History Articles

Neighborhood Musings, Part 3


These days, when we say we are “heading to the airport,” we are usually referring to Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport (or BWI), a mere 35 minutes away. Who would have thought there were other options for locals here, almost a century ago, that were much, much closer to home. But that is exactly what I recently discovered! First, a little background is in order.

The Aviation Age Comes to Baltimore

On May 21, 1927, a new chapter was written in the annals of aviation history. His repugnant anti-Semitic views and abhorrent lack of family values notwithstanding, the fact remains that on that day Charles Lindbergh became the first person to complete a solo transatlantic flight, flying non-stop from Long Island, New York, to Paris, France. That achievement not only catapulted him into the stratospheres of public adulation and fame, but transformed the nascent aviation industry into the hottest, newest investment on Wall Street.

Read More:Neighborhood Musings, Part 3

Exodus from Egypt


I pen this article on June 10, 2015, the 48th anniversary of Israel’s Six-Day War victory over Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. Relations had never normalized after the 1948 War of Independence, and dangerously heightened tensions led up to the battles fought between June 5 and June 10. After obliterating Egypt’s air force and vanquishing its ground forces, Israel went on to seize control of the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula (from Egypt), the West Bank and East Jerusalem (from Jordan), and the Golan Heights (from Syria).

As this miraculous victory being was celebrated in Israel, the small community of Jews remaining in Egypt suffered. The advent of the war prompted Egyptian authorities to knock on the doors of nearly all the Jewish houses in the country and round up some 600 men between the ages of 16 and 60, whom they held as “Israeli POWs.” Although the war ended in six days, some of these POWs – Ezra Halawani, a”h, among them – were held in primitive and overcrowded prison conditions for three years.

Read More:Exodus from Egypt

Hope Never Dies: A Book Review


I appreciate the many positive comments on my recent article about a young woman who survived the Holocaust in the forest. This led me to pick up another volume by another young woman, whose story is very different. This time, I will share her experiences after the war, as well, because the story does not end with the end of the war. The effects live on, and we need to have more understanding of how the Holocaust affected its survivors.

Hope Never Dies is written by Holocaust survivor Sarah Wahrman, who was born in Czechoslovakia. Her father was a shochet, who traveled by bicycle to 18 surrounding villages to shecht for the few Jews who lived in each place. Her town of Coltova was so small that there was only a minyan on Shabbos in the shul that was attached to her house. Her father, Yaakov Elimelech Herskovits, Hy”d, was, by default, the one who conducted all religious services in the area. She describes their poverty and the fact that there was no Bais Yaakov in her country. Her only Jewish education was at home. After the war, she married a talmid chacham and must have learned quite a bit, as this book is full of divrei Torah and hashkafa, far more than any Holocaust diary I have read.

Read More:Hope Never Dies: A Book Review

Sir Martin and Me


Editor’s Note: Last month, one of the world’s leading historians, Sir Martin Gilbert of London, passed away. Gilbert (1936-2015), author of about 90 books, was not only a leading historian, he was a Jewish historian. That is, he was a historian who happened to be Jewish. Famous for his multi-volume biography of Winston Churchill, he also wrote a great deal about his people, particularly about the Holocaust and the State of Israel. He was a Jewish Jew, a proud and public Zionist, as well as a member of an Orthodox shul in London, the Highgate Shul. He held high posts in British society, and his positive influence on British culture and politics helped in the fight against the anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism which is so rampant there. All of this (and more) is public knowledge. What is not known is his “Baltimore connection” – our own Avinoam Miller, a connection that reflects Sir Martin’s middos and chesed. We are happy to share this story with our readers. Enjoy!

Read More:Sir Martin and Me

Learning from our Past, Building our Future: How Jewish History Teaches Us to Create a Positive Community for Tomorrow


There is a story told about a Bais Yaakov girl in Poland in the 1930s. She met a local man in the community who criticized her for being Torah observant. You’re so old-fashioned, he said, you must be the only girl in the 20th century who is still so meticulous about religious observance. The Bais Yaakov student answered back to him, I may be the only one in the 20th century, but I won’t be the only one in the 21st century.


Read More:Learning from our Past, Building our Future: How Jewish History Teaches Us to Create a Positive Community for Tomorrow

Lessons in Life


Shomrei Emunah has a library of Holocaust books, donated by a Holocaust survivor, and from time to time I read one. Alone in the Forest, by Mala Kacenberg, is part of a series put out by CIS Publishers during the 1990s called “The Holocaust Diaries.” Before I tell you a little of this riveting story, I want to dispel the fallacy that if you’ve read one Holocaust book you know the whole story. This is totally wrong, as each autobiography of someone who went through the trauma of World War II and came out alive is unique. This is true because, first of all, each person survived by a different set of miracles. Second, the lessons they learned and passed on to us are unique to their experiences and to their personalities. You can read such a book as an adventure story, with escape from near death on every page, or you can look deeper and take lessons for your own life.

Read More:Lessons in Life