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August 21, 2009

100 Years Ago in the forward

W An open letter from Sholem Yankev Abramovitsh, also known as Mendele Moykher Sforem (Mendele the Bookseller), appeared recently in a Yiddish newspaper in Russia in which the great Yiddish writer charged New York’s Hebrew Publishing Company with reprinting his works without permission and without any compensation whatsoever. He was especially upset about the fact that the company translated some of his Hebrew stories into Yiddish, thereby replacing his voice with a translator’s. The Forward sent a reporter to the offices of the Hebrew Publishing Company to see what the company had to say about the letter. One of the partners, Mr. Katzenelenboygen, said the following: “After receiving Mendele’s letter, we sent a letter to Mr. Abramovitsh offering 300 rubles for permission to print his work. We hope he will accept. We are also planning on paying some of the Russian writers whose works we have published.”

75 Years Ago in the forward

W Over the past few weeks, a huge amount of ink has been spilled on the sports pages of the biggest American newspapers — not on baseball god Babe Ruth, but on two young Jewish players who have become the talk of all baseball fans: the New York Giants’ Phil Weintraub and the Detroit Tigers’ Henry Benjamin “Hank” Greenberg. Weintraub, who played briefly last season but was sent back down to the farm team because he was considered to be “too raw,” was brought back to the Giants this year after New York fans bombarded the team’s office with letters. Apparently, the Giants decided to take their fans’ demands into consideration. But in reality, Weintraub was also known as the best player on their farm team. Even though Weintraub is now playing in the pros, his mother doesn’t like it. “What’s the point?” she said. “Better he should be a doctor or a lawyer.”

50 Years Ago in the forward

W Rabbi Zushe Portugal, also known as the Skulener Rebbe, and his son were freed from prison in Romania after being detained for more than two months. The rebbe’s arrest took place during a wave of antisemitic activity occurring in Romania. Although dozens of other Jews were arrested during this time, there is no indication as to what became of them. It is thought that the rebbe was freed because of the intervention of Israel’s chief rabbi, Yitzhak Nissim, with Christian leaders in Romania. Israeli press reports appealed to the Romanian government for a continuation of the policy that permitted reunification of families, as it is well known that the husbands of a number of Israeli women of Romanian origin are in Romanian prisons.

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