Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

Jewish Hall of Fame: Daniel Auster

In honor of celebrating 66 years of Israeli independence, we look at the acting mayor of Jerusalem when it became part of the State of Israel

By: Caitlin Marceau

Published: May 7th, 2014 in News » Israel

Jewish Hall of Fame: Daniel Auster

Since the dawn of time, Jewish people have contributed greatly to various fields, from sports to entertainment to politics to porn. With our Breakthrough Jew feature, we recognize those who are up and comers in these various industries, identifying those great innovators and leaders in the contemporary world who are making a mark on society that will last a lifetime.

With the Jewish Hall of Fame, we recognize the remarkable advancements members of our community have made on today’s society. These are people who have truly changed the world, and have earned the respect and praise of the members of today’s younger generation.

ShalomLife’s Jewish Hall of Fame is our ongoing tribute to the greatest Jews who have ever lived; be sure to catch us weekly with our latest inductees, and tweet us @ShalomLife with your suggestions.

Check out last week’s inductee into the Hall of Fame here.

Hall of Fame Member: Daniel Auster

Born: May 7th, 1893, Stanislav (which, at the time, was Western Galicia)

Died: January 15th, 1963, Jerusalem

Famous For: Being the Mayor of Jerusalem during the end of the Mandatory Palestine, and the first Mayor of Jerusalem post Israeli independence.

With Israeli Independence Day coming to a close, it’s important to remember the people who made the dream of a united, free and independent Israel possible. When long ago the Zionist movement was just a dream for doe-eyed believers, some, like Daniel Auster, never gave up believing in the possibility of an independent Jewish homeland.

After the first World War, Palestine was under civil administration by the United Kingdom from 1920 until 1948. While many opposed foreign rule, Palestine’s occupation was approved by the League of Nations in 1922. They believed that territories no longer under control of the fallen Ottoman Empire needed guidance during the post-war era. During May of 1948, only eight hours before the British rule over Palestine was to be lifted, Israel was granted its independence. It was because of men and women, like Daniel Auster, who never abandoned their convictions or hopes that Israeli national independence was possible.

While not much is known about Daniel Auster’s childhood, we do know that he was born on May the 7th, 1893 in Stanislav (which was considered to be Western Galicia during that time). He attended the University of Vienna and graduated in 1914 with a degree in law. Upon completion of his degree he traveled to Israel, having been a true Zionist from an early age, to explore the Holy Land and decided on his trip that he would stay there afterwards. Unfortunately, the first World War began shortly after and Auster was forced to fight for the Austrian army.

Upon his return home from the war Auster relocated to Jerusalem. This was to be the city he would dedicate his life to and the city that would be his home until his death on January 15th, 1963. After the war, Auster opened a law firm in Jerusalem while simultaneously working for the Zionist Commission. This would be where Auster was able to freely pursuit his dream of seeing an independent Jewish homeland. From here he branched out and began to work for the General Zionist Party, representing them in Jerusalem, and even going so far as to represent them at the Zionist Congress.

In Jerusalem, during 1934, the city was comprised of a Jewish majority and an Arab minority. Traditionally, and historically, the Mayor and city council members appointed were Muslim Arabs despite Jerusalem having been predominantly Jewish for years. Yet in this revolutionary year, the British deemed it important that there be an equal number of Jews and Arabs on the council and that a deputy Mayor would be selected from each pool of candidates. In 1935, Auster was elected deputy Mayor amongst his Jewish colleagues, while Hussein al-Khalidi was selected amongst his.

The job wasn’t an easy one.

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