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GN-GZ Archives | Shengold Jewish Encyclopedia
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Scion of a distinguished Jewish family in Russia, he was intensely interested in Jewish learning. Baron Guenzburg became a patron of Jewish scholarship and amassed one of the largest collections of Jewish books and rare manuscripts. To serve Jewish learning, he founded an academy for Jewish studies in St. Petersburg.

GOD.

Many cultures believe in a supreme being or beings who rule the world. Yet the God of the Hebrew Bible creates the world not on a whim, as happens in other cultures, but for a moral purpose (see Genesis, chap. 1). He then becomes known to certain people, beginning with Abraham. He makes a covenant with him and promises to redeem his offspring. Known also as the God of Israel (See God, Names of), this God becomes the center of both Christianity and Islam, faiths which, together with Judaism, are considered the three major monotheistic religions of the world. They all accept the one single transcendental God who does not have any human or physical qualities and is beyond human understanding. When Moses tries to identify God, he is told, “I am what I am.” In other words, God is nameless and remains outside human experience, while in effect, as attested by the Book of Psalms, nature, history, and human experience reveal God’s existence and power.

GOLDBERG, ARTHUR J. (1908-1990).

While God is unknowable and nameless, the Talmud states that there are 100 names for God in the Bible. As Maimonides explains it, these names do not reveal the identity or essence of God, but are only ways for human beings to relate to God and achieve a limited understanding of the Almighty. Some names, such as El and Elohim, simply mean the supreme being. Adonai, meaning Lord, is the way of pronouncing YHWH, the way God’s name appears most often in the Bible, yet, consisting of four consonants, cannot be pronounced. In biblical times, the only one who could pronounce it was the High Priest (See Kohen). Other names of God refer to God’s attributes, such as the Creator, Redeemer, and The Holy One. Others refer to God’s relationship with the people Israel: Redeemer of Israel, Lover of Israel. Additional names of God appear in the Kabbalah.

American jurist and statesman. Goldberg became Secretary of Labor in 1961 and was appointed to the Supreme Court the following year, succeeding Felix Frankfurter. Appointed U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations in 1965, a position he held until 1968, he was a staunch supporter of Israel.

GOLDEN CALF.

When Moses went up to Mount Sinai to receive the Law, the Israelites asked Aaron to build a golden calf as a visible form of God that they could worship. This act of rebellion against God is considered the major sin of the Jewish people, for which Moses had to obtain special forgiveness from God.

GOLDFADEN, ABRAHAM (1840-1908).

One of the founders of Yiddish theater, a playwright, and artist. He organized theatrical troupes which entertained Jewish masses in the Old and the New World for more than a generation. Goldfaden also published a book of Hebrew poetry. In 1887, he paid his first visit to America, where he settled in 1903. Goldfaden’s plays became classics of the Yiddish stage.

GOLDMANN, NAHUM (1894-1982).

World Zionist leader. In 1936, he helped found the World Zionist Congress, which he headed from 1953 to 1977. As chairman of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany, he was largely instrumental in reaching the reparation agreement with West Germany in 1952. He was the author of two autobiographical volumes and many essays and articles in German, Yiddish, Hebrew, and English.

GOLEM.

Statue or image into which life is breathed by supernatural means. The most famous Golem in Jewish history is the one believed to have been created by Rabbi Judah Loew of Prague (ca. 1525-1609). This Golem served the rabbi and the Jewish community as a spy and intelligence agent. He succeeded in arresting a group of people who were spreading false tales about Jews. It was said that Rabbi Loew used to remove the spirit of life from his Golem every Friday so that the creature would not desecrate the Sabbath. The Golem is reputed to have crumbled to pieces; its remains, according to legend, still exist in the “Golem’s room” in an ancient synagogue in Prague.

GOLIATH.

Philistine Giant in the Bible slain by the boy David.

GOMPERS, SAMUEL (1850-1924).

American labor leader. Founder and first president of the American Federation of Labor in 1886. He served as its president until his death. Gompers refused to participate in any socialistic and political projects, insisting that better wages, shorter hours, and other benefits were the proper aim of trade unions. He came to be recognized as a great public figure, and during World War I served as the head of the War Committee on Labor. Gompers persuaded the A.F.L. to support Zionism.

GOODMAN, BENNY.

See Music.

GORDIMER, NADINE (1923- ).

South African novelist who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1991. She wrote about Apartheid and advocated black rule in South Africa.

GORDON, AHARON DAVID (1856-1922).

Labor Zionist thinker and writer. Gordon believed in self-fulfillment through work in the Jewish homeland. With many followers and admirers, he was a source of inspiration and courage to his young comrades and worked at their side despite his age. His influence also extended to the next generation. Gordon expressed his ideals in many articles, purporting that close association with nature was the basis for a healthy and just society.

GORDON, JUDAH LEIB (1831-1892).

Hebrew poet. No other literary personality of the 19th century exerted greater influence on Hebrew readers than did J.L. Gordon. He began as a romantic poet, using biblical themes, and later treated tragic moments in Jewish history. His historical poems are noted for their vigor and dramatic quality. A proponent of the Haskalah, he called upon his fellow Jews to leave their self-imposed ghetto life and avail themselves of the educational and cultural opportunities which the gentile world offered them.

GOTTLEIB, MAURYCY.

See Sports.

See Art.

GRACE AFTER MEALS.

See Prayer.

GRAETZ, HEINRICH (1817-1891).

German-Jewish historian. Graetz lived at a time of great change in Jewish history. The ghetto walls were coming down, and Jews were mingling in the general life of Europe. His History of the Jews, completed in 1876 as a rare combination of scholarship and readability, remains to this day a basic source for understanding the history of the Jews.

GRATZ COLLEGE.

Founded in Philadelphia in 1897 through a grant by H. Gratz, it is the oldest existing training institution for Hebrew teachers in the U.S., providing a four-year college course leading to a Bachelor of Science degree in Hebrew literature and a teacher’s diploma.

GRATZ, REBECCA (1781-1869).

Educator noted for her beauty, charm, and good works. Portraits of her were painted by famous artists, and her published Letters are rich in descriptions of her home city, Philadelphia, and times. In 1838, she established the Hebrew Sunday School Society, the first school of its kind. It is said that she was the inspiration for the “Jewess” Rebecca in Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe.

GREAT ASSEMBLY.

See Talmud.

GREAT BRITAIN.

See England.

GREECE.

Jewish settlement in Greece dating back to the 2nd century B.C.E. Documents of the 12th and 13th centuries indicate Jews were noted for their silk and dyeing industries. Greek Jewry flourished in the 14th and 15th centuries, producing many renowned rabbis and Talmudic scholars. Salonika, which became part of Greece in 1912, was a center of Sephardic Jewry. In the late 19th century, 80,000 of its 120,000 Ladino-speaking inhabitants were Jewish. The massacres and deportations during the Nazi occupation of Greece in World War II virtually annihilated the Jewish community, which dwindled from 75,000 in 1939 to about 5,000 in 2007.

GREENBERG, HANK.

See Sports.

GREENBERG, HAYIM (1889-1953).

Labor Zionist leader, intellectual, and writer. He was the acknowledged intellectual leader of Labor Zionism in America, serving as editor of its weekly, Der Yiddisher Kempfer, and the English monthly, the Jewish Frontier. During World War II, he was chairman of the Executive Council, and during the UN deliberations in 1947 on the establishment of Israel he helped win over many of the Latin American delegates to the Jewish cause. At his death, he was mourned as a leader of great spiritual force.

GREENBERG, URI ZVI (1895-1981).

One of the greatest Hebrew poets of our time who wrote passionately and eloquently about the rebuilding of Israel and the tragedy of the Holocaust. Born in Galicia in a Hasidic family, Greenberg at first wrote lyric poetry. In 1924, he came to Palestine, where he identified with the pioneer builders of the land. His later poems are inspired with the vision of Jewish sovereignty over all of historical Palestine. During World War II he wrote powerful and dramatic poems on the Nazi slaughter of the Jewish people, published in the volume Streets of the River. He was a member of the Herut Party. (See also Hebrew Literature and Revisionist Zionism.)

GREENSPAN, ALAN (1926- ).

American economist; since 1987, chairman of the Federal Reserve, the agency which controls the nation’s money supply. Greenspan believes in limiting the growth of money supply, and has presided over a prosperous U.S. economy in the late 1990’s.

GROSSMAN, DAVID (1954- ).

Leading Israeli novelist and writer of children books. Grossman’s major novel, See Under Love, deals with the Holocaust, while The Yellow Wind covers the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is an outspoken critic of many Israeli policies toward Palestinians.

GUATEMALA.

Republic in the northernmost portion of Central America. In 2006, there were about 1,000 Jews in a total population of about 13 million. A community of Marranos, forced Catholic converts who practiced their Jewish faith in secret, conducted a thriving export trade from Guatemala in the 16th century, when Guatemala was a Spanish colony. The Inquisition, established in Mexico in 1570, eventually led to the disappearance of this early Marrano community. During the 1860’s a small group of German Jews from Mexico and Cuba, as well as Sephardim from Turkey and France, settled here. They have been joined by immigrants from East Europe after World War II. All organizations are represented within the Comunidad Israelita, or Jewish Community.

GUGGENHEIM FAMILY.

Family of American Jewish industrialists, public servants, and philanthropists. Mayer Guggenheim (1828-1905) came to the U.S. from Switzerland in 1847. By 1900, he and his seven sons controlled one of the country’s great mining empires in Colorado. Simon Guggenheim (1867-1941), the sixth son, was U.S. Senator from Colorado from 1907 to 1913. He established the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, with endowments of more than $10 million to aid scholars and artists. Solomon Guggenheim (1861-1930), a collector of non-objective paintings, set up a fund “for the promotion of art and education in art.” Daniel (1856-1930), Mayer’s second son, contributed to the development of aviation. Together with his son, Harry Frank, who was U.S. Ambassador to Cuba from 1929 to 1933, Daniel established a foundation for aeronautical research. Other beneficiaries of Guggenheim aid include the New York Botanical Gardens, the New York Guggenheim Concerts, the Jewish Theological Seminary, and the Hebrew Union College.

GUSH EMUNIM.

Literally “bloc of the faithful,” this movement started after the Six-Day War in 1967 among religious settlers of the West Bank who were dedicated to the “Greater Land of Israel” concept, which opposes any territorial concessions to the Palestinians.

GUTHRIE, ARLO.

See Music.

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