April 15, 2005

Published April 15, 2005, issue of April 15, 2005.
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100 YEARS AGO

• A new decree has been leveled against the Jews of Moscow. Affecting the small number of Jews who had painstakingly obtained the right to live in the city, the new law states that although these Jews have the right to remain there, their children do not. It is obvious that these parents cannot simply send their young children away, and so the law is causing a de facto forced exodus of Jews from Moscow. In related news, huge placards have gone up in many of Russia’s southern cities, among them Odessa, Zhitomir, and Balta. On the placards was written, “Down with the Jews, long live the Tsar” and they called for all Russians to rid themselves of foreign “bloodsuckers,” including Jews, Armenians, Georgians and Poles.

75 YEARS AGO

• Each year before Passover, the Feinsilver Steel Company, through the synagogue at 79 Willetts St., gives out donations of matzos and cash to the needy Jews on the Lower East Side. This year, however, on account of the Depression, 4,000 to 5,000 Jews began lining up outside the synagogue early in the morning. The distribution of the matzos was moving too slowly for some in the line, who tried to break into the synagogue’s basement and bypass the synagogue officials, who were doling out the goods. As a result, a riot broke out forcing the police to send in reinforcements to control the crowd. Similar long lines of unemployed Jews trying to get free matzos were reported all over the city.

• In an interview published this week, well-known writer Henry Louis Mencken said he was not an antisemite. He tried to explain what he meant when he wrote in his new book that “Jews are the most unpleasant people in the world.” Mencken stated that he most hates “professional Jews,” meaning those “whose main purpose is to defend the Jewish people,” but who really do it because they’re paid to. “There are too many parasites among the Jews,” Mencken said, “who constantly argue their uniqueness.” He added that this phenomenon doesn’t exist among the German or Sephardic Jews. “The Jews I like,” he continued, “are those who aren’t Jewish at all.”

50 YEARS AGO

• A banner headline announces “a victory for all mothers, fathers and children.” Reports from the University of Michigan indicate that tests of Dr. Jonas Salk’s vaccine against polio show a nearly 90% success rate. In the coming days, tens of millions of children will be receiving polio vaccinations and it is hoped that polio finally will be eradicated. Upon hearing the news, Dr. Salk’s mother cried with joy. His father, a recently retired ladies clothes designer, said: “I’m not surprised. When my Jonas does something, he does it right.” Mrs. Salk added, “When I heard that he injected his own children, I already knew it was all right — I didn’t have to wait for the other doctors’ report.”






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