Interwar Latvia’s Great Hasidic Politician

Aug. 30 2018

In Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia between the two world wars, Jewish political parties won seats in national parliaments, local governments, and even cabinets. One of the leading Jewish politicians in Latvia at the time was Mordechai Dubin, a devout Chabad-Lubavitch Ḥasid whose career was documented in a Russian-language memoir published in 2000. In the introduction to his translation of the memoir—now available online—Dovid Margolin writes:

Dubin was a statesman, diplomat, and powerbroker in interwar Latvia, whose influence and impact were felt widely within the Jewish world. At the height of his public career, he walked the corridors of power with a bearing seldom seen in a Jewish lay leader. He was the founder and leader of the traditionalist Agudath Israel political party in Latvia, but represented Jews far beyond his natural base and served as a uniquely inclusive chairman of the Riga Jewish community.

In life and death [Dubin] was lauded by both his closest allies and most bitter political opponents for his proactive willingness to help anyone—especially his fellow Jews—at any time, and in any place, and for the great efficacy of his assistance. . . . He was also popularly regarded as the “unofficial foreign secretary of the realm of Lubavitch.” . . . When he visited the United States in 1929-30, he had a private meeting with President Herbert Hoover in the White House, something few Latvian politicians could ever hope for. And yet his story ended tragically; his wife and daughter-in-law perished in the Riga ghetto, his son in a Nazi camp, and he, years later, died destitute and alone in Soviet captivity. . . .

Mordechai Dubin was born in 1889 in the city of Riga, Latvia, to Shneur Zalman Ber and Rivkah Rokhl Dubin. The family had seven children, four sons and three daughters, Mordechai being the second-oldest son. [His father], a successful timber merchant, was among the first Russian Jews to settle in Latvia and helped found a number of synagogues, Jewish charities, ḥeders, and schools that contributed to the development of Jewish life in Latvia in general and the religious community in Riga in particular. . . .

Dubin had a traditional Jewish education, studying only religious subjects until the age of sixteen . . . He was nevertheless educated in worldly matters, and, for example, was the only Jewish communal activist to have mastered the Latvian language, [which few Jews spoke at all prior to 1918, and most Jews of Dubin’s generation never learned with much proficiency], from the start of his public career.

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Read more at Chabad.org

More about: Chabad, History & Ideas, Jewish politics, Latvia

Terror Returns to Israel

Nov. 28 2022

On Wednesday, a double bombing in Jerusalem left two dead, and many others injured—an attack the likes of which has not been seen since 2016. In a Jenin hospital, meanwhile, armed Palestinians removed an Israeli who had been injured in a car accident, reportedly murdering him in the process, and held his body hostage for two days. All this comes as a year that has seen numerous stabbings, shootings, and other terrorist attacks is drawing to a close. Yaakov Lappin comments:

Unlike the individual or small groups of terrorists who, acting on radical ideology and incitement to violence, picked up a gun, a knife, or embarked on a car-ramming attack, this time a better organized terrorist cell detonated two bombs—apparently by remote control—at bus stops in the capital. Police and the Shin Bet have exhausted their immediate physical searches, and the hunt for the perpetrators will now move to the intelligence front.

It is too soon to know who, or which organization, conducted the attack, but it is possible to note that in recent years, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) has taken a lead in remote-control-bombing terrorism. Last week, a car bomb that likely contained explosives detonated by remote control was discovered by the Israel Defense Forces in Samaria, after it caught fire prematurely. In August 2019, a PFLP cell detonated a remote-control bomb in Dolev, seventeen miles northwest of Jerusalem, killing a seventeen-year-old Israeli girl and seriously wounding her father and brother. Members of that terror cell were later arrested.

With the Palestinian Authority (PA) losing its grip in parts of Samaria to armed terror gangs, and the image of the PA at an all-time low among Palestinians, in no small part due to corruption, nepotism, and its violation of human rights . . . the current situation does not look promising.

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Read more at JNS

More about: Israeli Security, Jerusalem, Palestinian terror