Looking Back April 14, 2006

Published April 14, 2006, issue of April 14, 2006.
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All Jewish immigrants in New York know there are circumstances that force those in transit to remain in custody on Ellis Island for certain periods of time. Sometimes it is because they are ill, other times it is due to the fact that they do not have enough money or that there is no one to pick them up. This week, more than 150 of these immigrants stuck on Ellis Island participated in a Passover Seder. This celebration of freedom held great meaning for them, since they are now rid of Russia and know that tomorrow, they will be in the land of the free.


There is only one city in the world that has the right to call itself a “Jewish” city. Jewish workers built this city with their own hands; Jews live in all the houses, and all the business belong to Jews; all the children who go to this city’s schools are Jewish. The streets there are named after famous Jews and Jewish institutions. There’s a Herzl Street, a Rothschild Street, even Sholem Aleichem and Mendele Moykher Sforim Streets. There are streets named after such famous Jewish newspapers HaShahar and Ha-Magid. There’s even one street named after a writer who is still alive: Bialik Street. One can sometimes find him walking down the block to his house. If you haven’t guessed the city, it’s Tel Aviv.

American journalist Eva Garrett-Grady was deported from the Soviet Union for telling a Jewish joke about Stalin. Grady, who is not Jewish, published a report on the USSR in a recent issue of The Saturday Evening Post under the title “See Russia and Die From Laughter,” in which she told the following joke:

One day at the beach, a Jewish boy saw a man drowning. The boy jumped into the rough waters and saved the man. The drowning man turned out to be Joseph Stalin, who told the boy he would give him anything he wanted. The boy thought for a moment and said, “I want you shouldn’t tell anyone I saved you.”

Grady said that the joke is one of the most popular in Moscow these days.


In accordance with Warsaw Radio’s announcement that “Stalin was insane,” more and more news is leaking out of the USSR on the terrible tragedy that has befallen Jewish life there. Even communist newspaper Morgn Frayhayt finally has published the news, already known to all, of the Soviet destruction of Jewish culture and the murders of many of the top Yiddish writers. Just weeks ago, when the Forward broke the news on these murders, the Frayhayt called the story an outright lie. But now that the official communist line is to blame Stalin and admit his “mistakes,” the Frayhayt appears to be following its usual master.

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