April 3, 2009

Looking Back

Published March 25, 2009, issue of April 03, 2009.
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100 Years Ago in the forward

The world’s most beloved German-language actor, Adolf Sonenthal, has died of an apoplectic fit in Prague at the age of 75. Born in Budapest to a family of Jewish fabric merchants, Sonenthal grew up in that city’s Jewish quarter. Although he received a good education, Sonenthal was drawn to the theater, and this troubled his parents greatly. They convinced him to go to the university, but his studies ended in the wake of the 1848 European Revolutions, which ruined his family financially. Though Sonenthal ended up having to work as a tailor’s assistant, he remained interested in theater and attended performances as often as he could. In 1850, he traveled to Vienna and managed to finagle small roles. His talent was recognized, and quickly he became a star. He was considered to be a theatrical genius, the greatest actor the German stage ever saw.

75 Years Ago in the forward

The 170 Jewish prisoners in the Northeastern Penitentiary, the new federal prison in Pennsylvania, have gone on a hunger strike to protest the scandal surrounding an attempt to provide them with special food for Passover. Jewish organizations typically provide Jewish prisoners with holiday foods and arrange Seders for them. This year, however, the Federal Prison Administration has forbidden delivery of food from private sources. After a failed protest by the prison chaplain, the warden arranged for matzot to be purchased by the prison itself, with its own funds. As a result, the Christian prisoners protested and complained that Jewish prisoners were getting special treatment. A riot broke out in the dining hall after the protesters set upon the Jewish prisoners. After all that’s been said and done, the Jewish prisoners have decided to fast rather than take the prison-bought matzot.

50 Years Ago in the forward

In the wake of a false alarm that briefly put Israel on war footing and caused the recent mobilization of its army reserves, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion ordered the creation of a special committee to investigate why the false alarm occurred. While an announcement was made an hour after the mobilization, declaring it a false alarm, it was cause for great concern to the prime minister, who was attending a concert in Tel Aviv in honor of the Belgian queen mother, Elizabeth. Although Finance Minister Levi Eshkol apologized for the error in the Knesset, the opposition, unamused, called for a full investigation.

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