Who were the Jews of the Titanic?

Watch of Jew who died on the Titanic sold at auction. Dozens of other Jews were on the ship. Who were they and what were they doing there?

Tags: Jews Titanic
Shimon Cohen ,

Ocean liner
Ocean liner

Last weekend, the pocket watch of Sinai Kantor, a Jew who was on the Titanic when it sank, was sold at auction. The watch includes Hebrew letters and an engraving of Moses with the Ten Commandments. On the occasion of the auctioning of the special watch, Arutz Sheva spoke with Eli Moskowitz, author of “The Jews of the Titanic,” who explained who these Jews were and what exactly they were doing on the legendary ship.

To "introduce" the Jews of the Titanic in general in addition to Sinai Kantor, the owner of the watch in question, Moskowitz gave a brief background of the events of the period. "The Titanic sank in 1912, but already fifty years before, the Jews suffered pogroms and anti-Semitism mainly in Eastern Europe, and waves of immigration began from the Russian Empire to Western Europe, mainly England and France - and at some point, to the United States, as well."

“The period between 1880 and 1921 was called the period of the great immigration of European Jews to the US. More than two million Jews fled from anti-Semitism, pogroms and forced conscription into the Russian army and arrived in the United States - and there were also dozens of such Jews on the Titanic. "

"There were 2,228 people on board the ship, and the ship was not fully occupied, which could have included more than 3,000 people," Moskowitz continued. "The ship had a first class for the richest, a second class of various professions, and another class of ordinary people, the poorer."

“On the ship were multi-millionaires, some of whom drowned and some of whom were saved. Among the Jews, the second wealthiest person on board the ship was the Jew Benjamin Gogelheim, and he also drowned and was killed.” Moskowitz's words indicate that, contrary to what is commonly assumed, the ship was not only used for the enjoyment of the very richest. “Some of those on board were wealthy, such as Isidore Strauss, who was returning with his wife from a vacation in Europe to the United States, but there were also poor people who bought a one-way ticket to escape the pogroms.” Out of these poorer travelers “There are about 80 names of people who were for certain Jews, but my research indicates that there were even more Jews, because some sailed under false names because they had fled and forged documents. We cannot know the names of the Jews who were on the Titanic. Many of them died anonymously and we will not know their real names. "

As for Sinai Kantor himself, "He belonged to the second class on the ship. He and his wife Miriam were involved in the medical field and wanted to study medicine in the United States. They sailed together from Eastern Europe. From the findings we have of him, even before the watch was known about, it is known that they were religiously observant of Judaism. His body was found and he is buried in a Jewish cemetery in New York. There is Hebrew on the gravestone, which indicates his level of Jewish piety. Not all the Jews who drowned in the Titanic were buried in Jewish cemeteries. "

"His wife survived when she entered the No. 12 lifeboat at about 1:30 am. She came to the United States with language difficulties and people helped her. She received funding from the Red Cross and other charitable organizations and received a scholarship to complete the dream of medical education."

As for the watch itself, Moskowitz said, "I knew about the existence of the watch because every body that was found was recorded before it was buried. There was a list of what he wore and what was found on him, the condition of his teeth, hair, etc. He had personal documents, a telescope and a watch. I noted this in the book without giving special attention to the watch, but now I read an explosive headline that the watch was in the depths of the ocean, but this is not correct. The watch did not sink. It was found on the body, which floated. The body was brought to Canada and from there to New York, where his wife was. The watch was in the family’s possession all these years and, for an unknown reason, they decided to sell it now.”