July 29, 1849 — ‘New Jew’ Advocate Max Nordau Is Born
Max Nordau is born Simon Maximilian Sudfield to an Orthodox Jewish family in Pest, Hungary. He breaks from the family tradition of becoming rabbis and community leaders when he moves to Berlin, changes his name, earns a medical degree, works as a journalist and becomes a prominent social theorist. He drafts the Basel Plan, the blueprint adopted at the First Zionist Congress for a Jewish state in Palestine, and advocates the development of the “new Jew.”
July 30, 1992 — Yael Arad Wins Israel’s First Olympic Medal
Tel Aviv native Yael Arad, 25, becomes the first Israeli to win an Olympic medal, taking the silver in judo in the half-middleweight (61-kilogram) class at the Summer Olympics in Barcelona. She dedicates her medal to the 11 Israelis killed at the Munich Olympics 20 years earlier. In 1993 she wins the European championship and takes silver at the world championships. She competes in the 1996 Olympics and coaches at the 2000 Games.
July 31, 1988 — Hussein Disassociates From West Bank
Jordan’s King Hussein announces that he is giving up political claims to the West Bank, although he seeks to retain influence over Jerusalem. His announcement leaves the PLO to serve as the representative of the Arab residents of the area. King Abdullah I, Hussein’s grandfather, annexed the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1950 without international recognition, and Jordan lost the territory in the June 1967 war.
Aug. 1, 1955 — First Residents Move Into Dimona
The southern development town of Dimona welcomes its first residents, all of whom are recent arrivals from Morocco, as Israel tries to settle immigrants who have been housed in tent cities. All of Dimona’s early residents are Mizrahim (Jews from Arab countries), and although some work in the nearby Dead Sea Works potash plant, many must travel long distances to jobs. Dimona gains municipal status in 1969, when the population tops 24,000.
Aug. 2, 1968 — Oil Flows From Eilat to Haifa
Oil reaches Haifa on the Mediterranean Sea from Eilat on the Red Sea through a land pipeline for the first time. The overland connection between Israel’s largest ports is crucial as an alternative to the Suez Canal, which remains closed to Israeli ships and other vessels that stop in Israel. The pipeline turns Israel into a bridge to Europe for Iranian oil, but that effort ends with the fall of the shah in 1979.
Aug. 3, 1945 — Report Confirms Horrible Conditions in DP Camps
Earl Harrison, sent to Europe by President Harry Truman to check on the conditions in displaced-persons camps, reports that rumors of poor treatment are true in many cases. After visiting 30 DP camps in Germany and Austria, he finds that “we appear to be treating the Jews as the Nazis treated them, except that we do not exterminate them.” The report leads Truman to call for Britain to admit 100,000 Jewish refugees to Palestine.
Aug. 4, 1920 — Kaplan Writes Article Leading to Reconstructionism
Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, a professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary, publishes “A Program for the Reconstruction of Judaism” in the Menorah Journal, expanding on discussions he had with rabbis and lay leaders. Kaplan argues that Judaism in America is defined by immigrants and has shown no signs of being self-sustaining. He emphasizes Zionism as a key component in the reconstruction of American Judaism.
Items are provided by the Center for Israel Education (israeled.org), where you can find more details.