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OA-OM Archives | Shengold Jewish Encyclopedia
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OBADIAH.

Fourth of the minor prophets in the Bible. The Book of Obadiah, the shortest in the Bible, predicts the destruction of Edom and describes the reestablishment of the children of Jacob in their homeland.

OCHS, ADOLPH (1858-1935).

Newspaper publisher. His father was an officer in the Union Army during the Civil War. Born in Tennessee, Ochs went to New York where he took over a failing newspaper called the New York Times and turned it into one of the world’s leading newspapers. His son-in-law, Arthur Sulzberger, succeeded him as publisher of the Times.

ODESSA.

City in Ukraine. Jews came to Odessa at the end of the 18th century from Poland and Lithuania. They participated in the rapid development of the city, engaging in commerce and various trades, as well as in the professions. The Enlightenment movement of the 19th century played an important role in the Odessa Jewish community. The first Russian-Jewish weekly was published here. The weekly Hebrew newspaper, Ha-Melitz, and a Yiddish weekly Folksblat made their appearance in Odessa. By the end of the 19th century, the town became a center of Zionism, Hebrew, and Yiddish literature. Some of the foremost Hebrew writers, among them Mendele Mocher Sefarim, Ahad Ha-Am, Chaim Nachman Bialik, and Joseph Klausner lived and wrote in Odessa. Here also was the seat of the central committee of Hoveve Zion, whose leaders were Leon Pinsker and, later, Menachem Ussishkin. During times of stress, waves of antisemitic attacks swept over the city. In the 1905 pogrom, thirty Jews were killed and many more injured. Odessa’s Jewish youth joined in the self-defense movement, at that time an innovation in Jewish life. Odessa Jewry also suffered greatly during the civil war in 1918-1919. On the eve of World War II, Odessa’s Jewish population neared 160,000. Most were killed by the Nazis and their collaborators from 1941 to 1943. The current Jewish population of the city is unknown.

OFFENBACH, JACQUES. (1819-1880).

German-born composer. Son of a cantor, he lived in France and became known for more than 100 lively and satirical operettas. His lyric opera, Tales of Hoffmann, continues to be produced throughout the world.

OHIO.

With fewer than 145,000 Jews, the state’s importance to Jewish life exceeds the size of its Jewish population. There are several reasons: one is the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, the other is the Jewish community of Cleveland. Hebrew Union College is the oldest American rabbinical school, housing the American Jewish Archives and one of the most important Jewish libraries in the world. As one of the model American Jewish communities, Cleveland has excelled in providing leadership to American and world Jewry, the best known example being Abba Hillel Silver, the rabbi and Zionist leader who played a crucial role in the establishment of Israel. Rabbi Solomon Goldman and Rabbi Arthur Lelyveld also served in Cleveland while providing leadership to world Jewry. Rabbi Eliezer Silver in Cincinnati was a world leader of Orthodox Jewry.

Jews first settled in Ohio in the early 19th century, but the first influx

OISTRAKH, DAVID.

See Music, Jews in.

OKLAHOMA.

The 5,000 Jews in the state are equally divided between Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Each city has a Reform and a Conservative congregation. Jews first arrived in the state at the end of the 19th century. The Southwest Jewish Chronicle has been published in Oklahoma City since 1929.

OLAM HA-BAH.

See Heaven and Hell.

OLD TESTAMENT.

The name given to the Hebrew Bible distinguish it from Christianity’s New Testament.

OLMERT, EHUD. (1945- ).

Prime Minister of Israel since May 2006, Olmert replaced Ariel Sharon when the latter became incapacitated by a stroke. A native Israeli, Olmert first served in the Knesset in 1973 at age 28. He was mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003. In the summer of 2006, after a Hezbollah attack, he ordered an incursion into Southern Lebanon that became known as the Second Lebanon War. Northern Israel came under rocket attack for over a month, and the repercussions of this conflict continued to trouble Israel in 2007.

OMER.

Literally, sheaf, or first sheaf of grain, cut during the barley harvest and offered in the Temple on the second day of Passover. No new grain could be eaten before that offering was made. The Bible commands Jews to count seven weeks from the day of the offering of the Omer, a custom which has been preserved to this day (sefirat ha-omer, or counting of the Omer). This 50-day period culminates in the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot, or Pentacost), commemorating the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.

Because of misfortunes that have overtaken the Jewish people during this time of year, it has come to be regarded as a period of mourning. For this reason, weddings and other festivities are not celebrated . Especially associated with the sefirah is a plague which broke out among the disciples of Rabbi Akiva during Bar Kokhba‘s uprising which took place in the month of Nisan 135 C.E. Jewish legend tells that the plague subsided on Lag b’Omer (“the 33rd day of Omer”). Therefore marriages may be solemnized on that day which is celebrated outdoors and, in Israel, with pilgrimages to Meron, a town in Galilee.

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