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March 30, 2007

100 Years Ago In the Forward

There are currently dozens, possibly hundreds, of Jews stuck on Ellis Island for a variety of reasons: In most cases, either their children are too sick to enter the country or they’re awaiting the arrival of their relatives. These poor Jews, sentenced to an indeterminate amount of time on the island, will have to celebrate next week’s Passover Seder together. A fair amount of preparation has gone into the Ellis Island Seder. Fresh matzot and all kinds of fresh Passover delicacies have been shipped over to these Jews. In addition, the Seder is expected to be nicely decorated, with new plates and tablecloths having been delivered, as well. Despite their situation, the Jews stuck on Ellis Island will be celebrating like most other Jews around the world.

75 Years Ago In the Forward

More than three weeks after Charles Lindbergh’s 2-year-old baby was kidnapped from his home in New Jersey, police have no one in custody but have been following a number of leads, one of which involves Abie Wagner, a gangster on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Wagner allegedly has ties to Detroit’s notorious Purple Gang, a feared group of violent Jewish bootleggers. This week, the entire Lower East Side was flooded with police in search of both Wagner and Harry Fleischer, a major figure in the Purples. Norman Schwarzkopf, chief investigator on the Lindbergh case, refused to divulge Wagner and Fleischer’s connection to it.

Fearing the worst, many of Germany’s Jews — including some who have completely assimilated to German culture — have begun leaving their homeland as a result of the popularity of Adolf Hitler and the possibility that he will succeed wildly in the upcoming German election. France has become a popular destination for these new refugees. In Paris, one can find a German Jewish refugee becoming friendly with Polish and Russian Jews, types from whom they would have kept far away in the past. Highly cultured and often financially secure, these German Jews say that the Jewish communities of Germany will be destroyed if Hitler is elected.

50 Years Ago In the Forward

Ya’akov Shukin, chief rabbi of the Algerian city of Medea, died from wounds he received after being shot by a Muslim terrorist as he walked into his synagogue. Medea is located about 60 miles south of Algiers. The terrorist escaped after shooting the rabbi. The attack came as a surprise, because Algeria’s Jews have maintained a strict neutrality in connection to the current conflict between the country’s Muslims and the French colonists despite the fact that the Algerian rebels issued calls for the country’s Jews to support their cause.

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