Category Archives: Law, Politics & Military

Jews in the World of Law and Politics

Jew of the Week: Simon Kremser

Inventor of Buses 

A modern-day Kremser carriage in Germany

Simon Kremser (1775-1851) was born in the German city of Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland). He followed in the footsteps of his father, a wealthy merchant. During the Napoleonic Wars, Kremser helped to provide funds for the Silesian Army against Napoleon, and managed the Prussian royal family’s war chest. He was awarded the Iron Cross, and was eventually granted citizenship, becoming one of the first Jews to be a German citizen. In 1825, Kremser had an idea for a public carriage line that would quickly and cheaply transport people across Berlin. He got permission from King Friedrich William III, and designed a large horse-drawn carriage that could seat up to 20 people. Such carriages are still known as “kremsers” in Germany today. By 1835, Kremser ran three different “bus” lines in Berlin. The idea of public buses soon spread across Europe. As the king’s official hauler, Kremser was also the one commissioned to return the famous Brandenburg Gate Quadriga to Berlin in 1814 after it had been snatched by Napoleon. Little else is known of Kremser, and no picture of him has survived. It is believed that he lived out his last years in Russia, where he served the royal family and was given the honorary military rank of major.

Words of the Week

The only wealth that I truly own is that which I have given away to good causes. Everything else – all my holdings – are simply under my control for the moment, but they can be lost in the next moment due to a bad decision, war, an accident or other cause which I cannot control. However, the good institutions that my money has built are forever; they can never be taken or lost.
Sir Moses Montefiore 

Jew of the Week: Tamar Eshel

In Memory of a Great Israeli Pioneer

Tamar Finkelstein (1920-2022) was born in London, England while her parents worked there for the Jewish Agency. She returned with them to the Holy Land in 1923, at which point the family resettled in Haifa (and also Hebraized their last name to “Shoham”). Tamar Shoham became a youth leader of the Tzofim (Israeli scouts), and later joined the Haganah. For three years, she served as a signal operator and grenade maker. She returned to England to study at the University of London. At the same time, she operated a Haganah radio station and worked in the underground to assist Jews in making aliyah. During World War II, Shoham volunteered to serve in the British Army, and in 1944 was posted as an intelligence officer in Cairo. She returned to Israel in 1948 and took up a position at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There she would meet her second husband, Arye Eshel, who was Israel’s ambassador to Canada. After their wedding in 1960, she went by the name “Tamar Eshel”. Eshel was a frequent delegate to the United Nations, and in 1968 officially became Israel’s UN ambassador. She was appointed by the UN to head its Commission on the Status of Women, becoming the first Israeli in that position. After retiring, Eshel joined Jerusalem’s city council, and later became its deputy mayor. Around the same time, she was elected head of Na’amat, Israel’s largest women’s organization, that still has some 800,000 members today. In 1977, Eshel won a seat on the Knesset, and served as a parliamentarian until 1984. For the rest of her life, she volunteered for Hadassah Medical Center (established by former Jew of the Week Henrietta Szold), and at the Beit Tzipora women’s shelter, which she had co-founded. Eshel passed away last week on her 102nd birthday. She was Israel’s oldest former MK, and one of its most distinguished diplomats.

Words of the Week

The entire Torah was granted solely to bring about peace in the world.
Rabbi Moses Maimonides (1138-1204), “Rambam”, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Chanukah 4:14

Jew of the Week: Ben Shapiro

America’s Top Political Pundit

Ben Shapiro (Credit: Gage Skidmore)

Benjamin Aaron Shapiro (b. 1984) was born in Los Angeles to a Jewish family of Russian and Lithuanian heritage. His family became Orthodox when he was 9 years old, and Shapiro has been a Torah-observant Jew ever since. He skipped two grades and graduated from high school at 16, and from UCLA at 20 with a degree in political science. That same year, he published his first book, Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America’s Youth. By this point, his political column was nationally syndicated, and Shapiro still has the distinction of being the youngest person in American history to have a nationally syndicated column. Shapiro then went to law school at Harvard, after which he worked as a lawyer for several years. In 2012, he became the editor of Breitbart News, though he resigned in 2016 over disagreements over Breitbart’s direction. He subsequently became the number one target of anti-Semitism in America, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Since then, he has been the editor of The Daily Wire, which is currently the top news page on Facebook (and has more engagement than The New York Times, The Washington Post, NBC News and CNN combined!) He is also the host of The Ben Shapiro Show, now the second most popular podcast in the US (ninth-most in the whole world!) and carried by over 200 radio stations across the country. Shapiro is famous for his many stimulating speaking engagements on campuses, and for his quick wit and debate skills. Altogether, Shapiro has written 11 books thus far and is among today’s leading conservative commentators. He has sometimes been confused with the alt-right, who he actually strongly opposes, and has been a frequent target of. Shapiro is an avid violinist (see a 12-year-old Shapiro play “Schindler’s List” here). Last week, he was in Israel for a CPAC conference and several thousand people crammed into an auditorium to hear him speak. He also made sure to visit the Temple Mount and pray there.

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Words of the Week

Before the thinkers of Athens came along, the Torah arrived at the notion of equality before the law. All public institutions in the Torah – the judiciary, the priesthood, the monarchy, the institution of prophecy – are subordinated to the law. Moreover, the law is a public text whose dictates are meant to be widely known, thus making abuse of power more obvious and safeguarding the common citizenry… the most important body of authority in the polity envisioned by the Torah is none other than the people themselves.
Rabbi Dr. Joshua Berman (Ani Maamin, pg. 174)