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Rose Feiss Boulevard honors a ‘small but mighty’ maven of the South Bronx

(New York Jewish Week) — In the industrial Port Morris neighborhood in the Bronx, a 10-block stretch of Walnut Avenue bears the name Rose Feiss Boulevard, honoring the Jewish immigrant woman who lived, worked and touched the lives of many in the borough.

Rose Feiss was born in Minsk, Russia in 1901. She immigrated to the United States with her family as a young girl: first to Morgantown, West Virginia, where her father was a rabbi and shochet (kosher butcher) and then to Moodus, Connecticut. Eventually, Feiss and her family moved to the Bronx — a more circuitous route than most Jewish immigrants — where she met her husband, David, at a social club in 1922. She gave birth to their son Murray in 1926.

When Murray went overseas to fight in World War II, Feiss launched a cottage business in the South Bronx manufacturing lampshades. Feiss started StyleCraft as a way for wives and mothers to earn money and stay busy during a stressful time; during the war, the business employed around a dozen women. 

Rose Feiss married her husband David in 1922. She became a naturalized US citizen in 1939. (Courtesy Jane Hersh)

“It seems like a very random act, other than the fact that my grandfather [David] owned a wire factory in the South Bronx — so he made the frames and she would bind the shades,” Feiss’ granddaughter, June Hersh, told the New York Jewish Week “She was just very industrious.”

Eventually, Hersh said her grandparents acquired a “little factory” in the South Bronx for her grandmother’s lampshade business and her grandfather’s wiring company, Associated Wire. “She was always very business-minded, forward-thinking and independent,” said Hersh, a food writer who published her fifth book, “Iconic New York Jewish Food,” earlier this year. “It’s those qualities that led her to become a force in the South Bronx. She would even make pots of food at home and travel with them on the subway so that she could feed the women who were working at the factory.”

When Murray Feiss, who is Hersh’s father, returned from his service in the Navy, he attended business school at NYU with the aim to help his parents unite their wiring and lampshade concerns and grow a formal business. In 1955, the family launched Murray Feiss Lighting in the South Bronx — it eventually became one of the largest lighting companies in the world. 

And though the business bore her son’s name, Rose, whom Hersh describes as “small and mighty,” was always in the room when business decisions were made. As the story goes in her family, Rose came to work well into her 80s, where she would do her rounds on the factory floor and then retire to the couch in Murray’s office — but only to rest her body, not her mind. 

As the business flourished, members of the growing family took on roles at the company — Hersh, along with her mother Dorothy, sister Andrea and their husbands Ron and Robert, all worked there. “My husband, who was co-president of the company, will never forget being in my dad’s office for a major meeting with a bank,” Hersh said. “My father and my brother-in-law and husband were making a deal with the bank and, all of a sudden, they hear my grandmother in the background — who they thought was asleep on the couch — yell, ‘Murray, you’re an idiot!’ because she didn’t like the terms of the deal.”

“That was very much like my grandmother — she was really a force,” Hersh added. “She really set the tone for the ways the women in our family interact and comport ourselves, because she was fierce — but not in a not in a harsh way, in a very determined way. She had very strong convictions.”

Hersh added that her grandmother’s strong sense of Jewish values is what allowed her to lead the company with empathy and conviction. “She was very, very proud of her Jewish heritage and her Jewish roots and she imbued us all with a sense of tzedakah,” she said. “She lived her life as a businesswoman with that philosophy.”

After her death in 1984 at age 83, Murray Feiss sold the lampshade portion of the company — which was Rose’s passion — but continued the lighting side of the business. Still, the family wanted to honor their matriarch’s rich life and legacy in the Bronx. Hersh said her brother-in-law, Robert Greene, wrote to Wendell Foster, the City Council member for the South Bronx, and Stanley Simon, the Bronx borough president, to ask if there was anything the city could do. 

“She always had confidence in the people of the Bronx,” Hersh said. “Most of the people she worked with — and she always said they worked with her, not for her — were immigrants… She sent their kids to college, cosigned mortgages and dressed up as Santa Claus every Christmas for the Christmas party. She had such faith in this community.”

“This was part of her philosophy and the way she viewed her role in life: She did well and she wanted to help others do well in turn,” Hersh added. 

A family photo of Rose’s descendants taken underneath the Rose Feiss Boulevard sign unveiling on June 24, 1987. (Courtesy June Hersh)

Feiss’s generosity was recognized by the city. The family — one son, two granddaughters, and four great-grandchildren — was invited to Gracie Mansion by then Mayor Ed Koch, where he signed his approval to co-name 10 blocks of Walnut Avenue, where the family’s factories were, Rose Feiss Boulevard. 

Rose Feiss Boulevard was unveiled on June 24, 1987. At the ceremony, Feiss’ great-grandson, Adam, gave a speech on behalf of the great-grandchildren about Feiss’ legacy and the importance of doing the right thing, Hersh said.

“She was not the center of attention, by any means, but I think she would be immensely proud,” Hersh said of the co-naming. “My grandfather would also be exceptionally proud; he was supportive of a woman working long before most women left the home to work outside the house.”

After 50 years in business, Murray Feiss Lighting was sold in 2004 — though Rose Feiss’ legacy continues in the South Bronx today. Many of her descendants still live in the region; Hersh, who lives in Manhattan was driving in the Bronx recently and her GPS navigation told her to take a right on Rose Feiss Boulevard. “It was really cool,” she said, adding that she sent a screenshot to everyone in the family. 

“Knowing my grandmother, she would be most proud that it’s a legacy for her children, her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren and something that they can point to,” she added. “This poor girl from Minsk, with no language and no skills, came to this country and left an imprint.”


The post Rose Feiss Boulevard honors a ‘small but mighty’ maven of the South Bronx appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Treasure Trove: A 1905 postcard from Basel recalls the many Zionist groups and supporters in Toronto

“Greetings from the Seventh Zionist Congress to our friends in Toronto” reads the top message on this postcard sent from the 1905 Congress in Basel, the first held after the death of Theodor Herzl. The image was painted by Carl Josef Pollack and depicts Herzl standing among his fellow Jews awaiting entrance to the Land of […]

The post Treasure Trove: A 1905 postcard from Basel recalls the many Zionist groups and supporters in Toronto appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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‘Arteries of Capitalism’: Anti-Zionist Groups Planning Major ‘Blockade’ of Ports Around the World

Pro-Hamas demonstrators marching in Munich, Germany. Photo: Reuters/Alexander Pohl

Far-left anti-Israel activists are launching a mass demonstration to block the “arteries of capitalism” on Monday by staging a blockade of commercial shipping ports across the world in protest of Western support for the Jewish state.

“We will identify and blockade major choke points in the economy, focusing on points of production and circulation with the aim of causing the most economic impact,” A15, the group planning the action, announced in a statement. “There is a sense in the streets in this recent and unprecedented movement for Palestine that escalation has become necessary: there is a need to shift from symbolic actions to those that cause pain to the economy.”

A15 is calling on members in cities such as New York, Dublin, Sydney, Ho Chi Minh, Genoa, London, and others to participate in the act, which could endanger billions of dollars in shipping. The group is also sharing information about police arrest, bail, and other legal information, possibly suggesting that its members are prepared to behave unlawfully.

“As Yemen is bombed to secure global trade and billions of dollars are sent to the Zionist war machine, we must recognize that the global economy is complicit in genocide and together we will coordinate to disrupt and blockage economic logistical hubs and the flow of capital,” the group continued.

Another anti-Zionist group, which goes by “Within Our Lifetime,” has vowed to join the demonstration and will participate by amassing on Wall Street in an attempt to bring trading on the New York Stock Exchange to a halt. Nerdeen Kiswani, a former City University of New York student who once threatened to set a person’s sweater on fire while he was wearing it, will lead the effort.

Police in Victoria, Australia are on high alert, according to a report this weel by The Sydney Morning Herald. On Monday, the city will activate its State Police Operations Center, an action which is reserved for emergencies and will require diverting resources from other cities in the state. One likely target of the group, the Port of Melbourne, processes over 8,000 containers per day and adds $11 billion to national gross domestic product (GDP).

Anti-Zionist protesters have protested at the Port of Melbourne before. In January, they attempted to prevent the docking container ship at Webb Dock because its owner, ZIM shipping firm, is an Israeli company.

The New York City area has been the site of similar demonstrations. In 2021, a group called “Block the Boat” protested the unloading of a container ship owned by ZIM at the Port of New York/New Jersey, two days after another Israeli ship was reportedly blocked from unloading in Oakland.

Since the Hamas terror group’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel, attempted disruptions of shipping have occurred in many major American cities. Most recently, a group amassed at San Francisco’s Piers 30/32 to condemn the leaving of USNS Harvey Milk, believing that it was en route to the Middle East.

US Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) addressed the protesters, according to a local CBS affiliate, telling them that President Joe Biden agrees with their message.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post ‘Arteries of Capitalism’: Anti-Zionist Groups Planning Major ‘Blockade’ of Ports Around the World first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Biden Pressure on Israel Partly Due to Concerns Over 2024 Election, Says Israeli Lawmaker, Former UN Ambassador

US President Joe Biden, left, pauses during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, to discuss the war between Israel and Hamas, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Oct. 18, 2023. Photo: Miriam Alster/Pool via REUTERS

Israeli politician and former Ambassador Danny Danon attributed US President Joe Biden’s increasingly critical posture toward Israel’s war on the Hamas terrorist group to domestic political concerns and the upcoming presidential election in a wide-ranging interview with The Algemeiner.

Danon, a current member of the Israeli parliament for the Likud party and former ambassador to the United Nations, spoke with The Algemeiner to discuss the ongoing war against the Hamas , potential escalation in northern Israel with the Hezbollah terrorist organization, and the evolving politics of the US-Israel relationship.

Asked about Biden’s pressure on Israel not to enter Rafah — the last Hamas stronghold in Gaza — and to agree to a ceasefire, Danon said, “You know, a ceasefire without us bringing the hostages back and defeating Hamas, it means that Israel will lose this war.”

“I don’t think that President Biden and other allies of Israel are actually supporting the stand of Israel losing the war,” he continued, arguing that “they have other interests in moving forward because of the election in the US and international pressure, but we have a different timeline.”

When asked to clarify if he believed the upcoming presidential election in the US was fueling Biden’s current policy toward Israel — especially in the form of public and private pressure — Danon reiterated that he believes “it’s a combination of the election and also international pressure.”

In several US states, activists have been campaigning for voters not to support Biden in the Democratic primary due to his overall support for Israel. In Michigan, for example, a key battleground state and home to America’s largest Arab population, a campaign to vote “uncommitted” during the state’s primary rather than for Biden gained significant support. Some prominent observers have suggested that the Biden administration’s changing position on Israel and the war in Gaza may be influenced by domestic political fears of losing electoral support from anti-Israel voters.

Meanwhile, amid escalating tensions on Israel’s northern front with Hezbollah, which wields significant political and military influence across Lebanon, Danon made it clear that Israel would remove the threat of Hezbollah on its border one way or another.

Since Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel, “tens of thousands of Israelis have been evacuated from the northern communities” due to the rockets launched by Hezbollah on a nearly daily basis, he explained. In total, more than 2,000 rockets, along with many more anti-tank guided missiles and drones, have been launched into Israeli territory since the war began.

“They … have to be able to go back to their homes. In order for them to go back, we … have to push Hezbollah away from the border,” he said. “So that’s the end game.”

How that may happen in practice remains uncertain: “One option is to have negotiations and to prevent the conflict,” he said. “And the second option is to have a limited conflict. And the third option is to have a full war with Hezbollah.”

Regardless, he added, in the end Hezbollah “will not be on the fence and they will not threaten our communities.”

The interview took place prior to last week’s airstrike on Iran’s consulate in Damascus, Syria last week that Iranian officials have attributed to Israel.

the Israeli strike in Syria that killed two commanders in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) — putting Israel on high alert for the prospect of a direct Iranian attack on Israeli territory. The strike killed seven members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), a US-designated terrorist organization, including two senior commanders.

Israel has neither confirmed nor denied involvement in the incident. However, Israel has been bracing for a retaliatory strike amid a flurry of public threats from Iran to attack Israel.

Another important issue that has captured the attention of the citizens of Israel and the entire Jewish world is the continued captivity of more than 130 people in Gaza who Hamas terrorists kidnapped during their Oct. 7 rampage. Liberated captives testified to surviving sexual assault, torture, and starvation.

“When you deal with the [sic] irrational enemy like Hamas, it’s very challenging [to negotiate a deal],” Danon said. “I think we should apply more force, more military force, and that will encourage Hamas to negotiate another agreement that will release more hostages.”

Some of the more than 250 hostages seized on Oct. 7 were released as part of a temporary Israel-Hamas truce in November.

Pushed on why there has not been another agreement since then, he explained, “The challenges that we are facing are not easy. Both the one that requires the defeat of Hamas, you know, we pay a very heavy toll every day, more and more soldiers are paying the price of their lives in order to achieve this goal.”

“And also the hostages,” he added. “It’s very hard for them, the conditions are unbearable, and we are aware of the ongoing atrocities. So it is hard, but I think it’s a challenge for us to be determined. And I think at the end of the day, despite the difficulty, we are determined to win this war, and we will win this war.”

Some Israelis have criticized the government for prioritizing military victory and politics over the return of the hostages. One family member of a hostage said at a rally recently that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “concern for coalition stability outweighs his clear duty to bring our loved ones home … We were told to sit still, we were told to travel the world, but after six months, the hostages are still in Gaza! This is a complete and deliberate failure!”

Nevertheless, Danon is singularly focused on winning the war against Hamas and bringing home the hostages. 

“I think the enemy underestimated the strength of the people of Israel, and they will realize that we are a strong nation and that’s why we will defeat them,” Danon concluded, underscoring the way in which this war has, in many ways, brought Israelis together in an unprecedented way.

The post Biden Pressure on Israel Partly Due to Concerns Over 2024 Election, Says Israeli Lawmaker, Former UN Ambassador first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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