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Dates in Jewish History - July

Last updated: 2007-07-01

Western Wall

Western Wall in Jerusalem

July 3, 1950: The Israeli Knesset passes the Law of Return declaring that every Jew has the right to settle in Israel. This confirmation to the age-old Jewish yearning for return to Zion became the basis of the state’s accepting Jewish refugees from throughout the world, including such bold humanitarian interventions as the airlifts of nearly all Jews from Yemen and Ethiopia.

July 8, 1847: Angelo Brunetti, a leader of liberal reform, achieved a reconciliation between the Jews of Rome and the inhabitants of the Regola quarter, near the ghetto, who had always been anti-Jewish. Eight days later, thousands of citizens streamed into the ghetto and publicly fraternized with the Jews. The next year, hearing that Pope Pius IX had ordered the abolition of the ghetto, Brunetti rallied help to demolish the walls, while the Jews, unaware of his action, were celebrating Passover. He was executed by the Austrians in Northern Italy after the collapse of the Roman Republic in 1849.

July 22, 1849: Birthdate of Emma Lazarus, U.S. poet, essayist, and activist. The daughter of a wealthy industrialist, she involved herself in progressive causes throughout her short life (she died of cancer at age 38). She founded the Hebrew Technical Institute for Vocational Training, which aided new immigrants in adjusting to America. In 1883 she sailed to London, armed with letters of introduction from Henry James to well-placed people in England, Jews and non-Jews, who might help her promote the establishment of a Jewish national homeland. A decade before Theodore Herzl launched the Zionist movement, Lazarus argued in poetry and prose for Palestine as a safe haven for oppressed Jews everywhere. Her poem, "The New Colossus" (1883), with its famous image of "huddled masses yearning to breathe free," was engraved on a memorial plaque and affixed to the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty in 1903.

July 1830: The “July Revolution” created a constitutional monarchy in France that marked an improvement in Jewish civil rights. In the revolution’s wake, French lawyer and community leader Charles Narcisse Oulif secured the repeal of the Jewish oath (dating to the time of Chalemagne, the more Judaico demanded ritual public humiliation for any Jew testifying against a Christian in court). Oulif later established a school for Jewish youths and was among the founders of a society for the encouragement of technical education for Jews. Both institutions served as models for similar ones in other cities.

July 1942: Fifty Jewish children and their adult caretakers arrived at the Catholic seminary in Nonantola, near Bologna, Italy, having fled the war zone in Yugoslavia between Italian troops and local partisans. A priest, Arrigo Beccari, housed the group there and, upon the German invasion of Italy in 1943, arranged local hiding places for the children. As the danger grew, Beccari helped procure forged documentation identifying the group as Italian citizens and arranged a perilous but successful train trip to Switzerland for the group. The Gestapo, discovering the loss of the children, imprisoned and tortured Beccari for several months. Nevertheless, he refused to disclose the names of the persons who had helped him or to reveal the whereabouts of others Jews in hiding. In 1964, Beccari was awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.

July 1989: Judge Richard Joseph Goldstone was appointed to the newly established Constitutional Court of South Africa, a position he held until 2003. From 1991 to 1994, Goldstone chaired the Commission of Inquiry regarding Public Violence and Intimidation, which came to be known as the Goldstone Commission. This led to several notable United Nations appointments: chief prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda (1994–96); a drafter of the Declaration of Human Duties and Responsibilities (1998); chairman of the International Independent Inquiry on Kosovo (1999–2001); and member of the Independent International Committee to investigate the Iraq Oil for Food program (2004). Goldstone also served on council for the International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute; as a governor of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; and as president of World ORT, an international Jewish education and training charity. His autobiography, For Humanity: Reflections of a War Crimes Investigator, appeared in 2000.

Reproduced with permission and taken from:  Encyclopaedia Judaica, 2nd Edition, © 2007

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