November 14, 2003

Published November 14, 2003, issue of November 14, 2003.
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• At a Workmen’s Circle benefit at the Grand Theater, a speech in support of socialism was given between acts by a member. During his speech, a good deal of noise was heard backstage. When he finished, the manager of the theater came out and spoke in support of the Yiddishe Tageblat, the reactionary and notoriously corrupt newspaper. This speech was met with hisses, boos and a lot of whistling. When director Jacob Adler came out on stage, he acted as if he didn’t understand what was going on. The audience burst out laughing and walked out. However, once outside, the crowd was attacked by thugs from Monk Eastman’s gang. A few comrades were seriously injured.


• Arnold Rothstein, King of the Gamblers, was gunned down this week in the Park Central Hotel in Manhattan. Though the victim survived for a short period after the shooting, he refused to divulge who his assailants were. It is rumored that Rothstein, one of the most famous gamblers in the country, was deep in debt — to the tune of about $300,000 — to a group of gamblers in California and wasn’t able to pay. This seems odd, since Rothstein’s estate has been valued at more than $20 million. While Rothstein lay dying in the hospital, his estranged wife and his young girlfriend arrived. Newspaper photographers who tried to take their pictures were threatened at gunpoint by Rothstein’s goons.

• The four-square-block area from 36th to 40th streets between Broadway and Eighth Avenue, with Seventh as its center, holds the livelihood of a million Jews in its hands. This is the garment center, where nearly all the workers and bosses are Jewish. The district wasn’t always where it is now. It used to be downtown, in tiny shops on Wooster and Mercer streets, on Prince and Spring. Eventually the small factories moved onto Broadway and began creeping uptown to where they are now.


• One of the subjects that hasn’t received much attention from historians is the role of love in immigration. While historians do acknowledge that the Haskalah’s movement collapsed in the wake of the pogroms of the early 1880s, they rarely note that, at the same time, the modern secularism of the Haskalah — the enlightenment era — began to wash over the Jews like a giant wave. These concepts — secularism, education, work and love — together with those of the revolutionary movement, were winding their ways into the lives of the common folk. When the millions of Jewish immigrants made their ways from Eastern Europe to America, they abandoned love, they discovered love in steerage and they found new loves when they arrived in the New World.

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