In the Beginning: 1854

Each week The American Israelite will print an item from the first years.

Let There Be Light

Among all the writings of both ancient and modern days there is no one sentence, so emphatic, so sublime, so elevating, so brought with glorious promise to the human race, as the plain simple words, contained in the motto which we have selected from the Holy Scriptures for our guiding star, on embarking in the undertaking which we have just commenced.

The Israelite is kindly offered to our Jewish brethren as a humble medium through which to express their views. With the sincere prayer and abiding faith that its advent will be for the benefit of our ancient people, and with the soul inspiring motto at the head of our columns for our beacon light which we shall endeavor ever to keep in view, our bark is launched not without many fears, but not without many, many, bright and glorious hopes.

Editor’s Note: Rabbi Dr. Isaac M. Wise included this explanation of the newspaper’s motto “Let There Be Light” in the second ever issue that it published.

— July 21, 1854

150 Years ago


– The population of Germany, according to the last census, amounted to 41,00,990.

– Rev. Dr. Lilienthal will preach tomorrow morning on “The Hebrew Theological Seminary and the Union of Hebrew Congregations.” We shall publish an extract in our next issue.

– There is a Jewish congregation with a synagogue at Zanzibar, in Africa, consisting of Persian and Arabian Hebrews.

– Jacob Cohn, of Gnesen, a native of Prague, is the name of the new rabbi of Inowraclow, and that is about all ever heard about him.

– The discovery made by Mr. George Smith in Syria — the stone with inscriptions from the year 1340 B.C. – is important in respect to a better knowledge of Zabaism, and the names of Assyrian kings down to that date, which are seven from 1420 – 1340 B.C., in the time of the Hebrew Judges. The stone contains a document of 115 lines being a title of land given by King Merodach Baladan to a priest who has composed certain hymns.

Editor’s Note: George Smith was a famed Assyriologist who was responsible for finding and translating inscriptions that related to Jehu, king of Israel, as well as the famed eleventh tablet of the Gilgamesh narrative, which famously recounts a flood narrative similar to that of the Hebrew Bible.

— July 18, 1873

125 Years ago

Among the Russian Yeshiboth (Rabbinical colleges), one only has preserved its greatness and fame, and this is the Yeshiba at Lomza in Russian Poland. It has yet about one thousand students. The head of the institute is the eminent Talmudist Rabbi L. Schalawitz. And yet Jews of Russia are unable or unwilling to give to this seat of learning the necessary support, so that annually the agents of the Yeshiba must collect funds in Germany, France and elsewhere to uphold it. You see the Jews of Russia, although very orthodox, are in this particular point no better than the Jews of America. Every seat of learning in both countries (the Hildersheimer Seminary in Berlin included) remains a Schnorrer, an objet of charity to good people.


– The Young Men’s Hebrew Charity Association of Chicago sent $500 as its contribution to the funds of the Army and Navy League.

– The acknowledgement of a bequest of the late Isaac D. Blumenthal of Holly Springs, Miss., which was published in a recent issue of this paper, was so worded as to convey the erroneous impression that Mrs. Miriam Blumenthal, the relict of the deceased, was also dead. This is an error. Mrs. Blumenthal is living, and her friends hope will be for years to come.

— July 21, 1898

100 Years ago


One of the potent reasons for the survival of Judaism and the Jews has been the fact that the latter have had a vivid sense of the vital necessity for the reign of law, and have been throughout the ages essentially a law abiding people. For instance, in the dietary laws we find a considerable volume of prohibitory legislation applied to the things that the Jewish people are forbidden to eat; and as long as the Jewish communities were closely knit together, and free from outside influences, the laws were very generally observed, although the violation of them was not made the subject of pains and penalties of a physical or material nature. Temperance and moderation have hitherto been distinctly characteristic of the vast majority of Jews the world over. These facts are valuable guideposts to point the way to to the general achievement of the virtues of sobriety and moderation in the use of food as well as of drink. They are virtues which the Jews of today should be as careful to safeguard as were their ancestors in the days of old. — Jewish Exponent


– Protests from Jews throughout the state of New Jersey to change the entrance examinations for the State Normal Schools from Saturdays to Mondays resulted in favorable action by the State Board of Education. The next examination will be held Monday, December 3, and will be allowed by one on June 2 next.

– In a series of letters received at the offices of the Joint Distribution Committee details are given of the revival of Jewish life in many towns due to the establishment of credit organizations by the Reconstruction Department. The loans are affording many artisans the means to obtain tools and raw materials. Many who are out of work have thus obtained employment, and even to set out truck gardens around their houses.

— July 19, 1923

75 Years ago

Hebrew Academy To Open At Avondale Synagogue

A Hebrew academy, a school for higher studies, will open in September. Advanced and elementary classes will be held for boys and girls of High School age. Classes will meet in Avondale Synagogue Center.

For further information call WO 7231. There will be no tuition fee.

The Avondale Synagogue is sponsor of the academy, which is open to the entire Jewish community.

Cincinnati Social and Personal

– Miss Eileen Wiener, Charles Docter, and Stanley Goodman, of Walnut Hills High School, and Kenneth Lobitz and Irwin Newberg of Hughes High School, have won membership awards from the Foreign Policy Association, Miss Louise E. Bentley, committee chairman, announced.

– Rabbi Samuel Cook, director of the National Federation of Temple Youth, is a teacher-counselor at a Senior Youth Institute at Camp Grounds near Lancaster, Ohio, July 4th – 10th, under the auspices of the Jewish Cautauqua Society.

– Dr. and Mrs. Melvin B. Fishman and their daughter, Elinda, now are residing in New York City. Dr. Fishman is furthering his training in surgery at Mt. Sinai Hospital, where he is a resident in surgery.

— July 15, 1948

50 years ago

Judaic Studies for 1973-74 at UC Are Announced

Judaic Studies courses including Jewish history, philosophy and literature and the Hebrew language will be offered in the 1973-74 at UC.

Most of the classes are offered through UC’s College of Arts and Sciences, but some are in the Evening College or two-year University College.

Dr. Yehuda Shamir, who came to UC Jan. 1 from the University of Texas, is director of Judaic Studies at UC.

No knowledge of Hebrew is required for most of the courses.

Classes offered in Arts and Sciences are:

History of the Jewish, Jewish Philosophy, Medieval Hebrew literature in Translation, Elementary, Intermediate, and Advanced Hebrew, and individual work in Hebrew.

Dr. Shamir will teach a course on Kaballah (Jewish mysticism) in Evening College.

Horizons in Modern Jewish Secular Literature will be given by Jay A. Yarmove, assistant professor of English, in University College.

The courses in Jewish philosophy, medieval Hebrew literature, and Kaballah are new to UC.

Development of the Judaic studies classes is the result of an agreement between UC and HUC-JIR for exchange of students and faculty.

Eventually students may be able to Major in Judaic Studies at UC.

— July 19, 1973

25 Years ago

Learn to write press releases

American Israelite editor Phyllis Singer will teach a session on “Publicity: Writing a Press Release” Wednesday, July 29, from 1:15-3 p.m. at Mayerson Hall on the campus of Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion.

The session is part of the Para-Rabbinics Fellows Program taking place July 24-31 a HUC. The Para-Rabbinics Fellow Program, sponsored by HUC, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, is designed to train lay leaders to perform a variety of Jewish services. Most of the participants come from small Jewish communities where they will act as Jewish functionaries in areas of worship, religious education, and programming.

Rice Joins Yavneh as new assistant principal

Yavneh Day School, located on Montgomery Road, has added to its administrative team to accommodate the continued growth of the upper grades at the school.

Dr. Patricia Rice will be joining the administration this coming August. She will be the assistant principal for the Middle School. Her duties will include both administration and teaching responsibilities in the general studies department.

— July 23, 1998

10 Years ago

Jewish Foundation helps new girls high school find a home

A new high school geared toward Jewish girls nationwide is getting its start next month in Cincinnati.

The school, Atara – “Atara” is Hebrew for crown – Girls High School of Cincinnati, which will serve grades nine through twelve and is focused on providing a quality education in conjunction with a Torah value system that can be shared by girls heading toward seminary, university, the professional world, community leadership, motherhood or the many combinations thereof.

“As the Talmud refers to Jewish girls as “B’nos Melech,” daughters of the King, we thought it was a fitting name, particularly for a high school in Cincinnati, which is the Queen City,” said Penina Teitelbaum, the new school’s principal. “We are looking to develop highly educated leaders who are models of refinement, sophistication, and who are deeply engaged with their Judaism and their relationship with G-d.”

The new school is getting its start in large part to the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati, which purchased the Losantiville School on Elbrook Avenue last November during a public auction run by Cincinnati Public Schools.

Rabbi Hanan Balk honored with national rabbinic award

Rabbi Hanan Balk, who served as the spiritual leader of the Golf Manor Synagogue in Cincinnati, Ohio was recognized by his rabbinical peers with the Rubenstein Memorial Award in Rabbinic Excellence at the annual convention of the Rabbinical Council of America, on June 29, 2013. Balk shared the award with Rabbi Judah Dardik of Oakland, California.

— July 18, 2013