October ’13 in the Exponent: Rosie’s Yom Kippur; Israel and His Book


If you were looking for Jewish news in 1913, the front cover of the Jewish Exponent was not the place to find it.

As it was for the first few decades of the paper’s existence, the Oct. 10, 1913 issue seemed more of a Jewish literary magazine than a strict newspaper.

Oh, there were news tidbits to be found within its 14 pages — for example, President Woodrow Wilson nominated Philadelphian Ephraim Lederer to be the “Collector of Internal Revenue for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania” — but hard news was relatively scarce.

Aside from five large advertisements that dominate the left two columns, the front page is comprised of a poem and a short story.

The story is called Rosie’s Yom Kippur, and was written by Dorothy Melwit. Unfortunately, Melwit’s name seems to be lost to time; a Google search resulted in zero hits.

The tale opens with our namesake (referred to as Rose) chatting with a suitor named John who salaciously (at least salaciously for 1913) asks her if she plans to fast for Yom Kippur. For some reason, that flusters her.

“My parents — you can’t imagine what they are — so ‘frum’ — so religious. Strictly Orthodox. You can’t understand,” she responded.

Anyway, Rose heads off to synagogue the next day and, as was common in these stories, she “found the light” and any doubts she had about Judaism were washed away during services.

“A great peace — a sort of calm ecstasy — had settled on her soul and was reflected on her face and in her brilliant eyes,” the story read. “She stretched out her arms — ‘Oh, I love my people,’ she cried to herself.”

Above the story is Israel and His Book, an esoteric poem by Felix Gerson that appeared in the American Jewish Year Book 5674.

The poem’s a bit obtuse, with references to thresholds, beacons and supernal light — in a religious sense.


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