October 1, 2004

100 YEARS AGO

• An army of lawyers has descended onto the Lower East Side to untie the tangled knot of complaints regarding who will receive recently deceased real estate magnate Jacob Cohen’s million-dollar estate. Esther Cohen, daughter of whom she calls the “original” Harris Cohen of Baxter Street, as well as second wife and second cousin of Jacob, fired the first shot. She argued that she and her children are the rightful heirs to the estate. However, the Levi family, representing the children of Cohen’s first wife, say that they are the rightful heirs. They claim not only that they are Jacob Cohen’s third cousins, but also that their mother was Cohen’s second wife’s mother-in-law’s sister.

75 YEARS AGO

• Sheikh Shakir Abu Kishesh, one of the largest Arab landholders in the area near the Jewish town of Petah Tikva, rules over 2,000 subjects and wields influence throughout

Palestine. Ten years ago, the sheik was one of the organizers of an attack on Petah Tikva, for which the British sentenced him to six years in prison. But because of the intercession of some of his Jewish neighbors, the sentence was reduced to two years, as long as he swore not to attack the Jews further. True to his word, the sheikh refused to heed the recent call of the Mufti to attack the Jews and used his influence in the area to leave Petah Tikva in peace. In addition, he invited the Jews of the surrounding towns to partake in the celebration of his younger brother’s wedding, which they did. In addition to the consumption of massive amounts of food, Arab riders performed on stallions. After the performance, Jews and Arabs sat down together to smoke nargilehs. The atmosphere was cordial and neighborly. In light of the anti-Jewish riots of the past weeks all over Palestine, this can be considered a remarkable event.

50 YEARS AGO

• It seems incredible to be able to talk about Warsaw, a city in which nearly 400,000 Jews once lived, and not talk about the Jews at all. It was, before the last world war, the center of Jewish Europe, the center of both Hebrew and Yiddish culture on the continent, and the center of European Zionism and Jewish socialism. But that is what Jewish communists are doing. A recent issue of Warsaw’s communist Yiddish newspaper, Di Folks-Shtime, describes a trip to Warsaw by a group of Jewish schoolchildren in which they are thrilled by Stalin Boulevard, the Palace of Science and the Polish Museum. It seems as if the entire history of Jewish Warsaw was erased and not presented to these Jewish children. They didn’t hear about synagogues, Jewish schools, newspapers or libraries.

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October 1, 2004

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