Two Families and One Lifeboat

Getting to Truth of Titanic Story About Selfless Act

Survivors: Above, from the pages of the Forverts, a photo of 10 Jewish women and children who were taken in by the Hospitality Society. At center is Beile Moor and her son, Meier, 7.
FORWARD ASSOCIATION/dorot jewish division, NYPL
Survivors: Above, from the pages of the Forverts, a photo of 10 Jewish women and children who were taken in by the Hospitality Society. At center is Beile Moor and her son, Meier, 7.

By Michael Hirsch

Published April 11, 2012, issue of April 13, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 2)

In 2005, Joan Adler, an archivist who serves as executive director of the Straus Historical Society, contacted Meyer Moore’s son Carl about an article she was researching for the Straus family newsletter. During the course of their discussions, Carl Moore became convinced that the wealthy woman who had given up her seat in the lifeboat was Ida Straus, the wife of R.H. Macy & Co. owner Isidor Straus. Ida Straus famously decided to stay by her husband’s side, declaring, “We have been living together for many years. Where you go, I go.” Isidor, too, refused to enter a lifeboat while other men remained on board, and both perished when the Titanic sank.

Carl Moore’s ex-wife, Linda Moore, who is vice president for academic affairs at Emerson College in Boston, also believes in the Moor-Straus connection. A number of years ago, at a meeting of the International Council of Fine Arts Deans in Pittsburgh, Linda Moore had a chance to speak with John Wendell Straus, a grandson of Ida and Isidor Straus’s. She told him that if it had not been for his grandmother’s sacrifice, her children might not have been born. She said John Straus asked a question that moved her deeply: “Are they good people?”

Meier Moor, later known as Meyer Moore, with his wife, Henrietta, and grandchildren, Christopher and Lee Elizabeth Moore in 1974.
Courtesy of Linda Moore
Meier Moor, later known as Meyer Moore, with his wife, Henrietta, and grandchildren, Christopher and Lee Elizabeth Moore in 1974.

She had reason to answer yes. Her son, Christopher Moore, is an associate professor of neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and her daughter, Lee Moore, is a newly ordained rabbi and senior Jewish educator for Hillel at Kent State University in Ohio.

The connection between the Moores and the Strauses is a touching tale but, sadly, one that is likely not true. Multiple eyewitness accounts by survivors, along with inquest testimony and the records from the Carpathia, make it very unlikely that Beile Moor and Ida Straus crossed paths during that critical hour in their lives.

Beile Moor and her son reached the safety of the Carpathia via the Titanic’s lifeboat No. 14, which was located near the rear of the ship on her port side. That lifeboat was lowered at about 1:30 a.m.

According to many eyewitnesses, the drama of the Strauses’ last hour played out near lifeboat No. 8 and other lifeboats near it. Those crafts were situated near the front of the ship on her port side. It was there that Ida Straus first refused to leave her husband’s side.

Eyewitnesses said that the Strauses were still on board the doomed vessel, standing near that same area of the boat deck, when some of the last lifeboats were being lowered at about 1:45 a.m. It was one of those boats that Isidor Straus desperately attempted to persuade his wife to enter, and it was in that location of the ship that the two were last seen.

(Ida Straus was not the only first-class female passenger to die after forgoing the safety of a lifeboat. Another woman, Bessie Waldo Allison, abruptly gave up her spot when she learned that her husband and son were boarding a boat on the Titanic’s starboard side. Allison, the wife of a wealthy Montreal stockbroker, may have been in a rear, port-side lifeboat when this took place.)

Speaking by phone from her office in Boston, Linda Moore said that the new revelation is disappointing but does not change, in the least, her opinion or feelings about Bella Moor. “She was an incredibly strong woman,” Moore said, “whose courage and ingenuity a century ago in saving herself and her son made possible the two wonderful, productive and successful children [I have] today.”

Moore said that she and her daughter — who recently made “Bella” her Hebrew name — remain committed to knowing and preserving the true story of Bella Moore, a remarkable Jewish woman from Russia who survived war, persecution and history’s most notorious maritime disaster to make a new and better life for herself, her son and all who came after them. Of this, there is no doubt at all.

Contact Michael Hirsch at feedback@forward.com


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "Despite the great pain and sadness surrounding a captured soldier, this should not shape the face of this particular conflict – not in making concessions and not in negotiations, not in sobering assessments of this operation’s achievements or the need to either retreat or move forward." Do you agree?
  • Why genocide is always wrong, period. And the fact that some are talking about it shows just how much damage the war in Gaza has already done.
  • Construction workers found a 75-year-old deli sign behind a closing Harlem bodega earlier this month. Should it be preserved?
  • "The painful irony in Israel’s current dilemma is that it has been here before." Read J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis of the conflict:
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.