Securing the Dream

Washington Jews played crucial roles – both clandestinely and publicly – to support creation of a Jewish state.

The Holocaust proved that Jews could not rely on world leaders to speak for them. When the allied nations met in 1945 to organize the United Nations, American Jews demanded inclusion. Jewish presence at the conference laid the groundwork for U.N. support of the plan to partition Palestine and create a Jewish state. Several Washingtonians influenced the 1947 U.N. vote to partition Palestine.

Local members of the clandestine Sonneborn Institute held secret meetings to raise money for a Jewish state and its underground army, the Haganah. Locally, Zionist youth groups such as Habonim prepared young Jews for future leadership.

Before Israel was a state, we had many Haganah meetings. We were getting ready to help Jews get into Palestine. They needed money for guns, ammunition and ships. We met at my office at 718 5th Street.

Leo Bernstein Oral History, 1998

Photo of kids outside British embassy

1946: Members of the Zionist youth group Habonim march in protest outside the British Embassy.

JHSGW Collections. Gift of Carl Allentuck. 1998.06

Photo of Ammerman

1947: On November 29, 1947, the U.N. voted to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. Washington Jews had worked tirelessly to assure the required two-thirds vote. Dr. Harvey Ammerman (seen here) convinced one of his patients serving at the Chilean embassy to intercede. The patient called Chile’s ambassador to the U.N., and Chile abstained. While working as the physician at the Guatemalan embassy, Ammerman also won the backing of Guatemalan Ambassador Jorge Garcia Granados.

Courtesy of Dr. Bruce Ammerman

Kaufmann letter
Kaufmann letter

1945: Washingtonian Edmund I. Kaufmann was among the 50 representatives selected by the Jewish Agency to speak for Zionists at the U.N. organizing conference in San Francisco. This letter to his grandsons describes his role in drafting a plan for Jewish settlement in Palestine.

JHSGW Collections. Gift of Bernice Kaufmann. 1998.43

Exodus protest sticker

1947: This sticker was used to protest the British troops who forced Exodus 1947, a ship carrying nearly 4,000 Jewish DPs, back to Germany. In Washington, Rabbis Solomon Metz (Adas Israel), Harry Silverstone (Tifereth Israel), and Henry Segal (B’nai Israel) marched on the British Embassy with Habonim leaders shouting “Let my people go!”

JHSGW Collections.

Tally sheet

Isador Turover recorded the results of the historic partition vote on this tally sheet.

Courtesy of Sylvia Turover Sitttenfeld and Ruthe Turover Katz.

Abraham Kay

1945-48: Washington Jews undertook a massive fundraising campaign in secret to support the Haganah (underground Jewish army) in its war for independence. Men and women raised suitcases full of cash that provided ships and crew for Aliyah Bet (illegal immigration to Palestine), machinery for a munitions factory, and World War II surplus weapons and explosives for the Haganah.

Abraham Kay

JHSGW Collections. Gift of Jack Kay. 1998.48

Morris Pollin

Morris Pollin

JHSGW Collections

Jacob Kamerow

Jacob Kamerow

JHSGW Collections. Gift of Martin Kamerow. 1998.46

Ruth Cherner

Ruth Cherner

Courtesy of Rickey Cherner

Theodore Herzl Levin

Theodore Herzl Levin

Courtesy of Barbara Levin

Joe Cherner

Joe Cherner

Courtesy of Rickey Cherner

Isadore Turover

Isadore Turover

JHSGW Collections

Morris Rodman

Morris Rodman

JHSGW Collections. Gift of Betsy Salandria. 1992.02

Leo Bernstein

Leo Bernstein

Courtesy of Leo Bernstein Family Foundation.

Hymen Goldman

Hymen Goldman

JHSGW Collections. Gift of Aaron Goldman. 1998.41

Photo of kids outside British embassy
Photo of Ammerman
Kaufmann letter
Kaufmann letter
Exodus protest sticker
Tally sheet
Abraham Kay
Morris Pollin
Jacob Kamerow
Ruth Cherner
Theodore Herzl Levin
Joe Cherner
Isadore Turover
Morris Rodman
Leo Bernstein
Hymen Goldman