December 18, 2009

Looking Back

Published December 09, 2009, issue of December 18, 2009.
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100 Years Ago in the Forward

A young man by the name of Samuel Chapin committed suicide in New York’s Turkish Baths on 1st Street and Third Avenue. After taking a shvitz for about an hour, Chapin, who also lived on 1st Street, gave one of the employees a 50 cent tip, then got into one of the beds and asked to be awakened at midnight. After he was awakened, he got dressed and disappeared. The employees thought he had left, but his fully-clothed body was discovered the next morning, floating in the “plunge,” or cold pool. The reason for the suicide is unknown.

75 Years Ago in the Forward

The theater was packed, although not with the usual Yiddish theater crowd waiting to see a regular show. Most of the audience members were middle-aged and older, and there were about three times as many women as men. The women were dressed to the nines, and many of them had fancy furs hanging from their shoulders. Waiting for something special, the attendees got what they wanted when the curtain rose: For the first time in 25 years, Boris and Bessie Thomashefsky shared the stage. Performing in Leon Kobrin’s, “Di Farloyrene Gan-eden,” the couple drew their old fans into the theater for a nostalgic look at how Yiddish theater used to be. The fans were not disappointed.

50 Years Ago in the Forward

A storm of protest has blown up around Long Island University linguistics professor Eduard Sitler. After the professor recently made some antisemitic comments that he said he regretted, the university looked into his background and discovered that Sitler had given up his American citizenship to fight for the Nazis during the war. Although Sitler has already resigned from his post at the university, his application for repatriation to the United States is now under protest from veterans groups and others.

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