Today’s Yahrtzeits & History – 16 Av

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flicker_100393Rav Yitzchak Meir Levine, Chairman of the world Agudas Yisrael organization (1893-1971). Born in Ger, he was a member of the Sejm, the Polish parliament, representing Agudat Israel, between 1937 and 1939. He emigrated to Eretz Yisrael 1940, he was elected to the first Knesset in 1949. He remained a member of the Knesset until his death in 1971

Sir Moshe (Chaim) Montefiore (1784-1885). Born in Livorno, Italy, of Sephardic descent, he traced his lineage back to the exiles from the Spanish Expulsion. When he was still a young child his family resettled in England. Young Moses became a member of the London Stock Exchange at a time when there were only 12 licensed Jewish brokers in all of England. In a matter of a few years he had amassed great wealth and had become a member of the London Aristocracy. In 1812, he married his wife Judith, whose sister was the wife of Reb Nathan Meyer Rothschild, one of the wealthiest Jews in Europe at the time. Sir Moses eventually became the stockbroker for his brother-in-law and as a result of their partnership they amassed a tremendous fortune. In addition, he was a partner in a large insurance company as well as a gas company that introduced gas lighting to many of the major cities of Europe. Sir Moses also had a hand in building railroads and many other industrial and financial enterprises. As the years passed, Moses and Judith grew together in their Yiddishkeit. In 1837, Montefiore was appointed Sheriff of London. In the same year, Queen Victoria, who had recently ascended the British Throne, awarded him the honorary title of Knighthood, bestowing upon him the title “Sir” Moses. In 1846, he was elevated to the rank of Baron. By the time he was 41 years old, Sir Moses retired from business affairs and devoted the rest of his life to Jewish affairs. When he was appointed as Sheriff of London, he specifically wrote in his contract that he would be absolved from working on Shabbos and Yom Tov. He also specified that he was to be absolved from entering a Church on non-Jewish holidays. Even when he was traveling, he almost always made sure to travel with an entourage of at least 10 Jews to ensure that he would have a minyan. He also took one of the many sifrei Torah that he owned along with him. In 1840, a monk named Thomas disappeared from his home several weeks before Pesach. The French Counsel in Damascus blamed the Jews for his disappearance and claimed that they killed the monk to use his blood for matzos. Prominent Damascus Jews were imprisoned and tortured. Many died and some, who could not withstand the torture, “confessed” under duress to the crime. Upon learning of it, Sir Moses traveled to Damascus to save the country and the honor of the Jewish people. In 1846, Sir Moses was invited by the Russian government to visit Russia in connection with its Jewish situation. Upon returning to London, he demanded equal rights for the Jews and stressed that it would also be an economic blessing for the country. Montefiore’s 100th birthday was celebrated as an official holiday in London and he was accorded great honor by both Jew and non-Jew alike. The Montefiores died childless, but they left behind a legacy of tzedaka and chesed that endures to this very day.

Rav Mordechai Ganzweig (2000). The son and successor of Rav Yonah Ganzweig, Rav Mordechai had a major influence on the development and growth of the Los Angeles religious community. His shul served as the home of the Lakewood Kollel in Los Angeles for the latter’s first 13 years. Rav Ganweig also played an important role in kashrus supervision. His brother, Rav Chaim Ganzweig, is menahel ruchani of Mesivta Tiferes Yerushalayim in New York.

Today in History – 16 Av

ยท The British government ordered that all illegal immigrants to Eretz Yisrael be rerouted to Cyprus, 1946.

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