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September 21, 2007

100 Years Ago in the forward

Yom Kippur services in a hall on New York City’s Clinton Street were disrupted on account of a fight over a chair. When Joseph Rand showed up in synagogue with his family, he discovered that one Herman Garber was in one of the seats he had reserved. Rand informed Garber that he was in one of his seats, but Garber produced a ticket indicating that the seat was, in fact, his. Rand responded by punching Garber in the face. Not to be outdone, Garber tore out part of Rand’s beard. The lionlike voice of the cantor was thus drowned out by the screams and howls of the fighting congregants. In the end, both Rand and Garber were forced to finish the musaf service in Essex Market Court, where they were both placed under arrest.

75 Years Ago in the forward

Viennese political theorist Rudolf Grossmann is a man who loves publicity. Considered one of the more radical communists, Grossman does whatever he can to get into the newspapers — and to be honest, he’s a fine writer and speaker. He is, apparently by profession, a moralist. It’s not an easy job. It would be easier to be a shoemaker. But, writing under the name Pierre Ramus, Grossman has created a philosophy that is a mish-mosh of Marx, Lenin, Tolstoy, Jesus, Bakunin and Ghandi. He calls it something like “pure left, anti-domination communism.” One of his theories is that there are too many people on the planet and that men should undergo operations rendering them unable to bring forth children. Hundreds of his followers underwent such operations in his secret and, by the way, illegal “Center for Male Sterility,” where Grossman/Ramus hired Romanian and Hungarian medical students to perform the operations. When some of the operations went awry, the police were notified. Now Grossman/Ramus sits in prison, unable to enjoy the publicity.

50 Years Ago in the forward

Soviet Secret Police this week kidnapped an Israeli diplomat in Odessa. It was demanded of the diplomat, Eliyahu Hazan, that he become a spy for the USSR. Hazan was held for 26 hours before being released. He had been at the home of a friend when police knocked at the door, informing the residents that they had a warrant to perform a search. When they finished the search, they insisted that Hazan go with them to a guarded house. There they informed him that he no longer had diplomatic immunity and that he had better take them up on their offer if he wanted to see his wife and daughter again — or else he would disappear.

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