July 22, 2005

100 YEARS AGO IN THE FORWARD

A riot occurred at the opening ceremony for a new synagogue in St. Louis. After the doors of Hevrat Sfarad opened to let in those who had gathered for the ceremony, the new synagogue filled up quickly and hundreds of people who had been waiting were unable to get inside. When people began pushing, the police moved in, swinging fists and clubs with abandon. Many Jews were injured in the melee. Hundreds of men’s and women’s hats lay on the street, torn to shreds, after the disturbance.

75 YEARS AGO IN THE FORWARD

Al Singer, a 21-year-old, Bronx-born Jewish prizefighter, knocked out Sammy Mandell in the first round, winning the lightweight championship earlier this week. Mandell brought back the crown to the Jews after Benny Leonard lost it five years ago. The fight took place in Yankee Stadium in front of 40,000 spectators, the majority Jews. When Singer entered the ring, accompanied by his manager, Hymie Caplan, and trainer, Yosl Levi, the applause and shouts were deafening. “Mitn rekhtn fus, Avreml!” (“Good luck, Al!”) came a shout from one of his relatives in the audience. In contrast, the champion, Mandell, who is Italian, received only a smattering of applause.

As France celebrated the 100th anniversary of its rule of Algeria, a number of interesting facts came to light. The first Jews to arrive in Algeria did so from Spain in 1492, when they were expelled. The Jews lived in ghettoes and wore special clothing, identifying them as a distinct group. By 1830, when France conquered the country, there were 50,000 Algerian Jews. The Jews served as an important tool for the French colonization and often functioned as an intermediary between the French and the Arabs. Because the Jews supported the French, they demanded French citizenship, which they received in 1870. This caused conflict with Algerian Arabs, who did not receive it.

50 YEARS AGO IN THE FORWARD

Anti-Jewish riots occurred last week in Casablanca, Morocco, in which 64 Jews, Arabs and Europeans were killed. The city’s Jewish quarter was attacked by a mass of Arab men and women, who destroyed homes and shops. The reason for the attack is the accusation that the Jews work “hand in hand” with the French authorities, whom the Arabs are trying to overthrow. The 60,000-strong Jewish community of Casablanca has formed self-defense groups, which have begun patrolling their neighborhoods.

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July 22, 2005

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