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Known as the “genius of Vilnius”, Elijah ben Shlomo Zalman Kramer was a Talmudist,… [More] halachist, kabbalist, and the foremost leader of non-hasidic Jewry of the past few centuries. He was one of the greatest scholars of the Middle Ages. The Vilna Gaon joined the rabbis and heads of the Polish communities known as the Mitnagdim, to curb Hasidic influence. In 1777 one of the first excommunications against the Hasidim was launched in Vilna. [Less]
1791: US President James Buchanan
Buchanan was the 15th President of the United States (1857–1861). He is the only president from… [More] Pennsylvania and the only president who remained a lifelong bachelor. His niece Harriet Lane played the role as lady of the house. In 1857, President Buchanan received a committee of Jews led by Isaac Meyer Wise. They were there to seek his support in over-turning a treaty with the Swiss Cantons that resulted in American Jews being subjected to the anti-Semitic laws of Switzerland. Buchanan said he would work to correct the situation [Less]
1858: Max Planck
Planck was a German physicist who discovered quantum physics, initiating a revolution in natural… [More] science and philosophy. He is regarded as the founder of quantum theory, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918. During World War II, Plank tried to convince Adolf Hitler to spare the lives of Jewish scientists. His son was executed for his part in the 1944 plot to kill Hitler. [Less]