Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veterans' Day

For today, Veterans Day, I checked the statistics for Jewish participation in the Allied Forces during World War II, and found this:
"During the course of World War II, 550,000 Jewish men and women served in the armed forces of the United States. (Another 1 million Jews served in other Allied forces - 500,000 in the Soviet Army, 100,000 in Polish Military and 30,000 in British Army.)"
For the complete list of statistics about Jews in the war, see "World War II:Statistics on Jewish American Soldiers" at Jewish Virtual Library. According to this website, Jewish members of the US military suffered 38,338 casualties in the war. 11,000 were killed; 7,000 died in combat.

Today, Israelis honored their veterans of World War II:

"70 Years After WWII: Senior Jewish Fighters Honored: Former partisans, ghetto fighters, Soviet soldiers and volunteers in the British army among those who received special medal in memorial ceremony at Latrun"
by Ofer Aderet.

This photo from the article shows three of hundreds of surviving Israeli World War II veterans. Among those honored for Veterans' Day "were partisans, ghetto fighters, soldiers (mainly in the Soviet army) and volunteers from the pre-state Jewish community in the British army." The oldest honoree was Benzion Solomin, who is 102 years old; he spent time in a POW camp in Poland, and later fought in the Israeli Independence War.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

S. Ansky (1863-1920)

Ha'aretz today has an article titled "This Day in Jewish History, 1920 The Man Who Shook the World With 'The Dybbuk' Dies" by David Green.

S.Ansky died on November 8, 1920 at age 57. Anksy, whose birth name was Shloyme-Zanvel ben Aaron Hacohen Rappoport, is most famous for his play "The Dybbuk,"  According to the article, he was also "a champion of Yiddish, and of Jewish culture in general." As a young man he organized a Jewish literary society and journal, and he worked with the Society for Jewish Folk Music.

 In my opinion, Ansky's most amazing work was his effort to preserve Jewish culture and history. For example, he collected the minutes from synagogues throughout Russia, books where the Jews of various shtetls had written down their concerns, their quarrels, and the community events that were most important to them.

From the article:
"In 1911, cognizant of the threat that ongoing pogroms and emigration posed to the Jews of the Russian Pale and their culture, he departed on his first expedition on behalf of the Jewish Ethnographic Society, which was funded by Baron Vladimir Ginsbourg, a Kiev banker. Traveling around the provinces of Volhynia and Podolia, he and his team of researchers, intent on compiling a record of the traditions and culture of Russian Jewry, were armed with a list of some 2,500 questions for interviewees, and collected photos, folktales, music and manuscripts in the thousands."
"After the czar was overthrown, in February 1917, and Russia was led briefly by Alexander Kerensky, Ansky was elected to the new Constituent Assembly. When the Bolsheviks ousted Kerensky, Ansky fled, first to Vilna, then, in 1919, to Warsaw, where he died, on this day in 1920."