January 5, 1637- The Catholic Church in Recife, Brazil closed Recife's two shuls. (The others in 1638).
January 12, 1871- A new German constitution gives German Jews full legal equality.
December 23, 1888- Death of Laurence Oliphant, (1829 - 1888), a British MP and world member of Chovevei Zion (The Lovers of Zion), who suggested establishing agricultural Jewish settlements in Eretz Yisrael. He contacted the Turkish authorities and in 1880 published a book, "Eretz HaGilad" (The Land of Gilead - Hebrew translation by Nahum Sokolow as Eretz Chemdah, 1886), in which he called for the establishment of a Jewish region in the north of Transjordan.
The Turks were not interested.
January 13, 1898- "J' Accuse" by Emile Zola was published regarding the Dreyfus trial. In defense of the French Jewish captain Dreyfus, Zola claimed that the French military leaders were making him into a scapegoat.
December 29, 1901- The Jewish National fund was established. In 1901, the Jewish National Fund was founded for the purpose of purchasing settlement land in Israel.
JNF had the idea of placing a collection box in every Jewish home, and by the 1920s about one million of the famous "Blue Boxes" were in Jewish homes throughout the world. Besides purchasing land throughout Israel, JNF expanded into afforestation, water projects, agricultural innovation, roadworks, schools, and immigrant services. JNF operates under the principle that the Land of Israel belongs to the entire Jewish people; based on this, the Israeli Knesset later adopted a law stating that JNF lands cannot be sold, but only leased for periods of 49 years at a time.
Over the past century, JNF has planted over 220 million trees throughout Israel -- the only nation in the world to end the 20th century with more trees than it had at the beginning.
January 3, 2002- Israel captures Karine-A, a ship laden with 50 tons of weapons from Iran bound for the Palestinian Authority.