported to the leaders of governments, they discarded their conscience, their personal feeling. ''They provided a rationale which seemed valid. What was the situation? The Jews were totally helpless. The war strategy was the military defeat of Germany and the defeat of Germany's war potential for all eternity. Nothing could interfere with the military crushing of the Third Reich. The Jews had no country, no government. They were fighting, but they had no identity.'' He kept telling what he knew, honoring the promise he had given to the two men in the Ghetto. A secret meeting was arranged between Mr. Karski and President Roosevelt. He said that commanders of the underground Home Army were estimating that if there was to be no Allied intervention in the next year and a half, the Jews of Poland would ''cease to exist.'' He did not tell Roosevelt of his own experiences or observations. Mr. Karski believed that he failed to move Roosevelt to any real action. But John Pehle, who became head of the War Refugee Board, a federal agency that helped settle surviving Jews, said later that Roosevelt had decided to establish the board as a consequence of his talks with Mr. Karski. Mr. Pehle said the mission “changed U.S. policy overnight from indifference to affirmative action.'' Mr. Karski was planning to return to Warsaw and resume his clandestine work, but his superiors told him that his identity had become known to the Germans and ordered him to remain in the United States. His mission then was to promote the cause of Poland, which once freed of German occupation would have to contend with Stalin's designs. He gave interviews, wrote magazine articles and drew on his own experiences to write a book, ''Story of a Secret State,'' which was published at the end of 1944 by Houghton Mifflin and became a Book of the Month Club selection. Within a year the war came to an end, and so did the Polish government-in-exile that Mr. Karski had served. The Yalta agreement had consigned postwar Poland to the Soviet sphere, and Mr. Karski, who knew and scorned Communism, did not return to his native land. Instead, at the age of 39, he enrolled at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown. He received his doctorate in two and a half years and stayed on, teaching at Georgetown until his retirement in 1984. He became a citizen in 1954. In 1965 he married Pola Nirenska, a dancer and choreographer who had been born Pola Nirensztajn in Poland, the daughter of an observant Jewish father. All her relatives had been killed in the Holocaust, but she had survived the war in London and had become a major force in dance in Washington -- teaching, choreographing her own work and leading her own company. In 1992, Pola Nirenska, then 81 years old, jumped to her death from the balcony of their apartment in Bethesda, Md. Her last dance piece, presented in Washington in 1990, was inspired by Holocaust victims she had known and was called ''In Memory of Those I Loved . . . Who Are No More.'' Soon after her death, Mr. Karski established a $5,000 annual prize to be awarded by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research to authors documenting or interpreting Jewish contributions to Polish culture and science.

2003: The New York Times features reviews of books by Jewish authors and/or of special interest to Jewish readers including 'Absolutely American': Culture War at West Point” by David Lipsky and the recently released paperback edition of “King of the Jews” by Leslie Epstein, a Holocaust novel that focuses on the morally ambiguous politics of survival of a Judenrat, forced to collaborate with the Nazis in a Polish ghetto.

2004: Jacobo Kaufmann, Israeli acclaimed theatre and opera director, directs and designs the scenery of the Biblical opera "Nabucco" by Giuseppe Verdi at the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, opening at the world famous Terme di Caracalla. He is the first Israeli ever to be hired to direct an opera in Italy.

2005: The government of Israel sealed the borders with the West Bank and Gaza following a Tuesday night suicide bombing at Netanya. Netanya is the site of the Maccabiah Games. No athletes were victims of the attack and all had vowed to stay for the rest of the competition.

2006: Fast of the 17th of Tammuz. The solemnity of the day is heightened by reports that Hezbollah terrorists have kidnapped two members of the IDF on the border of Lebanon. In addition to which, eight members of IDF have fallen during the terrorist attack and/or as part of the military action aimed at rescuing them.

2006: The following were among a total of 43 Israeli civilians (including four who died of heart attacks during rocket barrages) and 116 IDF soldiers were killed in the Israel-Hizbullah war: Monica Lehrer Zeidman, 40, of Nahariya; Nitzo Rubin, 33, of Safed.

2006: Oscar winning actor Red Buttons passed away.

2007: In Jerusalem, "Performances in Nature" presents Yarok Ad (Evergreen) performing Irish music at Ein Chemed

2008: Abbas and Olmert were expected to discuss the status of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks on the sidelines of a conference hosted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to boost cooperation between the European Union, Middle Eastern and North African countries.

2008: The 94th Hadassah Annual Convention opens in Los Angeles.

2008: The Washington Post features reviews of books by Jewish authors and/or of special interest to Jewish readers including Prague in Danger: The Years of German Occupation, 1939-45: Memories and History, Terror and Resistance, Theater and Jazz, Film and Poetry, Politics and War by Peter Demetz who was a boy living in Prague as a “first degree half-Jew” (his mother was Jewish) during the war, Lady Liberty by Doreen Rapport, a noted author of children’s books including The Secret Seder and In the Promised Land: Lives of Jewish Americans and The Owner of the House: New and Collected Poems 1940-2001 by Louis Simpson who mixes the warmth of memories of his Jewish ancestry with the grim realities that brought it to an end; "In my grandmother's house there was always chicken soup/And talk of the old country -- mud and boards,/Poverty,/The snow falling down the necks of lovers. But the Germans killed them./I know it's in bad taste to say it,/But it's true. The Germans killed them all."

2008: The New York Times features reviews of books by Jewish authors and/or of special interest to Jewish readers including Rome 1960: The Olympics That Changed the World by David Maraniss, Atmospheric Disturbances by Rivka Glachen, and As Good As Anybody: Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Amazing March Toward Freedom by Richard Michelson.

2008: Ofira Henig, makes her directorial debut at the Weill Auditorium in Kfar Shmaryahu when the curtain rises on “Yerma” written by Spanish playwright and poet Federico Garcia.

2009: Kolech, a modern Orthodox women's organization, will hold its sixth international conference entitled "The Woman and Her Judaism."

2009: As part of the Noontime Lecture Series: “Balance of Power in the Persian Gulf” The National Museum of American Jewish Military History presents “Iraq vs. the United States, Gulf War I” in which Dr. Jeffrey Greenhut will show how the Iraqi seizure of Kuwait was a direct outcome of the Iran-Iraq War, and then how the United States, under the leadership of President George H. W. Bush, formed a vast international coalition that was able to liberate Kuwait in one of the most effective military campaigns since World War II. Dr. Jeffrey Greenhut is the former Program Director of the US Army Center of Military History.

2009: The 18th Maccabiah Games, which draw Jewish athletes from around the world as well as Israeli citizens, both Jewish and Arab, opens today in Israel. Approximately 5,000 athletes will be participating from outside of Israel, representing a 20% increase from the last Games held in 2005. The Maccabiah Games are one of the five largest athletic events in the world by number of participants and are considered Regional Games by the International Olympic Committee. Competition is held in many different sports at locations around the country
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1 comment:

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