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January 18, 2008

100 Years Ago in the forward

This week brings sad and tragic news to the Jewish people. Wherever Jewish children sing, wherever a folksong is heard and wherever anyone is interested in Yiddish theater, this news will bring forth a sigh and a tear. Abraham Goldfaden, the beloved writer and father of Yiddish theater, passed away this week of a heart attack at the age of 67. Originally a songwriter, Goldfaden saw a group of young people in Romania, dressed in costumes, performing his songs. From this he got the idea to create Yiddish theater. He would go on to write a number of Yiddish stage classics, such as “Shulamis,” “Bar Kokhba” and “The Two Kuni Lemls.” Goldfaden was not only Yiddish theater’s founder; he was also one of its most important directors.

75 Years Ago in the forward

Arab newspapers in Palestine and Syria have instigated a campaign to prevent Emir Abdullah of Trans-Jordan from selling land to Jews. The Damascene daily, Al Yam, wrote that the Emir’s intention to sell Trans-Jordanian land was a de facto deal with the Jews, and that he also planned to lease to Jews 70,000 dunams of land near the Allenby Bridge for 99 years at a cost of 2,000 pounds per year. Palestinian Arab newspapers commented that Abdullah’s deals will set a precedent for other Arab landowners to do the same. As a result, they say, more Zionist immigrants will come to the region. The Jews already have a base in Palestine, the newspapers said, and they will do the same in Trans-Jordan if given the chance. It was reported in the Arab newspaper Al Islamiya that the poverty in Trans-Jordan is so awful that some influential sheiks, Mitkal Pasha among them, have lobbied the Emir to allow them to sell portions of their lands so that their tribes don’t starve to death. It was, in fact, discussed at a meeting of Zionist leaders in London that the Arab leaders in Trans-Jordan were prepared to change their attitude toward Jews.

50 Years Ago in the forward

A majority opinion on Israel’s Supreme Court has declared that Israel Kastner, former leader of Hungarian Jewry, was not guilty on the charge that he collaborated with the Nazis. This reversed a previous decision by a lower court that had declared Kastner guilty in collaboration and for sacrificing thousands of Hungarian Jews in order to save a few hundred Hungarian Jewish leaders. About one year ago, an assailant murdered Kastner. The assailant told the police that he did it because he felt that the Supreme Court was going to overturn the verdict and declare Kastner innocent of the charges.

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