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May 18, 2007

100 Years Ago in the Forward

A small riot occurred in New York City on a Lexington Avenue streetcar near 30th Street when a young boy jumped on board without paying his fare. Upon finding the boy, the conductor, Richard Carney, caught him and began punching him in the head. An elderly passenger, one Shmuel Hurvitz, loudly protested the conductor’s brutality and began to leave the streetcar. Evidently unhappy with Hurvitz’s response to his actions, the conductor kicked the elderly man in the side and punched him in the eye, causing it to swell up. Seeing that Carney was attacking an old man, a crowd surrounded the conductor and began to beat him. He was saved only by the quick arrival of the police, who broke up the whole thing.

75 Years Ago in the Forward

A number of new “talkies” have begun to show up at movie theaters on New York City’s Lower East Side in which actors speak in the films in recorded mamaloshn. The most recent of these movies is called “Joseph in Egypt” and is based on the biblical story. The film is beautifully shot, but there is a major problem: None of the actors is Jewish. They are all Europeans: Italian or German. The movie was originally silent, and Yiddish was put in afterward by American Jewish actors. Jewish audiences haven’t been too happy with the first Yiddish films, not because of the performances but because of the technology. Not only were the images blurry, but the sound was bad, too, and actors’ mouths moved and no words were spoken, or their lips were closed and words were spoken. The audience sometimes thinks this is hilarious: When Jacob hears that his son Joseph was eaten by an animal, he groans a great, Jewish groan, but the European actor doesn’t know how to make a Jewish groan, so long after his agonizing is over, the sound of the Yiddish groan continues. Despite these problems, the film is nicely done and gives the audience much insight into the biblical story.

50 Years Ago in the Forward

According to a recent report by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the situation for Soviet Jews is grave. Marked by fear and assimilation, the Jews suffer in particular from the hateful attitude of the Soviet government toward the State of Israel. “The atmosphere created by the Soviet rulers in regard to Jewish issues is so hateful and antagonistic that any Jew wishing to express an interest in Jewish matters has fear to do so,” the report read. It was also noted that foreign Jews traveling in Russia who wished to make contact with Soviet Jews had great difficulty doing so on account of the fear instilled in the latter by the Soviet government.


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