Henry Moscowitz and the NAACP

Social activist Henry Moscowitz was one of a small committee who launched the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) with a call to action on this date in 1909, the centennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. Among the signatories were Jane Addams, WEB Dubois, John Dewey, Rabbi Emil G. Hirsch, Julius Rosenwald, Lincoln […]

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Brian Epstein

The Beatles arrived in America on this date in 1964 and launched a cultural tidal wave. They were accompanied by their 30-year-old manager Brian Epstein, who had paid for the recording of their first demo record, convinced record producer George Martin to sign them, invented their “mop-top” hairstyles, outfitted them in suits, and arranged for […]

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UN Resolution 181

The United Nations General Assembly approved the partition of Palestine into a new Jewish state and a new Arab state on this date in 1947, by a vote of 33-13, with 10 abstentions and one absence (Thailand). The thirteen nations voting no on Resolution 181 were Afghanistan, Cuba, Egypt, Greece, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi […]

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Jon Stewart

Jon Stewart (Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz), who became a household name through his work on The Daily Show, was born in New York City on this date in 1962. Stewart hosted, wrote for, and executive-produced the comedy show from 1999 until 2015, turning it into a major source of news, information and progressive political perspectives for the cable TV […]

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Angelica Balabanoff

International socialist activist Angelica Balabanoff died in Rome on this date in 1965. She was born in 1878 to a wealthy, privileged Jewish family in Chernigov, near Kiev, in Ukraine, but found the privilege unbearable and rejected it to become a social activist in Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, and Russia. Balabanoff was fluent in several languages and held […]

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Terezin, the “Model” Camp

The Terezin concentration camp (Theresienstadt) was established by the Nazis in Czechoslovakia, near Prague, on this date in 1941. Lodged in a fortress built between 1780 and 1790, it was presented by the Nazis as a “model” Jewish community, with some visits permitted from the Red Cross and other observers. However, most of the 80,000 Czech Jews […]

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Lawrence Cohn “Rescues” Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson, arguably the most influential blues musician of the 20th century, began five days of recording on this date in 1936 in San Antonio, Texas — the first of only two known periods in a recording studio during his short life (1911-1938). Fifty-five years later, record producer Lawrence (Larry) Cohn of Legacy (a division […]

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Clara Lemlich Sparks an Uprising

Clara Lemlich made a spontaneous speech at Cooper Union on this date in 1909 that sparked the “Uprising of the 20,000,” an industry-wide strike of shirtwaist workers mobilized by the new International Ladies Garment Workers Union. “I want to say a few words!” shouted Lemlich, a 23-year-old garment worker, in Yiddish, following AFL leader Samuel Gompers’ […]

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The “Israelite with Egyptian Principles”

Judah P. Benjamin was confirmed as Secretary of War of the Confederacy on this date in 1861. Benjamin was a plantation owner, slaveholder and attorney who had served as U.S. senator from Louisiana (the second Jewish senator in history after David Levy Yulee of Florida) and had twice declined appointment to the Supreme Court. Republican Senator […]

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George Wald, Scientist and Activist

Nobelist George Wald, who discovered that Vitamin A was a component of the retina and crucial to good eyesight, was born in New York to Jewish immigrant parents on this date in 1906. The first member of his family to attend college, Wald was doing a postgrad fellowship in Switzerland and Germany when Hitler came […]

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