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August 18th, 2006

100 Years Ago Last Sunday, when two friends, Fanny Radinski and Bertha Singer, took a trip to Brooklyn’s Coney Island from the Brownsville area, only one of them came back alive. The one who did return, Singer, did so battered and bruised. The police eventually found Radinski’s body in the Coney Island Creek, under a bridge. According to Singer, the train the ladies were on to Coney Island stopped on the bridge after a dispute broke out between a conductor and passengers who hadn’t paid for their tickets. The conductor called in a troop of uniformed employees, who started beating up the passengers — even those who had paid — and throwing them off the train. They also threw Radinski off the train, and she was apparently hit by another train and fell into the river below. Police are investigating what appears to be a common practice on independent train lines: that of beating passengers and throwing them off if they refuse to pay for their tickets.

75 Years Ago In theory, there is no norm for the number of Jews permitted into American universities. America, after all, is a free country, and anyone can go to college: Jew, Christian, black, white. But that’s only in theory. In reality it doesn’t work like that at all. Officially there are no laws keeping Jews out of certain universities, but every Jewish boy and girl knows that it’s nearly impossible to get into some of them. The alumni associations are one of the major factors in keeping Jews out of certain colleges. The associations think the college belongs to them, and they argue that since it was founded as a Christian college, it must remain that way. Colleges give all kinds of excuses as to why they try to keep out Jews. Among them are that Jews maintain too close a relationship with their parents. When a child goes to college, he or she is meant to learn how to live independently with their peers. Jewish parents are seen as interfering with this process. Also, Jewish students are too studious. The Christian students don’t like a peer who keeps his or her nose in a book all the time. And Jewish students are seen as too emotional: Other students would mock someone who might be moved to tears by a poem or a piece of music.

50 Years Ago At a literary event in Tel Aviv this week commemorating the murdered Yiddish writers of the Soviet Union, famed Yiddish poet Avrom Sutskever made a sensational revelation: In Moscow in 1945, he was asked by a group of Jewish communists to sign a letter denouncing writer Peretz Markish for counter-revolutionary activity. In the end, Sutskever refused to sign the document; however, he feared telling Markish about it, since he thought it might have been a trap. Sutskever was planning to leave the USSR and go to Israel and did not want to do anything to jeopardize his position. Finally, on his last night in the USSR, Sutskever informed Markish of the denunciation. Markish replied that he’s known for years that the powers that be have been trying to bury him.

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