On this day

On this day: Harold Pinter wins a Nobel Prize

By Jennifer Lipman, October 13, 2010

The Nobel Prize committee praised him as a writer “who in his plays uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression’s closed rooms.”

Born in 1930 in Hackney, Harold Pinter attended Hackney Downs school and then pursued a career on stage, screen and as a writer. He became known for plays including The Birthday Party and The Caretaker, as well as The Homecoming, for which he won a Tony award.

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On this day: The end of the Salem witch trials

By Jennifer Lipman, October 12, 2010

Nineteen men and women were hanged in 1692 for the crime of witchcraft in Salem. At the time, under British law, consorting with the devil was viewed as a crime against their government.

The events of that year and the characters involved formed the basis for Arthur Miller’s classic play The Crucible. Born to Jewish immigrant parents in New York in 1915, Miller, who was married to Marilyn Monroe for five years, started his career as a journalist. While still a college student in 1936 he wrote his first play, No Villain.

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On this day: Harold Wilson’s Labour wins a majority

By Jennifer Lipman, October 11, 2010

October 1974 saw a record 45 Jewish MPs elected to parliament. Of those, 35 were “Jewish socialists” while ten were Conservatives. In total, 91 Jewish candidates stood for election, less than at the February vote.

However The JC reported that “at his own request, MP Clement Freud…is no longer included in the list of Jewish parliamentarians.”

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On this day: Palestinians hijack the Achille Lauro

By Jennifer Lipman, October 7, 2010

More than 400 people were on board the Mediterranean cruise ship Achille Lauro when it was seized by hevaily armed Palestinian terrorists as it sailed near to the Egyptian coast.

The gunmen, representing the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF), redirected the ship to Syria and demanded that Israel release 50 Palestinian prisoners.

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On this day: The eruption of the Yom Kippur War

By Jennifer Lipman, October 6, 2010

As Israelis marked Yom Kippur, Egypt and Syria launched a joint surprise attack. They struck the places Israel had won in 1967; in the north the Golan Heights, in the south along the Sinai Peninsula.

Although there had been suggestions for several years that Egypt might hit Israel again, the attack was a surprise and Israel was not prepared to fight the fourth war in its history.

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On this day: Louis D. Brandeis dies

By Jennifer Lipman, October 5, 2010

With the appointment of Elana Kagan this year there are now three Jewish judges sitting on America’s highest court, and there have been eight in history. But Louis Dembitz Brandeis was the first.

Born in 1856, in Louisville, Kentucky, his parents came to America from Europe. They sent their son for education in Germany He never attended college but managed to gain entrance to Harvard Law School, becoming one of its youngest students to be admitted to the bar.

He became a lawyer in Boston, making a name for himself as the champion of the underdog with fights for minimum wage laws.

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On this day: the Babi Yar massacre

By Jennifer Lipman, September 29, 2010

At an event to mark the 65th anniversary of the massacre, a speaker said that at Babi Yar the seeds of the Holocaust were sown.

The German army entered Kiev on September 19. At the time, the Jewish population of the city numbered 160,000; by the time the Germans invaded many had already fled.

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On this day: Ethel Rosenberg is born

By Jennifer Lipman, September 28, 2010

From a New York Jewish family, Ethel Greenglass was one of only two people in American history to be executed for spying during peacetime. The other was her husband, Julius.

After a lengthy trial, the Rosenbergs were found guilty of passing atomic secrets to the Soviet Union. It was the height of the Red Scare and Joe McCarthy’s witch-hunt. Americans were consumed with rooting out those people who were not true “patriots”.

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On this day: Happy birthday Google

By Jennifer Lipman, September 27, 2010

Can it really be only 12 years since Google began? The search engine was developed by Stanford University students Larry Page, of Jewish descent, and Sergey Brin, the son of Russian Jews who emigrated to America in 1979.

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On this day: George Gershwin is born

By Jennifer Lipman, September 26, 2010

The composer made just five dollars from his first song but later became an American musical legend.

Turned down for a job by Irving Berlin when he was 20, George Gershwin was told: “You’re meant for big things.” The prophecy came true.

The son of immigrants from Russia, Jacob Gershowitz left school at 15 and began writing popular tunes for Broadway musicals, concert hall shows and operas. In 1927 Fred Astaire took to the stage in Funny Face, a musical Gershwin wrote in collaboration with his elder brother Ira. It was one of several successes they had together.

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