Famous Jews

The following is an A to Z archive of Famous Jews. Please click on any of the letters to browse through the archive alphabetically by last name, or scroll down until you find the name of your choice. You can search by first name using browser. Edit -> Find.


  • I will put in my list only Jews that most people have never head or well-known but with some interesting facts from their biography.


    Anielewicz, Mordecai (1919 -1943) Warsaw ghetto resistance leader.

    Ascoli, Ettore (1873 -1943) Italian soldier, major-general. At the age of 70 ne joined the partisans and was killed.

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    Baruch de Spinoza (1632 -1677) see Spinoza

    Babel, Isaac (1894 -1939) Russian writer

    Baseball Players
  • Greenberg Henry, "Hank" (1911-86) Detroit Tigers 1933, Chicago White Sox
  • Morris "Moe" Berg (March 2, 1902, New York, New York – May 29, 1972, Belleville, New Jersey) was an American professional baseball player who later served as a spy for the Office of Strategic Services during World War II.

    Jewish Boxers - World Champions
  • Mendoza, Daniel (1764 - 1836) Famous British prize fighter.

    Born in Aldgate, London, Mendoza learned at a young age to defend himself with his fists. In 1780 he won his first professional fight. A natural middleweight, Mendoza became the father of scientific boxing by devising defensive moves that enabled him to fight against much heavier opponents. His ring success brought him to the attention of the Prince of Wales and he became the first boxer to receive royal patronage. Mendoza’s ascendancy to boxing heights, and his acceptance by royalty, helped ease the position of the Jew in the English community. He proudly billed himself as “Mendoza the Jew.” He opened his own boxing academy and became a teacher. He went on tour and gave boxing exhibitions in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. Mendoza lost the title of English Champion to John Jackson on a ninth-round knockout on April 15, 1795. He wrote The Art of Boxing (London, 1789) and The Memoirs of the Life of Daniel Mendoza (London, 1816). In 1954 Mendoza was one of the inaugural group chosen for the Boxing Hall of Fame in the United States. Bibliography: H.D. Miles, Pugilistica, 1 (1880); H.U. Ribalow, Fighter from Whitechapel (1962).

  • Elias, Samuel (Dutch Sam) 1775 - 1816 Triumph in 1801
  • Isaac Bittoon (1778-1838)
  • da Costa, Abraham
  • Barney, Aaron ( 1800-1850) the Star of the East
  • Lazarus, Israel (Izzy)(1812-1867)
  • Belasco, Samuel (1818) and 3 brothers Israel, Abraham ('Aby'), and John;
  • Attell, Abe (1884 -1970) champion 1903, 1906 -1912
  • Harmon, Willie (HERMAN ELSMAN) born April 20, 1899 best records from 1920 to 1924
  • Baer, Max (1909 -1959) champion 1933 - 1935. Fight in Germany and Italy with a Star of David on his shorts.
  • Bass, Benny (1904 -1975) World Featherweight Champion 1927-1928,
  • Berg ,Jack (Kid)(1909 - 1991)(Judah Bergmann) one of Britain's most successful lightweight world champion boxers. He took the world title in 1930 and defended it nine times.
  • Choyinski, Joe (1868-1943). (1888-1904)
  • Field, Jackie (Jacob Finklestain 1908 -84) In 1924 he won the gold medal at the Paris Olympic Games for boxing in the featherweight division. In 1929 and 1932 became world champion in the featherweight division.
  • Kaplan Louis, 'Kid' (1901 -70) featherweight champion 1925 -27.
  • Leonard, Benny ( Benjamin Leiner 1896 - 1947) From 1917 till 1925 he was world champion in the lightwerweight.
  • Levinsky Barney 'Battling' (Barney Lebrowitz 1891 -1949) In 1916 Levinsky took the undisputed world light heavyweight title from Jack Dillon and defended it a record 59 times.
  • Lewis Ted 'Kid' (Gershon Medeloff 1894 - 1970) 1914 - 1917 he was world welterweight champion. He was British Empire champion between 1914 and 1924. He was the first boxer to use a mouthpiece to protect his teeth.
  • McCoy, Al (Al Rudolph 1894 - 1966)He was middleweight champion of the world between 1914 and 1917 and the first a left handed boxer ever to win a world title.
  • Olin, Bob (1908 1956) (light-heavyweight 1934-1935)
  • Perez, Victor (1911- 1943) In 1931 won the French flyweight title in Paris and in October he won the world flyweight title by defeating Frankie Genaro of the US. Was killed in Auschwitz in February 1943 .
  • Rosenbloom Maxie (Rosenblum, Slapsie maxie 1904 - 76) won the world light heavyweight title in 1930 and was champion for 4 years.
  • Ross, Barney (1907 -1967) In 1933 Ross became the first boxer to hold the lightweight and welterweight world titles.
  • Rossman, Mike (1955 ) (light-heavyweight Jewish Bomber 1978-1979)
  • Schwartz, Izzy (1900 - 1988) (CORPORAL IZZY Flyweight Champions 1927-1929)
    see more on http://www.jewishsports.net

    Bakst Leon (1866 -1924) Russian painter ( Lev Rosenberg)

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    Chagall, Marc (1887-1985) was born in Liozno, Vitepsk, Russia. Was stadiing in heder.

    Cremieux, Adolphe layer and statement, who abolished slavery in French colonies, enfranchised Algerian Jews, and went to the middle east during the notorious “Damascus Affair” to save Jewish prisoners in Damascus from gallows, and the community from mob violence, following the anti-Semitic blood libel of 1840. [Story of my Life by Moshe Dayan]

    Cohn, Ferdinand (1828-1898) The father of modern bacteriology, was born in Jewish ghetto in Breslau.

    Famous Jews chess champions:
  • First chess manual and even poem about chess 'The Song of Chess' was written by famous Jewish philosopher Abraham ben Meir ibn Ezra (1092 –1167)
  • Steinitz, Wilhelm (1835 - 1900) The first Jewish chess champion.
  • Emanuel Lasker (1868 - 1941)The 2-d Chess Champion of the World (1894 - 1921)
  • Michael BOTVINNIK (1911 -1995)The 6-th World Champion (1948-1957, 1958-1960, 1961-1963)

  • Michael TAL (1936 -1992) The 8-th Chess Champion of the World (1960 - 1961)

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    Dubnov Simon was born in White Russia in 1860. Among his ancestors were many distinguished rabbis. He devoted his entire life to the study of Jewish history; his historical method marked a turning point in Jewish historiography. He engaged in his studies and prolific writings in St. Petersburg and Odessa until the Com- munist revolution, whereupon he moved to Germany. With the advent of Hitler he moved to Riga in Latvia where he lived until 1941. Then, at the age of 81, he was murdered by the Nazis as they herded a group of Jews from the ghetto.

    Disraeli, Benjamin (1804-1881)politician

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    Einstein, Albert (1879-1955).
    Read his view on Jewish Ideals, Judaism, Anti-Semitism.

    Ehrlich, Paul (1854-1915) medical scientist

    Israel ben Eliezer, the Baal Shem Tov (abbrev. the Baal Shem), 1700- 1760 Founder of Hasidism. Read GENEALOGY OF THE HASIDIC MASTERS by Martin Buber.

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    Freud,Sigmund (May 6, 1856 - September 23, 1939) .
    Read Speech on his seventieth birthday. May 6, 1926

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    Goldwyn, Samuel (Shmuel Gelbfisz 1882 -1974) US film pioneer

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    Heine, Heinrich (1797-1856) poet

    Heifetz, Jasha (1901-87) violinist

    Houdini, Harry (1874- 1926) magician

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    Famous Israelis.
    1. Adolphe Cremieux, (April 30, 1796 - February 10, 1880) French layer and statement, who abolished slavery in French colonies and save Jewish prisoners in Damascus 1840
    2. Charles Netter,(1828 -1882) who in 1870 founded and directed the first Jewish agricultural school in Palestine at Mikveh Israel.
    3. Baron Edmond de Rothschild , who invested in Jewish farm settlement in Palestine at the end of the nineteen and beginning of the twentieth century.
    4. The three Palestinian Jews, Hungarian-born Joshua Stampfer and David Meir Gutman, and Jerusalem-born Joel Moses Solomon, who in 1878 founded Petach Tickvah, the first Jewish farm village in the country in recent times.

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    American Presidential Jewish History US Presidents and Jews

    Jews in the Olympics before World War II Jews in the Olympics

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    Kafka, Franz (1883-1924) Famous German-speaking writer was born in Prague, now in the Czech Republic

    Kisch, Frederick (1888-1943) British soldier. Lieutenant colonel. A moshav in Galilee named Kfar Kisch

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    Libetkin Zivia (1914 - 76) She was one of the leaders of the fighting when the Warsaw ghetto rose up on April 19, 1943. She escaped the getto via the sewagw systemand fought with the partisans.

    Famous Jews in Literature

    Jewish Laureates of Nobel Prize in Literature (Year Nobel Laureate and Country of birth )
  • 2005 Pinter, Harold (1930 - ) UK
  • 2002 Kertesz, Imre (1929 - ) Hungary
  • 1991 Gordimer, Nadine (1923 - ) South Africa
  • 1987 Brodsky, Joseph (1940 - 1996) Russia
  • 1981 Canetti, Elias (1905 -1994) Bulgaria
  • 1978 Singer, Isaac Bashevis (1911 - 1923) Poland
  • 1976 Bellow, Saul (1915 - 2005) Canada
  • 1966 Agnon, Shmuel Yosef (1888 - 1970) Ukraine (Galicia)
  • 1966 Sachs, Nelly (1891- 1970) Germany - Sweden from 1940
  • 1958 Pasternak, Boris L. (1890 - 1960) Russia
  • 1927 Bergson, Henri (1859-1941) France
  • 1910 Heyse, Paul (1830-1914) Germany

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    Michel Montaigne. His mother, Antoinette de Louppes, was of an Iberian Jewish family.
    [See p 76 'The World we Want' by Mark Kingwell]

    Monash, Jon (1865 - 1931) Australian General. Was knighten by King George V. In 1950 an equestrian statue was erected in Melbourne.

    Mendelssohn, Moses (1729-1786) philosopher

    Miller, Arthur (1915-2005) playwright

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    Napoleon Bonaparte and Jews In 1806 Napoleon convened the Assembly of Jewish Notables, which redefined traditional Judaism and transformed the Jews into French citizens. Napoleon thus questioned the Jews' loyalty to France on doctrinal issues rather than simply accepting their economic loyalty, as the revolutionaries had done. The assembly led to two laws enacted on May 30, 1806, and March 17, 1808, which proclaimed this loyalty but also deprived northeastern Jews of their economic freedom.

    Netter,Charles who in 1870 founded and directed the first Jewish agricultural school in Palestine at Mikveh Israel.[Story of my Life by Moshe Dayan.]

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    OBERNIK, JUDAH (d. c. 1520), talmudist, rabbi of Mestre. Judah was a pupil of Israel Isserlein.

    OBERMANN, JULIAN JOËL (1888–1956), Orientalist. Born in Warsaw, Obermann taught Semitic languages at the University of Hamburg from 1919 to 1922, achieving recognition with the publication of his work on the philosophy of Al-Ghazali in 1921. He subsequently became professor of Semitic philology at the Jewish Institute of Religion in New York, where he taught from 1923 to 1931.

    OCHS, SIEGFRIED (1858–1929), conductor and composer. Born in Frankfurt, Germany, Ochs founded the Berlin Philharmonic Choir in 1882.

    OESTERREICHER, TOBIAS VON (1831–1893), Austro- Hungarian rear-admiral.

    OFFENBACH, ISAAC (1779–1850). Isaac ben Judah, surnamed Eberst, was born in Offenbach near Frankfurt. After he left his native town in 1799 to become a wandering hazzan and musician, he began to be called, "der Offenbacher," which soon became his official family name. In 1802 he settled in Deutz as a tavern musician, and in 1816 moved to Cologne, where he became a music teacher. The seventh of his nine children, Jacob, was the composer Jacques Offenbach.

    OFFENBACH, JACQUES (1819–1880), French composer of comic operas and operettas.

    OHEV BEN MEIR HANASI (late 11th–early 12th century), liturgical poet in Spain. Abraham Ibn Daud mentions him in his Sefer ha-Kabbalah together with the poet Moses Ibn Ezra, and refers to him by his Arabic name Ibn Shortmeqas.

    OISTRAKH, DAVID FEDOROVICH (1908–1974), Russian violin virtuoso. Born in Odessa, Oistrakh studied the violin from the age of five with Stoljarsky, made his first public appearance in 1914.

    OPPENHEIMER, J. ROBERT (1904–1967), U.S. physicist. Oppenheimer was in charge of the construction of the first atomic bomb as director of the laboratories at Los Alamos, New Mexico. Born in New York City, Oppenheimer was the son of a cultured and successful businessman, who had immigrated to the U.S. from Germany.

    ORNSTEIN, ABRAHAM FREDERICK (1836–1895), London- born pioneer minister in Australia and South Africa. (His surname is sometimes spelled "Ornstien.") After serving the Melbourne Hebrew congregation (1866–75) and being principal of Aria College for training Jewish ministers in Portsmouth, England, Ornstein went to Cape Town in 1882 and headed the congregation there for 13 years.

    OSIRIS, DANIEL ILLFA (1825–1908), French philanthropist and art patron, member of a Sephardi family of Bordeaux. He gave large sums for the promotion of technology (radio, telegraphy) and medicine (Institut Pasteur) and bequeathed his valuable art collection to the Louvre. He bought La Malmaison and part of the field of Waterloo and gave them to the French nation.

    OTTOLENGHI, GIUSEPPE (1838–1904), Italian general and minister of war. Born in Sabbioneta, Lombardy, Ottolenghi studied at the Turin military academy and fought with the Italian army in the war against Austria in 1859.Ottolenghi was the recipient of many honors, including the silver medal for military valor and the Cross of Savoy.

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    Pasternak, Boris (1890-1960) poet, novelist

    Pincus, Gregory (1903-1967) developed birth control pill

    Plisetskaya, Maya (1925- ) Russian ballet dancer

    Polanski, Roman (1933- Polish, French film - maker

    Famous Jewish philosophers
    1. Philo Judaeus - (c. 25 B.C. - c. 50 A.D.) (Also known as Philo of Alexandria) Read Philo Judaeus by Simon Dubnov.
    2. David Ibn Merwan Al-Mukammas - (Died c. 937)
    3. Saadia ben Joseph al-Fayyumi[Saadiah Gaon] (892 ≈ 942) the first mediaeval Jewish philosopher and opponent of the Karaite.
    4. Isaac Israeli (~855 - ~955) Egypt. Book of the Elements, Book of definitions.
    5. Joseph ben Abraham (al-Basir - the seer) was Karaite and lived in Babylonia in the beginning of 11 century.
    6. Solomon ibn Gabirol 1021 - 1058(1070) the first philosophical writer in Andalusia. His famous work "Fountain of life" was written in Arabic.
    7. Abraham bar Hiyya (Abraham Savasords) 1070-1136. Was a Spanish Jewish mathematician and astronomer. His philosophical work is Hegion ha-Nefesh ( Meditation of the Soul)
    8. Abraham ibn Ezra 1092(1088)- 1167 was born at Toledo. Is best known as a grammarian and Biblical commentator. He was poet and wrote on mathematics, astronomy and astrology.
    9. Judah Halevi 1086 – 1145 (poet and philosopher) was born at Toledo.
    10. Moses ibn Ezra 1070 – 1138 was born at Granada and was famous as poet and interested in philosophy.
    11. Joseph ben Jacob ibn Zaddik ( 1138 – 1149) lived in Cordova. He wrote Olam Katon ( Microcosm) about 'perfection' and 'permanent good'
    12. Shem Tob Falaquera ( 1225-1290)
    13. Bahya ben Joseph ibn Pakuda
    14. Abraham ibn (ben) Daud 1110-1180 is the first Jewish philosopher who shows an intimate knowledge of the works of Aristotle and makes a deliberate effort to harmonize the Aristotelian system with Judaism.
    15. Moses ben Maimon (Maimonides 1135-1204). Was born in Cordova, Spain, in 1135. He was the most comprehensive mind (scholar, philosopher and physician) of mediaeval Jewry, and his philosophy was the copingstone of a complete system of Judaism.
    16. Hillel ben Samuel 1220-1295 an Italian Jew was strong admirer of Maimonides and undertook to comment on the Guide of the Perplexed, he also translated from Latin. His main work is Tagmule ha-Nefesh ( The rewards of the Soul )
    17. Levi ben Gershon ( Gersonides ) 1288 1344 He was a great mathematician and astronomer and wrote philosophical masterpiece Milhamot Adonai (The Wars of the Lord).
    18. Aaron ben Elijah of Nicomedia 1300-1369
    19. Hasdai ben Abraham Crescas 1340-1410
    20. Joseph Albo of Monreal in Aragon 1380 1444

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    Queen, Ellery was a brainchild of two writers Frederic Dannay (Daniel Nathan 1905 -82) and Manfred Lee (Manfred Lepofsky 1905 - 71)

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    Baron Edmond de Rothschild, who invested prodigious effort and means to establish and develop Jewish farm settlement in Palestine at the end of the nineteen and beginning of the twentieth century. [Story of my Life by Moshe Dayan]

    Ricardo, David (1772-1823) Founded classical school of economics in England and a member of Parliament. Sephardic Jew. The author of 'The principles of political economy and taxation'

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    de Spinoza, Baruch (1632 -1677)a Jewish - Iberian - Dutch philosopher. He was first initiated into philosophy, by study of Jewish philosophical texts.

    Steinitz, Wilhelm (1835 - 1900) The first Jewish chess champion.

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    Table Tennis World Champions
  • Barna, Vicktor (1911 -1972) Before 1935 he won 5 world single titles and 8 double titles
  • Bergman, Richard (1919 -70)In 1939 he won the world single title fo Austria. In 1948 and 1950 he won the world single title for England.

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    UDIN, SOPHIE A. (1896–1960), founder of the Women’s Organization for the Pioneer Women of Palestine (Pioneer Women, subsequently Na'amat U.S.A.)

    URI (Phoebus) BEN AARON HALEVI (also called Uri Witzenhausen or Witmund; 1625–1715), Hebrew printer. Uri’s father was hazzan of the Neveh Shalom congregation, Amsterdam, and his grandfather Moses Uri ha-Levi, rabbi of Emden and one of the founders of the Portuguese Jewish community in Amsterdam. Uri established his first press in Amsterdam in 1658 and was active there until 1689

    URY, ELSE (1877–1943), bestselling German author. Born in Berlin into a upper-middle-class Jewish family, Ury first received recognition for her story “Studierte Maedel” (“Academic Girls,” 1906), which touched on a controversial topic, as women gained access to universities in Prussia only in 1908. Later she became famous for her children’s book series Nesthaekchen (1918–1925) in ten volumes; she wrote a total of 39 books. Else Ury was murdered in Auschwitz-Birkenau in January 1943.

    USSISHKIN, ABRAHAM MENAH EM MENDEL (1863– 1941), Zionist leader, member of H? ovevei Zion, and the president of the *Jewish National Fund (JNF). Born in Dubrovno in the district of Mogilev, Russia, Ussishkin moved to Moscow with his family in 1871.

    UTITZ, EMIL (1883–1956), philosopher. Born in Prague, Utitz was professor at Halle and Prague. From 1942 to 1945 he was interned in the German concentration camp at Theresienstadt.

    UTKIN, JOSEPH PAVLOVICH (1903–1944), Soviet Russian poet. Born in Manchuria, Utkin was the son of an employee of the Russian-owned Chinese Eastern Railroad and was raised in Irkutsk, far from the main centers of Jewish life. Nevertheless, he succeeded in learning enough about Jewish customs and traditions, and acquired a sufficient knowledge of Yiddish, to produce the most important long Russian poem on a Jewish theme yet to appear in Soviet literature.

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    VAJS, ALBERT (1905–1964), leader of Yugoslav Jewry. Born in Zemun (Semlin), Vajs grew up in a mixed Serbo-Croat, German, and Hungarian cultural milieu, but from his youth he was a Zionist and was greatly influenced by Alexander Licht and the Zemun rabbi H. Urbach. Until 1941 he was a barrister in Belgrade. During World War II he was a Yugoslav officer and was captured by the Germans. After the war he was a member of the State War Crimes Commission in Yugoslavia and the deputy head of the Yugoslav delegation to the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg.

    VANDOR, LAJOS (1913–1945), Hungarian poet. His wry and sophisticated verses were published in the 1930s and again in 1989 in a volume titled Egy költö élt itt köztetek ("A Poet Lived Here Amongst You"). Vándor was a victim of the Holocaust.

    VÁZSONYI, VILMOS (1868–1926), Hungarian lawyer and politician who was the first Jew in Hungary to become minister of justice.

    VENEZIANI, EMMANUEL FELIX (1825–1889), French philanthropist, born in Leghorn (Italy). He became a director of the relief fund of Baron de Hirsch and in 1877 traveled to the Balkans and Bulgaria where he organized relief for Jewish and gentile victims of the Russo-Turkish war. At the Congress of Berlin in 1878, Veneziani and Charles Netter worked for religious liberty in the former Ottoman territories, and in 1880 he was similarly active at the Congress of Madrid on behalf of Moroccan Jewry. In 1882 he and Netter were sent by the Alliance Israélite Universelle to help organize Jewish emigration from Russia. In 1883 Veneziani toured the Jewish settlements in Palestine. In conformity with Hirsch’s views, he advised limiting Russian Jewish immigration there.

    VERTOV, DZIGA (originally Denis Kaufman; 1897–1954), Russian pioneer in newsreel-documentary movie director and founder of the “cine-eye, cine-ear” theory. He edited (early 1920s) the newsreel kino-pravda from film taken by cameramen he dispatched throughout the U.S.S.R. After 1924 Vertov headed his own group of movie theorists and filmmakers; his brother and chief cameramen MIKHAIL KAUFMAN went with him. Among his documentaries are One Sixth of the World (1927), Three Songs of Lenin (1932), and Lullaby (1937).

    VISHNIAC, ROMAN (1897–1990), photographer. Born in St. Petersburg, Vishniac studied biology at Russian universities. When Berlin University under the Nazis refused to grant his Ph.D. in art, he left Germany and traveled throughout Poland, Austria, Holland, France, Romania, and Czechoslovakia, documenting with his camera the lives of the Jews in the cities and in the hinterlands. He was in Poland taking photographs of the Jewish community when Hitler’s troops marched in. Vishniac was apprehended and sent to a concentration camp in Zbaszyn, Poland. He escaped to France but within a short time he was again incarcerated in another concentration camp, Camp du Richard in Clichy, France. Early in 1941 he managed to escape from Europe and went to the United States. His books include Polish Jews (1947) and Life of the Six Millions (1969) illustrating European Jewish life before and during the Holocaust.

    VISSER, LODEWIJK ERNST (1871–1942), Dutch jurist and communal leader. He was born in Amersfoort into an old Dutch Jewish family. Prevented as a Jew from achieving his ambition of becoming a diplomat, Visser was appointed general prosecutor in Amsterdam and in 1903 became a district court judge in Rotterdam.During World War II, Visser opposed the German-appointed "Joodse Raad" (Jewish Council) and refused to accept the degrading identity cards. He tried to intervene for Jews arrested by Germans and participated in general resistance activities, becoming a symbol of Jewish wartime resistance in Holland. His wife and son died in concentration camps. In 1968 a square in front of the Sephardi synagogue in Amsterdam was named after him.

    VITAL, HAYYIM BEN JOSEPH (1542–1620), one of the greatest kabbalists. Vital was born in Erez Israel, apparently in Safed. His father, Joseph Vital Calabrese, whose name indicates his origin from Calabria, South Italy, was a well-known scribe in Safed.

    VOS, ISIDOR H.J. (1887–1942), Dutch physician and liberal politician. Vos was head of the hygiene department of the Netherlands army headquarters (1914–18), and later an Amsterdam councilor and alderman. From 1928 to 1940 he was a member of the second chamber of the Dutch parliament. Given the opportunity to leave Holland after the German invasion in World War II, he sent his family away but he stayed, and died in a concentration camp.

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    Wiesenthal, Simon (1908-2005)- the famous Nazi Hunter.

    'He represented the morality of humanity; he represented the free world, the democratic world. He devoted his life to fighting racism, anti-Semitism, Nazism and he really contributed to making a better world for the next generation.'- Israeli President Moshe Katsav

    Wiesenthal is often asked to explain his motives for becoming a Nazi hunter. According to Clyde Farnsworth in the New York Times Magazine (February 2, 1964), Wiesenthal once spent the Sabbath at the home of a former Mauthausen inmate, now a well-to-do jewelry manufacturer. After dinner his host said, 'Simon, if you had gone back to building houses, you'd be a millionaire. Why didn't you?" 'You're a religious man,' replied Wiesenthal. 'You believe in God and life after death. I also believe. When we come to the other world and meet the millions of Jews who died in the camps and they ask us, 'What have you done?', there will be many answers. You will say, 'I became a jeweler', Another will say, I have smuggled coffee and American cigarettes', Another will say, 'I built houses', But I will say, 'I didn't forget you'.'

    Biography And Photos of Simon Wiesenthal

    Waksman, Selman (1888-1973) Winner of the 1952 Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine. Worked in the field of antibiotics. Was born near Kiev and had praditional Jewish education.

    WEISS, YAACOV (1924–1947), Jew executed by the British in Palestine. Weiss was born in Nove Zamky, Czechoslovakia, and joined the local Betar as a boy of ten. In 1945 he was apprehended in attempting to enter Erez Israel "illegally" and was imprisoned in Athlit. On his release he joined the IzL and took part in many of its operations, the last being the break into Acre prison when, with Avshalom Haviv and Meir Nakar, he was captured, sentenced to death, and hanged.

    WEIZMANN, Russian family, one of whose members, Chaim Weizmann, became the first president of the State of Israel. There were 15 children in the family. OZER (1850–1911), the head of the family, was a timber transporter and the only Jew appointed starosta (head of the village) in Motol. In about 1894 he moved to Pinsk and succeeded in business there. He was a maskil, versed in Judaism, and an early Zionist, as well as representative to the Sixth Zionist Congress (1903).

    WEIZMAN, EZER (1924–2005), Israeli air force commander, politician, and seventh president of Israel, member of the Ninth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Knessets.

    WELSH, ARTHUR L. (Al; 1881–1912), pioneer U.S. aviator. Welsh, who was born near Kiev, Russia, was taken to the United States in 1890. In 1905 he joined the U.S. Navy, serving for four years. His interest in flying led him to join Orville Wright’s flying class in 1910, and after several months, when he had learned to fly solo, he joined the Wright Brothers Aviation School in Dayton, Ohio, as an instructor. He tutored many important U.S. aviators, including General Henry H. Arnold, U.S. Army Air Force Chief of Staff during World War II. Welsh established many flying records and won a number of trophies, including the George Campbell Cup for altitude at Belmont Park in 1911.

    WEST, MAE (1893–1980), U.S. actress, writer, and singer. Born Mary Jane West in Brooklyn, New York, to John P. West and Matilda Delker-Dolger, a German Jewish model and dressmaker, at seven West was winning talent shows.

    WIENER, NORBERT (1894–1964), U.S. mathematician; inventor of the science of cybernetics. Born in Columbia, Missouri, Wiener was a child prodigy. He was the son of Leo *Wiener, historian of Yiddish language, literature, and folklore and professor of Slavic languages, who made incessant intellectual demands on his son (and who did not reveal their Jewishness – a fact discovered by Norbert Wiener only when he was in his teens). Wiener began to read scientific books at four, and by seven was familiar with the theories of natural scientists.

    WIGNER, EUGENE PAUL (1902–1995), Nobel laureate in physics. Wigner was born in Budapest and was one of a small number of extraordinarily talented Hungarian-born physicists who contributed to the transformation of Newtonian physics. Wigner obtained his doctorate from the Technische Hochschule (later Universitaet) in Berlin in 1925, where his contacts with physicists of equal standing were established at colloquia of the German Physical Society.

    WILLSTAETTER, RICHARD (1872–1942), German organic chemist and Nobel laureate. Willstaetter, who was born in Karlsruhe, became professor at Munich in 1902, and three years later professor at the Technische Hochschule in Zurich. In March 1939 the Gestapo ransacked his house and ordered him to leave Germany. He went to Locarno, Switzerland, where he died.

    WISSOTZKY, KALONYMUS ZE'EV (1824–1904), merchant, philanthropist, and supporter of Hibbat Zion. Born in Zhagare (Kovno province), Wissotzky attended yeshivot and then tried his hand at agriculture. Having failed, he became a businessman and, in 1858, he moved to Moscow, where he established the famous tea firm that bears his name (Ah ad Ha-Am was at one time manager of its London branch). He became a wealthy man and took an interest in public affairs, especially by subsidizing charitable institutions and causes. Wissotzky was one of the earliest adherents and supporters of the Hibbat Zion movement in Russia.

    WITTENBERG, YIZHAK (Itzig; 1907–1943), first commander of the Jewish fighters organization in the Vilna ghetto (Fareynegte Partizaner Organizatsye, United Partisan Organization, FPO).

    WOLFFSOHN, DAVID (1856–1914), second president of the World Zionist Organization.

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    XIMENES, SIR DAVID (1776–1848), English army officer. Born in London, into a distinguished Jewish family, Ximenes joined the British army and served in North America. He returned to Britain in 1805 and commanded the 62nd Regiment in Ireland. He later fought in Italy, Spain, and Portugal. Ximenes was knighted in 1832 and retired with the rank of lieutenant general in 1847. He had no direct connection with the Jewish community.

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    YA'ISH, BARUCH BEN ISAAC IBN (15th century), philosopher and translator. Probably born in Spain, Ibn Ya'ish lived and died in Italy. He had a good knowledge of Hebrew, Latin, and Arabic. Ibn Ya'ish wrote a Hebrew commentary in ten chapters on Avicenna's De Medicamentibus Cordialibus (On Cardiac Remedies) entitled Be'ur la-Sammim ha- Libbiy yim, in which he quotes Aristotle and Averroes (Bodl, Ms. Mich., Add. 16). He translated Aristotles Metaphysics into Hebrew from the Latin.

    YAKIR, YONAH (d. 1937), Soviet general. Born in Kishinev, Yakir commanded the 45t? division of the Red Army during the Civil War and was later promoted to general with command of the Kiev district. He was one of the founders of the Red Army armored corps and in 1937 was made military commander of the Ukraine and a member of the Supreme Military Council. Shortly afterward Yakir was arrested on charges of spying and executed. He was posthumously rehabilitated in 1945 and a postage stamp was issued in 1954 in his memory.

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    Famous Early Zionists
  • Halevi, Judah (1075 - 1141)
  • Nasi, Joseph (1524 - 1579)
  • Kalisher, Zevi Hirh (1795 - 1874)
  • Alkalai, Judah Ben-Solomon Hai (1798 - 1878)

    ZACUTO, ABRAHAM BEN SAMUEL (1452–c. 1515), astronomer and historian. His ancestors were French Jewish exiles who had come to Castile in 1306.

    ZADIKOW, ARNOLD (1884–1943), German sculptor and medalist, killed by the Nazis.

    ZAM, ZVI HERZ (1835–1915), Russian soldier; the only Jewish officer in the czarist army in the 19th century. Born in Goren grod, Zam was taken from his home when he was 12 and trained at the *Cantonist military institute at Tomsk. He was posted to an infantry regiment, and, following the introduction of national conscription in 1874, was permitted to enter the cadets’ school. He rose to become vice captain (shtabskapitan) but was placed in command of the worst company in his regiment at the orders of the war minister, who expressed surprise that a Jew who had remained faithful to his religion should serve as an officer. Within a year Zam had made his company the best in the regiment, but not until 1893, just before his retirement after 41 years in the czarist army, was he promoted to full captain. Zam took an active part in Jewish affairs and was instrumental in providing synagogue facilities for Jewish soldiers.

    ZARZAL ZARZAB, ABRAHAM IBN (14t century), Spanish physician and astrologer. Zarzal was favored by Sultan Muhammad IV of Granada.

    ZASLOFSKY, MAX ("Slats"; 1925–1985), U.S. basketball player and coach, member of the NBA's Silver Anniversary Top 25 Team. A native of Brooklyn, New York, Zaslofsky was an all-scholastic player at Thomas Jefferson High School. Zaslofsky was named First Team All-NBA each of his four years with Chicago.

    ZEID, ALEXANDER (1886–1938), pioneer of the Second Aliyah and one of the founders of the Ha-Shomer defense organization. Born in Balagansk, Siberia, at the age of 13 Zeid settled in Vilna, where he joined the Zionist labor movement. In 1904 he was one of the first pioneers of the Second Aliyah to reach Erez Israel.

    ZEMACH, NAHUM (1887–1939), theatrical director, founder of Habimah. Born in Volkovysk, he grew up in Poland and was a successful businessman in Moscow before devoting himself to literature and the theater. In 1912 in Bialystok (with Menahem Gnessin), he assembled a group of Hebrew-speaking actors who performed Dymov's The Eternal Wanderer, and in the following year he presented the play in Vienna to the members of the 11t? Zionist Congress.

    ZIEGFELD, FLORENZ (1869–1932), U.S. showman. Ziegfeld, born in Chicago, started his career at the Chicago World Fair, 1893, and staged his first production in 1896 in New York. His star was Anna Held, whom he had brought from Europe and later married, and he publicized the show with front-page advertising, a device which subsequently became his hallmark. In 1907, after a visit to Paris, he launched the Ziegfeld Follies and presented new editions periodically until 1931.

    ZÖLD, MÁRTON (1865–?), Austro-Hungarian general. Born in Hungary, Zöld passed out of the military academy in Budapest and was seconded to the infantry. In 1914 he commanded a battalion against Serbia and Montenegro, and was awarded a Hungarian knighthood for valor on the Russian front. In the same year he commanded a regiment on the Italian front. After the establishment of an independent Hungarian state, Zöld was made a full general. He was active in Jewish affairs.

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    Links to the other sites with information about famous Jews:
    The 100 Most Influential Jews of All Time The list from the book The Jewish 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Jews of all Time (Citadel Press Book, 1994), written by Michael Shapiro

    Encyclopedia: List of famous Jews

    Famous Jews Interactive

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