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.
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.”
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!”
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.
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”.
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.