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December 21, 2007

100 Years Ago in the forward

In response to the storm of protest against Sholem Asch’s play, “God of Vengeance,” both Asch and his mentor, Y.L. Peretz, have sent letters to the Forward. Articles and letters that appeared in the daily newspaper Yidishes Tageblat, arguing that the play is pornographic and depraved, instigated protests. Asch wrote to us saying that those accusations are lies and that the American viewers can make up their minds on their own. For his part, Peretz wrote that the play is a good one and could conceivably spark a renaissance of Yiddish theater, one that would wipe away shund for good.

75 Years Ago in the forward

Along with a huge crowd of onlookers, the Skverer rebbe, Reb Yitzhok Twersky, and about 50 of his Hasidim entered a courtroom in the New York State Supreme Courthouse in Manhattan. The case had to do with a Jewish immigrant, Shmuel Ranien, a former wagon driver in Ukraine who, after having the rebbe’s grandfather, Reb Dovid Twersky, as a passenger, became a Hasid. Eventually, he left his family in Ukraine and went to America. After saving up money, he brought over his wife and his children, but soon thereafter he accused his wife of infidelity and ran off to live with the Skverer rebbe. He had no contact with his family. Shortly thereafter, Ranien was hit by a truck and became mentally unstable. He made out a will that left all his savings to 7-year-old David Twersky, the rebbe’s son. Ranien died last July. When the rebbe tried to claim the money, he found he couldn’t because family members were in possession of the bankbook and thought they should get the money because Ranien wasn’t in his right mind when he wrote the will. The jury agreed with the family and sent the rebbe and his Hasidim back to Brooklyn, empty-handed.

50 Years Ago in the forward

It was not long ago that many Jewish students in American universities felt that the days of social discrimination were over and that they finally would be accepted into all student organizations. But that is not the case. Even though universities officially declare that fraternities and sororities are not permitted to discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, it appears that many do not allow Jews to become members. As a result, the specifically Jewish fraternities and sororities continue to exist as social refuges for Jewish students.

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