February 20, 2009

Looking Back

Published February 11, 2009, issue of February 20, 2009.
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100 Years Ago In the Forward

Reports from Turkey indicate that Jews are suffering pogromlike attacks on their communities — not on the part of Muslims, but perpetrated by Christians. This all began a few weeks ago, in the wake of an election for governor in the Janina region of Turkey. The Christians fielded one of their own to oppose the candidate of the Young Turks. Apparently, the majority of the Jewish community voted for the Young Turks, and after the Christian candidate lost, attacks were perpetrated against the Jews. Six young Jews were kidnapped, with no trace of them to be found. No one knew what happened to them — until a sack full of hacked-off ears and fingers was found sitting in the middle of the Janina Synagogue, one of the oldest in the world. A note that accompanied the bag threatened the Jews that if they did not vote for the Christian, there would be more murders.

75 Years Ago In the Forward

Police arrested famed racketeer Dutch Schultz in a Manhattan penthouse on East 98th Street, a location that appears to have served as the “bank” for a large-scale, illegal gambling operation, known as the numbers racket, that included slot machines and policy slips. Schultz, who is alleged to be the boss of the entire operation, was taken into custody. The police estimate that Schultz’s operation alone rakes in more than $60 million per year. The kind of gambling that Schultz’s numbers racket offers is incredibly widespread and employs hundreds of people who sell “policy slips” all over the city. Recently, it has become popular in offices, and everyone — from the boss to the mailroom boys — plays the numbers.

50 Years Ago In the Forward

The Forward’s Chicago edition reported an interesting story about a woman who bought herself a plot in the cemetery and a tombstone, as well, which was completely filled out except for the date of death. This aspect is not so unusual. What was somewhat odd, however, was her demand that on her 100th birthday, a party be held in her honor in the cemetery, on the very plot in which she would be buried. And in fact, it came to pass that when she turned 100, a table full of food was set up on her future grave, musicians were brought in and all over, her friends and relatives celebrated as she danced around her grave.

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