Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Thank God Natan Missed The Boat


Today, the 27th of Tishrei, is the 86th anniversary of the founding of the city of Netanya in 1927. Netanya was named for Nathan (Natan) Straus (1848-1931), an American businessman who co-owned two of New York City's biggest department stores – R.H. Macy & Company and Abraham & Straus.

In 1912, Nathan and his brother Isidore were touring Europe. On an impulse, they visited Palestine, at the time a desolate country facing immense challenges. Isidore soon returned to England, where they were due to catch a ship at Southampton to travel back to New York, but Nathan was delayed in leaving Palestine and missed the boat.

Which was fortunate, because the boat was the Titanic.

Straus, grief-stricken over the loss of his brother, felt that his life had been spared via divine providence. He decided as a result to throw his energies into helping Palestine. Straus established a domestic science school for girls, a health bureau to fight malaria and trachoma, a free public kitchen, child-health welfare stations, and various medical centers. All in all, he gave away two-thirds of his fortune to the developing Jewish homeland. At a dinner in his honor, he once said the following:
I often think of the old saying, "The world is my country, to do good is my religion." ...This has often been an inspiration to me. I might say, "Humanity is my kin, to save babies is my religion." It is a religion I hope will have thousands of followers.

Netanya, then a barren area of sand dunes and malaria-infested swamps, is now a bustling and beautiful city. With nearly 200,000 residents and another 150,000 in outlying neighborhoods, it is the fourth-largest city in Israel.

Missing the boat was one of the best things that ever happened to Natan Straus - and to Israel.

5 comments:

  1. In "Souled", Hanoch Teller has a story about this(see link and excerpt below)

    (I like the title of this post :) )

    ======

    "Nathan Straus was no stranger to poverty. He himself had been raised amidst struggle and indigence in Talbottom, Georgia. And it was there that the seeds of his unique style of philanthropy first germinated. As a young man, he had seen self-respecting workingmen transformed into pitiful beggars by economic conditions beyond their control and he had seen how handouts robbed the needy of their dignity...

    ...We were in Palestine just this past summer, and I must say the trip was inspiring. I was received like visiting royalty! In the Old City people flocked around me -- great rabbis and Talmudic scholars, elderly mothers of ten, even twelve children -- to recount 'Nathan Straus stories,' to tell me how Father had saved them or their parents, and so on."

    ("http://www.jewishworldreview.com/0298/titanic.html

    "The Man Who Missed The Boat")

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  2. Problem is that at the rate Israel is going there'll be no swamps or sand dunes left here for future generations. Warned you of same trend when you posted video of fox in your garden.

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  3. And where would the French have gone without Mr. Straus?

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  4. Nathan and his family had a planned trip to Israel. Nathan and his wife were never delayed in Israel, nor never missed the boat. According to the of the Strauss Historical Society from NY (who I was in touch with) Nathan and his wife were attending a medical conference in Italy. Nathan was deeply sorrowed by his brothers death.

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  5. Natan's brother Isidor and Isidor's wife Ida are now remembered for staying on the Titanic to leave more lifeboat space for children and their mothers.

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