Tennis Champion Dick Savitt Dies at 95
Dick Savitt, the Jewish tennis champion who won both the Australian Open and Wimbledon Championships in 1951, died on Jan. 6 at the age of 95 at his home in New York, reported JTA.
He was the first Jewish athlete to win either tournament.
Savitt won the championships in 1951 when he was just 24 years old. He was the second American man to win both contests in the same year. The New York Times ranked him the No. 1 player in the world.
That same year, the 6-foot-3-inch righty also reached the semifinals of the U.S. National Championships and the quarterfinals of the French Championships, now called the U.S. Open and French Open, respectively.
Savitt became the first Jewish athlete to appear on the cover of Time magazine on Aug. 27, 1951.
In 1952, Savitt retired from tennis. He returned part-time to competitive tennis a few years later, and in 1961 won gold medals in men’s singles and doubles at the Maccabiah Games
Savitt is a member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Pre-Ukraine War Census: Number of Russian Jews Down Sharply in Last Decade
An exodus of Jews from Russia after President Vladimir Putin invaded neighboring Ukraine in February 2022 has drawn widespread attention in the past year. But according to recently released demographics, the country’s Jewish population had sharply fallen long before the tanks began rolling, reported JTA.
The statistics, published last month by Russia’s Federal State Statistics Service, showed that just 82,644 people identified themselves as Jews on the national census, conducted
In contrast, Russia’s previous census, conducted in 2010, showed nearly 160,000 people who identified as Jews or belonging to related groups — suggesting a decline by more than half over the last decade. During the same period, Russia’s total population grew by 3.5%.
The numbers do not account for the mass emigration of Russian Jews since the onset of the war in Ukraine, estimated to be more than 20,000 in the first six months after the invasion. The exodus suggests that Russia’s Jewish population could total fewer than 60,000 people.
Douglas Emhoff to Lead Holocaust Remembrance Efforts in Europe
The White House announced on Jan. 12 that second gentleman Douglas Emhoff will travel to Europe this month to participate in Holocaust remembrance events, reported JNS.
The husband of Vice President Kamala Harris is set to visit Krakow, Poland, from Jan. 26-29.
On Friday, Jan. 27, joined by U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Deborah Lipstadt, he is slated to visit the Memorial and Museum at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Emhoff will also participate in a wreath-laying ceremony and attend the annual commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Emhoff and Lipstadt will then head to Berlin, where on Jan. 30-31, they are to attend a meeting of special envoys and coordinators working to combat antisemitism.
As the first Jewish spouse of a U.S. president or vice president, Emhoff has become increasingly vocal about his Jewish background and about the rising antisemitism in the country.
Last month, for instance, he led a roundtable discussion with Jewish leaders at the White House.
Addressing the topic of rising Jew-hatred, he said: “I understand the weight of this responsibility — I do. … And as second gentleman, let me reiterate, I will not remain silent. I’m proud to be Jewish, and I’m proud to live openly as a Jew. I am not afraid. We cannot live in fear. We refuse to be afraid.”
Ancient Ostrich Eggs Found in Israel Shed Light on Early Humans
The Israel Antiquities Authority recently uncovered a number of ostrich eggs dating back thousands of years during an excavation near an ancient fire pit in the Negev Desert, reported JNS.
“We found a campsite, which extends over about 200 square meters, that was used by the desert nomads since prehistoric times. At the site, we found burnt stones, flint and stone tools as well as pottery sherds, but the truly special find is this collection of ostrich eggs,” said IAA excavation director Lauren Davis.
“Although the nomads did not build permanent structures at this site, the finds allow us to feel their presence in the desert. These campsites were quickly covered over by the dunes and were re-exposed with the sand movement over hundreds and thousands of years. This fact explains the exceptional preservation of the eggs, allowing us a glimpse into the lives of the nomads who roamed the desert in ancient times,” she explained.
Ostriches were common in the region from early prehistoric periods until they became extinct in the wild during the 19th century. Their eggs have been found in archaeological sites from several periods, reflecting their importance as a raw material.
“We [have discovered] ostrich eggs in archaeological sites in funerary contexts, and as luxury items and [even] water canteens. Naturally, they were used as a source of food: one ostrich egg has the nutritional value of about 25 normal chicken eggs!” declared IAA researcher Amir Gorzalczany.
First 7-Eleven Opens in Israel
Israel has its first 7-Eleven convenience store, reported Globes.
The store opened on Dec. 11 in Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Center, a year after Electra Consumer Products announced a 20-year franchise agreement with the U.S.-based convenience store chain.
By the middle of 2023, seven more stores are scheduled to open, most of them in Tel Aviv with one in Hod Hasharon.
Thirty stores are set to open by early 2024.
The Tel Aviv store will sell about 2,000 products, including 80 that are 7-Eleven brand items made in Israel. International brands such as Slurpee will also be available.
— Compiled by Andy Gotlieb