Monthly Archives: September 2011

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:

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.