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The Jewish Prime Minister?
The Jewish Prime Minister?

Benjamin Disraeli has been called the first (and only) Jewish Prime Minister of England. The truth of this claim is…complicated. According to Jewish law, he was Jewish. His political detractors never hesitated to bring up his Jewish background. But at the age of 13–at the behest of his father Isaac, who had had a falling out with the Bevis Marks synagogue (the main Sephardi synagogue in London)–Benjamin Disraeli was baptized. He remained a member of the Anglican church for the rest of his life.

Lag Ba’Omer
Lag Ba’Omer

The period of mourning* (for the 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva who died of plague) associated with Sefirat Ha’omer ends on the 33rd day of the Omer, a day known as Lag Ba’omer. In Hebrew, every letter has a numerical value. ”Lamed” equals 30, and “Gimmel” equals 3, thus Lag (spelled “Lamed Gimmel”) Ba’omer, literally means 33 (days) in the Omer.

What’s in the Book: The Twelve Prophets – Hosea
What’s in the Book: The Twelve Prophets – Hosea

The prophet Hosea lived during the reign of King Jeroboam II over the Northern Kingdom of Israel. He was also a contemporary of the prophet Isaiah.

The Second Passover
The Second Passover

On the first anniversary of the Exodus from Egypt, the Children of Israel prepared to celebrate their first Passover as free people. God decreed that they should eat matzah and maror (bitter herbs) in commemoration of the great event, and, most importantly, that the Israelites should all partake of the Passover sacrifice (lamb).

The Removal Office
The Removal Office

In the annals of American history, there are few immigrant stories that are as successful as that of the Jews. Generally, it only took two or three generations for immigrant families to become financially secure, if not successful, in America. Aside from uncommon devotion to education, one of the important factors in the success of Jewish immigration was the tradition of helping other Jews.

Sanctify Thyself
Sanctify Thyself

In the 21st century, how does one understand a Talmudic statement praising a man for “restricting his eyes” when he has no choice but “to go to a place where there will be immodest women” (Baba Batra 57b)? (Click here to learn about modest dress in Judaism.) The Talmud isn’t being “sexist” and it isn’t belittling women…it is presenting one path of living a “holy” lifestyle.

Angelic Praises
Angelic Praises

During the morning and afternoon prayer services (Shacharit and Mincha), when prayers are recited in the presence of a minyan (quorum of ten), the Amidah (the central standing prayer, also known as Sh’moneh Esrei) is repeated aloud by the prayer leader. The Amidah is also repeated during Musaf, the additional prayer service that is recited on Shabbat and holidays following Shacharit, detailing the additional offerings that were brought in the Temple in Jerusalem.

Thank You Nurses
Thank You Nurses

Yesterday, May 12, was International Nurses Day, and so, today, Jewish Treats honors a woman who made a tremendous impact on the world of public health.

Philanthropy from a Catalogue
Philanthropy from a Catalogue

Much has been made of those successful businessmen who have put their talents to work for philanthropy. Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Oprah Winfrey, and Michael Dell are just a handful of examples of famous and successful people who have worked hard to give their money away.

Of course, corporate philanthropists are not a new phenomenon (e.g. Andrew Carnegie,1835-1919; John D. Rockefeller, 1839-1937; and Cornelius Vander Starr, 1892-1968).

One of the less well-known philanthropists was Julius Rosenwald (1862-1932), whose name is not nearly as famous as that of his partner, Richard Sears. But, in 1895, he became a partner in Sears, Roebuck and Co. Sears, as the company was, and is, known, issued its first mail order catalogue in 1893, offering only watches. Within two years of the new partnership, the Sears mail order catalogue offered clothing, agricultural tools, athletic equipment and table furnishings. In 1908, when Richard Sears retired, Rosenwald became president of the company. He retired in 1924, and was named chairman of the board, a position he held until his death in 1932.

Around 1908, Rosenwald was introduced to William H. Baldwin and Booker T. Washington, two prominent proponents of African-American education. In 1912, he began what was to become a lifetime position on the Board of Directors of the Tuskegee Institute, one of the first educational institutions for African Americans. In addition to endowing Tuskegee, Rosenwald built over 5,000 schools, shops and homes (for teachers) specifically for African-Americans throughout the south. These came to be known as Rosenwald Schools.

When Rosenwald passed away, his philanthropic efforts were continued by his daughter Edith Stern, whose Stern Family Fund was a major contributor to civil right efforts.

In honor of Jewish American Heritage Month (May) Jewish Treats will be highlighting and celebrating exemplary Jewish Americans and exploring interesting points of Jewish American history.

Copyright © 2011 National Jewish Outreach Program. All rights reserved.

David Ben Gurion, An Introduction
David Ben Gurion, An Introduction

David Ben-Gurion is best known as the first Prime Minister of Israel. But, his role in the creation of the State was far greater than can be reflected in any single title.

Born in 1886, in Plonsk, Poland, David Gruen (Green)’s father was a dedicated Zionist who founded the Hebrew school that his son attended. In his late teens, as an activist member of Poalei Zion, a Socialist-Zionist group, David Green found himself frequently at odds with the Polish authorities, and in 1906, at the age of 20, he moved to Palestine. He immediately turned his dreams into action and labored with his fellow Zionists on an agricultural settlement. During this time period, he also helped to found the Jewish self-defense organization, Hashomer.

After six years in Palestine, David now called Ben-Gurion (a Hebrew name meaning lion cub) traveled to Salonika and Istanbul to study Turkish and Ottoman law. In 1914, with the outbreak of World War I, he was deported by the Ottoman authorities. He spent three years in the United States, where he met and married Paula Monbesz. Ben-Gurion subsequently returned to Palestine as a member of the Jewish Legion, a unit of the British Army established by Ze’ev Jabotinsky.

During the British Mandate years, Ben-Gurion helped found the Histadrut, the National Federation of Jewish Laborers, and served as its Secretary General from 1921-1935. In 1935, Ben-Gurion was named Chairman of the quasi-governmental Jewish Agency, a position he held until the founding of the State.

This list of Ben-Gurion’s activities before May 1948 is staggering, even more so when it is noted that this is hardly a complete list. What becomes clear upon reading about this first part of Ben-Gurion’s life (he died in 1973) is his genuine passion for the Land of Israel and his uncommon talent for leadership.

Copyright © 2011 National Jewish Outreach Program. All rights reserved.

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