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Elma Ehrlich Levinger, the editor of Jewish Child magazine and author of more than thirty books for children about Jewish history and identity, was born in Chicago on this date in 1886. “Levinger used both drama and the short story as a means of educating young people and women about Jewish history and traditions, hoping to encourage them to participate in Jewish social life,” writes Joan Moelis Rappaport at the Jewish Women’s Archive. “. . . Her series of tales, In Many Lands (1923), emphasizes the role of different traditions in connecting Jews throughout the diaspora. In her book Great Jewish Women (1940) and her biography of Henrietta Szold called Fighting Angel (1946), she highlights the importance of women’s contributions to Jewish life.” She also wrote biographies of Leonardo Da Vinci and Albert Einstein. Levinger was active in the National Council of Jewish Women, the National Council for Prevention of War, the Birth Control League, and Hadassah. In 1924 she wrote a poem, “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny,” published in the NAACP’s Crisis magazine, that satirized Stephen Foster’s song and played on “the fact that instead of blacks being happy to be carried back to the seat of white control, they would literally have to be carried back,” notes Lean’tin L. Bracks in Black Women of the Harlem Renaissance Era. To read some of her “Jewish Holyday Stories,” click here. “Sam Levinger, son of Reform rabbi, Lee J. Levinger, and writer, educator and Jewish communal leader, Elma E. Levinger . . . was one of approximately 2800 Americans who went to Spain to fight as a volunteer in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, the American contingent of the International Brigades, during the Spanish Civil War. Sam was mortally wounded in the battle of Belchite in September 1937 and died in a field hospital at the age of twenty.”--Alison Rose, Virginia Commonwealth University Menorah Review
Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.
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