“Financier of the Revolutionary War”

Haym Salomon, often referred to as “the financier of the Revolutionary War,” died on this date in 1785. Born in Poland (circa 1740), but a descendant of Jews who had fled the Spanish Inquisition, he immigrated to New York City in 1775, became a financial broker, and joined the Sons of Liberty. Believed to have been […]

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Clifford Odets

Radical playwright and screenwriter Clifford Odets, whose Depression-era dramas Waiting for Lefty and Awake and Sing! were cultural sensations that had enduring impact on his generation of writers, was born to Jewish immigrants in Philadelphia on this date in 1906. Raised in the Bronx, he dropped out of high school to pursue acting, and became a founding actor in Harold Clurman’s […]

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February 9: Reverse Transcription in Genetics

Howard Martin Temin, who shared the 1975 Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering the reverse transcriptase — the enzyme that makes possible an interchange of information between RNA and DNA — died at 59 on this date in 1994. Temin was born in Philadelphia to progressive Jewish parents; for his bar mitsve, the family donated […]

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September 20: Yom Kippur Anarchists’ Ball, 1893

The anarchist Yiddish newspaper Fraye Arbiter Shtime (Free Voice of Labor) sponsored its annual Yom Kippur concert and ball, “with a pleasant… and tasteful buffet,” at Clarendon Hall, 114 East 13th Street, in New York City on this date in 1893. This mass anti-religious event was met by “an estimated mob of five to six […]

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June 21: The Communalist

Writer, educator, and activist philanthropist Minnie Dessau Louis, founder of the Hebrew Technical School for Girls, a vocational school housed ultimately at Second Avenue and 15th Street in New York, was born in Philadelphia on this date in 1841. Dessau Louis was an instrumental founder of the National Council of Jewish Women in 1894, a […]

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April 28: Muhammad Ali’s Grandson

Jacob Wertheimer, grandson of American boxing champion Muhammad Ali, became a bar mitsve on this date in 2012 at Rodeph Shalom in Philadelphia. The young man is the son of Khaliah Ali, the champ’s daughter, and her husband Spencer Wertheimer. “I was born and raised as a Muslim,” the mother said. “But I’m not into […]

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March 17: “A Philosopher Among Architects”

American architect and professor of architecture Louis I. Kahn (Itze-Leib Schmuilowsky) died in New York at 73 on this date in 1974. Based in Philadelphia, he serve as professor of architecture at Yale from 1947 to 1957 and at the University of Pennsylvania from 1957 until his demise. Kahn was perhaps better known for his […]

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The Passing of the Sholom Aleichem Club

A Philadelphia Community From 1954 to 2015 By Robert Kleiner THE SHOLOM ALEICHEM CLUB, a secular Jewish organization that has been committed to the study of our history, to Jewish continuity, to the enhancement of Jewish identity, to the education of our community and our children, and to social activism as a vital part of secular […]

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October 26: While Messiah Tarried

An historian of the Holocaust and of the Jewish Left, Nora Levin died at 73 on this date in 1989. Her books were The Holocaust: The Destruction of European Jewry, 1933-1945 (1968); While Messiah Tarried: Jewish Socialist Movements, 1871-1917  (1977); and The Jews in the Soviet Union since 1917: Paradox of Survival (two volumes, 1989). […]

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March 13: The Publishing Mogul

Walter Annenberg, who created TV Guide and Seventeen magazine and contributed some $2 billion to universities, art museums, and other cultural institutions during his lifetime, was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on this date in 1908. Annenberg’s mob-connected father Moe published the Daily Racing Form and purchased the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1936 before falling into tax […]

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