July 12, 1938 — Weizmann Protests Britain’s Pro-Arab Stance

Chaim Weizmann writes to Malcolm MacDonald, the British secretary of state for dominion affairs, to complain about the government’s shift from supporting Zionism to adopting a pro-Arab policy in the year since the Peel Commission called for a partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. “The British government will have to ask themselves whether they are going to rely on backward Arab populations … or whether they would rather rely on a progressive Jewish population,” Weizmann writes. 


July 13, 1978 — Peace Deal Is Urgent, Sadat Says

Seven months after his historic visit to Jerusalem, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat invites Israeli Foreign Minister Ezer Weizman to a meeting in Austria to press the importance of reaching a bilateral peace agreement. Sadat emphasizes the need for Israel to withdraw from Sinai, Gaza and the West Bank, and Weizman urges the Egyptian leader to meet directly with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin.


July 14, 1555 — Paul IV Forces Jews Into Roman Ghetto

Two months after becoming the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Paul IV issues an anti-Jewish decree, Cum Nimis Absurdum. Jews living under papal rule in Italy are subject to humiliations and restrictions, including living in ghettos. The Jews of Rome are forced into a ghetto along the Tiber River; they don’t escape the ghetto decree until the late 19th century. Other new rules for Jews include a mandate to wear yellow head coverings and a ban on owning property.


July 15, 1908 — Max Fisher Born

Future philanthropist Max Fisher is born to Russian Jewish immigrants in Pittsburgh. He moves to Detroit after college and enters the oil business, eventually founding Aurora Gasoline. It grows to be one of the largest independent oil companies in the country with more than 700 gas stations. He devotes his substantial charitable giving and fundraising to Jewish causes, Israel and Detroit. The Max M. Fisher Prize for Jewish education is founded in his honor in 1999. He dies in March 2005.


July 16, 1926 — Stef Wertheimer Born

Stef Wertheimer, who becomes one of Israel’s wealthiest citizens with a net worth of $5 billion, is born in Kippenheim, Germany. He immigrates to Palestine with his family in 1937. He serves with the British Royal Air Force during World War II and gains expertise with tools and machinery as an optical technician. In 1952 he founds Iscar Metalworking, which grows into a multinational business bought out by Berkshire Hathaway. 


July 17, 1888 — S.Y. Agnon Born

Shmuel Yosef “Shai” Agnon, Israel’s first Nobel laureate, is born in Buczacz, Galicia, now part of Ukraine. He makes aliyah in 1907, lives in Germany from 1913 to 1924, then returns to Jerusalem. Although his early writing is in Yiddish, most of his books are in Hebrew. He is awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1966 for a body of work known for commemorating the lost shtetl life of Eastern Europe.


July 18, 1290 — England Expels Jews

King Edward I orders the expulsion of the Jews from England, where they had settled in significant numbers only in the 11th century. Despite gaining legal protections early in the 12th century, Jews suffer massacres in 1189 and 1190, then are subject to high taxation and other persecution. Edward forces approximately 4,000 Jews to leave the country; most move to France or Germany. Jews are not allowed to return to England until 1656.


Items are provided by the Center for Israel Education. 

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