c 1245 BCE- According to one opinion, the last of the elders, who were contemporaries of Joshua and outlived him, were dead on this date. They were part of the unbroken chain of Torah transmission as listed at the beginning of the Ethics of the Fathers: Moshe received the Torah from Sinai and gave it over to Joshua. Joshua gave it over to the Zekeinim, the Zekeinim to the prophets" who continued the chain of the Torah transmission.
Jan. 26, 1654- According to the terms of the capitulation protocol of January 26, 1654, Portugal which recently regained control of Brazil from the Dutch decreed that Jewish and Dutch settlers had three months to leave Brazil. Approximately 150 Jewish families of Portuguese descent fled the Brazilian city of Recife, in the state of Pernambuco. By September, twenty-three of these refugees had established the first community of Jews in New Amsterdam.
Jan. 27, 1969- Nine Jews were publicly executed in Damascus, Syria.
Feb. 6, 1960- Jonas E. Salk finalized a proposal to build the Salk Institute for Biological Studies near San Diego. Salk (1914-1995) had achieved fame as the physician who discovered the first polio vaccine while working at the University of Pittsburgh. Polio was a widely-feared disease that caused paralysis and oftentimes death. A polio outbreak in 1916 left 6,000 Americans dead and 27,000 paralyzed. (President Franklin Roosevelt had contracted polio at age 39.)
In 1952, some 57,000 cases of polio were recorded in the U.S. After the vaccine became available, the numbers dropped by 90% in two years. (Another Jew, Dr. Albert Sabin, developed the first oral polio vaccine.) Since its founding, Salk's Institute has focused on molecular biology and genetics, and has trained more than 2,000 scientists including numerous Nobel Laureates.