Lillian Wald and the Henry Street Settlement

Lillian Wald co-founded what would become the Henry Street Settlement House (its original name was Nurses’ Settlement) on this date in 1893 — which was also her 26th birthday. Wald, the daughter of immigrants from Germany, enjoyed a relatively affluent upbringing and, after training as a nurse, became the greatest champion of public health services in […]

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American Resistance to World War I

by Bennett Muraskin Discussed in this essay: War against War: The American Fight for Peace, 1914-1918, by Michael Kazin. Simon and Schuster, 2017, 400 pages. THE UNITED STATES did not enter World War I until April 1917, over two and a half years after the war began. If the militaristic Theodore Roosevelt had won the presidency in 1912 (he came […]

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December 9: Mark Gertler and D.H. Lawrence

Painter Mark Gertler, whose life, poverty, and death inspired at least three fictional characters — the main protagonist of Gilbert Cannan’s novel Mendel, Herr Loerke in D. H. Lawrence’s Women in Love, and Gombauld in Aldous Huxley’s Crome Yellow — was born in London on this date in 1891. Gertler, according to his biographer Sarah […]

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August 17: The Israeli-Hungarian Anarchist

Toma Sik, a son of Hungarian Holocaust survivors who became a highly visible anarchist and conscientious objector to Israeli militarism — in a country in which conscientious objection is not recognized — was born in Budapest on this date in 1939. Sik was an active secular humanist, a defender of Bedouin rights, a proponent for […]

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December 15: Ludwig Zamenoff’s International Language

Dr. Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof, an opthalmologist who created and promoted the world’s most successful language invented by an individual, Esperanto, was born in Bialystok on this date in 1859. Zamenhoff had native fluency in Yiddish and Russian, and his father, a language teacher, gave him knowledge of German and French. Zamenhof also learned Polish, and […]

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September 10: Garbage Can Flora

Flora Langerman Spiegelberg, who successfully campaigned to improve New York City’s sanitation services for more than a decade in the early 20th century, was born there to German Jewish parents on this date in 1857. Langerman was educated in Germany and married Willi Spiegelberg, thirteen years her senior, at 17. After a year-long European honeymoon, […]

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The Jewish Connections of Käthe Kollwitz

by Helen Engelhardt From the Autumn, 2013 issue of Jewish Currents THIS WOMAN has a strong face, a square jaw, a mouth that does not smile, a wide wrist. There is no seductiveness or sensuality in her self-portrait. She is Käthe Kollwitz, a German graphic artist and sculptor (1867-1945) whose work focused almost exclusively on […]

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September 11: Rosika Schwimmer, Pacifist and Feminist

A founder of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and the pre-World War II Campaign for World Government, Rosika Schwimmer was born in Budapest on this date in 1877. Schwimmer founded the Hungarian Feminist Association in 1897. She also helped to found the Hungarian National Council of Women, among other women’s organizations. When Hungary […]

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July 5: Rabbi Judah Magnes

Rabbi Judah Leon Magnes, a founder of the American Jewish Committee, a pacifist leader during World War I, and the first chancellor of the Hebrew University, was born in San Francisco on this date in 1877. Magnes was a major voice of Reform Judaism in the 20th century and the main organizer of the New […]

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