In general, little is known about Jewish women who resided in America during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Two exceptions are Rebecca Machado Phillips[i] and Rebecca Gratz[ii]. Another is Bilhah Abigail (Levy) Franks.
Dear Readers, From time to time, members of The Jewish Press community take the time and trouble to write or e-mail me sharing their feelings regarding something I wrote. Most of the comments are supportive and encouraging - and some are not. Either way, I appreciate all reader input, negative or positive, as it lets me know that my thoughts and observations are having an impact.
In my previous column, I noted that the typical response to a tragedy in the heimishe community is a call forteshuvah. Almost always, the two "culprits" singled out for the cause of our misfortunes and in most need of repair are shmiras halashon and a lack of tznuit. I stated my belief that these are just two of the many components of a more insidious behavior that is pandemic in our community - that being the wanton, often deliberate action of misleading and fooling people into doing things that ultimately are detrimental and even ruinous to them.
It seems that whenever there is a tragedy in the heimishe olam, almost always the horrific, premature loss of life due to a car crash, a drowning, a freak accident or mindless violence/terrorism, it immediately is followed by a chorus of anguished voices screaming out the need to do teshuva.
The Jews of New York City were rather late in establishing Jewish institutions such as poorhouses, homes for orphans and the aged, and hospitals. Several attempts were made in the years prior to 1850, but they failed due to the small size of the New Jewish community, which in 1836 numbered only about 2,000 and increased to about 7,000 in 1840.
Dear Readers: Everywhere you turn, it seems that people are beset with so many problems and worries; some are financial in nature, some revolve around social issues like shidduchim and marriage, some involve setbacks and losses, and the non-actualization of the vision we had of how the days of our lives would play out.
Fair Lawn, New Jersey's Ezra Fineman is looking for his perfect match. He is smart, has brown hair, and a great smile. Ezra is also two years old and is looking for a bone marrow donor. After contracting a severe case of pneumonia at five months old, Ezra was diagnosed with Hyper IgM syndrome, a rare primary immune deficiency. Affecting only one in every one-two million people, the syndrome keeps his body from producing antibodies, leaving him with a heightened susceptibility to infection.
Dear Readers, Charity should not just be about putting money in a pushkaor writing a check. I strongly feel that taking the initiative and offering positive and comforting words, which will in some measure alleviatie another person's pain or burden, should count as tzedakahas well. As we approach Tisha B'Av, followed by Shabbat Nachamu, we should take the lesson of the collective need for ahavat Yisrael that we are so painfully aware of.
Sampson Simson was born on June 30, 1781 in Danbury, Connecticut and died January 7, 1857 in New York. Sampson's father, Solomon Simson, was also American born. Solomon was partners with his brother Sampson Simson, whom we shall refer to as Sampson the elder.
This article was originally published in The Jewish Press on May 20, 1960.
The "Bergson Boys" have finally come home.With an international conference at Yad Vashem, a reinterment ceremony in Israel, and the publication of a new book, the controversial Holocaust rescue activists last week took a major step forward in gaining the public recognition they were long denied.
She gets out of the taxi at her little sister's place, As she approaches the front door she slows down her pace. She takes a deep breath and forces a smile on her face, Though sadness and anxiety make her heart race.
Several weeks ago, a young husband and father wrote a letter to Dr. Yael Respler, columnist for The Jewish Press and a psychotherapist, asking for advice on how to stop smoking. He mentioned that his father, a heavy smoker had died of lung cancer. The young man wrote that he loved his wife and children and hoped he'd be zoche to have a long life with them. His problem, "I am also a chain smoker since my time in yeshiva as a bochur."
Readers of this column are aware that it was not until 1840 that the first ordained Orthodox rabbi, Rabbi Abraham Rice,1 settled in America. Other rabbonim soon began to settle in America. One of them was Rabbi Abraham Joseph Ash.
Dear Readers: The Torah revolves around one simple concept - treating others in the way you would want to be treated. The following poem gives a glimpse as to why.
This article was originally published May 13, 1960
I have never used my column to eulogize friends who have passed away, as their loss affected me and an inner circle of people who knew them - but not necessarily the community at large. But that is not the case for Shimie Silver, a"h, for without exaggerating, his circle of friends numbered in the thousands and transcended borders.
The New York Yankees and their fans observe April 27 as Babe Ruth Day to remember the home run slugger's exploits on the baseball diamond. Jewish New Yorkers, however, this year marked the day by remembering another side of Ruth - his little-known efforts to aid African-Americans and other minorities, including Jews in Europe during the Holocaust.
The previous two columns discussed kashrus and bris milah observance in America during the 19th century. The trend was that until about 1860 most Jews were careful to observe these mitzvos. However, in the latter part of the century many Jews abandoned keeping kosher both at home and in public. Bris milah, though, was generally observed throughout the entire century.
Thousands of young frum men and women in their late teens and early 20s will soon be returning from a year (or two or three) in Israeli yeshivas and seminaries, full of youthful exuberance and idealism. Many who had planned on going to college have changed their minds (often to the dismay of their parents) insisting that secular studies or employment are not for them. They want to be full time learners or the wife of one.
Rabbi Dr. Aaron Levine, z"l, passed away on the first day of Pesach, one day before his 65th birthday. He was an erudite scholar who had received semicha from the Rabbi Jacob Joseph Theological Seminary and a PhD in economics from New York University. He was equally at home in the world of Torah and in the secular world, and thus a unique combination of Torah and chochmah, something that is increasingly rare today. Furthermore, this intellectual prowess was clothed in a mantel of extreme humility.
In my last column, I wrote about the head-scratching phenomenon of fine young men and women in their late 20's and early 30's who were as marriageable as their friends and siblings, but were still single. I wrote the article because it seemed that over Pesach, every person I met - whether a local or a visitor - representing the full spectrum of Orthodoxy, wondered if I "knew someone" for a single son or daughter, a niece of nephew or a family friend who was still in the parsha despite the fact they were so eligible and "normal."
Last month's column dealt with the observance of kashrus by Jews in America during the 19th century. Up until about 1870 German Jewish immigrants went to considerable effort to make sure they could eat kosher meat and poultry. Almost every Jewish community of more than 15 families employed a professional shochet. Smaller communities were served by volunteer shochtim. However, with the spread of the Reform movement in the latter half of the century, Jews began to abandon kashrus.
Out of all the Jewish holidays, Pesach is the one that brings far-flung family and friends together. You go to shul, for a walk, shopping or to an amusement park during chol hamoed, and to your delight you bump into friends and acquaintances you haven't seen for ages. You sit down and you shmooze and you catch up with each other's lives and share information about people you both knew from "the old days."
In Hong Kong, there are certainly some inconveniences involved in finding every last product necessary to recreate the Pesach we had in New York. But, we have found it is merely a matter of mastering logistics and advance planning. Sometimes it involves finding shlepers coming in from the States willing to take a few bulky boxes of tasteless Crispy O’s and Streits Brownie Mix in an extra suitcase. This is all part of the Hong Kong festival ritual.