Red, White And Jewish
In honor of Independence Day: surprising, fun and downright weird
information about Jews and the United States.
ove over, Clint Eastwood. Eat your heart out, John Wayne.
-! America's first really big Western star came around long before
anyone had even heard of those two.
His stage name was Gilbert Anderson, and he was Jewish. (More on
this in a minute ...)
If you've had enough of the same old faces and facts (think Emma
Lazarus and Irving Berlin) when it comes to stories on Jews and our
contributions to America, then get ready. Here are some facts that are
going to knock your socks off.
America, makers of Tootsie Rolls,
were registered with the New York
Stock Exchange. Nine years later,
the company began making a new
taste treat called Tootsie Pops, a
lollipop filled with a Tootsie-Roll
Today, the Tootsie Roll is regard-
ed a national institution, and more
than 60 million are made each
day. The recipe has not changed
from Hirshfield's time.
A few more facts about the
• The total net sales for the
Tootsie Roll Industries Inc. in fis-
cal year 2002 was more than $393
• The company is the largest
supplier of lollipops in the world.
• World War II rations often
included Tootsie Rolls, valued
because they held up even in very
• Tootsie Roll Industries is now
headed by Ellen Gordon; when
named president in 1978, she was
only the second woman president
of a company listed on the New
York Stock Exchange.
• Despite rumors (and wishes)
to the contrary, Tootsie Rolls are
not certified kosher.
ive-hundred Westerns — now
that's a real man.
Today, not too many know
about Anderson (born Aaronson),
but the world of cowboys wouldn't
be the same without him.
Anderson was the man behind
Branch() Billy, a rugged, but kind-
ly cowboy, an outlaw who always
needed the love of a good woman.
"Billy" became a star for Essanay
Films, where he made more than
500 Westerns, from 1907-1917.
His classics include Broncho Billy
and the Baby and Broncho Billy
and the Greaser.
And yep, pardner, Billy really
did ride off in the sunset in many
of those films.
rthodox Rabbi Tobias Geffen
knows the secret.
Coca-Cola has been an
since it went on the
market in 1886.
Since then, the
exact ingredients of
Coke have remained
a secret to all but a
few, among them Rabbi Geffen.
A native of Lithuania, he came
in 1903 to the United States,
where he served as rabbi of
Congregation Shearith Israel in
Atlanta. Everybody, but everybody
in Atlanta wanted the Real Thing
— and that included observant
But was it kosher? Rabbi Geffen
contacted the Coca-Cola Co.,
requesting its elusive recipe to see
whether the drink might indeed
The Coke hierarchy met and
agreed to let the rabbi in on the
secret providing he promised he
would never reveal the ingredients.
He agreed. There was a problem.
A tiny amount of a beef product
could be found in Coke. It was, of
course, taken from cows that had
not been killed according to the
laws of kashrut, rendering the
drink treif(not kosher).
So, researchers at Coke went
back to the drawing board.
Eventually, they found a substi-
Today, not only is Coke kosher,
the company makes special bottles
that are kosher for Passover.
ntil Leo Hirshfield came
along, the most-popular
Tootsie was the song, "Toot Toot
In 1896, Hirshfield, an Austrian
immigrant, made his way to the
United States. With him, he
brought a few suitcases, his family
and a favorite recipe for a choco-
late candy. Soon after settling in
New York City, Hirshfield opened
a factory where he produced the
candy that he called Tootsie Rolls,
in honor of his daughter, whose
nickname was Tootsie.
By 1922, Sweets Co. of
ed alert. As most people know,
the American Red Cross was
founded by Clara Barton.
But did you know that her top
aide was Adolphus Simeon
Solomons (1826-1910) was a
New York publisher who also was
active in politics. He served as first
vice president of the American
Association of the Red Cross.
alk about a good fit.Thanks to
Levi Strauss, men and women
throughout the world have some-
thing sturdy, hip and easy to
wear every day.
Now, meet Steve Varona.
Varona is co-founder of
Jewish Jeans. The company
(which also makes T-shirts
bearing the Jewish Jeans logo
and a Star of David) is not
just a business. According to
Varona, Jewish Jeans is dedicated to
promoting "positive global Jewish
awareness and pride." Check it out
lioudini's successor? First came
AA Houdini, then David
Copperfield and now David Blaine.
Probably the best-known magi-
cian in America today, Blaine is
famous for his weird, but com-
pelling tricks, like standing atop
flagpoles and inside blocks of ice.
Blaine was born in 1973 and is
the son of a Puerto Rican gentile
Ether (with whom Blaine has no
contact) and a Russian-Jewish
mother, Patrice White, who died
from cancer in 1994.
RED, WHITE & JEWS on page 48