100 YEARS AGO
• A strike has begun at the Cohen Brothers paper-box factory in New York City’s Bowery. The unusual thing about the 250 strikers is that most are young girls. In an obvious attempt to take advantage of their underage employees, the Cohen brothers, all religious Jews, paid them starvation wages. In addition, they created a fake union — an association — to which their workers belonged. Despite their young ages, the girls realized that the association was a ruse, and they understand that joining a real union will improve their lives. They are on strike until the bosses recognize the union.
75 YEARS AGO
• A group of Ukrainian Jewish writers has begun a revolt against the literary dictatorship of Moyshe Litvakov, editor of Moscow’s Yiddish daily, Der Emes. Led by Dovid Hofshteyn, one of the world’s greatest Yiddish poets, the revolt is being supported by the writers of the Kharkov-based literary journal Shtern and by a number of literary talents from Ukraine and Belarus. In a letter circulated among the Yiddish literary elite, Hofshteyn accused Litvakov of arrogance and of abusing his position. Litvakov is one of the most powerful men in Russia’s Yiddish literary world, and one of the most hated. Few have dared to raise their voices against him. Only a half-year ago, well-known poet Leyb Kvitko mocked Litvakov in a poem in which he called him a stink-bird. Kvitko has suffered terrible consequences ever since.
• When Dr. Judah Magnes, president of Hebrew University, gave a speech in Jerusalem in which he called for the Jews of Palestine to live in peace with the Arabs, he was met with a chorus of boos and whistles. The speech, which was to mark the opening of the school year — months late because of recent anti-Jewish attacks — was not well received. Menachem Ussishkin, chairman of the Jewish National Fund, complained, “We came to hear a scholarly talk, not a political one,” a comment that received applause.
50 YEARS AGO
• During the last World War, the U.S. Army numbered 13 million on active duty, with 600,000 Jews among them. Now, with the start of the new Cold War, the Army has been reduced drastically, numbering 3 million. Among them serve 200,000 Jews — still a significant number — about 7% of the total. There are currently 140 Jewish chaplains serving America’s Jewish soldiers. Far from home, all over the world, Jewish chaplains serve as the central figures for these Jewish soldiers. They help them not only spiritually, but also with homesickness and other problems associated with being in a place far from the heymishness of a Jewish home.