A Memphian in Hebron: 90 Years Since the 1929 Massacre

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Desecrated synagogue, Hebron 1929

This Monday, 18th of Av (August 19, 2019) will mark 90 years since the Hebron Massacre of 1929, part of a wave of riots that swept the Jewish yishuv in Eretz Yisrael in the Summer of the Hebrew year 5689. On that fateful Shabbat, 67 unarmed Jews were murdered by frenzied Arab mobs. Among those martyrs were 26 students of Hebron’s Yeshivat Knesset Yisrael. That institution had been established in 1924 as a branch of the famed Slabodka Yeshiva, located just outside of Kovna, Lithuania.

Among the Yeshiva’s victims was a brilliant young native of Memphis, Tennessee, named Aharon Dovid (Dave) Shainberg, hy”d. While studying in Hebron in 1928-1929, Dave carefully observed all that was going on around him, and kept his parents and family posted via the detailed hand-written letters which he regularly mailed home.

With the permission of Shainberg’s family, Tradition recently published excerpts of six of his fascinating letters (51:2, Spring 2019), prepared by Akiva Males, rabbi of the Young Israel of Memphis. His correspondence contains many important historical accounts of a young American yeshiva student, such as: The volatile climate surrounding Jerusalem’s Western Wall, daily life in Hebron during that period, an account of student life in the Hebron Yeshiva, a vivid description of a celebratory Hebron Yeshiva wedding, and more.

Dave and his fellow victims were cut down in the prime of their lives. May their souls be bound up in the bond of eternal life. Read Rabbi Males’ article and the 1929 letters in “When a Memphian Thrived in Hebron: The Letters of Aharon Dovid Shainberg.”

Published on Aug 14, 2019


  1. Rabbi Akiva Males says:

    Slight correction to one of the links listed above: Dave Shainberg, hy”d, was buried in Chevron together with the other Jews who were murdered in the massacre.

    The ‘find a grave’ link which states that he was buried in Memphis is incorrect. While a monument was set up for him in Memphis’ Baron Hirsch cemetery, it is just memorial monument, not a grave marker.

  2. Thank you for this important article. For a full list of the victims click here: http://en.hebron.org.il/history/520

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