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Founded the Hebrew Education Society which later led to the Sunday school system.

1944 January 1, IRGUN ZVAI LEUMI (Eretz Israel)

As news of the destruction of European Jewry filtered in, Menachem Begin, frustrated by the British refusal to let in refugees, declared an armed revolt. The majority of the country followed the lead of the Jewish Agency and the Haganah's call to wait until the end of the war before acting against Britain.

1944 February 1, IRGUN ZVAI LEUMI (Eretz-Israel)

Began its revolt against British rule. The two limitations it set for itself was not to attack military targets until the end of the war and not to attack individuals. On February 12, they attacked the British immigration offices in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa.


Ha'aretz newspaper reported that Yaakov Tavin, head of the Irgun's intelligence service, had been arrested and held for six months in Kibbutz Ein Harod. During that time he was interrogated and even tortured. This and other incidents led to the condemnation of the Haganah policies by the Chief Rabbinate and civil organizations. The protests, together with the disillusion of the Zionist leadership with British promises, led to the eventual collapse of "the Season". According to both sides, the Season did not succeed in dismantling of the Irgun.

1936 December 5, IRGUN ZVAI LEUMI (Etzel)(Eretz –Israel)

Signed an agreement with Vladimir Jabotinsky. The Irgun, which was known at that time as Haganah Bet, was under the command of Abraham Tehomi who had split with the Haganah five years earlier. The agreement was that Tehomi would be the commander under Jabotinsky's political guidance. Tehomi rejoined the Haganah a year later and took 30% of his forces with him. The Irgun believed that armed force was a prerequisite for the creation of a Jewish state, that Arabs who attacked Jews should expect retaliation and that no one had a right to prevent Jews from immigrating. The relationship between the Irgun and the Haganah was usually stormy, though they did have periods of cooperation.

1947 July 12, IRGUN (Eretz Israel)

Took two British sergeants prisoner after the British sentenced three Irgun fighters to death. The Irgun warned the British that carrying out the sentence would mean their retaliation by hanging the British soldiers.

1948 April 28, IRGUN ATTACKED HAIFA (Eretz Israel)

After its initial success at capturing the Menasiya quarter, the British prevented the Irgun from continuing. At the same time the Haganah began Operation Chometz (unleavened bread) to take the areas around the city.

1889 - 1944 I.J. SINGER (Poland-USA)

Older brother of Isaac Bashevis Singer. He is known for his naturalistic and realistic styles of writing including Yoshe Kalb, The Brothers Ashkenazi and East of Eden.

1879 November 15, i>BERLINER ANTISEMITISMUSSTREIT : The Berlin Anti-Semitism Dispute

was begun by Heinrich Gotthard von Treitschke’s essay Our Outlook. Von Treitschke (1834 – 1896),was a German historian Reichstag member, and virulent anti-Semite. He coined the phrase “Die Juden sind unser Unglück!" ("The Jews are our misfortune!"), which was became the motto of Der Stürmer the Nazi newspaper. He was strongly opposed by Theodor Mommsen ( 1817 – 1903) a liberal nationalist and classical scholar who denounced von Treitschke.

1851 March 5, IASI ROMANIA

After the establishment of a "Commission Against Vagrancy", 37 Jews were forced onto a Turkish boat to be exiled. Some were thrown overboard.

1939 September 28, IBM "International Business Machines" (USA)

Thomas J. Watson, president of IBM, agreed to transfer high-tech alphabetical sorting machines from Austria to Germany. These will be used to separate Jews from Poles in Nazi occupied territories.

1121 Ibn Tūmart (Morocco)

Declared himself the Mahdi ( the guided one) and founded the Almohad movement . They conquered Morocco and Spain from the Almoravides who had been relatively tolerant. Ibn Tumrat’s (1080 - 1130), uncompromising form of fundamentalism extended to his approach to Judaism and Christianity. He is quoted by Abraham ibn daud (1110-1180) in his Sefer Seder ha - Kabbalah as saying , “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation: that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance." The Almohads ruled between 1121–1269. He offered Christians and Jews the choice of conversion or expulsion. Many Jews converted but continued to practice Judaism in secret.

966 IBRAHIM IBN YA'QUB (Tortosa, Spain)

Met with Otto I and received permission to travel all through central Europe. Ibn Ya'qub, a geographer and historian, had been sent by the Cordovan caliph Al-Hakam II (961–76) to report on western and central Europe. . Ibn Ya'qub traveled through France, Germany , Bohemia and Poland . He is noted for his detailed account of the lives of the people in the places he visited, including their diets and physical conditions and economic situation. His writings constitute a major contribution to our knowledge of life in those times.

788 IDRISS I ( North Africa)

Convinced Benjamin ben Joshaphat ben Abiezer. a Tunisian Jewish tribal chief, to join his conquest. Idriss (745-791), intent on stamping out all loyalty to Baghdad, commanded them to attack other Jewish communities. When they refused, he led the attacks on their communities. He then forced them to pay a high per capita tax, and to provide virgins for his harem. According to a tradition, the Jewish tribe Ubaid Allah chose to move eastward and settled on the Island of Djerba (Gerba) in present day Tunisia.

1944 September 13, IG FARBEN'S BUNA FACTORY (Auschwitz, Poland)

Made synthetic rubber and was bombed by B-24 Liberators of the 93rd Bomb Group. A few bombs fell on the camp, accidentally killing fifteen SS officers as well as inmates. It was bombed again on December 19th and on the 26th.


Published Caesar's Column, a utopian anti-Semitic novel showing the Jews (Israelites) as the international bankers and rulers of Europe.

1850 - 1921 IGNAZ GOLDZIHER (Hungary)

Islamic scholar. He described in detail the various Islamic sects and the history of Islamic oral tradition (hadith). After the Balfour Declaration he was asked by the Zionists to act as a mediator to help bring about an understanding with the Arabs. He refused.

1258 February 10, - 1335 Il-khan (Mongol) Dynasty PERSIA

With the fall of Baghdad to the grandson of Genghis Khan, the Mongol dynasty replaced the Abbasids in Persia. The Mongols were for the most part tolerant of Judaism. An Arab writer reported that there were 36,000 Jews and 16 Synagogues in the city on the eve of the Mongolian invasion. Most of the city was destroyed during the siege. It is during this period that Judeo-Persian literature flourished, specifically the poetry of Shahin whose most famous work was Sefer Sharh Shain al Hatorah.

1948 January 1, ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION (Eretz Israel)

The largest ma'apilim (illegal immigrants) ships, the Pan Crescent (Atzmaut) and the Pan York (Kibbutz Galuyot), attempted to bring in 15,000 refugees. They were caught by the British and deported to Cyprus.

1891 - 1967 ILYA EHRENBURG (Russia)

Journalist and novelist, He served as a spokesman for the Soviet Union during the 1930's. Ehrenburg joined the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (see 1942) and was active in combating anti - Semitism. He toed the official Soviet line regarding Capitalism and Zionism. Among his most well knows works are The Fall of Paris, the Storm, and the Thaw.

1145 IMAD AD DIN ZANGI (Syria)

The Moslem son of a slave, he conquered Aleppo. He fired the Moslems with the idea of a Jihad (holy war) and defeated Falk of Anjou and John Comnenus of Byzantium. The following year, Zangi marched on Edessa, northeast of Antioch, and conquered it. He then brought in 300 Jewish families instead of the Armenians, who were suspected of having supported the Christians. The fall of Antioch was the signal for the start of the Second Crusade.

C. 1261 - 1330 IMMANUEL (ben Solomon) OF ROME

Poet. His main work Machbarot was influenced by both Arabic and Italian poetry. In addition he also wrote a commentary on the bible. One of Immanuel's poems, Yigdal, is used today in daily prayers. It is based on Maimonides thirteen principals of faith.

1270 - 1320 IMMANUEL OF ROME (Manuel da Gubbio)

Jewish Italian poet who was a contemporary of Dante and his "Young Italy" circle. He introduced Hebrew secular poetry into Italian intellectual circles. His poems were published as "Compositions of Immanuel" (Machberet Immanuel).


Led by Rabbi Menahem Mendel of Peremyshlyany (b. 1728). He was accompanied by Nahman of Horodenka the paternal grandfather of Nahman of Breslav. This is the first organized Hasidic Aliyah, and began a period of a immigration which would expand to over 300 people over the next number of years.


The Vichy governor of Tunisia, Admiral Jean-Pierre Estéva (1880-1951), had succeeded in postponing their implantation for two years and even now did what he could to ease the restrictions. Estéva had visited the ancient synagogue of Ghriba at Djerba in May, 1941 and had made donations to the Jewish poor before Passover. On the eve of WWII there were about 85,000 Jews in Tunisia (2.7% of the general population). More than half of them lived in the capital Tunis.

1153 INDIA

A letter to the Fustat Nagid Halfon from the captain of his ship described the Jews living in India (approximately 1000) and the strong trade between Jewish merchants in the west and their brethren in India.


The ten year old daughter of Juan Esteban, a shoemaker, claimed that in a vision she spoke with Elijah the prophet. She related that the messiah would come in March 1500. Ines urged the Conversos to return to their beliefs and practices. Many people, mostly women and children , believed in her. Over 100 of her followers were murdered by the inquisition. Ines, was burned as well. She was twelve years old at the time of her death. Others appeared in towns including Chillion, and Agudo, and even later in Mexico (see 1596), all predicting the coming of the Messiah and the resurrection of the dead.

1808 March 17, INFAMOUS DECREE (Decret Infame) OF NAPOLEON (France)

Cancelled any debt owed to Jews by those in military service, or by women if it was signed without the approval of their husbands or parents. It abolished the freedom of trade of the Jews by forcing them to acquire permits (which were almost never given) from the local prefects, and prevented Jews from settling in the area of the Upper and Lower Rhine.


Britain still refused to allow the mention of concentration camps in any Allied statements, claiming that there was not yet enough evidence.


After debating the issue of Jewish innocence of blood libels the Holy Office of the Inquisition ruled that Vatican cannot issue any declaration that the Jews are innocent. Pope Leo XIII approved the conclusion. "Although nothing was found either in the Holy Office or at the Secretariat of State, where careful research was undertaken, bearing on this accusation ... ritual murder is a historical certainty....

1480 September 17, INVESTIGATIONS BEGIN (Seville Spain)

Two Dominican friars, Juan de San Martin and Miguel de Morillo were commissioned by Pope Sixtus IV to begin "investigations" into heresy charges against the conversos in Spain. The first order was for all noblemen to denounce lapsed conversos to the Inquisition. Between 1481 and 1488, an estimated 700 men and women were burned at the stake, 5000 were forced to "repent" and approximately 3000 families fled .

1944 April, IRA HIRSHMAN (USA)

An executive at Bloomingdale's and the representative for the War Refugee Board (WRB) in Turkey succeeded in convincing the Romanian ambassador to Turkey, Alexander Cretzianu, to move Jews from Transnistria, which the Germans still occupied, to Romania itself, thus saving 48,000 people.

1917 February 3, IRAQ

British troops occupied Baghdad. After suffering heavily from forced conscription, torture and extortion by the Turkish ruled government, local Jews celebrated their freedom by declaring it a holiday (Yom Ness). Their freedom lasted until 1929, when the British granted independence to Iraq and all Zionist activity was prohibited.

1943 October 20, IRENA SENDLER (Warsaw, Poland)

A Polish Catholic, was arrested by the Gestapo. Irena had worked for the Council for Aid to Jews, (Zegota), an underground unit in which Catholic democratic activists gathered to assist Jews. At great risk, Irena (1910-2008) rescued 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw ghetto and placed them with Christian families. She buried jars containing their real and assumed names in the garden, so that they could be reunited with their own families after the war. During her torture she refused to divulge any information regarding her activities Although sentenced to death, she managed to escape from prison and survived the war. In 1965 she was awarded with the title Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem and in 1991 she was made an honorary citizen of Israel. A play was also written about her life entitled "Life in a Jar".rnrn

1945 December 13, IRMA GRESE HUNG

Grese (1923 – 1945) known as Die Hyäne von Auschwitz ("The Hyena of Auschwitz") served as a guard at Auschwitz and later the warden of the women's section of Bergen-Belsen. At her trial, the press dubbed her "the beautiful beast" She took part in the gas chambers at Auschwitz and was one of only three female guards to be sentenced to death. She did not express any regret for her actions and on the eve of her execution, she sang Nazi songs together with Johanna Bormann.

C. 1617 - 1687 ISAAC (BALTAZAR) OROBIO DE CASTRO (Spain- Netherlands)

Professor of philosophy and physician. Denounced to the inquisition by a servant, he spent 3 years under torture without admitting to practicing Judaism. Forced to leave Spain, he became a professor of pharmacy in Toulouse. De Castro settled in Amsterdam in 1662 where he took the name Isaac and became active in the Jewish community. He published a number of books defending Judaism against Christianity, and one against Spinoza.

797 ISAAC (of Rachen) (Carolingian Empire-Persia)

An interpreter for Charlemagne, he was sent on a diplomatic mission to Harun al Rashid. The other members of the mission died, but he succeeded in carrying out the mission, thus renewing relations between the rulers of the East and West. He is also credited with establishing contact between the rabbis of France and the Geonim.

1433 - 1493 ISAAC ABOAB OF CASTILE (Spain- Portugal)

Aka Isaac Aboab II, was a noted scholar, teacher and biblical commentator. He was also known as the "last Gaon of Castile,". Aside from Nehar Pishon, which is a collection or his lectures he also published commentaries on the Talmud and supercommentaries on Rashi, and Nachmanides. Among his students were , Abraham Zacuto , Jacob Berab, and Joseph Fasi. In 1492 he and others went to Portugal to meet with King John II of Portugal and arrange for their absorption of some of the exiles.

C. 1400 ISAAC ABOHAB I(Spain)

Scholar and author of Menorat ha-Maor ("Candlestick of Light") a collection of Aggadot arranged according to the subject. The book published in more than 70 editions and in at least 5 languages, remains popular today. His objective was to return the knowledge of the Aggadah or Midrashic lore to the common people. He also wrote Aron ha-'Edut ("The Ark of the Testimony") tracing ritual laws and Shulḥan ha-Panim ("Table of the Showbread").

1013 (10 Iyar 4863) - 1103 ISAAC ALFASI (Fez, Morocco)

Also known as the "RIF", compiled the first codification of Jewish law, entitled Sefer Halachot. It still appears today in every volume of the Talmud. Joseph Caro later used it as a basis for his work. Sefer Halachot was the most important codex until Maimonides' Mishna Torah. Alfasi was 25 years old when Hai Gaon died. He was called Gaon by many authorities and his death marked the very end of the Geonic Period (since 589), although there are others who say that the Geonic Period ended with the death of Hai Gaon (1038). His students included Judah Halevi and Josef ibn Migash.

1894 - 1940 ISAAC BABEL (Ukraine)

Writer, journalist, and playwright. Babel was fluent in French, Russian, Ukrainian and Yiddish. Maxim Gorky published some of his first stories. His writings included Red Cavalry, Collected Stories, Odessa tales Shabos-Nakhamu and The Lonely Years. His plays included Zaket (Sunset) and Maria - the latter was banned. He often wrote about Jewish life, war, and corruption. In 1939 Babel was arrested and beaten until he confessed, incriminating his friends Solomon Mikholes and Ilya Ehrenburg. Though he immediately recanted, he was tried and executed for treason. Babel was rehabilitated in 1954 but his many confiscated and unfinished manuscripts were never returned.

1788 - 1860 ISAAC BAER LEVINSOHN (Russia)

Called "the Russian Mendelssohn". He became a notable Yiddish satirist and Haskalah leader. In his Bet Yehudah (1837), he formulated a philosophy and described Jewish contributions to civilization in an effort to promote Judeo-Christian understanding.

1904 July 14, - 1991 ISAAC BASHEVIS SINGER ( Poland-USA)

Yiddish novelist and journalist brother of I.J. Singer. Upon his immigration to the USA in 1935 he became a writer for the Forward. His first serial, The Family Moskat, gave him recognition as a respected writer. His other novels include The Magician of Lublin and The Slave. His Gimple the Fool and Other Stories and The Spinoza of Market Street showed his ability to write short stories as well. Singer won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1978, the first prize ever awarded for Yiddish Literature.

1120 - 1190 ISAAC BEN ABBA MARI ( Provence)

Known as " Ba'al ha-Ittur," .His Sefer ha-Ittur is a compilation of the main practical halachic laws including financial, Kashrut, marriage and divorce. It was regarded as the authoritative code until the appearance of Jacob ben Asher's Tur ( see 1270).

1489 - 1578 ISAAC BEN ABRAHAM AKRISH (Naples, Egypt- Constantinople)

Talmudic scholar, traveler. He was employed in Egypt to teach in the household of David ibn Zimra (see 1479). He used his earnings to purchase rare manuscripts and have them copied. Eventually while traveling the Venetian authorities confiscated them, but he managed to retrieve them and moved them to Constantinople. Unfortunately in 1569 a fire destroyed most of his invaluable collection.

1533 - 1594 ISAAC BEN ABRAHAM OF TROKI (near Vilna Lithuania)

Karaite scholar, physician, and writer. He was fluent in a number of languages including Latin and Polish and was well versed in Christian texts and arguments. These he used to write his famous Chizuk Emunah, “Fortification of Faith” a two volume work which defended Judaism against Christian polemics. His book (which was praised even by Voltaire) was unique and had a strong influence on both Jews and anti clerical non Jews. It was translated into Latin, Yiddish, German, Spanish, and even English.

1055 - 1130 ISAAC BEN ASHER HALEVI (The Rivah) (Germany)

Called the "Father of the German Tosafists". He studied briefly under Rashi, and was the only outstanding German teacher to survive the First Crusade. Upon his death there was no one of standing to take his place and the schools of Worms and the Rhineland were surpassed by those further south. It was said of him that he went over his lessons four times before he would teach them.

1130 - 1195 ISAAC BEN ASHER HALEVI THE YOUNGER (Ha-Bahur) (Speyer, Germany)

Was born on the day his grandfather (of the same name) died. He served as a judge (dayan) in the community and died a martyr after he attacked a mob which was abusing the body of his dead daughter.

1035 - 1094 ISAAC BEN BARUCH IBN ALBALIA (Cordova, Spain)

Talmudist and Jewish leader, he also served as the astronomer to Al Mutamed, King of Seville.

1002 - 1070 ISAAC BEN ELIEZER HALEVI (Worms, Germany)

Rabbi, teacher, liturgist - a student of Eliezer ben Isaac. After the death of Jacob ben Yakar, Rashi joined his school.

C. 1210 - 1280 (28 Iyar 5040) ISAAC BEN JOSEPH OF CORBEIL (the Semak) (France)

Rabbi, codifier. His Sefer Mitzvot Katan (Se-Ma-K) "Small" Book of Commandments, was divided into 7 pillars and included contemporary Halacha along with Aggadic stories and Ethics. He based his concept on the Sefer Mitzvot Gadol of Moses of Coucy, but did not delve into the argument behind the decisions.


Rabbi poet philosopher, and biblical commentator. He is said to have written more than four hundred poems, as well as hundreds of Piyutim (liturgical poems). His commentary on the Talmud, Sefer ha-Ner (Book of the Lamp), covered at least nine Talmudic tractates, although most are not extant. Among his many pupils were his son Judah, and Moses ibn Ezra. Some believe that Isaac Alfasi was also one of his pupils.

C. 1420 - 1494 ISAAC BEN MOSES ARAMA (Spain)

Rabbi and philosopher. In an effort to neutralize effect of the forced conversion sermons he delivered counter sermons, which were later included in his writings. Arama fled Spain to Portugal after the expulsion, and then to Naples where he died soon after. His works include Akedat Yitzchaḳ (Binding of Isaac) a philosophical commentary on the bible. Ḥazut Ḳashah (A Burdensome Vision) on philosophy and theology. Yad Abshalom (The Hand of Absalom) on the Book of Job and Hamesh Megillot on the five scrolls.

1180 - 1240 ISAAC BEN MOSHE OF VIENNA (Italy)

A great halachist who linked the various schools of learning with his ritual-legal code called Or Zarua (Light is Sown). Living during the forced conversions and massacres in Germany (1230-50), he decided that baptism, even if forced, prohibited a woman from marrying a Jew.

C. 1115 - C. 1184 ISAAC BEN SAMUEL THE ELDER aka Ri ha-Zaken (France)

One of the most prominent Tosafists and the great-grandson of Rashi. He also wrote a biblical commentary as well as a commentary on the Rif (Isaac Alfasi see 1013).

1326 - 1408 ISAAC BEN SHESHET PERFET (the Rivash) (Spain)

Rabbi, Halachic Authority and communal leader. Though he actually studied under the Ran, he is considered a pupil of ben Aderet whose teachings he followed. He wrote commentaries on the Talmud, Bible and Halachah, with many of his 518 responsa published as She'elot u-Teshuvot ha-Ribash. He was arrested and held along with his brother Judah, R.Nissim Gerondi and R. Hasdai Crescas and others on false charges of host desecration but eventual cleared. Perfet then served as rabbi of Sarargossa. He is also remembered for his uncompromising defense of Jewish tradition, even attacking those of the “ruling class” which often led him into conflict.

1782 - 1853 ISAAC BEN SOLOMON FARHI, (Safed)

Scholar and kabbalist, also known as “the rabbi who leads the masses to the right path” for his piety and ethics. Farhi was a member of the Bet El Yeshiva in Jerusalem, and was renowned for his effort in helping the poor. He was a prolific writer, whose works included Matok mi-Devash, Marpe la-Ezem and Matok la-Nefesh on ethics,Tuv Yerushalayim which extolled the virtues of Eretz Israel, and , and Minei Metikah sermons for the Sabbath.

C. 850 - C. 936 ISAAC BEN SOLOMON ISRAELI (Isaac Judeaus) (North Africa)

Court physician to the Fatimite princes and philosopher. Born in Egypt, Israeli emigrated at about the age of 50 to Kairouan. He composed numerous books on medicine including, Sefer HaKadachot (The Book of Fever), Tevei HaMezonot V'Kochotom (The Nature Of Strengths Of Dietetics) and Musar HaRofe'im (The Ethics of Physicians). Those on ophthalmology remained in use for seven hundred years. His books on dietetics and fever were translated into Latin and published in Europe. As a philosopher he was referred to as "the first Jewish Neoplatonist". Among his philosophical writings, his his Sefer HaGedarim, (Book of Definitions) is the best known.rn


Published Pahad Yizhak (Fear of Isaac), a rabbinical encyclopedia which also described the attacks on the Padua community the year before. For safety, he couched it in obscure language.

1664 - 1723 ISAAC CANTARRNI ( Italy)

Poet physician and Rabbi. His sermons were so popular that they were attended by Christians as well as Jews. He wrote Pachad Yitzchak {"Awe of Issac ) describing the attacks on the Padua ghetto in 1684 , a collection of poems Pi Sefarim ("Mouth of Books"), and Vindex Sanguinis, in Latin, a defense against blood accusations.

1625 - 1647 ISAAC CASTRO TARTAS (France - Portugal)

Born in France to a Converso family ,he traveled to Amsterdam and then Brazil where he was recognized , arrested, and taken to Lisbon for trial. This despite the fact that he was a Dutch citizen. He was convicted and burnt at the stake on December 15,1647, refusing to recant his belief in Judaism. As the flames were lit, he recited in a loud voice the Shema prayer. His public act served as an inspiration for many other Conversos.

1605 - 1693 (27 Adar 5453) ISAAC DA FONSECA ABOAB (Portugal-Holland-Brazil)

Rabbi and preacher. Aboab was a student of Isaac Uziel, one of the outstanding Rabbis of Amsterdam. In 1642, after its conquest by Holland, he was appointed Rabbi in Recife (Pernambuco) in Brazil, becoming the first Rabbi in the Americas. His Zekher Asiti le-Nifla'ot El ("I made record of the mighty deeds of God"), written as a thanksgiving prayer, is the first known Hebrew composition in the "New World".

1647 December 15, ISAAC DE CASTRO TARTAS (Portugal)

Was burned at the stake in Lisbon. Originally born in France, where his parents had found refuge, he decided to travel to Bahia which was under Portuguese control. There he was arrested for ‘judaizing’ and sent to Lisbon for trial. Although a Dutch citizen, he was condemned when he steadfastly refused to accept Christianity. While being burned alive, he cried out the words of Shemah Yisrael... (Here oh Israel...) with such fervor and inner calm, that the local witnesses repeated the words to their friends. The inquisition became so obsessed with this that it banned Christians from repeating the words of Shema. He was twenty-one years old.

1350 - 1414 ISAAC DURAN (Profiat Duran) (Spain)

Scholar, astronomer, physician and philosopher. Though forcibly converted to Christianity, he reverted back to Judaism as soon as possible. After one of his friends was also converted and decided to remain Christian, he wrote two brilliant attacks on Christianity: Al Tehi ka-Avotekha (Be Not Like Your Fathers) and Kelimat ha-Goyim (The Confusion Of The Gentiles). The first was such a successful satire, that some Christian scholars actually thought it was pro-Christian and republished it until they realized the true meaning behind it. His Ma'aseh Efod (The Making of the Ephod) discussed both linguistics and the fundamental nature of Jewish music. He also wrote a historical work Zikaron haShemadot. ( A Record of Persecutions) .

1817 - 1896 (21 Adar 5656) ISAAC ELCHANAN SPECTOR (Kovno, Russia)

Considered the leading Russian rabbinic scholar of his day. Spector, who was active in many aspects of Jewish life, was a supporter of the Hovevei Zion movement, declaring it a mitzvah (religious duty) to settle in Eretz Israel. He fought for the right of Jewish soldiers to obtain kosher food and against a ban on ritual slaughter proposed by the Russian government. His considerable responsa were published in three parts: Beer Yitzchok, Nachal Yitzchok, and En Yitzchok (the Well, Stream, and Spring of Isaac).

1743 - 1837 ISAAC HAI TAYYIB (16 Iyar 5594)(Tunisia)

One of the most revered Rabbis in the Tunisian community. Although he was renown in his day, he refused to hold any official position, and lived in poverty. Only one of his writings survived, Helev Hittim( Fat of the Wheat). According to legend he appeared after his death to his stone carver and insisted that he didn’t die, requesting that he add the word Lo (No) so that his stone reads “Rabbi Yitzchak Chai Lo Met”.

1888 - 1959 (19 Tamuz 5719) ISAAC HALEVI HERZOG (Eretz Israel)

Rabbi Herzog, who also held a doctorate in literature, served as the Chief Rabbi in the Irish Free State. He succeeded Rabbi Kook as Chief Rabbi in Eretz Israel in 1936, a post he held for 22 years. Herzog was respected by all walks of Israeli life. After the Holocaust, he spent 6 months in Europe searching for Jewish children who had been hidden in monasteries. His writings include Divrei Yitzchak on the Talmud, Heichal Yitzchak on responsa and Main Institutions of Jewish Law. His son Chaim became Israel's sixth President.

1679 - 1756 (23 Cheshvan 5517) ISAAC HEZEKIAH BEN SAMUEL LAMPRONTI (Italy)

Rabbi, educator and physician, Lampronti served as head of the Yeshiva in Ferrara where he developed a reputation for innovative educational ideas. He kept his practice as a physician even while serving as a Rabbi, refusing to accept payment for his services from those who could not afford them. Lampronti is renowned for his Pachad Yitzchak, a halachik Encyclopedia arranged in alphabetical order

1815 - 1905 ISAAC HIRSCH WEISS (Moravia)

Scholar and writer. Weiss taught at the Vienna Beit Hamidrash and believed in a combination of tradition and secular culture. His most famous work was Dor Dor ve-Dorshav, in which he traces the history and development of the Oral Law from its inception until the expulsion from Spain.

1839 - 1915 (11 Elul 5675) ISAAC JACOB REINES (Belarus-Lithuania)

Founder of the Mizrachi Religious Zionist Movement. He founded an experimental yeshiva in which rabbis were trained to expound the Talmud and preach in Russian. The government closed it four years later. He became the rabbi in Lida and joined the Zionist movement in 1898. Reines was a strong backer of Herzl, even supporting his Uganda plan. His Mizrachi Movement was the first official religious Zionist party.

1829 ISAAC JOST (Germany) (1793-1860)

Published the first history of the Jews by a Jew since Josephus, preceding Graetz by almost 50 years. As an educator and histographer, his approach was purely rationalistic, based on modern research and reflected his position of support for the Reform movement. Jost began his history with the Maccabees and ended in the nineteenth century.

1806 - 1868 ISAAC LEESER (Germany-USA)

One of the foremost rabbis and educators in the USA during the 19th century. Leeser established the first Jewish monthly in the US - The Occident in 1843. He published numerous Jewish textbooks for children, initiated the first Jewish college, Maimonides, in Philadelphia and was one of the founders of Jewish Publication Society of America. His translation of the Bible was the accepted Jewish translation in the United States for 50 years.

1852 - 1915 ISAAC LEIBUSH PERETZ (Poland)

A distinguished figure in both Hebrew and Yiddish literature. His writings are generally considered to lean toward Romanticism. In 1887, after ten years of silence he switched from Hebrew to Yiddish, writing poetry and editing journals. Peretz became a socialist criticizing both Hebrew and Zionism, which he referred to as "Diaspora nationalism". Many of his stories relate to Hassidic tales.

1534 - 1572 (5 Av 5332) ISAAC LURIA (HaAri Hakadosh - Sacred Lion) (Egypt-Eretz Israel)

Born in Jerusalem, he moved as a child to Egypt where he became a scholar and began to study Kabbalah. There he spent seven years in isolation on an island on the banks of the Nile, visiting his family only on the Sabbath. He wrote a commentary on Sifra di- Zeniuta, an important section of the Zohar. In 1569 he moved to the "Holy City" of Safed, and became known as the founder of modern Kabbalah. His most famous pupil was Hayim Vital. Joseph Caro also studied Kabbalah with him. The latter was responsible for disseminating his ideas. The Ari was also known as a liturgical poet and many of his songs were published in a manuscript called Har Nof. Some of these hymns (including Yom Ze LeYisrael) are still sung on Shabbat during the meals in many Jewish homes.


Became the first Jew to be conferred as a baronet (knighthood). Goldsmid (1788-1861), a renowned philanthropist, was very active the of emancipation English Jewry. His barony was soon followed by those of Moses Montefiore, and Anthony Nathan Rothschild.

1813 - 1893 ISAAC MEIR DICK (Lithuania)

First Yiddish author to use humor rather than satire. He also wrote in Hebrew and many of his characters were later adopted by Sholem Aleichem and I.L. Peretz. In all, he wrote over 300 stories, and a two volume collection of his Yiddish humor was published.

1789 - 1866 (25 Adar 5626) ISAAC MEIR ROTHENBERG ALTER (Poland)

Scholar and Hassidic leader. Isaac Meir was recognized as an outstanding scholar from an early age. His Novellae on the Talmud and the Shulchan Aruch are known as Chidushei Ha-rim and are still classical texts today. He was a follower of the Kutzk branch of Hasidim and became their leader. Isaac Meir founded the dynasty of Gur Hasidim which was one of the leading Hasidic groups in Europe. He believed strongly in not separating himself, but working directly, on daily problems with ordinary people.

1819 - 1900 ISAAC MEYER WISE (USA)

Emigrating to New York in 1846, he later settled in Cincinnati where he became the head of the American Reform movement. He was responsible for the founding of the Hebrew Union College and the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.


A French physician Published the first Hebrew Concordance called Meir Netiv. One of its purposes was to make it easier for Hebrew-speaking Jews to reply to Christians.

1793 - 1864 ISAAC NOAH MANNHEIMER (Copenhagen, Denmark-Vienna, Austria)

Preacher, orator, and director of the Reform temple in Vienna. He refused the title of Rabbi and later (1848) was elected a member of the Austrian Reichstag.

1160 - 1235 ISAAC THE BLIND (Sagi Nahor) (France)

One of the early Kabbalists (see 1200). Although little is known about him, he was considered by many Kabbalists to be one of its great teachers. He lived in Posquieres and wrote a commentary on Sefer Yezira (the Book of Creation), an ancient text and one of the cornerstones of the Kabbalah. His students, Asher ben David and Azriel ben Menachem, moved to Gerona, which became a center of Kabbalistic study.

C. 1350 ISAAC TYRNAU (late 14th-early 15th century) ( Austria)

In the introduction to his Sefer HaMinhagim ("Book of Customs") he describes the poor condition of Torah study in Hungary. He was the first Rabbi to discuss in detail the idea of Yahrzeit - anniversary of a death.

1898 - 1988 ISADORE RABI (USA)

Physicist and Nobel Prize winner. Rabi was a pioneer in the fields of nuclear physics and quantum mechanics. He served in the advisory committee of the Atomic Energy Commission and helped create the European Center for Nuclear Research.

C. 1565 - 1630 (11 Nissan 5391) ISAIAH BEN ABRAHAM HA-LEVI HOROWITZ (SheLaH Hakadosh) (Prague, Bohemia-Tiberias, Eretz Israel)

Rabbi, kabbalist, and Jewish leader known as the SheLaH Hakadosh for his major work Shnai Luchot Habrit (Two Tablets of the Covenant) which combines Halacha and Kabbalah as a way of life. He moved to Eretz Israel in 1621 after the death of his wife. In 1625 he was arrested with many other Rabbis and held for ransom by the Pasha. Horowitz served as leader and Ashkenazi Rabbi in Jerusalem. He used his wealth to financially support the community. Horowitz strongly believed that he was privileged to be able to observe the commandments tied to the land of Israel. He was buried next to Maimonides in Tiberias.

1768 ISHAQ AL-YAHUDI ( Egypt)

The Jewish Ottoman appointed tax collector, was arrested, fined 40,000 gold pieces, and then murdered by Ali Bey al-Kabir. Ali Bey (1728-1773) was a Mamluk leader who rebelled against the Ottoman rule. Al-Yahudi’s death signaled the end of Jews serving in governmental positions in Egypt, being mostly replaced by Syrian Catholics. It also marked the decline of the position of Jewish community in general.

1943 May 8, ISRAEL CHAIM WILNER "Jurek" ( Warsaw, Poland)

Died together with Mordechai Anielewicz in the bunker at Mila 18. Wilner ( 1916-1943) was an important figure in the resistance and served as the liaison between the Jewish underground ( ZOB) and the Polish home army. When asked about the chances of surviving the uprising he replied "We do not wish to save our lives. None of us will come out of this alive. We want to save the honor of mankind."

C. 1700 - 1766 (7 Sivan 5520 second day of Shavuot) ISRAEL BEN ELIEZER (THE BAAL SHEM TOV) (Medzibezh, Poland-Lithuania)

Founder of the Hasidic movement. Orphaned at a young age, he was raised by the Jewish community and spent much of his time alone in the nearby forests. After he married, he moved to the Carpathian Mountains and then to a small town where his wife set up an inn. At age 36, he revealed himself to the community as a healer and a comforter. He received the name "Baal Shem Tov" (Master of the Good Name) and was simply called the "Besht". His major philosophy consisted of worshipping G-d with joy and believing that simple prayers, when uttered in earnest, were more important that extreme intellectualization. The Besht believed that Tzaddikim, or righteous ones, were sent by G-d to guide the people. Though he left no writings of his own, he was immortalized by the often miraculous and magnified stories of his life told by his closest followers. The Baal Shem Tov did not have any children. His closest pupils set up "courts" and established Hassidic dynasties with different variances but in all adhering to the principles of Hassidism he laid down.

1391 June 20, ISRAEL BEN JOSEPH AL NEKAWA “Elnekaveh” (Toledo)

An aged poet and scholar was dragged through the streets. He preferred to take his own life rather than convert . He was joined in martyrdom by his brother Solomon and Judah ben Asher II a noted scholar and astronomer (the great grandson of Asher Ben Jehiel (see 1250). Al Nekawa was a noted scholar his chief work on ethics was Menorat ha-Maor (Shining Candelabra) . He believed that social morality as a intrinsic part of Jewish life. His book is especially valued since he quotes from many books which are not extant today.

C. 1550 - C. 1625 ISRAEL BEN MOSES NAJARA (Safed? - Gaza)

Poet, kabbalist, and Rabbi. Najara is most famed for his liturgical poetry, though many of the tunes he used were totally secular – for which he was criticized. His Most famous book of poems Zemiroth Israel ( Songs of Israel ) consists of 108 liturgical poems, Among his poems are Yah Ribon Olam (O Lord of the World) which is recited in Jewish houses on Shabbat throughout the world. Najara also wrote books on ethics, halacha, and a commentary on the Pentateuch. He served as Rabbi in Gaza where he lived until his death.

1770 - 1839 ISRAEL BEN SAMUEL “ASHKENAZI” OF SHKLOV (Belarus-Eretz Israel)

Talmudist and scholar. He was one of many the students of the Vilna Gaon who decided to move to Eretz Israel. In 1824 while lying very ill from cholera, he made a promise that if he survived he would write a definitive code of laws applying to Eretz Israel. He did survive and although his manuscript was destroyed in an earth quake he rewrote it. Pe'at ha-Shulchan (Corner of the Table) is one of the most important works examining all the laws that pertain to Eretz Israel.

1400 - 1480 ISRAEL BRUNA (Germany)

Rabbi and Halachic scholar, aka Mahari Bruna, the Hebrew acronym for "Our Teacher, the Rabbi, Israel Bruna". He studied under Israel Isserlin, and is known for his work Teshuvot Mahari Bruna which is one of the important Ashkenazi Halachic resources. Bruna was jailed on a trumped up ritual murder charge by an Jewish apostate Hans Vagol, but was declared innocent by both Frederick III, as well King Ladislav of Bohemia. Vagol later admitted to the perjury.

1915 - 2005 ISRAEL EPSTEIN (Warsaw - Beijing)

Author, journalist and ardent communist. He served as editor of the news magazine China Today, and translated the sayings and writings of Mao and Deng Xiaoping. Epstein spent five years in prison during the cultural revolution for allegedly plotting against Zhou Enlai. He continued to be a strong supporter of Chinese communism, and in 1973 was restored to his former positions with an apology.


Rabbi Israel Friedman (1796-1850) the "Ruzhiner Rebbe", considered himself a descendent of King David and was known for his opulent life style. In 1836 he was arrested, and accused being an accomplice in the murder of two Jewish informants and extorters, in Ushitz, Podolia. He was released without charge in 1840, after 22 months in prison, but was still considered a threat to the Russian authorities. Friedman fled to the Sadigora in the Bukovina region of Austria on a false passport. His Hasidim swore that he had been born there and arranged for him to receive citizenship. He rebuilt his "court" which was even more luxurious than the one he left behind. Friedman also constructed a synagogue in Jerusalem named after him, "Tiferet Israel". It was better known as the Nissan Beck Synagogue after its architect and builder. It was destroyed during the war in 1848.

1390 - 1469 ISRAEL ISSERLIN (aka Maharai) (Austria)

Talmudic authority and Halachist. Known for his responsa Terumat Hadeshen which is considered one of the sources for the Isserles’ Hamapah (see 1520). He also wrote Pesakim u-Ketavim on the laws of marriage.

1768 - 1828 ISRAEL JACOBSON (Germany)

The "Father of Reform", he was also the financial agent of Jerome Bonaparte, King of Westphalia. He organized the first Reform service and later founded the first Reform Temple with the help of Jacob Herz Beer. Jacobson was a strong believer in inter-racial association, and in 1801 established a school for Jewish and Christian children in the Herz mountains. The Reform movement was also known as the "Liberal" or "Progressive" movement. It developed partly out of the political and cultural emancipation of Jews in Western Europe. Although Jacobson sought a basis for his ideas in traditional Judaism, the Reform movement soon sought to distance itself from Orthodoxy, nationalism, and the authority of the written and Oral Law and concentrate on the "universal" aspects of Judaism. (See 1806, 1810, 1885)

1818 - 1864 ISRAEL JOSEPH BENJAMIN (Benjamin II)

Traveler and explorer. Benjamin fashioned himself after Benjamin of Tudela (1154) and undertook to find the 10 lost tribes. His travels took him throughout the Far East as well as North Africa. His exploits and information on the Jewish communities he visited were published as Sefer Masei Yisrael (The Book of the Travels of Israel).

1810 - 1883 (25 Shvat 5643) ISRAEL LIPKIN (SALANTER) (Lithuania)

Scholar and founder of the Mussar or moralist movement, which stressed humility, as well as moral and ethical teachings. He was influenced by Joseph Salant (1786-1866) who is the spiritual Father of the Mussar movement and considered him his ideal. After serving for a time in Vilna as mashgiach (spiritual guide), he realized success in his ethical sermons to the degree that he established his own school. The Yeshiva Knesset Yisroel at Slobodka was founded on Salanter's principles. Similar schools were soon opened at Telshe, Lomza, and Slutsk. Although these teachings were designed to compliment the intellectual study of the Talmud and to encourage students' moral self-examination, many rabbinical leaders became concerned that it would lead to a neglect of talmudic study. Once, during a cholera epidemic, he commanded his congregation to eat on Yom Kippur, setting an example by eating at the pulpit. He worked tirelessly to combat the disease, even on the Sabbath. Salanter was known for lecturing on Judaism to Koenigsburg University students. He advocated vocational training for Jewish youth. He was also in favor of translating the Talmud into Hebrew . Salanter left no major works, but his many articles were published in collections such as Imrei Binah (Sayings of Wisdom), Or Yisrael (Light of Israel), and Even Yisrael (Rock of Israel).

1838 - 1933 (24 Elul 5693) ISRAEL MEIR HACOHEN - THE CHOFETZ CHAIM (Hafetz Hayyim) (Radin, Poland)

A prominent talmudic leader and author, he wrote commentaries on the Sifra and Mussar. In all, he composed over thirty works on Jewish ethics and laws, especially concentrating on the need to beware of slandering or "promoting a bad name". His Magnum Opus was the Mishna B'rurah, a guide to Jewish law in modern times. Earning his living as a teacher and later founding a yeshiva, he consistently refused a rabbinical position. This was partly based on his belief that "he who hates gifts shall live".

1480 ISRAEL NATHAN (Italy)

Founded the Hebrew printing house of Soncino in Soncino, Italy. Their first book, printed in 1483 under the direction of his son, Joshua Solomon, was a volume of the Talmud (Tractate Brachot). A Bible with vowels was printed with over 400 illustrations in 1488. In all, more than 130 Hebrew books were printed by their various presses over the next 70 years.

1864 February 14, - 1926 ISRAEL ZANGWILL (England)

Celebrated portrayer of the humorous as well as the tragic side of Jewish life in England. As a member of the World Zionist Organization during the Uganda affair, he led a secessionist group to form the Jewish Territorial Organization (J.T.O.). The group did not oppose but also did not insist on Eretz Israel as a national homeland.

1943 November 14, ITALIAN JEWS KILLED (Ferrara, Italy)

Italian fascists killed 3 Jews in cold blood in broad daylight. They were not arrested or prosecuted in any way.


Established merchant colonies and trade routes to the Near East with the help of the Latin rulers in Jerusalem. They were under the protection of their mother countries and excluded Jewish traders, who up to that time were very active.

1799 ITALY

With the uprising of the counter-revolutionary forces against Napoleon, the Jews, who had risen to his banner, were attacked everywhere.

1832 ITALY

Giuseppe Mazzini organized a new society called Young Italy which many Jews joined. Their goal was to unify Italy. Although they were defeated by the French, one of his followers was Garibaldi, who later played an important role in unifying Italy.

1848 April 17, ITALY

The gates of the Roman ghetto were pulled down. Although Pope Pius IX was in favor of considering the removal of the ghetto gates, a popular leader named Ciceruacchio led a group who tore down the gates Passover eve. The Jews in the ghetto at first thought they were being attacked and hid in their houses.

1921 ITALY

Giovanni Pressiosi published an Italian version of the "Protocols".

1938 November 17, ITALY

The Supreme Council of the Fascist Party passed extensive anti-Jewish legislation. In addition, all Jewish officers were removed from the army including General Pugliese who was head of Naval construction. One officer, Colonel Segre, committed suicide in front of his men.


Conquered by Justinian's generals.

1943 September 3, ITALY

The government of Marshal Pietro Badoglio that had ousted Mussolini, signed an armistice with the Allies which was kept secret until the Allied landing.


A month later, the Italian air forces began bombing Haifa and Tel Aviv. Almost 200 people were killed with hundreds wounded.


Became ruler of Russia. He refused to allow Jews to live in his kingdom.

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