On this day

On this day: the end of the First World War

By Jennifer Lipman, November 11, 2010

At 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month, the Great War, the one that was supposed to end all wars, came to an end with the signing of an armistice.

The fighting began in June of 1914 with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and pitted the Allied powers, including Britain and France, against the German, Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian armies. Some nine million soldiers died in the trenches and on the battlefields of Flanders, Ypres and the Somme.

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On this day: UN Resolution 3379

By Jennifer Lipman, November 10, 2010

One of the most controversial acts in the history of the United Nations General Assembly, Resolution 3379 determined that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.”

A series of resolutions had been passed in 1973, criticising South Africa. These referred to the "unholy alliance between Portugese colonialism, Apartheid and Zionism". In 1975, this suggested link was taken a step further, with the passing of Resolution 3379.

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On this day: Kristallnacht

By Jennifer Lipman, November 9, 2010

Recognised by many as the precursor to the destruction of the Jews of Europe, Kristallnacht began on November 9. The wave of violence and anti-Jewish pogroms continued for two nights, as Germans smashed windows of synagogues, homes and Jewish owned businesses.

The name Kristallnacht comes from the shards of glass that lined the streets after Nazi officials, Storm Troopers and members of the Hitler Youth rioted against the Jewish residents of Germany, Austria and the Sudetenland.

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On this day: Mordecai Kaplan dies

By Jennifer Lipman, November 8, 2010

Born in Lithuania in 1881, Mordecai Kaplan's family moved to the United States when he was eight. He studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and later Columbia University, and was ordained as a rabbi at the age of 21. In 1908 he married Lena Rubin.

But his experience as a rabbi in New York, at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, was not a positive one, and in 1909 he almost left the role to work in insurance. He did not leave, but he did remain disillusioned with the Jewish practice around him.

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On this day: Rabbi Meir Kahane is killed

By Jennifer Lipman, November 5, 2010

To his followers, he remains a hero, to many; he was a right-wing fanatic with dangerous, even racist views.

Born Martin David Kahane in New York City in 1932, as a teenager he was involved in the right-wing youth movement Betar. He entered rabbinical college and in 1968 set up the Jewish Defence League in Brooklyn.

The organisation was a response to street violence against Jews, and had as its symbol a clenched fist with the words “never again.”

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On this day: Yitzhak Rabin is assassinated

By Jennifer Lipman, November 4, 2010

What was supposed be an event celebrating peace ended as one mourning a tragedy.

More 300,000 people had gathered that night in a square in Tel Aviv for a peace concert, hopeful that the Oslo accords signed by Mr Rabin and PLO chairman Yasir Arafat in 1993, would finally bring an end to the Middle East conflict.

It was not to be. Yigal Amir, an extremist Orthodox Jewish man, shot Mr Rabin as he was leaving the square. Amir is now serving a life sentence for the murder.

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On this day: Lyndon Johnson wins the US presidency

By Jennifer Lipman, November 3, 2010

Lyndon Johnson had already been president for nearly a year when he was actually voted in, taking on the role in the wake of the assassination of President Kennedy. But the election of 1964, the results of which were announced on November 3, put him in office with a landslide of 61 per cent of the vote.

Remembered for escalating American troop levels in Vietnam, and also for “the Great Society”, his expansive programme of domestic legislation, he remained in the White House until 1968 when he chose not to stand for reelection.

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On this day: the Balfour Declaration

By Jennifer Lipman, November 2, 2010

Hailed as a “Jewish triumph” in that week’s JC, the Balfour Declaration is one of the most significant texts in the history of the Zionist movement.

Following a War cabinet meeting on the subject, it was a formal statement by the British government saying that they “View with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object.

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On this day: William Styron dies

By Jennifer Lipman, November 1, 2010

When Sophie’s Choice was first published in 1979, it provoked controversy and debate. More than 30 years later, it has been both banned and a bestseller, become part of the canon of Holocaust literature and been made into an Oscar-winning film starring Meryl Streep.

The story of a Polish, non-Jewish woman who was sent to Auschwitz with her two young children, and her life after the Holocaust in Manhattan, it won the 1980 National Book Award.

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On this day: Winona Ryder is born

By Jennifer Lipman, October 29, 2010

Winona Horowitz, perhaps better known as Ryder, was one of the most-sought after Hollywood actresses of the late 1990s.

The daughter of a Jewish author and publisher Michael Horowitz, she grew up on a commune with no electricity and was homeschooled for a period of time.

While still a teenager, she appeared in Tim Burton’s dark comedy Beetlejuice, a year later she challenged expectations of high school films with the cult favourite Heathers.

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