Chronology: Maryland and Israel Part 3, 1950 to 2008

Posted on August 30th, 2017 by

Compiled by Avi Y. Decter and Dr. Deborah R. Weiner. Originally published in Generations 2007-2008: Maryland and Israel

 Missed the beginning? Start here.

1950

In an historic exchange, Baltimorean Jacob Blaustein, president of the American Jewish Committee, and Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion agree that “(1) the Jews of the United States, as a community and as individuals, have only one political attachment, namely, to the United States of America; (2) that the Government and people of Israel respect the integrity of Jewish life in the democratic countries and the right of the Jewish communities to develop their indigenous social, economic, and cultural aspirations, in accordance with their own needs and institutions; and (3) that Israel fully accepts the fact that the Jews in the United States do not live ‘in exile,’ and that America is home for them.” The agreement also stipulates that American Jews will not interfere in Israeli politics. The Blaustein-Ben-Gurion agreement is reaffirmed in 1961, 1963 and 1970.

 

1954

Associated Jewish Charities mission to Israel, the note on the back is dated Nov. 4th, 1954 and reads: ”Darlings, This picture was taken in Haifa on Nov. 1st where we were fortunate enough to see a boat land with over 500 immigrants - mostly Morrocans and a few Egyptians. You can imagine the thrill as each one found his family and friends. Wish you could include this part of the world in your trip - it’s really an eye opener and Bob dear, has real human interest. There are 63 different countries represented here, a real melting pot. Now on to the Neger. Best love, M.”

Associated Jewish Charities mission to Israel, the note on the back is dated Nov. 4th, 1954 and reads: ”Darlings, This picture was taken in Haifa on Nov. 1st where we were fortunate enough to see a boat land with over 500 immigrants – mostly Morrocans and a few Egyptians. You can imagine the thrill as each one found his family and friends. Wish you could include this part of the world in your trip – it’s really an eye opener and Bob dear, has real human interest. There are 63 different countries represented here, a real melting pot. Now on to the Neger. Best love, M.” JMM 1995.142.6.1

The Associated sends its first Mission to Israel. To date, hundreds of community leaders and public officials have participated in dozens of Associated Missions to Israel.

 

1958

Novelist and Baltimore native Leon Uris publishes Exodus, a fictionalized account of the establishment of the state of Israel. A publishing sensation, it becomes the best-selling American novel since Gone with the Wind. Its heroic portrayal of the men and women who fought to create the Jewish state has a profound impact on American public opinion, helping to build support for Israel and shaping the popular narrative about Israel’s founding for decades to come.

 

1967

With Israel on the brink of war, around 8,000 people rally at the Pikesville Armory on 4 June to express their solidarity. Speakers included Chizuk Amuno Rabbi Israel Goldman, U.S. Senator Joseph Tydings, and Baltimore Mayor Theodore McKeldin. The Six-Day War breaks out the next day. An Israel Emergency Fund is established in Baltimore within hours after hostilities began, and $3.2 million is pledged during the week.

 

1973

Thousands gather at the Pikesville Armory on 9 October, once again rallying to support Israel during a time of war. The Yom Kippur War also brings forth another outpouring of financial support as the Jewish community mobilizes its fundraising capabilities.

 

Also in the early 1970s, Marylanders become active in the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) under the leadership of Paul Cordish. They work to educate and lobby elected officials in support of Israeli policies, and to involve more members of the Jewish community in championing the Israeli cause. Eventually a local AIPAC Council is formed in Baltimore; its office opens in 2005. The local effort produces such national leaders as current AIPAC Chairman Howard Friedman.

1988

Maryland Governor William Donald Schaefer and Israel’­s Ambassador to the United States, Moshe Arad, sign a Declaration of Cooperation to promote economic development between Maryland and Israeli businesses and research institutions. The following year, Governor Schaefer leads a trade mission to Israel.

 

1992

The Maryland/Israel Development Center is established to promote economic development in Maryland and Israel by fostering trade, investment, and joint ventures. The Center incorporates as a public-private partnership between The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, Israel’­s Ministry of Industry and Trade, and the Jewish Agency for Israel.

 

1999

Johns Hopkins University students Sarah Ratzenberger and Libby Garon on a BIrthright Israel trip, winter 2009. Courtesy of Hopkins Hillel.

Johns Hopkins University students Sarah Ratzenberger and Libby Garon on a BIrthright Israel trip, winter 2009. Courtesy of Hopkins Hillel.

Birthright Israel launches its first trips to Israel. The initiative offers free, first-time educational trips for Jewish young adults ages 18 to 26 in order to strengthen participants’ personal Jewish identity and connection to the Jewish people. Maryland organizations sponsoring trips include the Hillels at the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University. In its first decade, more than 7,000 Marylanders participate in Birthright Israel trips.

2003

An antiquities site Ashkelon. JMM 2007.43.98

An antiquities site Ashkelon. JMM 2007.43.98

The Associated launches a “sister city” partnership with the Israeli city of Ashkelon, with the goal of strengthening relations among Jews in Israel and the diaspora. The partnership aims to create ties between the people of Ashkelon and Baltimore; it also develops joint projects to build Jewish identity, foster leadership and volunteerism, improve social services, Jewish education, and health care, and promote economic development. As a result of the partnership, in 2005, Baltimore City establishes a sister city relationship with Ashkelon, focusing on cultural and economic exchange.

2008

To celebrate Israel’s 60th Anniversary, the Jewish Museum of Maryland installs Dateline: Israel – New Photography and Video Art, an exhibition organized by The Jewish Museum in New York. The exhibition is accompanied by public and family programs and a new educational resource kit, Kesher Israel.

~The End~

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The Ship That Launched a Nation

Posted on July 24th, 2015 by

The JMM’s current exhibition, Cinema Judaica, has inspired me to spend my evenings watching old movies. Some of these films I’ve been meaning to watch for a while and just never got around to doing so while others caught my interest while studying the film posters on display or learning about them from film scholar and exhibit curator, Ken Sutak.

One film I have always meant to watch is Exodus and despite reading (and loving) the book it is based on by Leon Uris, never seemed to find the time to do so.

Exodus - poster now on view in Cinema Judaica!

Exodus – poster now on view in Cinema Judaica!

The 1961 epic film tells the story of the fight to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine after the tragedy of the Holocaust and is based on a true life event, the attempt to resettle hundreds of Jewish refugees who were living in DP camps by sailing them through the British blockade to Palestine.

Some people might be surprised to learn that the actual story of the Exodus has a Maryland connection. The ship that became known as the Exodus started out in 1928 as the SS President Warfield, a flagship of the “Old Bay Line” and originally served as a luxury overnight steamer that sailed between Baltimore and Norfolk.

Old Bay Line

Old Bay Line

In 1942 the U.S. government requisitioned the vessel and loaned it to England as an amphibious training vessel.  Returned to the U.S. Navy in 1944, it became the command and control ship for the Allied invasion fleet off Normandy Beach and later a troop transport.  The Hagana, a Jewish underground organization, purchased the ship and converted it in Baltimore to a Jewish refugee ship to run the British blockade of Palestine (the events depicted in the film).  Unlike the film, which presents a fictionalized account of the ship’s safe arrival in Palestine (with the approval of the British), in reality, while still in international waters British warships rammed the boat, and royal marines boarded it. These actions resulted in 3 deaths and 149 injuries to the refugees who were returned to Europe.  However, although unsuccessful in its mission, this dramatic final voyage and its aftermath drew world media attention to the plight of European Jewry and helped turn public support in favor of the establishment of Israel. The Warfield/Exodus,1947  became the “ship that launched a nation.” (Click here for more details about the historical events.)

Thanks to the efforts of former JMM staff member and Exodus scholar-extraordinaire, Dr. Barry Lever, we have several related artifacts in our collections. Dr. Lever spearheaded a community-wide commemoration in 1995 which resulted in the creation of a tapestry,

This tapestry was designed by Alex Gelfenboim in 1995 and stitched with the help of community volunteers

This tapestry was designed by Alex Gelfenboim in 1995 and stitched with the help of community volunteers,

a ship model,

a ship model,

the issuing of a commemorative stamp,

the issuing of a commemorative stamp,

and the dedication of a plaque at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor (in front of the World Trade Center).

If you have not had a chance to see the film (or have not seen it in a while), I enthusiastically recommend doing so. While it is indeed long (clocking in at about 3 ½ hours), having the chance to watch Paul Newman as hero, Ari Ben Canaan, is definitely an enjoyable way to pass some time!

 

deborahA blog post by Deputy Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts from Deborah click HERE.

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