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Golda Meir Takes the Helm

Golda Meir (Meyerson) became prime minister of Israel on this date in 1969, after a lifetime in the Labor Zionist movement. Born in Kiev, she spent most of her childhood and teen years in Milwaukee — which helped equip her, in 1948, to raise $50 million, six times more than expected, from American Jews for […]

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Why Single Israel Out?

by Alan Rutkowski   WHY SINGLE ISRAEL OUT? This is a question often posed to those of us, Jews and non-Jews, who oppose Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and advocate for Palestinian rights. After all, Israel is, as they say, the “only democracy in the region.” Of course, calling Israel a democracy glosses over the roughly […]

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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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February 15: Bonner and Sakharov

Soviet human rights activist Elena Bonner, who was married to physicist Andrei Sakharov and served as his international advocate, ally, and companion during his many years of exile as a human rights dissident, was born in Turkmenistan on this date in 1923. Her father, an Armenian, was the founder of the Soviet Armenian Communist Party; […]

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November 12: The Soviet Military Aircraft Designer

Aviation engineer Mikhail Gurevich, who co-designed the USSR’s MiG (Mikoyan-Gurevich) line of warplanes, died on this date in 1976, age 82. The first generation of MiGs destroyed 50 percent of German aircraft attacking Moscow in 1941. Gurevich and Artem Mikoyan (an Armenian), engineering partners for 25 years, also designed the post-war MiG jet fighter series, […]

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Radical Yiddish: Kulbak’s Minsk, Kahn’s Berlin

by Joel Schechter Soviet Yiddish writer Moyshe Kulbak, arrested and executed in 1937, could be one of the poètes maudits (accursed or outsider poets) about whom Daniel Kahn & The Painted Bird sing in their new release, Bad Old Songs: ah yes wasn’t it miserable, wasn’t it grand? when the world had an iron divide […]

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March 27: Elizabeth Taylor Converts to Judaism

Elizabeth Taylor, a Hollywood star since adolescence for her roles in National Velvet (1944), Father of the Bride (1950), A Place in the Sun (1951), Giant (1956), and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), among other movies, took the Hebrew name Elisheba Rachel and converted to Judaism at Hollywood’s Temple Israel on this date […]

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September 22: Arresting Zionists in the USSR

  Several thousand Zionists were arrested by the Soviet secret police on this and several other nights in 1924 as the newly empowered Joseph Stalin sought to crack down on all political parties and tendencies other than the communists. Those arrested were exiled to remote areas, including Siberia (although some were permitted to leave for […]

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August 21: Resisting the Soviet Coup

Ilya Krichevsky, 28, an architect and poet, was one of three young citizens of the Soviet Union who was killed by Soviet soldiers while protesting the attempted Moscow coup against Mikhail Gorbachev on this date in 1991. Rabbi Zinovy Kogan, who had founded Hineini, Russia’s first liberal congregation, helped officiate at the interfaith state funeral […]

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July 13: Samizdat Pioneer

Soviet dissident Alexander Ginzburg was sentenced to eight years in prison on this date in 1978. He was active in the Russian Orthodox church but took on his mother’s Jewish family name as a young man to protest Soviet anti-Semitism under Stalin. Ginzburg was a poet and journalist who in 1959 created Syntax, a typewritten […]

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