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“Jewish Women Call for Change”

On this date in 1972, a Jewish feminist study group, Ezrat Nashim (named for the women’s section of synagogue), submitted a manifesto to the Rabbinical Assembly, the rabbinic arm of the movement for Conservative Judaism, at the RA’s national convention. The document, entitled “Jewish Women Call for Change,” petitioned the Conservative movement to count women in […]

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Moses Hadas, Democratizing the Classics

Moses Hadas, a linguist and scholar of the classics who democratized the study of ancient books at Columbia University by emphasizing the value of studying them as literature, even in English translation, was born on this date in 1900. Ordained as a rabbi by the Jewish Theological Seminary, Hadas was fluent in Yiddish, German, ancient Hebrew, […]

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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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November 11: Rabbi Louis Ginzberg

Lithuanian-born Louis Ginzberg, who trained two generations of Conservative rabbis at the Jewish Theological Seminary and produced the enormously erudite and entertaining seven-volume collection of midrashic and aggadic materials from the Talmud, The Legends of the Jews, died just short of his 80th birthday on this date in 1953. A descendant of the Gaon of […]

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September 13: Cyrus Adler

Cyrus Adler, librarian at the Smithsonian Institution (1892-1905), chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), and a founder of the American Jewish Committee, was born to German Jewish immigrants in Van Buren, Arkansas on this date in 1863. A professor of “Semitics” at Johns Hopkins University, he helped to found the Jewish Publication Society in […]

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September 7: Heinrich Graetz’s History of the Jews

German historian and Biblical scholar Heinrich Graetz, whose eleven-volume History of the Jews, published between 1853 and 1876, is widely seen as the first narrative Jewish history written from a Jewish perspective and capturing the entire sweep of Jewish history, died at 73 on this date in 1891. Graetz, a product of traditional yeshivas during […]

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August 1: The Sidewalk Socrates

Philosopher Sidney Morgenbesser, who taught at Columbia University for four decades and was dubbed “the Sidewalk Socrates” by James Ryerson in the New York Times magazine, died of ALS at 82 on this date in 2004. Morgenbesser was a master of the hilarious, brainy quip (click here for some examples) and a beloved teacher. A […]

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December 7: The Father of Conservative Judaism

Solomon Schechter, the Jewish scholar and educator who served as architect of the Conservative denomination of Judaism, was born to a Lubavitcher family in Romania on this date in 1847. Schechter became internationally known in 1896 for discovering and bringing to London more than 100,000 pages of rare manuscripts from the Cairo genizah. Invited from […]

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April 8: The Oldest Congregation in America

Shearith Israel, a.k.a. the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, established as the first Jewish congregation in America in 1655 by Jewish settlers in New Amsterdam, dedicated its first synagogue building on this date in 1730, on Mill Street in lower Manhattan. The congregation has occupied a series of five buildings, including its present quarters on West […]

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