Jewish Gangster Lured to Revenge Shooting at Restaurant on E. 14th Street

Rabbi Accused of Peddling Opium, Anti-Semitism Rages

Dance Company: The Henry Street Settlement House, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, provided dance classes to recent Jewish immigrants to help them Americanize.
Forward Association
Dance Company: The Henry Street Settlement House, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, provided dance classes to recent Jewish immigrants to help them Americanize.

By Eddy Portnoy

Published August 03, 2013, issue of August 09, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Forward Looking Back brings you the stories that were making news in the Forward’s Yiddish paper 100, 75, and 50 years ago. Check back each week for a new set of illuminating, edifying and sometimes wacky clippings from the Jewish past.

1913 •100 years ago

Gangster Billy Lustig Shot

New York City Police suspect that a young woman named Tessie Harris lured Velvl “Billy” Lustig, a Lower East Side gangster, to Humpty Jackson’s 14th Street restaurant. Once Lustig was seated, three men approached him; they all pulled out revolvers and began shooting at Lustig. Hit three times, Lustig survived; he is currently recovering at Bellevue Hospital, where he has told the police not only that Harris had nothing to do with the attack, but also that he himself doesn’t even know who the three shooters are or who sent them. The gunmen, who made their escape through the rear of the restaurant, where a black sedan was waiting to help them, all left their revolvers on the sidewalk. Though the police don’t have any solid leads, they believe that the Lustig shooting is related to last month’s murder of a gangster, Max Levine, on 14th Street.

1938 •75 years ago

Rabbi Busted for Smuggling Opium

The Parisian press is ablaze with a sensational story about a “Grand Rabbi” from Brooklyn by the name of Isaac Laufer who was arrested recently for attempting to smuggle opium in the spines of large numbers of Jewish holy books, among them siddurim, machzorim and Talmuds. The “rabbi” and one of his assistants requested of a Parisian bookbinder that he hollow out the spines of all these texts so that the rabbi could insert bags of what he called “earth from the Land of Israel” but was, in reality, heroin. The French press has been full of stories about Laufer and, in fact, did its homework and discovered that he is not actually a rabbi. He is, however, fanatically religious and is known by local Jews to complain about the irreligiosity of Parisian Jews, especially the religious ones.

1963 •50 years ago

Anti-Semitism in the USSR

A few days after returning from a trip to the Soviet Union, W. Averell Harriman, America’s undersecretary of state, said that the government would do what it could to convince the Soviets to give its Jewish citizens the right to free emigration, although he added that he wasn’t sure if it was possible. He noted that anti-Semitism is still a problem in the USSR, and even though life there is a bit easier since the death of Stalin, Jews still face very much discrimination. Harriman added that in order to fight Soviet anti-Semitism, it is of value to expose it as much as possible to the wider world so that popular opinion would pressure the Soviets to change their policies.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • "A few decades ago, it would have been easy to add Jews to that list of disempowered victims. I could throw in Leo Frank, the victim of mob justice; or otherwise privileged Jewish men denied entrance to elite universities. These days, however, we have to search a lot harder." Are you worried about what's going in on #Ferguson?
  • Will you accept the challenge?
  • In the six years since Dothan launched its relocation program, 8 families have made the jump — but will they stay? We went there to find out:
  • "Jewish Israelis and West Bank Palestinians are witnessing — and living — two very different wars." Naomi Zeveloff's first on-the-ground dispatch from Israel:
  • This deserves a whistle: Lauren Bacall's stylish wardrobe is getting its own museum exhibit at Fashion Institute of Technology.
  • How do you make people laugh when they're fighting on the front lines or ducking bombs?
  • "Hamas and others have dredged up passages form the Quran that demonize Jews horribly. Some imams rail about international Jewish conspiracies. But they’d have a much smaller audience for their ravings if Israel could find a way to lower the flames in the conflict." Do you agree with J.J. Goldberg?
  • How did Tariq Abu Khdeir go from fun-loving Palestinian-American teen to international icon in just a few short weeks? http://jd.fo/d4kkV
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.