Tag Archives: Congress

Jew of the Week: Uriah P. Levy

America’s Commodore

Happy 4th of July!

Uriah Phillips Levy (1792-1862) was born in Philadelphia to parents descended from German and Portuguese Jews. At age 10, he left home to work as a cabin boy on a merchant ship. At 13, he returned home for his Bar Mitzvah (having already traveled the world!) He continued on the nautical path and became a sailor. Levy enlisted in the navy during the War of 1812, where he was captured and imprisoned for 16 months. After the war, he returned to the navy and rose through the ranks, participating in many conflicts (including the Barbary Wars) and eventually becoming commodore of the Mediterranean Fleet. This made him the first ever Jewish commodore – the highest naval rank at the time. Facing extreme anti-Semitism throughout his military career, he would defend his honour in some violent fights, for which he was court-martialed no less than 6 times! He became a champion of the lowly soldier, refusing to participate in flogging or any form of corporal punishment. For this he was dismissed from his post, but by 1850 was able to convince Congress to pass an anti-flogging bill, thus abolishing the practice. He then wrote a new manual for humane military discipline. Away from the army, Levy found success in real estate, and became a noted philanthropist. In 1834 he purchased Thomas Jefferson’s estate (Monticello) and paid for its restoration. For this he is considered by many to be the first (modern) person to restore a historical site. He donated Monticello to the U.S. government in 1862. He also commissioned a statue of Jefferson for the Capitol building, which remains to this day the only piece of artwork in the Capitol to be privately commissioned. Levy financed the Bnai Yeshurun Jewish seminary of New York and served as the first president of the Washington Hebrew Congregation. The destroyer ship USS Levy is named after him.

Words of the Week

Do not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your destitute brother.
– Deuteronomy 15:7.
It is forbidden to withhold charity and relief for the needy if we are aware of their desperate situation and have the means to assist them. This is one of the 613 commandments of the Torah.

Jew of the Week: Menachem Mendel Schneerson

The Lubavitcher Rebbe

Menachem Mendel Schneerson – The Lubavitcher Rebbe

Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902-1994) was the 7th and final Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch. From an early age he was focused on the well-being of others, diving into the Black Sea to save a drowning boy when he was just 9 years old. After marrying, he settled in Germany, where he studied math, physics, and philosophy at the University of Berlin. Simultaneously, he began writing commentaries on the Torah. With the rise of the Nazis, Rabbi Schneerson moved to France in 1933, and studied mechanics and engineering at ESTP, then enrolled at the world-famous Sarbonne and studied math until the outbreak of World War II. In 1941, the Rebbe finally made it to America. Immediately, he went to work at the Brooklyn Navy Yard to help the war effort, and was on the team that supplied the U.S.S. Missouri battleship. By 1942, Rabbi Schneerson began taking charge of Chabad. He reluctantly accepted the title of Rebbe in 1951. Over the years, he launched many campaigns to reignite Judaism globally. He sent thousands of emissaries, called shluchim, around the world, setting up Chabad houses on every continent (except Antarctica, for now), thereby putting kosher food, warm hospitality and prayer services always within reach for Jews anywhere in the world. He was a noted kabbalist, and gave countless penetrating discourses. He touched the lives of thousands of people, and inspired countless more. In 1983, the US Congress established the Rebbe’s birthday as “Education Day”. Posthumously, he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

Words of the Week

You must approach a fellow Jew as though you are the King’s servant sent with a message to His most precious child.

– Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe

Jew of the Week: Stanton Friedman

The Flying Saucer Physicist

The Flying Saucer Physicist, Stanton Friedman

Stanton Terry Friedman (b. 1934) A nuclear physicist by training, he spent 14 years working on top-secret military, space and nuclear research projects. In 1970, he left this vocation to spread awareness of alien life. He has since become the world’s most famous UFOlogist and expert on extraterrestrials. He’s written over 90 papers and 5 books on alien life, provided testimony before Congress and twice before the United Nations. Friedman was one of the first to investigate the Roswell incident, and is credited with bringing its awareness to the mainstream. He often appeared on radio and television programs, and was inducted into the UFO Hall of Fame. He is known as the “flying saucer physicist”. 

UPDATE: Sadly, Stanton Friedman passed away on May 13, 2019.

Words of the Week

It is time for a wake-up call. We are not alone.
– Stanton Friedman