On August 18, 1790, George Washington paid a visit to Newport, Rhode Island, shortly after the state had ratified the United States Constitution, to meet with politicians, businessmen and clergy—including Moses Seixas, an official of Congregation Jeshuat Israel.
The assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin 20 years ago produced instant analysis of unusual accuracy. Typically, it takes decades for the air to clear enough for history to make a sound judgment, especially in the Middle East. But when Rabin was shot in the back in November 1995, the Israelis of various camps who either mourned or celebrated what they thought the murder meant for their country turned out to be exactly right.
Many writers seem daunted by the autobiographical novel—ashamed to write of themselves, as if that were either self-indulgence or exploitation. And of course with James Joyce and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man as a paragon, many do not even dare to try. But Joyce didn’t frighten off E.L. Doctorow, who mined his own Depression-era childhood in New York for the 1986 National Book Award-winning World’s Fair.
In August 1903, a 22-year-old Viennese Jewish socialite by the name of Adele Bloch-Bauer wrote to a friend that the renowned Austrian painter Gustav Klimt had agreed to paint her portrait. It was to be a commission from her husband, sugar industrialist Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer. The cost, according to Anne-Marie O’Connor’s book The Lady in Gold, was considerable—4,000 crowns at the time, or about a “quarter of the price of a well-appointed country villa.” Klimt could not start the portrait until winter, so it wasn’t until December that the young Adele ventured to his studio to sit for the portrait.