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August 31, 2007

100 Years Ago in the Forward

Recently, Jacob S. Heilprin lived in a palace on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Even his wife drove around town in her own automobile. These days, Heilprin finds himself without a job and without a penny to his name. He appeared this week in a Federal Court to declare bankruptcy. Only two years ago did Heilprin found a development company and begin building apartments in Harlem. He became a rich man quickly, accumulating a net worth of more than $1 million. Then came the cars, the furs, the fancy house. Heilprin’s story was seen as amazing — a sweatshop worker who became a millionaire in just a few years. Then came the crash. He overspent, owed too much to the banks and lost it all.

75 Years Ago in the Foward

A Belorussian governmental committee has published a report on current conditions in Birobidzhan, the Soviet-Jewish Autonomous Region. The report was instigated after large numbers of Belorussian Jews who had immigrated to Birobidzhan disappeared from there and reappeared in their Belorussian shtetls. The report indicates that Jews who arrived in Birobidzhan were not provided with housing, jobs or food. When immigrants expressed disappointment, they were asked why they even came. Recently, almost 500 Belorussian Jewish immigrants were forced to sleep on the bare ground for three days, in the rain. Like the Jews who arrived in Birobidzhan, they were not provided with any food. On the fourth day, they ran off. Soviet officials are currently attempting to find out what happened.

50 Years Ago in the Foward

Young Israeli communists returning from a large youth festival in Moscow have reported that Jews in the Soviet Union suffer from severe discrimination and that a significant number of them want to immigrate to Israel. Soviet Jews are aware of Israeli issues mostly through the Kol-tsion-legola radio station, which is only partially blocked by Soviet authorities. It was also noted that many Soviet Jews who live in far-flung places came to Moscow specifically to meet with Zionists. The Israelis were divided into two groups: the communists and the young pioneers. The groups’ ideologies are not the same. By the time they arrived in Haifa, the police had to board the ship in order to break up fights after the pioneers accused the communists of insulting the State of Israel.

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