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June 18: Truman’s Pal

Lawrence Bush
June 17, 2016
Truman-jacobson-picture-300x238Edward Jacobson, a close friend and business partner to Harry S. Truman who convinced him during his presidency to meet with Chaim Weizmann and to grant American recognition to Israel as soon as it declared its independence, was born in New York on this date in 1891. Jacobson’s family moved to Leavenworth, Kansas when Edward was 2, and settled in Kansas City in 1905, where Jacobson and Truman became friends. They served together in an army unit in 1917, supervising a canteen, and opened a haberdashery after World War I. The store went bankrupt after three years, but Truman and Jacobson remained loyal friends, and after Truman became president of the U.S., Jacobson had open access to the White House. He and Truman discussed the Holocaust more than once, and when a very old and half-blind Chaim Weizmann came to the U.S. to lobby for Israel’s independence, Jacobson convinced the President to see him. The result was full American diplomatic recognition for Israel on May 14, 1948. “Mr. President, Harry, you’ve got to do me this one favor. See this tired, old man. He’s come halfway across the world to see you. Just give him a few minutes of your time.” --Edward Jacobson

​​​​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.