This Day in History – 3 Elul/August 18

In 4949/1189, the day King Richard was crowned, Christian mobs converged on the Jews, killing many, Hy”d. Richard had forbidden Jews to make an appearance at his coronation, but some Jewish leaders showed up to present gifts to the new king.

Richard’s courtiers flogged them, then flung the Jews out of court. The people of London joined in the persecution of the Jews, and a massacre began.

Many Jews were beaten to death; others were robbed and burned alive. At least one was forcibly baptized. Some sought sanctuary in the Tower of London, and others managed to escape, badly wounded.


 

Yahrtzeiten

5628/1868, Harav Avraham Tzvi Eisenstadt, zt”l, mechaber of Pischei Teshuvah

5640/1880, Harav Yitzchak Tzadikah of Jerba, Tunisia, zt”l

5703/1943, Harav Yitzchak Yeshayah of Tchechov, Hy”d, son of Harav Chaim of Sanz


 

5708/1948, Harav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz, zt”l

Harav Shraga Feivel was born and raised in the small village of Villag, in rural Hungary. After his bar mitzvah he went to learn in the great yeshivos of Hungary — in Chust, Unsdorf and Pressburg.

On Rosh Chodesh Elul 5669/1909 he married Rebbetzin Bluma Rachel, the daughter of Reb Shimon Halevi Shaller, z”l, in the Galician town of Riminov, where the kallah’s family lived. In 5673/1913, when he was 27 years old, Harav Shraga Feivel escaped to America to avoid conscription in the Austro-Hungarian army. Before he had a chance to send for his wife and two young children, World War I broke out, cutting him off from his family completely for six long years.

Soon after arriving in the United States he settled in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he embarked on his first foray into the early twentieth century American chinuch scene.

In 5681/1921 Reb Shraga Feivel moved to the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, and in 5683/1923 began his career as a rebbi for the  eighth-grade in Yeshiva Torah Vodaath, its highest class. His love of Torah was infectious, and his classes, whether in Gemara, Chumash or Neviim, were enlivened by his enthusiasm.

Later, Reb Shraga Feivel was appointed to fill the vacated post of principal. Under his leadership the yeshivah flourished. Yet he realized that an elementary-school yeshivah education alone was insufficient. A mesivta high school, revolutionary and “un-American” as it was then, was an absolute necessity. Mesivta Torah Vodaath soon opened its doors.

His official position in Mesivta Torah Vodaath was not limited to the conventional understanding of the title of dean, Menahel or Mashgiach; he was much more than any of those terms can encapsulate. Yet he insisted on being called plain Mr. Mendlowitz.

His utter selflessness was mind-boggling. He would send his best talmidim to help start other yeshivos, even though his own yeshivah might be affected.

When Harav Yitzchak Hutner, zt”l, assumed the leadership of Yeshivas Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin, then in Brownsville, Reb Shraga Feivel made an announcement: “Whoever lives closer to Brownsville will have to go to Yeshivas Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin.”

Always one to worry about the spreading of Torah, Reb Shraga Feivel founded Torah Umesorah with the goal of setting up a day school in every major city in America, a goal that was eventually achieved. In his later years he founded Beis Medrash Elyon in Monsey for advanced students.

Harav Shraga Feivel was niftar on 3 Elul 5708/1948.

Yehi zichro baruch.


 

August 18

In 1838, the first marine expedition sponsored by the U.S. government set sail from Hampton Roads, Virginia; the crews traveled the southern Pacific Ocean, gathering scientific information.

In 1846, U.S. forces led by General Stephen W. Kearny captured Santa Fe, New Mexico.

In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson issued his Proclamation of Neutrality, aimed at keeping the United States out of World War I.

In 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King dedicated the Thousand Islands Bridge connecting the United States and Canada.

In 1988, Vice President George H.W. Bush accepted the presidential nomination of his party at the Republican National Convention in New Orleans.