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Lazarus was a Jewish-American poet born in New York City. She is best known for “The New… [More] Colossus”, a sonnet written in 1883; its lines appear on a bronze plaque in the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, placed there in 1903. Her writing attracted the attention of Ralph Waldo Emerson, with whom she corresponded for a time. Lazarus was the fourth of seven children of Moses Lazarus and Esther Nathan, Sephardic Jews whose families, originally from Portugal, had settled in New York since the colonial period. (She was also related to Benjamin N. Cardozo, Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court). Lazarus wrote her own poems and edited many adaptations of German poems, notably those of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Heinrich Heine, and wrote a novel and two plays. She also became more interested in her Jewish ancestry after reading the George Eliot novel “Daniel Deronda” and after she heard of the Russian pogroms that followed the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881. As a result of this anti-Semitic violence, thousands of destitute Ashkenazi Jews emigrated from the Russian Pale of Settlement to New York. This led Lazarus to write articles on the subject as well as the poem for which she was famous, “Song of a Semite” (1882). Lazarus also began to advocate on behalf of indigent Jewish refugees and helped establish the Hebrew Technical Institute in New York to provide vocational training to help destitute Jewish immigrants become self-sufficient. [Less]
1878: Janusz Korczak
Korczak was a Polish-Jewish educator, children’s author, and pediatrician known as “Pan… [More] Doktor” (Mr. Doctor) or “Stary Doktor” (Old Doctor). After spending many years working as director of an orphanage in Warsaw, he refused freedom and stayed with his orphans when the institution was sent from the Ghetto to the Treblinka extermination camp, during the Grossaktion Warsaw of 1942. He refused to be separated from the children despite offers to go to other, possibly better-treatment, camps (such as Theresienstadt). Prior to WWII, he served in the Polish Army during WWI and founded Dom Sierot in Warsaw, the orphanage of his own design for Jewish children, which was a mini “republic” for children, boasting its own small parliament, court, and a newspaper. [Less]
1887: Gustav Ludwig Hertz
Hertz was a German experimental physicist and Nobel Prize winner, and a nephew of Heinrich Rudolf Hertz.… [More] From 1911 to 1914, Hertz was an assistant to Rubens at the University of Berlin. It was during this time that Hertz and James Franck performed experiments on inelastic electron collisions in gases, known as the Franck–Hertz experiments, and for which they received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1925. In 1928, he became ordinarius professor of experimental physics and director of the Physics Institute of the Berlin Technische Hochschule (BTH). Since Hertz was an officer during World War I, he was temporarily protected from Nazis’ National Socialist policies and the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service, but eventually the policies and laws became more stringent: At the end of 1934, he was forced to resign his position at BTH, as he was classified as a “second degree part-Jew” (his paternal grandfather was Jewish). [Less]