Looking Back May 19, 2006

Published May 19, 2006, issue of May 19, 2006.
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After nearly 14 years in conditions worse than those of Alfred Dreyfus on Devil’s Island, anarchist Alexander Berkman finally has been freed. He was met by a small group of close friends who took him to Chicago and then to St. Louis, where he plans to settle. On his release, he said he did not want to talk about the horrid conditions in which he was held, or about the tragedy of having lost the best years of his life, or even how he was bound and tortured by his captors. He said that during the dark times, his hope for a better place and a better life was never extinguished. He looks forward to his future as a free man and said that he considers the day of his release his true birthday.


In past weeks, the Spanish government has been mulling over legislation that would free its culture from the strictures of the church. The matters at hand include the way in which to deal with Spain’s small Jewish community. Currently, synagogues are not permitted on main streets and, if they happen to find themselves on one, the door has to be through a back or side entrance. Also, no sign can indicate that the building was a house of Jewish worship. In short, synagogues have been going incognito. Spanish Jews are requesting that the government make their citizenship equal to that of Spanish Catholics.

A group of 15 Jews who paid smugglers to take them from Cuba to Florida were apparently tricked by those they hired. The smugglers, who took the immigrants out of Cuba on a small motorboat, told them that they would be bringing them to a large ship just off the coast, which would bring them the rest of the way to Florida. However, there was no ship, and the 15 passengers had to make their way on stormy seas for five days without food and water. Many of them became ill from drinking seawater. When they finally approached the Florida coast, the small boat crashed on a rock and they nearly drowned. When they were brought to shore, they were immediately arrested and put in prison. From there, they wrote a letter to the Forward, which said that they pleaded with the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society to help them but were refused, because HIAS can only help them in Cuba and not in the United States


In all of America’s media, the question of the day is “Where is our youth headed?” In order to find out, all one has to do is to look in a phone book under “dancing.” There you will find pages of dance halls, dance lessons, dance schools and the like. The simple answer to the question is “to dance.” Evidence of this is found in the millions of samba, mambo, cha-cha and rock ’n’ roll records sold, and in the tens of thousands of dollars spent on jukeboxes. The thousands of recordings of quality music sitting on store shelves are silent witnesses to the fact that today is the time of rock ’n’ roll.

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