September 3, 2004

100 YEARS AGO

• Fierce competition among Jewish psychics caused a major disturbance on the Lower East Side. At 10 cents a session, Jewish bal shems can rake in a pretty penny and their number is increasing. In order to reduce the competition, Professor Abie Hochman, a palm reader, handed out flyers accusing Michael Kroytz, a mind reader, of fakery. As a result, Kroytz went out into the street and began screaming that Hochman was a swindler. The palm reader and the mind reader duked it out on the corner of Rivington and Clinton Streets, an event that drew a big crowd.

75 YEARS AGO

• As a result of a massive pogrom in Tsfat, 22 Jews were killed, including two girls who were burned alive. There were also 50 wounded and 2,300 left homeless after Arab bands burned down most of the city. Twenty-five Torah scrolls were also destroyed. The attack began in the middle of the night. In spite of the fact that Jewish residents of Galilee had been complaining that they were in danger, no British military units were sent to protect them. The first group to arrive and combat the Arabs was, in fact, a Jewish self-defense unit from Kfar Giladi. At first the Yiddish communist paper the Freiheit, decried the Arab attacks on the Jews of Palestine. But a day later, the paper flipped and fell into line with the official Soviet opinion regarding the events — that the pogroms were actually anti-imperialist activity on the part of Arab revolutionaries. The Jews of the Lower East Side are now furious with the Freiheit. Not only have they torn the latest editions off the newsstands, but they also ripped to shreds those that they found in the shops. Making matters worse for the Freiheit, three of its top writers — Avrom Reyzn, H. Leyvik and Menakhem Boraisho have quit, declaring that they cannot be party to the communist attacks on the Jews of Palestine.

50 YEARS AGO

• Abba Eban, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, said that Israel is currently in a battle for its very existence and that a wall of hatred encircles the country. At the same time, the King of Jordan accused Israel of sending more than 800 troops over the border and attacking four small villages just north of Jerusalem. He warned that their army is on the verge of breaking the truce. The king called in both the British and American ambassadors to complain about the Israeli action, which, he said, killed two Jordanian soldiers.

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September 3, 2004

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