Stephanie Call, MS

“The Hero of Dear Old Halifax”: The Massachusetts Relief Effort Following the Halifax Explosion of 1917

On Dec. 6, 1917, a collision in Halifax Harbor caused the largest man-made explosion to date. Nearly 2,000 people were killed and 9,000 injured. One-hundred years later, many Bostonians are aware of the city’s role in the relief efforts following the blast—the reason why Halifax gifts Boston with its official Christmas tree each year.

Yet very few know about the Massachusetts men and women who were instrumental to those endeavors. One of those individuals was Abraham C. Ratshesky, the son of Jewish immigrants and commissioner-in-charge of the Halifax Relief Expedition, who, within two weeks, became a hero to the citizens of Halifax and Boston. Learn about Ratshesky’s leadership in the relief efforts and his philanthropic legacy that continues to this day.

Stephanie Call, MS

Stephanie Call, MS, ( is Associate Director of Archives and Education at the Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center at New England Historic Genealogical Society (

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