February 23, 2007

100 Years Ago In the Forward

With threats by a Russian antisemitic group, the Black Hundreds, to drown the Duma in Jewish blood, the situation for Jews in Russia is steadily worsening. In Odessa, for example, it has never been more dangerous for Jews to be seen in the street by themselves. Nearly all the Jewish businesses are shuttered, and streetcars are practically empty. All these shutdowns occurred after bands of armed Russians appeared in the streets, attacking Jews and robbing Jewish-owned stores. Homes were also broken into, and residents were brutally beaten and, in some cases, killed.

75 Years Ago In the Forward

All over America, the 200th birthday of George Washington is being celebrated. Jewish congregations are taking the opportunity to talk about the Jews of Washington’s time and the interactions between the first president and the Jews of the Revolutionary War period. For example, Gershon Mendes Seixas, the great- great-grandfather of newly appointed Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo, was selected to be part of a group of 14 clergymen that participated in the inauguration of Washington. Born in New York, Seixas was the cantor at the Shearith Israel synagogue.

With the political situation in Germany considerably chaotic and Jews being attacked on the street consistently, there has been little hope for protection from the Nazi followers of Adolf Hitler. The only group that has been willing to take up arms and do battle with the fascists has thus far been adherents of the left, workers who are apparently the only Germans willing to protect the republic from the Nazis. With presidential elections coming up this year, there is great fear that the worldwide economic crisis will give advantage to Hitler and his thugs.

50 Years Ago In the Forward

It seems ironic that, in light of the current situation of the Jews in Egypt, Egyptian diplomat Mohammed Awad has chosen this week to become head of the United Nations’ Subcommittee on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities. As has been reported in the press over the past few months, the Jews of Egypt have experienced severe discrimination. Perhaps to give notice to the appointment, arrests of Jews in Cairo have stopped in recent weeks and a portion of the nearly 500 Jews who had been sent to internment camps have been released. A number of Jewish-owned businesses in Cairo have also been permitted to reopen.

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February 23, 2007

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