DOCTOROW, E.L. (1931-2015 )

One of the leading American writers of the 20th Century, his innovative style often combines historical events and personalities with fictional elements, uniquely blending them.

The grandson of Russian Jewish immigrants, he once talked about growing up surrounded by talented Jewish refugees who had fled Nazi Germany.

By the time his first novel Welcome to Hard Times was published, he was already an significant figure in the publishing world, rising to post of editor-in-chief of Dial Press and working with many important writers including Norman Mailer.

He is the author of twelve novels and other essays, plays and assorted works. He is best known for his novels Ragtime, set in pre-WWI, Billy BathgateWorld’s Fair and The March. Several were made into motion pictures.



Republic occupying the major eastern section of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. Before 1940, few Jews settled in the Dominican Republic, and those who did assimilated rapidly. For a brief period, it became one of the bright spots on the darkening horizons of European Jewry. At a time when most nations were severely restricting immigration, Generalissimo Rafael Trujillo announced that the Dominican Republic would welcome Jewish refugees. Speaking at an intergovernmental conference on refugees at Evian, France, in 1938, Trujillo offered full economic assistance and “equality of opportunities and of civil, legal, and economic rights” to all colonists. A farm colony was immediately established at Sosua in the Dominican Republic, and plans were made for transferring refugees from Europe. The outbreak of World War II, however, interfered with the project. Communications were difficult, and Jews could not escape from the countries under Nazi domination. Only 1,200 managed to reach the Dominican Republic. Of these, some 300 stayed on after the end of World War II. The Jewish population today is 100, living in Santo Domingo and Sosua. There is one synagogue in each of these cities. The Jewish Congregation of the Dominican Republic is the central Jewish organization recognized by the government.


See Music.


See Stage and Screen.


See Hasidism.


Money or valuables provided by the bride’s family. It was practiced throughout Jewish history, and it is still mentioned in the Ketubah, or marriage contract, although for most Jews it has become merely a symbolic gesture.


See Stage and Screen.


See Hannukah.

DREYFUS, ALFRED (1859-1935).

The only Jewish officer on the French General Staff, he became the center of one of the most famous cases in legal history and a crucial point in the battle against antisemitism in the modern world. In 1894, a French court-martial convicted Dreyfus of treason on the basis of documents alleged to have been written in his hand. Two years later, fearing that the army would be discredited, the government suppressed evidence that Dreyfus was not guilty and that the real spy was Major Ferdinand Esterhazy, another member of the general staff. In 1897, however, the issue was brought into the open, and the case became the center of a conflict that embroiled French politics for a decade. Those who insisted on Dreyfus’s guilt were both politically reactionary and openly antisemitic; winning the majority of voters to their side, they vanquished the liberal forces in the elections of 1898. The following year, however, a new prime minister permitted a second trial. Because Dreyfus’s innocence was common knowledge, it was expected that he would be acquitted. Nevertheless, the court found him “guilty with extenuating circumstances,” and sentenced him to ten years’ imprisonment. Although he was pardoned by the President of France soon after, the battle for Dreyfus’s exoneration continued. Finally, in 1906, the Supreme Court of Appeals cleared the prisoner, and Dreyfus was reinstated as a major in the army. In 1998, the French government paid special tribute to Dreyfus and to his main defender, the celebrated writer Emile Zola.


See Annenberg Research Institute.


Followers of a religious sect which split from Islam in the 11th century. Most of them lived in Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Lebanon before coming to Palestine. The Druzes in Israel are loyal citizens of the Jewish state.

DUBINSKY, DAVID (1892-1982).

One of America’s great labor leaders, Dubinsky was leader of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union from 1932 to 1966, and an organizer of the Liberal Party in 1944.


See Maggid of Dubno.


Russian Jewish historian. Dubnow developed his own interpretation of Jewish history, claiming that the spiritual powers of the Jewish people and their unity were preserved by the organized Jewish community during the 2,000 years of the Dispersion. Dubnow believed that the unity of the Jewish people did not depend upon a national territory, nor upon an independent state. This unity was kept alive by communal organizations within whose framework Jewish culture and religion had continued to grow for 2,000 years after the Dispersion. He therefore believed in cultural autonomy and self-government for the Jewish communities. Dubnow’s theories of Jewish nationalism resulted in the formation of the Jewish Peoples Party in Russia in 1906. At the Versailles Peace Conference after World War I, Dubnow’s theory of Diaspora Nationalism motivated the demand for minority rights for Jews of Eastern Europe. Dubnow’s History of the Jews of Russia and Poland was translated into English, and has been of considerable influence on the writing of Jewish history. His general History of the Jewish People, in ten volumes, was published in 1901.


Hebrew poet in Spain who wrote both religious and secular verse. He introduced Arabic meter into Hebrew poetry and played an important role in the development of Hebrew grammar.


Ancient city near the Euphrates where the ruins of a synagogue built in 245 were discovered in 1932 with pictures showing biblical scenes.


See Music.