June 17, 2005

100 YEARS AGO

• The bosses of the jacket-making sweatshop at 40 Cherry Street in Manhattan are having a difficult time dealing with their striking workers. Their hired goons and foremen have attacked the pickets and have brought in the police to arrest them. Those strikers who were arrested had their bail paid by the union. But beating up the strikers on the picket lines apparently isn’t enough for the bosses, who have sent their goons to attack the strikers in their homes. Fortunately, the neighbors drove away the bosses’ goons. The same bosses have offered some of the strikers things like gold watches in exchange for leaving the lines and becoming scabs. But they’ve refused. All they want is a nine-and-a-half-hour workday and the same wages they’ve been receiving.

75 YEARS AGO

• Seward Park High School, located at the corner of Essex and Grand Streets, is best known for having a student body that is 95% Jewish. Those who read the New York City Board of Education’s records will also find out that Seward Park’s students have the highest academic marks in the entire city. The school takes special pride in announcing that last week’s winner of the title of Best High School Athlete among New York’s 65,000 students went to none other than David Benjamin, one of Seward Park’s Jewish students. In an editorial in the Forward, editor Abraham Cahan wrote that in light of such successes, great praise must go to the Jewish mothers of the East Side.

• The funeral of African-American attorney Rufus Perry was unusual. Half the mourners were his African-American family, and the other half were white Jewish socialists. Perry, who died this week at age 60, was the son of a preacher who became an attorney and then fought for the rights of poor blacks. Initially a Democratic Party activist, he was involved in a program to relocate poor Southern blacks to farmland on Long Island. He later became a socialist. Perry was also a convert to Judaism and active in the Jewish community, which was the reason for the large number of Jews at his funeral, performed by a rabbi at Brooklyn’s Mt. Sinai Reform temple.

50 YEARS AGO

• The Egyptian army has stationed, at the border between Gaza and Israel, its best soldiers, those who were originally trained to fight the British and who eventually helped drive them out. This battalion, known as the “suicide squad,” is made up of intense young volunteers ready to die in the name of their fatherland. The Egyptian press is full of stories about their exploits and heroism. But an Israeli military newspaper has recently reported that this group has turned tail in fear on more than one occasion. The Israelis say that the Egyptians’ pride in the battalion is unfounded and that the “suicide squad” is more bluff than anything else.

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June 17, 2005

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