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Yom Haatzmaut - 68th Birthday (May 2016)

11/03/2016 10:27:11 AM


This is an amazing story about a man who loved Israel. It happened over 100 years ago, but inspires us even now!

Nathan and Isadore Straus were indeed some of the greatest philanthropists in America.   In the spring of 1912, they and their wives went on a tour to Europe.  After enjoying the greatness of  Europe with its museums, operas and palaces, they decided to travel for a visit to Israel, which was then called  Palestine. There they were welcomed with open arms as great visiting dignitaries.

After a week Isadore and his wife decided to leave, while Nathan refused.  He had witnessed thousands of Jews devoted to the study of Torah, yet dwelling in wretched poverty.  This deeply moved him.

Nathan Straus became a man with a mission, and desired to remain longer in Palestine and became more involved with his people.  

Now, his brother Isadore and Isadore’s wife Ida left for Europe on a highly publicized trans-Atlantic connection,which they had been looking forward to.

In Southampton, England on April 10, 1912, Ida and Isidor Straus boarded the Titanic and were among more than 1500 passengers and crewmen who perished. 

Brother Nathan who was now in mourning, tried to console himself  that G-d had spared him for a reason. In the future, he went on to become a true philanthropist, as well as public servant.

He became New York City’s Park Commissioner and President of its Board of Health.  But beyond all of this, he will be remembered for his support of the poor Jews living in Palestine! He did this tirelessly, recalling his purpose for having been saved from death on the Titanic.

He dedicated his efforts and aided the Jews to such a great extent that he gave two thirds of his fortune! In fact, Nathan Straus founded a domestic science school for girls, a health bureau to fight malaria and trachoma, and a free public kitchen. Among many other amazing efforts, he funded the Nathan and Lina Straus Health Centers in Jerusalem, which are now part of the Hadassah Medical Center!

Do you know how much he was beloved?   The city of Netanya, was named in his honor, and Rechov Straus (Straus Street) was also named for him!

May this amazing man and his story help influence us as we are about to celebrate Israel’s anniversary as a modern nation. Thursday, May 12th, remember Israel in your prayers and rejoice! Say Hallel!

Then, on Wednesday, May 18th, join us at B’nai Jacob as we mark this special occasion with a presentation by Rabbi Shalom Hammer, who is a renowned motivational speaker and an IDF Rabbi!

May we merit to see peace at last in Israel, and, indeed, in our world!


Rabbi Mitchell Kornspan


Fri, December 3 2021 29 Kislev 5782