July 15, 2005

100 YEARS AGO

• Early in the morning, Morris Klein came into the Forward offices with his 8-year-old daughter. “Please, take my child,” he said. Klein, who arrived in New York recently from St. Louis, is a poor laborer whose wife died this past Passover, leaving him to care for their four children. The two older children are with his deceased wife’s brother, and the youngest was placed in an orphanage. But the orphanage refused the 8-year-old. A New York orphanage here refused her as well but Klein is desperate to find her a decent home. He is looking for a kind woman to raise his child and thought the Forward would be able to help him.

75 YEARS AGO

• It has been discovered that in Turkey there still exist followers of Shabtai Tsvi, the 17th-century figure who convinced much of world Jewry that he was the Jewish messiah. Tsvi was born in Turkey, traveled throughout the Middle East gaining adherents, converted to Islam under threat of death and died in a small town in Albania. His followers are the descendents of Jews who also followed Tsvi, but who converted to Islam and practiced the false messiah’s rituals secretly. These Sabbatians, while outwardly Turkish and Muslim, have a strict policy of not mingling or intermarrying with either Muslims or Jews. Their center used to be Salonika, where they had their own neighborhood, but in the wake of the war they left Greece with the rest of the Turks and settled in Turkey.

• The development of talking pictures, or “talkies,” as they are known, has become an important vehicle in the Americanization of immigrants in the United States. The talkies are doing for immigrants what 100 English-language schools never could do: teach them English. One Lower East Side movie theater manager said that not only does he have many new customers, but the old ones are now more attentive, as well, because they have to not only watch but also listen. For those immigrants who never had the opportunity to go to school, movies are an excellent venue for them to learn the language.

50 YEARS AGO

• Prior to the recent Knesset elections, the fanatically anti-Zionist Neturei Karta used the wrath of God to threaten any Jews who wanted to vote. And as if that weren’t enough, they brought in the Satanover Rebbe from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, who issued a ban on participation in the Knesset elections. For their part, the other religious political parties mobilized their foreign legions. Agudat Israel brought in well-known Brooklyn rabbi Aharon Kotler; Hapo’el Hamizrahi brought in the Sadagurer-Pshemishiler Rebbe; the Aguda then called up the Gerer Rebbe. And as quick as the Satanover Rebbe said “No way,” the other rebbes said, “Yes way — one can vote in the elections.”

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July 15, 2005

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