Orthodox Point Guard Naama Shafir

Naama Shafir scored a career high forty points on this date in 2011 to lead her basketball team, the University of Toledo Rockets, to a National Invitational Tournament title. A native of Hoshaya, Israel, Shafir was the first female Orthodox Jew to earn an NCAA Division I scholarship. Her school and team accommodated her needs […]

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March 29: Mother of Charities

Frances Wisebart Jacobs, who created Denver, Colorado’s nondenominational Charity Organization Society, the first federation of charities in the U.S., which evolved into the national Community Chest and then the United Way, was born in Harrodsburg, Kentucky on this date in 1843. She was a school teacher in Cincinnati, Ohio before she married Abraham Jacobs, her […]

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March 27: Blowing Up Nazi Records to Save Lives

Frieda Belinfante helped to blow up Amsterdam’s population registry in the city’s City Hall on this date in 1943 in order to prevent Nazi efforts to expose false documents and capture more of Amsterdam’s Jews, many of whom were in hiding. Belinfante, a cellist, was the daughter, on her father’s side, of a musical Sephardic […]

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March 6: Hours of Devotion

Fanny Schmiedl Neuda, who wrote Stunden der Andacht, “Hours of Devotion” — subtitled “A Book of Prayer and Moral Uplift for Jewish Women and Girls,” and the first Jewish prayerbook for women written by a woman — was born into a family of rabbis in Moravia on this date in 1816. Published in 1855 after her […]

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February 19: Logically Speaking

Ruth Bacan Marcus, a groundbreaking logician and professor of philosopher at Yale University, died at 90 on this date in 2012. She came to prominence with a 1946 article in The Journal of Symbolic Logic in which she proposed a formula for positing a connection between possibility and actuality. Her Barcan formula translates into words […]

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February 17: The First Jewish Woman in Congress

Florence Prag Kahn, at age 58, became the first Jewish woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives on this date in 1925. She beat two other candidates in her San Francisco district to succeed her husband, Representative Julius Kahn, who had died after being reelected to his 13th term. Florence Kahn would herself be […]

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February 15: A Geneticist and Ethicist

Molecular biologist Maxine Frank Singer, who raised early alarms about the ethical issues involved in recombinant DNA research and organized the 1975 Asilomar Conference, which issued guidelines for dealing with those issues, was born in New York on this date in 1931. Singer was president of the Carnegie Institution of Washington from 1988 until 2002, […]

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December 25: The Matse Queen

Regina Margareten, whose family built the Horowitz Brothers & Margareten Company, Orthodox matse-bakers on the Lower East Side, which she ran from her father’s death in 1923 until her own death at 96 in 1959, was born in Hungary on this date in 1863 (some sources say 1862). Margareten came to the U.S. as a […]

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December 15: The Haim Sisters

Alana Mychal Haim (center in the photo), the youngest of three sisters in the band Haim, was born in southern California on this date in 1991 to an Israeli father and an American mother, both musicians. Haim’s 2013 debut album, Days Are Gone, achieved #1 status in the United Kingdom and fetched critical comparisons to […]

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December 6: Martha Minow of Harvard Law

Martha Minow, dean of the Harvard Law School since 2009, whom President Obama named as “a teacher who changed my life,” was born in Highland Park, Illinois on this date in 1954. Minow has taught at Harvard Law since 1981 and is an expert in human rights, advocacy for oppressed minorities and women, military justice, […]

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