Looking Back April 28, 2006

Published April 28, 2006, issue of April 28, 2006.
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“Freedom is the Jews’ messiah,” said Russian writer Maksim Gorky, who is currently in New York. In a speech at the Grand Palais coliseum, Gorky described the importance of the Jews to the Russian revolutionary movement and how the Russian government has fomented antisemitism. He said that it was easier for the government to bury a people than to educate it. Gorky explained that for many years, the Russian dictators have exploited the peasants and tried to instill in them hatred for the Jews. While there are many pogroms still occurring, Gorky said that freedom would reign eventually for the Jews and for all of Russia.


War has broken out on New York City’s Lower East Side between kosher and treyf butchers. This conflict has spilled out of the narrow confines of Orchard Street, where it began, and is now raging in other nearby territories, including Ludlow, Rivington and Stanton Streets. The battle started over the issue of stores being open Sundays, which some butchers wanted and others didn’t. This escalated to include a price war: Kosher butchers began to slash prices, and the treyf butchers responded by opening their shops Sundays. It may come as a surprise, but all the players in this theater of war are Jews: the kosher butchers, the treyf butchers and nearly all the customers.

One of the most famous Yiddish literary cafés has closed its doors for good. Sholem’s Café, located in New York City on Division Street, was renowned for the motley collection of Yiddish writers, journalists, poets and playwrights who sat at its tables, sipping tea by day and by night. Furious arguments and debates took place there about literature, politics and ideologies. It was a place where you could see Shaul Yanovski, editor of the anarchist newspaper Fraye Arbeter Shtime, shoot dice and talk about anarchism. Sholem Asch would come in looking like he wanted to leave, and then he’d stay all day, moving from table to table. Sholem’s Café was one of the central meeting points for Yiddish literary figures, and many a new talent was discovered there.


Seventy-seven Egyptian Jews have been arrested on charges that they falsified official documents and that they smuggled Zionists into the country. Egyptian prosecutors also accused the 77 of being Zionists. Prosecutors said that the Jews had planned to falsify birth certificates in order to obtain Egyptian passports for foreign Zionists. An announcement from the prosecutor’s office said that some of the Jews confessed under questioning. The group is being held without bail, and no announcement of a trial has been made yet.

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