> Day in Jewish History

Shevat 9

January 4, 2010 | by

Yahrtzeit of Rabbi Eliezer Silver (1882-1968), who served the Jewish community of Cincinnati for four decades. Rabbi Silver is best known for spearheading efforts to rescue Jews from the Holocaust. As head of the "Agudas HaRabbanim," he tirelessly raised millions of dollars. He used the funds to produce counterfeit documents and pay off smugglers -- in the end directly saving at least 10,000 Jewish lives. In October 1943, Silver organized a rally of 200 rabbis in Washington; the effort prompted President Roosevelt to form the War Refugee Board, which rescued tens of thousands more from Hitler's ''Final Solution.'' After the war, Rabbi Silver traveled to DP camps to help Holocaust survivors start a new life. He also sought out hundreds of Jewish children who had been placed by their parents in Catholic orphanages, to spare them the horrors of the concentration camps. Often, the parents were killed during the war and there was no one to claim them. Rabbi Silver discovered that the priests operating the orphanages were often unable (or refused) to identify which children came from Jewish families. So Rabbi Silver had a solution: He strode into the lunchroom, stood on a chair, and proclaimed in his loudest voice: "Shema Yisrael, the Lord our God, the Lord is One!" Suddenly, the orphanage was filled with children's cries for their mother. Rabbi Silver looked at the priest, and said, "These children are mine."


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