New York

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: the Statue of Liberty is dedicated

By Jennifer Lipman, October 28, 2010

Inscribed on what is perhaps America’s most famous landmark and certainly one of its most treasured, is this: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me!”

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Fiddler on the Roof writer dies

By Jennifer Lipman, October 27, 2010

The writer behind the stage and screen versions of the musical Fiddler on the Roof has died at the age of 98.

Playwright Joseph Stein, who won a prestigious Tony award in 1965 for the Broadway hit, had been suffering from prostate cancer. He died in New York.

Born to Polish immigrants to New York, he worked with Woody Allen and Mel Brooks, and wrote for both radio and television.

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On this day: David Blaine leaves his perspex box after 44 days

By Jennifer Lipman, October 19, 2010

Blaine, whose Russian Jewish mother died of cancer when he was 19, has said he only feels alive when he is near to death. He survived six weeks suspended above the Thames, and as he left his glass cage in 2003, he cried: “This has been one of the most importance experiences of my life.”

More than a quarter of a million Londoners went to see the New York born “endurance specialist” in his time above the water. A few threw golf balls, paint, eggs and even tried to cut off his water supply.

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Ralph Lauren to get New York key

By Jennifer Lipman, October 14, 2010

Fashion designer Ralph Lauren is to be given the key to New York City.

Mr Lauren is to receive the prestigious gold plated key today – his 71st birthday.

The key will be handed to him by Mayor Michael Bloomberg during a ceremony at Manhattan’s newest Ralph Lauren clothes store.

The Jewish businessman, born Ralph Rueben Lifshitz to immigrants from Belarus, is the first fashion designer to receive the symbolic honour.

Mr Lauren, a prominent philanthropist who has funded The Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention since 2001, is worth an estimated £2.9 billion.

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Nicole Krauss nominated for National Book Award

By Jennifer Lipman, October 13, 2010

Jewish American author Nicole Krauss has been nominated for the prestigious National Book Award for her latest book, Great House.

The writer, married to novelist Jonathan Safran Foer, is one of five authors competing in the fiction category.

The book, her third, tells the story of reclusive novelist and an antiques dealer in Jerusalem.

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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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Hall of Fame: Michael Bloomberg

September 28, 2010



"Happy 12th birthday Google. Looking forward to celebrating your Bar Mitzvah next year!"






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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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