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July 13, 2007

100 Years Ago In the Forward

A wild scissor fight took place Thursday in Samuel Leichter’s Ridge Street sweatshop. Two people were severely wounded. The fight, which began for unknown reasons, started between two tailors, Isidore Kiviat and Lou Baigel, who attacked each other with large cloth shears. Upon seeing the fight, shop owner Leichter’s 14-year-old daughter, Augusta, jumped between the men and tried to break it up. She was pushed away with such force that she ended up across the room. Nonetheless, she tried again to stop brawl, but instead had her arm nearly hacked off for her trouble. Kiviat ended up bloodied and unconscious on the shop floor, and Baigel escaped.

75 Years Ago In the Forward

The holy city of Jerusalem is afire with the battles of religious Jews. The Agudas Yisroel party, which came to the Land of Israel from Poland, has its own rabbinate and own religious authority and refuses to recognize any other religious organizations. As a result, the Aguda is constantly battling against the rabbinate of Rav Kook, which is supported by about 80% of Jerusalem’s Jews. The nature of this battle is interesting in and of itself. When religious Jews have a dispute, they print up their complaints on posters and then paste them all over the city’s walls. The Aguda’s method of choice in attacking its enemies is to paste up posters excommunicating them. It doesn’t seem to have much effect, but they do it with gusto. The Aguda youth movement is the most fanatic. When the Lubavitcher rebbe visited Jerusalem just a few years ago, the movement presented him with posters explaining how Rav Kook was Jesus Christ and planned to convert the Jews to Christianity, all in order to convince him not to visit Kook. Needless to say, the Aguda elders were not pleased and the Lubavitcher rebbe completed his visit to the much esteemed Rav Kook.

50 Years Ago In the Forward

Yiddish writer Sholem Asch died this week at the age of 77. In a critical retrospective of his work, Isaac Bashevis Singer describes the great writer as one who always gave the maximum of his abilities to his craft. One of the things Asch understood before other Yiddish writers, Singer wrote, was the importance of having Yiddish literature translated into European languages. While other writers sat around, arguing politics or literature, Asch was busy writing. Singer wrote that he was not a literary dreamer but a literary activist.

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