March 19, 2004

Published March 19, 2004, issue of March 19, 2004.
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100 YEARS AGO

• A terrible commotion occurred during a performance in the American Theater after a gunman shot at some of the actors onstage from Box C. The two shots caused a panic in the packed theater. The unidentified gunman, whose motives are unknown, immediately disappeared. Coincidentally, Yiddish-theater actor and director Jacob Adler was sitting in the box next to the shooter and was the only theatergoer to get a look at him. Adler described him as “pale and thin, with a black moustache and iron-gray hair.” To quiet the threat of a possible stampede following the shots, Adler helped to calm the hysterical crowd.

75 YEARS AGO

• Poland’s leader, Marshal Pilsudski, has good relations with Jews and many Jewish supporters. His first wife was Jewish. But, in a recent interview with Danish reporter Karin Michaelis, Pilsudski declared that “there are too many Jews in Poland.” Among the Polish leader’s complaints are that the majority of Jews are sickly and too weak to engage in productive labor. He then said that the Jews are “useless” when it comes to agricultural pursuits. When Michaelis told Pilsudski that Jewish immigrants to Denmark from Poland and Russia were quite successful, the Polish leader responded, “It’s easy to live with the Jews if there are only a few, but difficult if their number increases.”

• Each year, roughly 3,000 cases go through the hands of the National Desertion Bureau, a Jewish agency. Each case is a unique little universe of tragedy that provides some of the reasons why a man leaves his wife. A reporter from the Forward reviewed about 500 of these cases to see what conclusions he could draw. Interestingly, the majority of men who disappeared were either taxi drivers or chauffeurs. Certainly there are businessmen and laborers who have left their homes, too. Of the cases checked, less than one-quarter were desertions from marriages that took place in the Old Country; about one-quarter of the couples were childless. Most men left their wives after more than a year of marriage; one disappeared after a week, and yet another disappeared after 44 years of marriage.

50 YEARS AGO

• Fifteen bus passengers, ranging in age from 11 to 34, were attacked by terrorists en route from Eilat to Beersheva. Having reboarded the bus after getting out to take photographs of a wadi, some 60 miles south of Beersheva, the passengers heard gunfire. Khaki-clad terrorists in red masks boarded the bus and began raking the passengers with machine guns. All but four were killed. Because the terrorists infiltrated from Jordan, the Israeli government has said that it considers the attack an act of war. As a result, Jordan has begun stationing significant numbers of troops near its border.






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