Tag Archives: Jewish Refugees

Jews of the Week: Isaiah Kenan & Larry Weinberg

Portland Trail Blazers and AIPAC

Larry Weinberg

Lawrence Jay Weinberg (1926-2019) was born in New York City. He fought valiantly with the US Army in World War II, earning a Purple Heart, Combat Infantry Badge, and the Bronze Star. He was horribly injured in a battle in France, and spent a year in recovery. After university studies, Weinberg founded the Larwin Company, a housing developer. Two decades later, having merged with another company, it had become the top housing developer in the country, building over 8000 residential units a year. Meanwhile, Weinberg was also the founder of Com-Air Products, a manufacturer of jet engine parts. In 1970, Weinberg teamed up with two other prominent Jewish businessmen to bring an NBA team to Portland. They succeeded, and five years later, Weinberg became president of the Portland Trail Blazers. The team won its first NBA Championship in 1977. Weinberg continued as president until selling the team to Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen in 1988. By that point, Weinberg had also become a major force within AIPAC, the “pro-Israel Lobby” in Washington, and had served as its president for several years.

Isaiah “Si” Kenen

AIPAC was founded by Isaiah Leo Kenen (1905-1988). Kenen was born to a Russian-Jewish immigrant family in Canada. He studied philosophy at the University of Toronto, and went on to become a journalist for the Toronto Star. In 1926, he moved to Cleveland, where he took up the study of law and was admitted to the bar in 1933. Some years later, he became president of the Cleveland Zionist District, and during this time worked for the Jewish Agency. After 1948, he served in Israel’s delegation to the United Nations. In 1951, he was asked to lobby Congress for some financial aid for Israel to deal with the huge influx of Jewish refugees it was receiving, especially the nearly 1 million Sephardic and Mizrachi Jews expelled from Arab countries. (While the world focuses on Palestinian refugees, the plight of Jewish refugees continues to be ignored.) Kenen’s lobbying team would transform into AIPAC in 1959, and has worked hard to draw American support for Israel ever since. AIPAC has become a powerful lobbying group (once ranked as the second most powerful), which has unfortunately brought with it a great deal of negative publicity, not to mention being implicated in wild conspiracy theories. Today, AIPAC has more than 100,000 members, and has been called “the single most important organization in promoting the US-Israel alliance.” Their yearly conference draws some 18,000 supporters, along with a host of renowned speakers. This year’s conference will take place in Washington DC starting March 24th.

The Mizrahi Project: Remembering the Jewish Refugees

Iranian-Jewish Refugee Becomes New York Senator

Marc Rubio: The Truth About BDS and My Bill

Julian Edelman Becomes First Jewish Superbowl MVP

How Fake News Is Manipulating Israeli Elections

Why You Should Rethink Using Non-Stick Pans

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, Who Raised Over $1 Billion for Israel, Passes Away

Words of the Week

I am convinced that it is true that God created this earth but it is also a fact that only an Israel can keep this earth from dying.

– Tashbih Sayyed, Pakistani-American scholar

Jew of the Week: Ruth Gruber

Journalist, Photographer, War Hero

Ruth Gruber

Ruth Gruber

Ruth Gruber (b. 1911) was born in Brooklyn to Russian-Jewish immigrants. By 15 she was already studying at New York University, and at 20 received a doctorate from the University of Cologne, which many believe made her the youngest person in the world to hold a Ph.D. While studying in Germany, she experienced Nazism first hand, and brought back some of the earliest accounts of these horrors to the US. Having always dreamed of being a writer, Gruber finally began her writing career in 1932. A few years later, she was among the first foreign correspondents in the Soviet Union. During World War II, Gruber served as the Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Interior. The seminal moment of her life came in 1944, when she was sent on a special mission to save 1000 Jewish refugees and American soldiers trapped in Italy. Their convoy of 29 ships sailed through treacherous waters and managed to arrive safely in the US. To protect her in case she was captured, she was awarded the rank of “General” (and therefore could not be killed by enemy soldiers according to the Geneva Conventions). This was America’s one and only mission to save Jews during the entire war. Gruber later helped these Jews gain the necessary documentation to stay in the US and not be deported. After the war, Gruber returned to journalism and was stationed in Israel for a time. She witnessed, photographed, and covered the famous voyage of the Exodus that carried 4500 Jewish refugees. She later assisted in the plight of Ethiopian Jewry. Gruber went on to write 19 books and many popular articles. She has won numerous awards for her work, and in 2010 a documentary about her life was released. Gruber will soon celebrate her 103rd birthday. She has been described as a “scholar, writer, journalist and humanitarian, a world class photojournalist.”

UPDATE: Sadly, Ruth Gruber passed away in November of 2016.

Words of the Week

Figure out what you’re willing to die for. Then live for it.
– Rabbi Noach Weinberg