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September 7, 2007

100 Years Ago in the forward

Two Jews were killed and more than 40 were wounded in a pogrom that took place in Brooklyn, where Jews are comparing events to what happens regularly in tsarist Russia. The attacks took place on a block in Brownsville, where there is a two-week-old strike in place at the Bernstein Brothers sweatshop on Humboldt Street. During the course of the strike, the street in front of the factory has been patrolled by hired hooligans and police officers, who are trying to keep the 200 striking workers away. Down the block, Max Birnboym’s seltzer stand was serving customers when a policeman told Birnboym that he wasn’t allowed to serve strikers. Birnboym countered by saying that he could serve anybody he wanted. The policeman responded by beating Birnboym unconscious with his club. Neighborhood Jews poured into the street to see what was happening; more police arrived to “help” and began attacking everyone with their clubs. Men, women and children were wantonly attacked. Oddly enough, the policeman who started the riot, George Klein, is a Jew.

75 Years Ago in the forward

Moyshe Leyb Halpern, one of Yiddish literature’s shining stars, died suddenly this week of a heart attack at the age of 46. Halpern was born in Zlotchev, Galitsia, and arrived in America at the age of 20. Once he was in New York, he quickly became known as one of the most talented Yiddish poets. The Y.L. Peretz Writers Union published the following resolution: “The Y.L. Peretz Writers Union would like to express our deepest sadness on the premature death of Moyshe Leyb Halpern. Halpern was one of the greatest and best known representatives of modern Yiddish poetry and his death is a terrible loss for Yiddish literature.”

A report in the Moscow Yiddish daily Emes states that of the 231 Jews who traveled thousands of miles to work in a wood factory in Birobidzhan, only 27 remain. The rest have returned from whence they came, citing mistreatment and a lack of proper food by the administration in Birobidzhan. In contrast, the same article cites a report by the Soviet Komzet indicating that 764 new Jewish residents arrived in Birobidzhan in August, 11 of them from foreign countries. It appears however, that the situation in Birobidzhan is not exactly ripe for large numbers of immigrants, and it does not seem likely that they will remain.

50 Years Ago in the forward

Israel and Jordan continue to snipe at each other in the United Nations Security Council. For its part, Jordan complained that Israel is breaking the current truce by digging trenches around the demilitarized zone between the two countries. Israel responded by saying that, in fact, trees were being planted; trenches were not being dug. Israel’s complaint to its Jordanian counterpart included a demand that Jews be given free access to the Western Wall and to other Jewish holy sites. The Israelis also demanded to have free access to Hebrew University and to be able to access the hospital on Har Hatsofim without being shot at.


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