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August 28, 2009

100 Years Ago in the forward

It’s busy season in baseball, and the American people are obsessed. It’s no exaggeration to say that young and old, rich and poor, ignorant and highly educated all wait impatiently to see the sports pages in their morning papers, where they can find the scores of yesterday’s games. We immigrants can’t quite figure this out. It seems totally crazy — at best, childish. It’s hard to understand how serious people can be interested in something where they catch and throw balls and run around. A child that runs around is, to us, a bad kid. We can read all about the importance of physical exercise, how a child should run, jump and play ball, but we still call that child a bad boy, a sheygets.

75 Years Ago in the forward

This years’ meeting of the Jesuit Philosophical Association included a number of interesting speeches from its leadership, among them a number that were blatantly antisemitic. The Rev. John Francis Murphy, head of Boston College’s history department, said, for example, that Jews are responsible for corrupting the world and trying to destroy Christianity. Murphy further complained that Jews have the possibility to grow spiritually, but refuse to do so. As an example, he said that “the Jew,” Sigmund Freud, did much to destroy Christian morals. Some Jews, he said, have reached great heights in music and art, but “their interest in jazz and in vulgar musical comedy ruins their other good work.” Murphy suggested that “Jews must become non-Jews.”

50 Years Ago in the forward

It goes without saying that Hebrew has become the dominant language of the State of Israel. But English also plays a huge role. One can go anywhere in the country and speak English. The communists complain that the role English plays in the country is an indication that Israel is nothing more than an American colony. But the reality is that the strong position of English in Israel is a result of the British Mandate period. Of the dozens of languages spoken there, Yiddish comes in third place. You can go into any store, government office, post office, train station or anywhere else and conduct your business in mameloshn.


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