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A Zionist Before Zionism

Rabbi Zevi Hirsch Kallischer, an Orthodox leader who published a widely circulated book in 1862 that endorsed Jewish resettlement in the land of ancient Israel, and traveled to several German cities to help spark the formation of colonization societies, died at 79 in Thorn, Prussia on this date in 1874. A vehement opponent of Reform […]

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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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Opposing Segregation in Little Rock, Arkansas

Little Rock, Arkansas began to integrate its public schools on this date in 1959 while segregationists rallied at the State Capitol and then marched to Central High School, where police arrested twenty-one of them. This followed the “Lost Year” of 1958, in which Governor Orval Faubus closed the public schools to avoid federally-ordered school integration; to head off a […]

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The King’s Torah: Preemptive Murder of Non-Jews

West Bank settlement leader Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira was arrested by Israeli police on this date in 2010 on suspicion of incitement to violence, several months after the publication of his book, The King’s Torah (Torat Ha’Melech), which defended the killing of non-Jews, who are “uncompassionate by nature,” in order to “curb their evil inclination.” “If we kill a gentile […]

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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 Sandy Sasso

Sandy Eisenberg Sasso became the first woman ordained as rabbi by the Reconstructionist movement on this date in 1974. She was also the first woman to serve as rabbi in a Conservative congregation (Indianapolis’ Beth-El Zedeck), and she and her husband Rabbi Dennis Sasso were likely the first rabbinical couple in Jewish history and certainly […]

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The Mystical Ethicist

Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, whose writings on Jewish ethics became a centerpiece of the Musar movement in the 19th century, died of a plague at age 39 in Acco, Palestine on this date in 1746. Luzzatto was a prominent Italian Torah scholar and kabbalist whose mystical teachings, coming less than a century after the worldwide […]

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Wednesday Night Fiction: The Rabbi and the Shark

by Dan Grossman from the Spring 2017 issue of Jewish Currents THE RABBI was terrified. Just minutes before Kol Nidre he stood in his office chanting the prayers under his breath, worrying for the twentieth time that his sermon was too high-minded, and flipping through the tall, gold-spined books on his shelf, as if he […]

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The Brothel-Owner and the Milkman

SHOLEM ASCH’S GOD OF VENGEANCE COMES TO LIFE by Susan Reimer-Torn ON MARCH 26, 1923, shortly before curtain time, the cast and producers of Sholem Asch’s play, God of Vengeance (pictured above) were arrested by a vice squad and thrown into jail to await trial on obscenity charges. The arrest took place fifteen days after […]

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The Baltimore Slavery Riot

Pro-slavery forces in Baltimore, a city that had given Abraham Lincoln only 1,100 of more than 30,000 votes cast the previous November, rioted on this date in 1861 as Union soldiers from Pennsylvania and Massachusetts arrived to secure the town, situated dangerously close to Washington, DC. The riot erupted only six days after hostilities had […]

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