26 December 2009

December 26: This day in Jewish history

"This Day in Jewish History" is an excellent compilation of what happened each day throughout our history.

The blog is part of the study program of the Jewish History Study Group at Temple Judah in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and compiled by Mitchell A. Levin.

Here are some of the events listed for today, December 26:

-- 1424: Barcelona, Spain was granted the right to exclude Jews for all time.

-- 1495: Savonarola expelled the Medici and the Jews from Florence. The Jews, who had previously served as the Medici's bankers, were replaced by a Monte di Pieta, a public loan bank.

-- 1634: Religious freedom granted to Jews and Catholics in Brazil, when it was under Dutch control. In 1654, the Portuguese took Recife, Brazil, and the Jews fled. One small group arrived in New Amsterdam (New York).

-- 1776: Washington ferries his freezing, starving troops across the ice choked Delaware River and leads them to victory at the Battle of Trenton. There were certainly Jewish soldiers among those who joined in the Crossing of the Delaware, two may have been Abraham Levy and Phillip Russell. Since Washington’s Army was on the verge of destruction, defeat at Trenton would have meant the end of the American Revolution, a war which created a nation rightfully described as “the last best hope men” – an appellation with which the Jewish people would heartily agree. One of the most readable treatments of this turning point in American history is The Crossing by the Jewish author Howard Fast which was the source for a film by the same name.

-- 1825: Several Imperial Russia army officers lead force of approximately,3,000 soldiers on the Senate Square in the failed Decembrist uprising. Pavel Pestel, a leader of the failed Decembrist revolt, proposed sending all Jews from Russia to some Asia Minor territory acquired for this purpose, where they would be able to establish independent state.

-- 1897: The American Jewish Historical Association held its seventh annual meeting in Philadelphia. It was chaired by First Vice President Simon W. Rosendale who read the resignation letter from the AJHA president Oscar S. Straus who was serving as United States Minister at Constantinople

-- 1901: The Fifth Zionist Congress convenes in Basel. The Jewish National Fund is established. The Jewish Colonial Trust, the monetary arm or bank of the World Zionist Organization, finally raises sufficient sums to be established. By the end of the year, 250.000 English Pounds have been collected.

-- 1905: Winston Churchill was approached by a leading Jewish constituent, Dr. Joseph Dulberg of Manchester, seeking British support for a Jewish national home.

-- 1907: Months of organizing work by Pauline Newman, 16, resulted in the largest-ever New York City rent strike. One reason for the strike's success was Newman's enlistment of neighborhood housewives. While working-class activists like Newman had to work during the day, the impassioned housewives that they organized could go from tenement to tenement to convince others to strike. Thus, the success of the strike depended on shop floor networks of teenaged girls and on networks of neighborhood housewives and mothers. The strike, involving 10,000 families in lower Manhattan, lasted only until January 9, but about 2,000 families succeeded in having their rents reduced....

-- 1915: In an attempt to “weaken Russia internally, the authorities in Berlin handed Russian Jewish Bolshevik, Alexander Helphand, a million rubles to spread anti-war propaganda through Russia.

-- 1918: Following British elections, Churchill wrote Prime Minister Lloyd George cautioning him against appointing three Jews to a cabinet that had only seven openings. This was not based on any anti-Semitic feelings on Churchill’s part. He was merely expressing concerns for the reality of British politics at a time when Lloyd George needed to build a broadly supported government that could “win the peace” now that the World War had been won....

-- 1931: George and Ira Gershwin's Pulitzer Prize-winning musical play "Of Thee I Sing" premieres on Broadway.

-- 1936: Founding of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, originally called the Palestine Philharmonic. The first concert was conducted by Arturo Toscanini in Tel Aviv.

-- 1948: The Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, which had been meeting in Tel Aviv moves to Jerusalem.

-- 1974: Comedian Jack Benny dies at 80.

-- 1990: Tele 5, a Spanish television station, is scheduled to broadcast an interview with President Hussein that had been taped on December 22 in Baghdad during when the Iraqi leaders says Tel Aviv will be Iraq's first target if war breaks out in the Persian Gulf.

-- 2001: In Moscow, a monument honoring Shalom Aleichem was unveiled at a public ceremony attended by Nathan Meron, the Israeli Ambassador.

-- 2002: Ronald Lauder, Commission for Art Recovery chair and co-chairman of the Research Project on Art and Archive co-chair, describes attempts to reclaim and return cultural treasures stolen during the Holocaust.

-- 2005: The New York Times describes the fate of Porto's medieval Jewish community. “A chance discovery in recent months during renovations of a building in this Atlantic port city has revealed a dark secret from Portugal's past: a 16th-century synagogue. Built when Portugal's Jews had been forced to convert to Catholicism or risk being burned at the stake, the house of worship was hidden behind a false wall in a four-story house that the Rev. Agostinho Jardim Moreira, a Roman Catholic priest, was converting into a home for some older parishioners. Father Moreira, a scholar of Porto's Jewish history, said that as soon as the workers told him of the wall, "I knew there had to be some kind of Jewish symbol behind it." His hunch was confirmed when the wall came down to reveal a carved granite repository, about five feet tall, arched at the top and facing east toward Jerusalem. It was the ark where the medieval Jews kept their Torahs....

-- 2007 (17 Tevet): Yahrtzeit of Rabbi Aaron Zelig Ben Joel Feivush, author of Toldot Aaron and Rabbi Yaakov Wolf Krantz, Maggid of Dubna.

That's just some of what's listed for today. Click on the link to read more.

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