A Jew who tried to save Christians

Isaac Cremieux was a Jewish friend of Napoleon Bonaparte, and he was both a patriotic Frenchman and a defender of his co-religionists.  As far as helping the Jews, one of his successes was helping to secure the acquittal of the Jewish victims of the famous Damascus (Syria) ritual murder case.  He also appealed to his fellow Jews to help Christians.
He said this to them about the Christians of Lebanon:
The Christians of the East are subjected to the most horrible persecution.  Tortures, rape, assassination, pillage, burning, the murder of women, children, and old people, even mutilation of corpses–such is the picture presented by the whole regions of the Lebanon.  Blood is shed; misery and famine are spreading among a dense population, whom Mohammadan fanaticism is destroying in a  war even against the intention and forces of the Turkish government, and whose sole crime is that they worship the Christ.  French Jews, let us be the first to come to the aid of our Christian brothers; let us not await the results of diplomacy, which is always so slow and which will regulate the future; let us alleviate present needs.  Let a large subscription be begun today in Paris, and let a Jewish committee be organized tomorrow….This signal will be answered by our brethren in England, Germany, Belgium, Holland and all Europe; in the countries that recognize them as citizens, and in those that still refuse them this noble title.  You, also, Jews of the American countries where religious liberty is triumphant, you will help the Catholics of Asia, who are so cruelly oppressed by superstition…
We read about anti-Semitism often in the history of Europe, but I think that in this period (he lived from 1796 to 1880) there must have been cordial relations between the Christians and Jews of parts of Europe, because otherwise he would not refer to “our Christian brothers” and expect his co-religionists to enthusiastically donate.   (Later he donated 50,000 francs to help flood victims in Toulouse, France.)
There was a different mentality back then as compared to our more skeptical and jaded present.  As a lawyer, Cremieux tried to persuade jurors to acquit three young men of having sung the hymn of the Revolution (the year was 1819, and the revolution that had killed Louis XVI was long over, and Louis XVIII was now king of France).  He paraphrased the song for the jury, and at the verse “Amour sacre de la patrie”, all the jurors rose, and acquitted the accused men.

Isaac Adolphe Cremieux

Those words come from the first line of the last verse of the Marseillaise, which was sung by the revolutionaries as they entered Paris:
Drive on sacred patriotism
Support our avenging arms
Liberty, cherished liberty
Join the struggle with your defenders
Under our flags, let victory
Hurry to your manly tone
So that in death your enemies
See your triumph and our glory!

He was a very honest man as well. In 1832 Cremieux heard that his father, on leaving the prison in 1796, had found his business destroyed, and had been compelled to compromise with his creditors. Crémieux did not rest until he had found all these creditors or their heirs; and he returned to them not only the principal, which most of them had forgotten, but also the accumulated interest for thirty-six years. Thereupon he sought and easily obtained the rehabilitation of his father’s name.

An Israeli ironman

Adi Deutsch

Adi Deutsch

Adi Deutsch, a soldier in Israel’s Golani brigade, stepped on an anti-personnel mine on his way back from a mission in Lebanon. He managed to block the bleeding artery in his leg himself, and a helicopter came and took him to an Israeli hospital. He asked his doctor, in a manifestation of black humor, if it was a “Volvo”, and his doctor replied that it looked like it would be. (Volvos are given to leg amputees by the Israeli government).
As part of his rehab, he started swimming and running, though his running was impeded by his prosthetic leg. Then when the Zahal Disabled Veteran Organization picked him as one of 12 people to receive special running legs (prosthetic of course), “a new and amazing world opened up to me…”

With his new prosthetic legs, Adi began training in running. And then he started running triathlons. There was a European Triathlon Championship in Eilat in 2012, and he came in third place in his category. “I wanted to show my fellow athletes…that I could become a member of the ‘Iron Man’ family. Earlier this year, he finished the ‘Iron Man’ (a sea swim of 3.8 km, 180 km bike ride and 42 km marathon run) in 14 hours and 20 minutes.

From what I read, prosthetic legs and determination are not always enough. Some of the people who lost limbs when a Muslim bombed the Boston Marathon are not doing well. But Adi advises that we should “set a goal and go after it.” He is certainly an inspiring example.

(you can read more about an organization that helps disabled vets in Israel at http://www.fidv.org). They mention another remarkable man, Aharon Karov, who was sweeping a building for explosives when a booby trap exploded, and the entire building crumbled on top of him. With eight pieces of shrapnel in his head, all of his teeth knocked out, his left eye dismembered, and his stomach and the upper left side of his body completely crushed, his prospects looked grim. After ten days of coma, he was able to wiggle his right fingers and blink, but otherwise, he was a prisoner in his own body. Because of his severe head injuries, he had to relearn right and left, the simple commands sit and stand.
Five years later, he ran the New York Marathon!

Joselovich, Berek – Polish Jewish Colonel who fought the Russians

Berek Joselewicz

Berek Joselewicz

In 1794 Colonel Berek Joselovich was commisioned by Kosciusko to form a light horse regiment from among the Jews of Warsaw, Poland, to fight the Russians. (It was Berek’s idea to have a all Jewish unit). Joselewicz, along with another Jew named Joseph Aronowicz, issued a patriotic call-to-arms in Yiddish denouncing Russia and Prussia, eliciting hundreds of volunteers, mostly poor tradeworkers and artisans. His men were popularly known as the ‘beardings’ because they obeyed the religious custom of growning a beard. He and his 500 men fought bravely, especially in the defense of Warsaw. But in the siege of a suburb of warsaw called Praga, he lost almost all his soldiers.
Then when Napoleon took on Russia, Joselovich served under Napoleon in the Polish Legion. He was killed in an encounter with Austrian hussars near Kotzk. There the people raised a mound to his memory.
Berek was a knight of the Polish Gold Cross and the Virtuti Militari.
Berek’s son was Josef Berkowicz, and he was in the same battle where his father was killed. He quitted the military service in 1815, and was appointed forester of the government forests of Troki, and later elsewhere as well.
He also served in the Polish revolution and ended up in England, where he wrote a novel “Stanislaus, or the Polish Lancer in the Suite of Napoleon from the Island of Elba.” This book was published after his death by his family.

Spitz, Mark – American Jewish Olympian Swimmer

Mark Spitz was born the first of three children in Modesto, California to parents Arnold and Lenore Spitz. At age two, his family moved to Hawaii and he swam almost every day at Waikiki Beach. When Mark was just six years old, he began to compete at his local swim club. Before he was 10, Spitz held 17 national age-group records, and one world record. His family moved again when he was 14 years old, this time to train under George F. Haines of the Santa Clara Swim Club. During his four years there, Mark held national high school records in every stroke and in every distance. It was an unprecedented achievement.

The 1965 Maccabiah Games was Mark’s first international competition. At the age of 15, Spitz won four gold medals and was named most outstanding athlete. In 1966, at 16, he won the 100-meter butterfly at the National AAU Championships, the first of 24 AAU titles. Mark emerged on the world swimming stage when, in 1967, he set his first world record at a small California meet in the 400-meter freestyle. Also in 1967, Mark won five gold medals at the V Pan American Games in Winnipeg, and set a record that was not surpassed for 40 years.

One of the greatest living sports legends, Mark Spitz might be remembered best by his astonishing win of seven gold medals at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. His performances were even more remarkable considering world records were set in all seven events. (blogger’s note: ‘7 medals in an olympiad’ was the record until Michael Phelps won 8 golds in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Spitz said of Phelps: “…not only is this guy the greatest swimmer of all time and the greatest Olympian of all time, he’s maybe the greatest athlete of all time,”)
But back to Mark’s story:
In one of the most dramatic instances in Olympic history, Mark won his final competition only hours before Palestinian terrorists captured and eventually murdered 11 Israeli athletes in the Munich Olympic Village. In an effort to keep the athletes safe, Spitz was whisked out of the country under heavy security guard.

Mark Spitz is also well-known for having an iconic mustache throughout the Olympics. During a time when most swimmers were clean-shaven, Mark was rebellious and swam with facial hair. Most swimmers believe body hair slows a person down, but Mark called his mustache a “good luck piece” and kept it throughout his Olympic competitions.

He was voted “Athlete of the century” in water sports and one of six “Greatest Olympians” by Sports Illustrated in 2000. Between 1965 and 1972, Spitz won nine Olympic gold medals, one silver, and one bronze; five Pan-American golds; 31 National U.S. Amateur Athletic Union titles; and eight U.S. National Collegiate Athletic Association Championships. During those years, he set 33 World records.

most of the above is excerpted from the site: http://www.markspitzusa.com

Ramon, Ilan (astronaut, fighter pilot who blew up Iraq’s nuclear reactor)

Ilan Ramon

Ilan Ramon was an Israeli pilot, who was said to have excelled in everything he did, such as being first in his class in flight school. As an engineer, he joined the team at Israel Aircraft Industries that developed the Lavi fighter jet.
In 1981, Israeli Colonel Ilan Ramon flew one of the F-16 jets that blew up the Iraqi nuclear reactor in Osirak. In doing so, he may have prevented Saddam Hussein from acquiring a nuclear bomb.

Years later, he was chosen by the U.S. to fly in the space shuttle Columbia. On the flight, he carried a picture of the Earth as seen from the moon drawn by a Jewish boy in Theresientstadt concentration camp. He also carried a torah scroll from Bergen Belson.

The space shuttle came to a tragic end on re-entry, killing all on board.

Rose, Maurice (Jewish WWII General)

Maurice Rose

General Maurice Rose was an officer in WWI and WWII. The son and grandson of Rabbis, he was at the time the highest ranking person of Jewish descent in the US Army. He first enlisted in the Colorado National Guard as a Private in 1915 hoping to serve with General John Pershing’s expedition into Mexico. He was discharged when it was found out that Rose falsified his age.
During WWII he served in three armored divisions. In Tunisia, General Rose was the first officer to accept the unconditional surrender of a large Nazi unit. After assuming command of the 3rd Armored Division, he became known for his aggressive style of leadership, and his division was the first unit to penetrate the Siegfried Line.
On March 31, 1945, he rounded a corner in his jeep and found himself surrounded by several German tanks. As he withdrew his pistol to surrender, a young German tank commander, apparently misunderstanding Rose’s intentions, shot the General. In retaliation, 110 Germans not involved in the incident were murdered by the Americans.

Palgrave, William Gifford (1826-88) (Explorer who traversed hostile Arabian Peninsula – among other things)

William Palgrave

A scholar and a soldier, a Jesuit and a Jew, a French spy and a British ambassador – Palgrave was a man of contradictions, all of them highly compromising when in 1862-3, fortified by Pius IX’s blessing and Napoleon III’s cash, he attempted the first west-east crossing of the Arabian peninsula. To steely nerves and a genius for disguise he owed his eventual success; but not before both were sorely tested, when, as a Syrian doctor, he became the first European to enter Riyadh. The desert capital of the fanatical Wahabis, dangerous for an infidel at the best of times, was then doubly so as the sons of the ageing king Feisal intrigued for power. At one point, Palgrave was accused by a Saudi Prince of being a Christian, a spy, and a revolutionist, come to ruin the Moslem religion and state. But Palgrave bluffed his way out.
Palgrave’s father was interesting too – he was a child prodigy who at the age of eight translated Homer’s "Battle of the Frogs" from Greek into French. As an adult he changed his name from Cohen to Palgrave and converted to Christianity. He wrote many important historical works.
(Source – John Keay’s book Exploration – Classic Accounts of the Great Stories of Human Endeavour, and the Jewish Encyclopedia)

Monash, John (Australian Jewish General Praised By Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery as the best general in the Western Front)

General John Monash

John was born on 27 June 1865 to parents of Prussian-Jewish origin. In 1915 he was sent with the 4th Brigade (1,000 men) to Gallipoli, where he made a name for himself despite the fact that the campaign was a disaster. By June 1916 he was in France, as a major-general. Here he used raiding techniques frowned on by the British High Command, but they were impressed by his detail and precision in a war that was going very badly. He believed that: "the true role of infantry was not to expend itself upon heroic physical effort, not to wither away under merciless machine-gun fire, not to impale itself on hostile bayonets, but on the contrary, to advance under the maximum possible protection of the maximum possible array of mechanical resources, in the form of guns, machine-guns, tanks, mortars and aeroplanes; to advance with as little impediment as possible; to be relieved as far as possible of the obligation to fight their way forward."

At the Battle of Hamel Hill on 4-July-1918 his tactics won a well needed victory for the allies. Thereafter the A.I.F smashed its way through France, used as shock troops in an amazing serics of victories against the Germans.

He was often reminded that he was a Jewish colonel with no formal army background by many members of the British High Command. But he won the respect of his troops, and was knighted on the field by King George V.
He died on October 1931.

Vamberry, Arminius (Hungarian Jewish traveler and Orientalist, undercover explorer among the Persians.)

He was apprenticed at the age of twelve to a ladies dressmaker, but after becoming tutor to the son of the village innkeeper, he was enabled by his friends to enter the gymnasium of St. George, near Presburg. Later he studied at Vienna, Kecskemet, and Budapest. Vambery was attracted by the literature and culture of Turkey, and in 1854 he went to Constantinople. There he became a private tutor. About this time he was elected to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in recognition of his translations of Turkish historians. In 1861, disguised as a Sunnite dervish (a person who goes into mystical trances), he set out from Constantinople. He explored Persia and Afghanistan – the first journey of its kind undertaken by a European. Vambery could not take notes since he had to avoid suspicion. He returned to Europe in 1864 and became professor of Oriental languages in the University of Budapest. He became a publicist defending the English policy in the East as against that of the Russians.

Arminius Vambery as Dervish

Vambery’s gift for languages came in handy when he was playing the part of a dervish near Teheran. His companions having discovered that he understood European languages became suspicious. Vambery explained to them that "Allah had, as a reward for his piousness, blessed him with the grace of being able to talk in all tongues." The Persians believed it, and very soon the rumour went abroad that he was a miraculous Hadji who was conversant with every language. The Swedish Minister to Teheran, who had heard of this, proposed to put the holy man on his trial. A begging Dervish upon a Persian highway who knew Swedish was really unimaginable. Thus it would be easy for him to unmask the humbug. Accompanied by several Europeans and by Persian Court officials, he rode outside the gate where Vambery was sitting in Oriental fashion on his crossed legs. The Minister stopped in front of him, and suddenly addressed him in Swedish. Vambery just knew, in a poor way, how to read this language, but he was unable to speak it. However, not a muscle in his face moved; he slowly raised his eyes to the gigantic Swede, and all at once, distinctly and slowly, began to recite one stanza of Tegner’s "Frithjof’s Saga." This stanza had, somehow, remained in his memory, and it was indeed all that he could, coherently and without making mistakes, say in Swedish. The Swede hearing the lines of poetry in his mother tongue, spoken by the ragged, turbaned, begging Dervish, changed color, remained for a moment speechless, then sharply turned his horse round and spurred it away. He was scared and convinced of having experienced something supernatural. Even fourteen years later Vambery could not help laughing heartily when he described the stupefied countenance of the Swedish Minister.

(source: Max Nordau’s introduction to "The Life and Adventures of Arminius Vambery – written by himself" and The Jewish Encyclopedia)

Jacobs, Jack (Jewish medal of honor recipient in Vietnam)

Jack Jacobs

Col Jack H. Jacobs was awarded the medal of honor for his Vietnam War Service.

Col. Jack Jacobs, who entered military service through Rutgers ROTC, earned the Medal of Honor in 1969 for exceptional heroism on the battlefields of Vietnam.
Jacobs was an advisor to a Vietnamese infantry battalion when it came under a devastating fire that disabled the commander. Although bleeding from severe head wounds, 1st Lt. Jacobs took command, withdrew the unit to safety, and returned again and again under intense fire to rescue the wounded and perform life-saving first aid. He saved the lives of a U.S. advisor and 13 allied soldiers.

Jacobs served on the faculty of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the National War College in Washington, D.C. After retirement, he founded and was chief operating officer of Auto Finance Group. As a managing director of Bankers Trust Co., he led Global Investment Management to $2.2 billion in assets and later co-founded a similar business for Lehman Brothers.