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September 28, 2007

100 Years Ago in the forward

W Julius Hurvitz, who runs a New York City butcher shop on First Street, was arrested along with his wife, family and a group of customers for being open on a Sunday. Hurvitz was running an active business when a policeman walked into his store and demanded he close on account of it being Sunday, as all stores are closed. Hurvitz, along with his wife and some customers, tried to explain to the officer that since it was the day before Sukkot, the Jews had to prepare for their holiday and wouldn’t be able to buy food for two days. The officer was having none of it and insisted Hurvitz shut down the shop. After a brief scuffle, more officers arrived and brought the group into Essex Market Court, where Hurvitz was fined. It should be noted that while the police generally don’t bother most storekeepers and peddlers Sundays, for some odd reason they come down hard on the butchers.

75 Years Ago in the forward

W There’s a new rabbi in town from Hamburg, Germany, who has a plan to modernize Hasidism and make it palatable to young Americans. Rabbi Yakov Sonderling says that religion needs to keep up with current trends if it is to remain useful to its adherents. The religion of the old-time Polish shtetl will never make it here in America. Instead, he proposes that in addition to having rabbis wear modern clothes and teach in a modern, refined manner, the weekly Torah portion should be acted out by the best Jewish theater performers. Dramatizing the Torah and prayers is the best way, he says, to bring Jewish youth back to Judaism. Sonderling calls his new movement “neo-Hasidism.”

50 Years Ago in the forward

W Maurice Pelter, a British former communist who was in Moscow recently for a youth festival, has been given reports from secure sources indicating that Stalin had a plan in place to deport 2 million Soviet Jews to Siberia, a plan that was quashed only because of the Soviet dictator’s death. Pelter, who had been an active communist in Britain for 10 years, is reported to have left the party following these revelations. His account included meetings with a number of young Soviets, among them a Jew who told him of how he desired to immigrate to Israel, but requesting a visa guaranteed a long trip to Siberia. He added that if emigration were permitted, a half-million Jews would go to Israel immediately.


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