This Day in History – 28 Teves/January 19

In 3680/81 B.C.E., Rabi Shimon ben Shetach successfully completed the ejection of the Tzedokim (Sadducees) who had dominated the Sanhedrin, replacing them with his Torah-loyal Dayanim.

In 5626/1866, the Jews of Switzerland were granted civic equality after pressure was exerted by the United States, which had interceded on behalf of American Jewish citizens.



5618/1858, Harav Avraham Entebi, zt”l, Rav of Aram Tzova, Syria, and mechaber of Yoshev Ohalim

5688/1928, Harav Gedalyah Shmelkes of Przemysl (Pshemishel), zt”l


5716/1956, Harav Yerachmiel Eliyahu Botchko, Rosh Yeshivas Montreux, Switzerland, zt”l

Harav Yerachmiel Eliyahu Botchko was born on Tu BiShvat, 5648/1888, the youngest son of Harav David Yehudah and Rebbetzin Miriam Leah Botchko.

His father learned all day, while his mother undertook to support the family. At a young age, his father noticed in the young Yerachmiel Eliyahu signs of future greatness, especially his quick mind; at the tender age of 12 he sent him to the Lomza Yeshivah.

It is related that a week before his bar mitzvah, Yerachmiel Eliyahu received a package from home containing a pair of tefillin and a home-baked cake, with instructions from his parents not to come home to celebrate the bar mitzvah, but rather to stay in yeshivah and not miss even one day!

A week after his bar mitzvah, young Yerachmiel Eliyahu was orphaned of his father, and not long afterwards, from his mother. This only inspired him to continue learning Torah.

From Lomza, he continued on to Novardok, where he advanced under the watchful eye of the Alter of Slabodka, zt”l. It was there that his leadership qualities were molded.

Yerachmiel Eliyahu married Rivkah, the daughter of Harav Naftali Sternbuch of Basel. The couple settled in Basel.

When Rebbetzin Rivkah took ill, her doctors suggested they move to a more mountainous area, such as Montreux, in the famous Swiss Alps. Reb Yerachmiel Eliyahu decided, with the chinuch of his young children in mind, to open a yeshivah in the town and thus bring Yiddishkeit to the area. Yosef Yehudah Leib Bloch, Rosh Yeshivah of Telshe, urged him in this direction and promised to send a few top talmidim.

The new Eitz Chaim yeshivah started with five Telshe bachurim and four local Swiss bachurim in Iyar 5687/1927.

The yeshivah drew many bachurim from all over Switzerland until the building was too small to contain them all. A new, impressive, four-story mansion was purchased in one of Montreux’s prime areas. The yeshivah became one of Europe’s most prestigious; many bachurim from all over Europe flocked to its doors.

In the winter of 5716/1956, the yeshivah planned a kinus for its alumni for Shevat, to be held in America, with the participation of the Rosh Yeshivah, Reb Yerachmiel Eliyahu. On his way to America he stopped off in Ireland, where he had a sudden heart attack and was unfortunately niftar at the age of 68.

The aron was taken to Yerushalayim, and the levayah attracted a large crowd, headed by many Gedolei Yisrael.

Yehi zichro baruch.


Jan. 19

In 1861, Georgia became the fifth state to secede from the Union.

In 1915, Germany carried out its first air raid on Britain during World War I as a pair of Zeppelins dropped bombs onto Great Yarmouth and King’s Lynn in England.

In 1942, during World War II, Japan invaded Burma (Myanmar).

In 1944, the federal government relinquished control of the nation’s railroads to their owners following settlement of a wage dispute.

In 1966, Indira Gandhi was elected prime minister of India.

In 1970, President Richard M. Nixon nominated G. Harrold Carswell to the Supreme Court; however, the nomination was defeated because of controversy over Carswell’s past racial views.

In 1977, in one of his last acts of office, President Gerald R. Ford pardoned Iva Toguri D’Aquino, an American convicted of treason for making wartime broadcasts for Japan.

In 1981, the United States and Iran signed an accord paving the way for the release of 52 Americans held hostage for more than 14 months.

In 1992, German government and Jewish officials dedicated a Holocaust memorial at the villa on the outskirts of Berlin where the notorious Wannsee Conference had taken place.