April 1, 2005

100 YEARS AGO

• Sixteen-year-old Jacob Goldstein was sent upstate to New York’s Elmira Reformatory after he was convicted of kiting checks. Goldstein, who worked as a bookkeeper for the Hacker Luncheon Company, was able to keep the swindle a secret and managed to pilfer more than $5,000 from company accounts. In his defense, he told the judge that he took the money not to drink or gamble it away, but to invest it in good business opportunities. And invest he did: Goldstein bought chunks of prime real estate in Brownsville that are now worth far more than he paid for them. But he also managed to buy a $400 diamond ring for his mother and a $300 piano for his sister.

75 YEARS AGO

• When Molly Picon hit it big last year with “Yiddishe Blues” on the Broadway circuit, producers began to understand the value of hiring a Jewish star. This year, Broadway has hired none other than Yiddish Art Theater actor/director Maurice Schwartz to star in specially designed “Scenes From Shylock.” This will not be the first time that Schwartz, one of the Yiddish theater’s major talents, will be playing the role of Shylock. Seven years ago, he was invited to perform the role in a Shakespeare festival in London, which he did to critical acclaim. Having studied the role assiduously, Schwartz said that he hopes to bring a “new Shylock” to the stage, a Shylock different from those performed by such Yiddish greats as Rudolph Schildkraut and Jacob P. Adler.

• This week a Soviet court in Moscow sentenced 90 Jews, all of them in their 20s and younger, to internal exile in Siberia on the charge that they belonged to an illegal organization, the socialist Zionist Hashomer Hatsair. It was discovered that another 55 young Jews also belonged to Zionist organizations and were forced to sign documents saying they would not remain in Moscow and never again would join organizations such as Hechalutz or any other such Zionist groups, which are illegal in the Soviet Union.

50 YEARS AGO

• Bronx laundryman Mike Greenberg went up to the top of the 17th-floor Louis Morris Apartment Building on Grand Concourse and prepared to jump to his death. Sitting with his feet hanging over the edge, Greenberg would get up and threaten to jump every time someone would approach him to talk him down. When the police arrived, he told them that his business was bad and that no one except for one of his daughters wanted to help him. In addition to other family trouble, he was out of money and saw only one way out. One of the police officers, Meyer Rosenbaum, began to speak to Greenberg in Yiddish. While they were talking, another officer grabbed Greenberg off the ledge, thereby saving his life.

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April 1, 2005

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