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Liberating Alcatraz on Hanukkah

On this date in 1969, Reform Rabbi Roger Herst (second from right) and members of the American Jewish Congress brought badly needed food and blankets, as well as a khanike menorah, to Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay to celebrate the liberation holiday with 400 Native Americans who had been occupying the island since November 20. […]

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Blacks and Jews Together

The massive March on Washington at which Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his most famous speech, “I Have a Dream,” took place on this date in 1963. Immediately before Dr. King took the podium, Rabbi Joachim Prinz, president of the American Jewish Congress, spoke to the 200,000 demonstrators as follows: “I speak to you as an […]

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Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg

Arthur Hertzberg, a champion of Jewish liberalism and independent thought who led the American Jewish Congress, stoked Jewish support for the civil rights movement, called for Palestinian statehood immediately after the 1967 Six-Day War, helped to found Peace Now, and wrote, edited, or collaborated on thirteen books, many of them about American Jewish history and […]

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American Jews Line Up Against the Trump Ban

by Ron Skolnik WITH NOT MUCH to smile about since Inauguration Day, it has been heartening to see the nearly undivided reaction of the American Jewish community to Donald Trump’s January 27 Executive Order (EO) on immigration and refugee admission – widely considered to constitute a Muslim ban. With one or two glaring exceptions — […]

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May 7: The Vietnam War

The U.S. defined May 7, 1975 as ending the Vietnam War era in an announcement by President Gerald R. Ford on that date — twenty-one years after the date on which the French had been decisively defeated in the Battle of DIen Bien Phu, 1954. While many, many American Jews were deeply involved in the […]

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March 17: Rabbi Stephen S. Wise

Reform rabbi and Zionist leader Stephen S. Wise was born in Budapest on this date in 1874. He came to New York as an infant when his rabbi father took the pulpit at Congregation Beyt Israel Anshei Emes in Brooklyn and then Rodeph Sholom in Manhattan. Wise earned a Ph.D at Columbia before pursuing rabbinical […]

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December 15: The American Jewish Congress

The American Jewish Congress held its first meeting on this date in 1918, which was also the anniversary of the 1791 ratification of the Bill of Rights, a document that AJCongress in its hey-day expended much of its energy and legal expertise defending and expanding. As a membership organization with local chapters, AJCongress aimed to […]

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November 12: Against the Death Penalty

Norman Redlich, dean of the New York University Law School, a member of the Warren Commission (which investigated the assassination of John F. Kennedy), and a strong opponent of the death penalty, was born in the Bronx on this date in 1925. Early in his career, Redlich was active in the National Emergency Civil Liberties […]

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Jews and Public Education Reform

by Seth Sandronsky THERE ARE QUITE A FEW American Jews who have skin in the game when it comes to resisting  corporate-style public school reform, including charter schools and high-stakes testing. One is Diane Ravitch, author of Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools (Knopf, 2013). […]

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September 27: Will Maslow

Will Maslow, executive director of the American Jewish Congress from 1960 to 1972, at the height of its civil rights involvements, was born in the Ukraine on this date in 1907. During World War II, Maslow served as first director of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Committee on Fair Employment Practices, which Roosevelt created at the urging […]

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