How Jews Helped Create the Bourbon Industry

Bourbon may not generally be regarded as a Jewish drink, but Jewish immigrants played an important role in its history, Reid Mitenbuler writes. Among the highly successful labels founded by Jews was I.W. Harper:

In 1867, a Jewish immigrant by the name of Isaac Wolfe Bernheim arrived in America from Germany. He rode in steerage . . . and survived on potatoes—a humble beginning to the bootstrapping success story he would tell decades later. . . . Bernheim was always ambivalent about the liquor business, a trade he had fallen into in 1868 after two distillers from Paducah, Kentucky, enlisted him for his bookkeeping abilities. After earning enough money to bring his brother Bernard over from Europe, the two began their own distillery in 1872. The new operation needed its own brand, which presented a dilemma: what should Bernheim call it? . . .

[M]any of his contemporaries—such as the Beam or Pepper families—were able to use their frontier ancestors for marketing purposes. But Bernheim didn’t have such an ancestor . . . [and] felt that his ethnic surname would draw prejudice if he used it as a brand. He compromised by placing the Anglo-Saxon “Harper” after his own first two initials to create I.W. Harper bourbon. In 1944, a year before Bernheim’s death at age 96, he would admit that he borrowed the name from John Harper, a popular horse trainer. At that point the brand was huge and still ascending—by 1966 it could be found in 110 countries worldwide.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Alcohol, American Jewish History, History & Ideas, Immigration

Condemning Terrorism in Jerusalem—and Efforts to Stop It

Jan. 30 2023

On Friday night, a Palestinian opened fire at a group of Israelis standing outside a Jerusalem synagogue, killing seven and wounding several others. The day before, the IDF had been drawn into a gunfight in the West Bank city of Jenin while trying to arrest members of a terrorist cell. Of the nine Palestinians killed in the raid, only one appears to have been a noncombatant. Lahav Harkov compares the responses to the two events, beginning with the more recent:

President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to denounce the attack, offer his condolences, and express his commitment to Israel’s security. Other leaders released supportive statements as well. Governments across Europe condemned the attack. Turkey’s foreign ministry did the same, as did Israel’s Abraham Accords partners the UAE and Bahrain. Even Saudi Arabia released a statement against the killing of civilians in Jerusalem.

It feels wrong to criticize those statements. . . . But the condemnations should be full-throated, not spoken out of one side of the mouth while the other is wishy-washy about what it takes to stave off terrorism. These very same leaders and ministries were tsk-tsking at Israel for doing just that only a day before the attacks in Jerusalem.

The context didn’t seem to matter to some countries that are friendly to Israel. It didn’t matter that Israel was trying to stop jihadists from attacking civilians; it didn’t matter that IDF soldiers were attacked on the way.

It’s very easy for some to be sad when Jews are murdered. Yet, at the same time, so many of them are uncomfortable with Jews asserting themselves, protecting themselves, arming themselves against the bloodthirsty horde that would hand out bonbons to celebrate their deaths. It’s a reminder of how important it is that we do just that, and how essential the state of Israel is.

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Read more at Lahav’s Newsletter

More about: Jerusalem, Palestinian terror