In Photos: Jewish Africa

Jono David's 'never-ending Jewish photo tour' led him to document a diverse collection of the African continent's often-overlooked Jewish communities, both new and old

Lemba community members. Manavhela, Limpopo Province, South Africa ©Jono David

In July 1997, I embarked upon a six-week rail odyssey from Beijing, China to London, England.

The journey was the realization of a long-held dream. Its promise was greater than I could have imagined.

Sojourns in bucolic Mongolia and at Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest and largest freshwater lake, in Siberia, did not disappoint. Down the line, I would alight in Moscow, St. Petersburg, each of the Baltic states, and Warsaw, before pulling into London’s Waterloo Station, spitting distance from the shabby digs I once called home.

But something unforeseen happened on that great adventure.


Unexpected change of course

In Irkutsk, I stopped into the synagogue and was warmly welcomed by a few locals and an American visitor who was residing there temporarily for a research project. The encounter unwittingly set in motion an entirely different thought approach to the journey.

Irkutsk Synagogue, August 1997. Irkutsk, Russia ©Jono David. Click image to enlarge

While I was wholly engrossed in everything the train journey in itself had to offer, I became equally focused on my Russian Jewish roots on my father’s side. When I reached Poland, I wondered about my Polish Jewish heritage on my mother’s side and, more specifically, where my great-grandmother’s hometown may be. I knew her — and her latkes — well. She passed away when I was 18.

By the time I got home to Osaka, Japan (where I had been living since 1994) that September, my mind was already made up: I was going to go back to Central Europe in February-March with the sole intent of taking as many “Jewish photographs” as possible.


My first “official” Jewish photo tour

I flew to Frankfurt, then took a train to Prague. From there, the haphazard journey took me to several corners of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland and Austria.

It was utterly unorganized. No appointments. No advance permissions. No schedules. No benefit of the internet. And poor photo skills.

I could not have known it at the time, but the trip was my first “official” Jewish photo tour. It sparked a lifelong commitment to documenting the Jewish world in photographs.

Photo taken at Auschwitz in February 1998, on the author’s first “official” Jewish photo tour ©Jono David. Click image to enlarge

Over the years and many trips of a lifetime later, I realized it was time for something bigger, better, bolder. In 2010, I turned my sights to Jewish Africa. While I had previously visited some parts of northern Africa and traversed southern Africa, those trips — like the Trans-Siberian Railway — were primarily for tourism peppered with a few Jewish photo ops. In other words, they were not Jewish photo tours per se, and they were certainly not structured.

I had merely amassed a collection of images. But Jewish Africa was going to be different.


Developing African Jewish communities

Between August 2012 and April 2016, I embarked upon eight unique Jewish Africa photo tours comprised of some 60 total weeks of travel to 30 countries and territories. Ultimately, I archived some 65,000 Jewish Africa photographs, and I did so with the aim of answering one primary question: Who are the Jews of Africa?

Beth Yeshourun Jewish Community spiritual leader Serge Etele (L) inspects a new mezuzah at the Ambomo family home. Douala, Cameroon ©Jono David. Click image to enlarge
Matzoh Bakery. Hara Kebira, Djerba, Tunisia ©Jono David. Click image to enlarge

I was particularly interested in the emerging Black Jewish communities in places such as Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, Madagascar, Gabon, and Cameroon. Over the last 20 or so years, the phenomenon of religious renouncement and self-conversion to Judaism has – in some cases, such as in Ghana, Cameroon, and Gabon – grown with the rise of internet connections there: Real-time connections are weaving a Black Jewish tapestry across the continent.

Children of the Kasuku Jewish Community. Kasuku, Ol Kalou, Nyandarua, Kenya ©Jono David. Click image to enlarge

So far, these small but fervent communities remain largely ignored by official entities in Israel and in the mainstream Jewish world — the century-old Abayudaya community in Uganda is officially recognized by Conservative Judaism, but that is an exception.

Connections with outside Jewish organizations and rabbis are increasing, however, and official Jewish recognition remains an important aim.


European roots across the continent

In my travels, these communities held a particular fascination, but I was equally mindful of the European-rooted congregations. I was curious not merely about their history, but about their manifestations of Jewish life in comparison to the familiar ways in Europe.

The community in South Africa, for instance, began mainly under British rule in the 19th century. They are predominantly Ashkenazi Jews descended from pre- and post-Holocaust immigrant Lithuanian Jews. Between about 1880 and 1940, the community had swelled to some 40,000 (it peaked at about 120,000 in the 1970s).

Ketubbah (Jewish marriage contract), Benoni, South Africa, 1922. From the National Library of Israel collection

It may even be said that a Jewish influence in the region dates back to the 1400s and Portuguese exploration with Jewish cartographers who assisted explorers Bartolomeu Dias and Vasco da Gama. But it was not until the 1820s that Jews had any significant presence. In 1841, they built their first synagogue in Cape Town. In the 1880s, a gold rush lured thousands more Jews, mainly from Lithuania.

Over the years, Jews all across the southern African region have had a disproportionately large influence on local society, politics, business, and history. In fact, the same may be said of Jewish settlements from Kenya to northern African nations too.

Upshernish at Northcliff Hebrew Congregation. Northcliff, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa ©Jono David. Click image to enlarge

Jewish colonies in what are today Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia, and Namibia all thrived. They built their synagogues, schools, and social centers very much in European architectural styles — with some notable exceptions in South Africa, which feature Cape Dutch designs and in the Maghreb, which feature Islamic and Moorish lines — and maintained all the trappings, traditions, customs, and culinary flavors from their homelands. I found these consistencies compelling evidence of the ties that bind Jews the world over.

Windhoek Hebrew Congregation Synagogue. Windhoek, Namibia ©Jono David. Click image to enlarge
Rabbi Bisal El Synagogue. Hara Kebira, Djerba, Tunisia ©Jono David. Click image to enlarge
Synagogue at Talmud Torah Jewish School. Sefrou, Morocco ©Jono David. Click image to enlarge

Despite their successes in these far-flung lands, there were hardships aplenty. Early settlers in the southern African region forged across dry and dusty lands to create new settlements. Some sought riches in diamonds, sealing and whaling, and ostrich farming. Others, meanwhile, went on to prominent political and judicial posts. Yet, anti-Semitism had not been entirely left behind in Europe.

Though freedom of worship was granted to all South African residents in 1870, an 1894 law, for instance, debarred Jews from military posts and various political positions. In 1937, the Aliens Act aimed to stem the flow of Jewish refugees coming from Germany. Jews also faced resistance from pro-German Afrikaners. And they waded through the emotional and moral minefield that was apartheid.

Today, while Jewish communities of the southern African region shrink and ancient ones of the Maghreb cling on (notably in Morocco and Tunisia), Black Jewish groups are growing in number, in location, in commitment. Following subjugation over the centuries by both political and religious invaders, motivating factors for this Jewish awakening are rooted in a quest for truth and identity: a truth rooted in the tenants of Judaism and the Torah, an identity founded in self-determination.

Book cover, The Jews of Africa: Lost Tribes, Found Communities, Emerging Faiths

My photographs endeavor to weave together this complex tapestry of the Jewish African peoples segregated by historical, cultural, linguistic, and regional divides yet united by a faith in Hashem.


Since the late 1990s, British-born photographer Jono David has traveled the globe, amassing an extensive archive of contemporary images of Jewish heritage and heritage sites in the world – a growing compendium of more than 120,000 photographs from 116 countries and territories. His recent book, The Jews of Africa: Lost Tribes, Found Communities, Emerging Faiths, is based on years of travel to some 30 African countries and territories. It includes 230 photographs and 14 essays by scholars, rabbis, and members of Jewish African society.

A version of this article first appeared on Jewish Heritage Europe. It has been published here as part of Gesher L’Europa, the National Library of Israel’s initiative to connect with people, institutions and communities across Europe and beyond, through storytelling, knowledge sharing and community engagement.

How I Found the Lost Ending to a Legendary Author’s Story

Modern technology helped reveal the conclusion to "Falik and His House", written by renowned Yiddish author Jacob Dinezon nearly 120 years ago

Old Yiddish newspapers now online brought to light the end of the tale of Falik, who refuses to leave the Old Country even as his house literally falls down around him (Image: Dinezon, his story and a shack like Falik's)

There is something exhilarating about making a research find—especially when the discovery adds real historical or literary value. That’s what happened recently when a lost piece of Jacob Dinezon’s writing was located in an old Yiddish newspaper available via the Historical Jewish Press project, an initiative of the National Library of Israel in partnership with Tel Aviv University.

My first encounter with this extraordinary resource was in obtaining information about Dinezon’s death and funeral in the Warsaw Yiddish newspaper, Haynt (Today). Most of these reports, which were translated into English by Tina Lunson and are now online, were published in late August and early September of 1919.

Full page death announcement for Jacob Dinezon, published in the August 31, 1919 issue of Haynt. From the National Library of Israel Digital Collection

This latest discovery was motivated by the Yiddish translator Mindy Liberman who recently completed the first English translation of Jacob Dinezon’s novella, Falik un zayn hoyz (Falik and His House), which was initially published in fifteen installments in the Yiddish newspaper, Der fraynd (The Friend), in 1904. These installments were subsequently republished by Akhisefer in Warsaw, Poland, as part of a collection of volumes celebrating Dinezon’s 10th yortsayt (the 10th anniversary of his death) in 1929. Interestingly, the book was titled, Falik in zayn hoyz (Falk in His House).

The Akhisefer publishing house’s 1929 printing of Falik in zayn hoyz. From the National Library of Israel Digital Collection

I first met Mindy at a meeting of the California Institute for Yiddish Culture and Language in December 2019, during a commemoration of Dinezon’s 100th yortsayt. After my talk, Mindy approached me and mentioned that she had been translating poems by the Yiddish poet Miriam Ulinover, was enjoying the process, and was interested in continuing her translation efforts with a work of fiction.

At that time, I told her that I was about to take a break from the Dinezon work but that there was one short Dinezon novel, Falik un zayn hoyz (Falik and His House), which had always intrigued me. From what I had read, the plot was most unusual. The story focuses on an old tailor, Falik, whose sons have moved from Eastern Europe to America. The sons want their parents to join them, but Falik, even though his house is falling down around him, doesn’t want to leave the Old Country. According to the Yiddish literary historian Shmuel Rozshanski, “Dinezon was possibly the first of the Yiddish writers in Russia to describe this type of Jew who doesn’t want to leave his old home even though he endlessly suffers in it.” (Translation by Miri Koral)

Mindy and I exchanged email addresses, and a short time later, I sent her a link to an online version of Falik un zayn hoyz made available by the Yiddish Book Center’s Steven Spielberg Digital Yiddish Library.

When Mindy read the Yiddish book, she discovered something startling: the final few pages of the story were missing!

Instead of the end of the story, this notice from the publisher appeared:

Publisher’s note at the end of Falik in zayn hoyz. From the National Library of Israel Digital Collection

Mindy’s translation of the notice:

From the publisher:

This story “Falik and his House” was once published in “Fraynd.” Before his death, Jacob Dinezon heavily revised (literal: improved) it, threw out and added whole pages, and had it typeset in book form. He prepared the proofs himself.

The story was typeset until the last page, but he did not manage to set the type for the last few lines of the proof sheet.

We present it as it was left at the hand of the deceased author.


The novella was published without the ending!

I couldn’t believe that Dinezon hadn’t written an ending to his story. Certainly, Der fraynd wouldn’t have published fifteen installments without the final words. Why didn’t they just go back to the original newspaper to find the ending?

Then it occurred to me, the original newspapers were published twenty-five years earlier. At that time, finding an archive of Der fraynd, which stopped publishing in 1913, was probably impossible. So Falik’s publishers did the best they could and printed what they had.

Today we have resources they couldn’t have even imagined back then, including the aforementioned Historical Jewish Press! So I headed online to see if they had issues of Der fraynd and was delighted to find that they had digital images of the entire run of the newspaper!

Now, at this point, I have to admit, there was still a problem: I don’t read Yiddish. I’ve always had to hire Yiddish translators to read any of Dinezon’s books or the research materials related to his life and times. So I knew there was no way I could read the bold Yiddish headlines on my own. But I did have an image of the title from the book, so in effect, like a computer, I basically relied on image recognition.

By matching the name of the work to that which appeared in the digitized issues of Der Fraynd, the author was able to locate the long-lost conclusion to Dinezon’s story

Starting with Friday, January 1st, 1904, I began scanning through the newspaper, day-by-day and page-by-page.

The first appearance of Falik un zayn hoyz showed up on January 17th. The page was damaged, and the installment number was missing. There was also a surprise: the title was not Falik IN His House but Falik AND His House — which makes sense when you read the story and realize the house is presented as a character who Falik often calls “Brother.”

Part one of “Falik un zayn hoyz”, published in the January 17, 1904 issue of Der Fraynd. From the National Library of Israel Digital Collection

Jumping forward a few months from January, I found the installment for Part 13 on May 8th and Part 14 on May 22nd. At the bottom of that installment were the words, “ende kumt” (“end coming”).

Part 14 of “Falik un zayn hoyz”, published in the May 22, 1904 issue of Der Fraynd, concludes with the words “ende kumt” (“end coming”). From the National Library of Israel Digital Collection

Needless to say, my excitement soared as I thought, “At last, I’m going to find the final chapter of this story!”

With renewed energy, I slowly started going through each issue of the newspaper from May 23rd through the end of June, page-by-page, column-by-column. But as hard as I tried, I couldn’t find the missing part. I went back again through the whole lot without success.

Part 15 was missing.

Was it possible that Dinezon had never finished the story or that for some reason, the newspaper had never published the final installment? Frustrated and exhausted, I said, “To hell with it!” and went to bed.

Getting up the next morning, I just couldn’t let it rest. It just didn’t make sense. How could Dinezon not finish his story, and how could Der fraynd not publish it after promising the installment was forthcoming? It had to be there somewhere!

So I went back and downloaded twenty-five full-page PDF copies of the newspaper starting from the day after the appearance of Part 14. This way, I could scan through each day in a much more precise manner on my large computer screen.

And that’s how I found it! At the very bottom of page two on June 1st: Part 15 of Falik and His House! An early 20th-century historical literary discovery made possible by our 21st-century technology.

Part 15, the lost installment of “Falik un zayn hoyz”, published in the June 1,1904 issue of Der Fraynd. From the National Library of Israel Digital Collection

Mindy Liberman has now completed her translation of Jacob Dinezon’s Falik and His House, which includes Dinezon’s long-lost final lines — an additional four full pages! On April 16th, 2021, Jewish Storyteller Press published Dinezon’s novella in its entirety for the very first time in English.

There’s one more thing that was confirmed by scanning through all those online newspapers. It has always been my contention that Jacob Dinezon deserves equal recognition alongside the other prominent Yiddish writers of his day. For Dinezon, 1904 was a banner year. Der fraynd published two of his novellas and several of his short stories. Dinezon’s works appeared side-by-side with the works of Sholem Aleichem, I. L. Peretz, Mendele Mocher Sforim, and S. Ansky.

At that moment in time, Dinezon was easily as well-known and popular as his now more famous colleagues and friends.


A version of this article originally appeared in Jacob Dinezon: Beloved Uncle of Modern Yiddish Literature under the headline “A Research Discovery”. It has been published here as part of Gesher L’Europa, the National Library of Israel’s initiative to connect with people, institutions and communities across Europe and beyond, through storytelling, knowledge sharing and community engagement.

Dozens of letters written to Dinezon (sometimes spelled Dineson), as well as a number of manuscripts he wrote, may be found in the National Library of Israel’s Jacob Dineson Collection.

Rabbi Löw’s “Kiss” from Prison

101 years after it was written, "The Kiss" by preeminent Hungarian Rabbi Immánuel Löw has finally been translated into English

Rabbi Immánuel Löw as a young man (Hidvégi Collection, Budapest, Hungary)

Exactly 101 years ago, on Friday evening, April 23, 1920, the community members of the Neolog Jewish congregation in Szeged, Hungary waited for Chief Rabbi Immánuel Löw in vain in front of the city’s New Synagogue.

On that very day, he was imprisoned for fourteen months based on false accusations.

Construction of Szeged’s New Synagogue was initiated by Rabbi Löw, who also designed its stained glass windows and interior (Photo: Dóra Pataricza)


Rabbi’s Löw’s statement of defense, from the National Library of Israel collection. Wrongly convicted of defamation, he was released after a year in jail, following international intervention

While still in prison, he began writing his masterpiece, Die Flora der Juden (The Flora of the Jews), in which he describes the flora that appear in the Torah, the Talmud, and medieval Jewish literature. Another result of his imprisonment was that he expanded an earlier essay of his, written on the topic of the kiss. He wrote the first version of Der Kuß (The Kiss) — a significant work in folkloristics — in Hungarian in 1882 for the wedding of his friend, and published it in only thirty copies.

It describes the topic of kisses and the act of kissing in Jewish and non-Jewish literature.

A copy of the 1882 printing of “The Kiss”, with the inscription: “To Mrs. Ignác Goldziher with greetings from the author”. From the National Library of Israel collection

When Immánuel Löw was detained, his son, Lipót Löw (named after Immánuel’s father, who is regarded as perhaps the most important figure in Neolog Judaism) was allowed to send some of his father’s scholarly work to the prison.

Lipót recalled this moment in his unpublished memoir:

“When I was finally able to deliver materials for his scientific research to the prison cell for the Ministry of Justice, I first had to choose between the materials of two of his studies: Der Kuß (The Kiss) and Tränen (The Tears). I chose the first one. An outsider could not know what said content in the cell’s solitude could trigger in the prisoner.”

It was only due to his son’s decision that Löw was thus able to extend the essay he had written almost forty years previously to fifty-one pages and translate it into German. The editors at the Monatsschrift für Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums (Monthly Magazine for Science and History of Judaism) even had to add the following sentence to the first part of the publication in 1921: “For special reasons, the author was unable to read the second proof of this article himself.”

Table of contents for The Kiss, as it was published in Monatsschrift für Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums. Part I and Part II of the article are available online via the Löw Heritage Foundation

In The Kiss, Löw gives a comprehensive and multi-faceted overview of the cultural history of the kiss, written in an easy to understand and even enjoyable style. Löw describes the act of kiss as a motif and the phenomenon of kissing from linguistic, anthropologic, religious, historical, legal, folkloristic, eschatological and even poetical points of views. He used various sources from a variety of cultural contexts.

The knowledge that permeates his work is fascinating — especially knowing that the circumstances in which he worked on the extended version of The Kiss were anything but ideal.

Despite their historical, cultural and literary value, Löw’s works are almost non-existent in English. To fill this gap, and to preserve the work of this invaluable figure of Hungarian Jewish thought, in the autumn of 2019 we decided to translate The Kiss from German to English.

Throughout the translation process, we strove to create a text that would be easy for a 21st century reader to follow. The bulk of the translation was done during the first wave of COVID-19 and, without the option of physically accessing any of the relevant major libraries, we were forced to do all the necessary background research using only online, digitized collections and email correspondences. The first volume of 1824’s  Geist der pharisäischen Lehre (The Spirit of Pharisaic Teaching), for example, could only be accessed through the National Library of Israel’s Digital Collection.

Cover page of the National Library of Israel’s digitized edition of Geist der pharisäischen Lehre, which had been looted by the Nazis and held in Reich Institute for the History of New Germany’s library

Löw cited his references only in abbreviated form. The original edition lacks a bibliography and also a list of abbreviations — likely due to the circumstances in which he worked on the piece. Löw composed this work for the readership of Monatsschrift für Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums where he often published articles on various topics. We therefore have to assume that at the time The Kiss was published, his audience was familiar with both the references and their system of citation. With backgrounds in Jewish studies, classical philology, history and the study of religions, and as a result of an extended research process, in most instances we were able to reconstruct which editions Löw would have used when writing this extended version of The Kiss.

Whenever Löw gave volume/page numbers, we looked for the exact edition in which the page number matches with the one mentioned by Löw. Librarians and fellow researchers will certainly be able to identify with our happiness and pride in successfully deciphering a number of these abbreviations, such as Ritter X 258, Goldziher Islam 253 (with the note that Ignaz Goldziher had several works containing the word Islam in the title) and Homil. 30. We plan on sharing the solutions to some of these riddles on our instagram account @szegedjewisharchives.

Though some of the volumes from Löw’s library survived and can now be found in the National Library of Israel collection, the library catalogue was lost following the tragic events of 1944–1945, making it impossible to confidently identify all of the works, sources or editions he referred to in the original text.

Rabbi Immanuel Löw and his wife Belle Breuning
Rabbi Immanuel Löw and his wife Breuning Bella, ca. 1944. From the National Library of Israel collection

Some thirty years after Löw’s 1944 death, a number of his writings, including The Kiss were republished by Alexander Scheiber in Studien zur jüdischen Folklore (Studies in Jewish Folklore). Löw officiated as chief rabbi of the Szeged Jewish community for 65 years and many documents relating to his time there and the community more broadly have recently been digitized and indexed, and are available online via the Szeged Jewish Archives.


This article has been published as part of Gesher L’Europa, the National Library of Israel’s initiative to connect with people, institutions and communities across Europe and beyond, through storytelling, knowledge sharing and community engagement.

The Immánuel Löw Archive is safeguarded among the National Library of Israel collections in Jerusalem.

Reporting the Holocaust Alongside Vacation Ads

In 1939, sickening accounts of impending genocide appeared on the same pages as cruise and resort promos

It was not uncommon for pre-war American Jewish newspapers to feature grisly stories of persecution alongside offers of sunshine and pleasure (Composite image: The aftermath of Kristallnacht, 10 November 1938 / Colorized ad from The Sentinel, 9 January 1939; from the NLI Digital Collection)

“The General Post Office of Vienna was in uproar. Important and less important officials were running to and fro; there was an air of mystery and consternation about the place. For something unusual had happened; among the big parcels sent by post was discovered a huge packet addressed to ‘The Fuehrer and Chancellor, Herr Adolf Hitler.’ The parcel was crudely wrapped up; the handwriting was big and almost childish. Surely there was something wrong about it. Was it a  bomb, sent by some Jew who wished to avenge his own and his people’s suffering on the Fuehrer? The matter had to be investigated.

And so the packet was opened and in it was found the dead little body of an infant a few days old, tenderly wrapped in a white shawl to which there was pinned a letter in the same big childish handwriting. The letter was also addressed to ‘The Fuehrer and Chancellor of Germany, Herr Adolf Hitler’ and read as follows:

I, Elisabeth Sultzer, Viennese, aged 32, am sending you herewith my firstborn infant which I have strangled with my own hands as a present to you for your treatment of myself and my family. Signed Elisabeth Sultzer.”

While trying to escape Austria, Sultzer’s husband had been murdered by the Nazis before her eyes, depriving her unborn child of a father and depriving Elisabeth of her sanity.

The grisly scene was reported by prominent London-based Jewish journalist William Zukerman. It was published in newspapers across the United States alongside ads for Caribbean party cruises, luxury hotels in Miami Beach and resort vacations in Hot Springs.

Tragically absurd in hindsight, this was certainly not uncommon in the pre-war American Jewish press.


In the January 5, 1939 issue of The Sentinel, Chicago’s leading Jewish newspaper, ads offering sunshine and pleasure far away from home appeared alongside the story of Elisabeth Sultzer, other reports of Jewish suffering in Europe and efforts to help refugees. From the National Library of Israel Digital Collection

Kristallnacht had taken place two months prior.

Interior view of the destroyed Fasanenstrasse Synagogue in Berlin, burned down on Kristallnacht, November 9-10, 1938
During the two day pogrom known as Kristallnacht, some 30,000 Jews – including those pictured here marching in columns – were arrested and subsequently deported to concentration camps (Bundesarchiv / CC-BY-SA 3.0)

At the end of the month in which Zukerman’s piece was published, Hitler publicly declared:

“Today I will be once more a prophet: if the international Jewish financiers in and outside Europe should succeed in plunging the nations once more into a world war, then the result will not be the Bolshevizing of the earth, and thus the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe!”

Zukerman would later share fellow reporter Henry Shapiro’s poetically chilling account following the liberation of Babi-Yar, outside of Kiev, where the Nazis and their collaborators had committed one of the Holocaust’s largest massacres, murdering nearly 35,000 Jews in just two days and more than 100,000 people total over two years:

“I stood by the pit and stirred the sand which covered the mass. Only a little stirring uncovered strands of bloodstained human skulls and other bones, children’s shoes. And then I stirred the memories of men who could testify of the mass murder that took place there.”

A Russian-born immigrant to the United States, Zukerman spent years reporting on European current events from London, refusing to shy away from exposing uncomfortable truths about what was being done to the Jews, as well as the widespread indifference to those truths.

The irony of this particular ad combination – published less than two months after Kristallnacht – could hardly have been lost on its readers. It also appeared in the January 5, 1939 issue of The Sentinel.

Beginning in the 1930s, he tried to draw readers’ attentions away from the lure of sun-splashed vacations and new household appliances to the unspeakable crimes being perpetrated against European Jewry, employing powerful and heartbreaking vignettes to do so.

A dead infant sent via post to Hitler.

A dozen middle-aged Jews beaten to death at the gates of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp; those who survived missing eyes. Mutilated. Unconscious.

Dr. Freilach, the last Jew left in the Sudeten town of Hohenstadt. Everyone else had fled following the Munich Agreement, which gave the Nazis control over Hohenstadt, where his family had lived for generations. Too old to start a new life elsewhere, he had decided to stay, looking after the synagogue, now his own personal house of prayer. The Nazis forced the elderly man to burn it to the ground with his own hands. Dr. Freilach went home and killed himself before his Nazi tormenters could.

“It is these particular tragedies, the pain and humiliation of the individual Jewish man, woman and child which matter most in the present holocaust,” Zukerman wrote to his international readership in January 1939.

“Jewry as a whole will certainly outlive Hitler and Nazism, but thousands of individual Jews are being done to death in circumstances which would shame the beasts of the jungle. It is about these that we must shout loudest.”


This article has been published as part of Gesher L’Europa, the National Library of Israel’s initiative to connect with people, institutions and communities across Europe and beyond, through storytelling, knowledge sharing and community engagement.