Jewish reactions to Pearl Harbor


On the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the JTA Archive Blog offers a select list of events surrounding the attack on Pearl Harbor.


  • Immediately following the attack on Pearl Harbor, a number of Jewish organizations in the U.S. and England pledge their support to Roosevelt. Hebrew University president Judah Magnes sends a cable to the White House, telling Roosevelt, "I and my three sons put ourselves in your service and at your disposal."

  • One week after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Sherman Levine, an 18-year-old private from Chicago, posthumously honored with the Purple Heart award for heroism displayed that day.

  • Concern regarding the fate of Jews in Japanese-controlled lands. Meanwhile, two JDC representatives and a group of rabbis are marooned in Shanghai, as are 50 Polish refugee families with Australian passports.

  • FBI rounds up 400 Italian and German aliens, reviving a debate in Congress of internment camps. In the month before Pearl Harbor attack, Congress rejected the "Concentration Camp bill" by a vote of 167 to 141. Separately, boats from Portugal carrying European refugees scheduled to continue and recent refugees advised not to take unnecessary vacation.

  • On the eve of Pearl Harbor, the Jewish War Veterans adopted a resolution urging that a naval destroyer be named after Uriah P. Levy, the first Jewish commodore in the U.S. Navy. 

  • Anti-Semitic accusations blaming Jews for the outbreak of war with Japan levied in Germany and Mexico.

  • In 1958, Two Japanese university professors involved in the attack on Pearl Harbor are reportedly leading a group of 8,000 Japanese converts to Judaism.

For more Pearl Harbor events concerning Jews, see our chronological list.

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