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March 21, 2008

100 Years Ago in the forward

The Forward has been flooded with letters, postcards and telegrams, and the phone has been ringing off the hook, all on account of a Bintel Brief letter we printed in Wednesday’s paper from a 14-year-old orphan whose tragic story touched many hearts. The girl, whose letter detailed how her parents died the previous year and how she was taken in by neighbors, was working in a sweatshop for $3 per week but lost her job three weeks ago. Since then, the neighbor who took her in has threatened to kick her out if she doesn’t find another job. Unfortunately, she hasn’t been able to find work and doesn’t have any place to go. As a result, the girl has been contemplating suicide. Readers responded by deluging our office with mail. Some people even showed up in person, offering to help. With offers for new living arrangements pouring in, one of our editors will go to Patterson, N.J., where the girl resides, to bring her to New York to start a new life.

75 Years Ago in the forward

The Forward’s Berlin correspondent, Yankev Leshtshinsky, was arrested this week by the Nazis. Our editors were informed of the arrest by cable from his colleagues, reporters from The Associate Press, United Press International and London-based reporters. There was no reason that Leshtshinsky, an academic as well as a journalist, was arrested, although his colleagues felt his life might be in danger. A cable from the Chicago Daily News’s Berlin correspondent indicated that Leshtshinsky was arrested on direct orders from Hermann Goering, one of Hitler’s ministers, and is being held in prison until his expected deportation from Germany. When Leshtshinsky’s wife inquired at the prison where her husband is being held, she was told that there are currently thousands of political prisoners and the administration cannot be bothered with having to give out details on each case. The U.S. State Department has made inquiries on our behalf, but no reply was received.

50 Years Ago in the forward

Yiddish education is currently undergoing a severe crisis in Poland. While Jewish communists are backing the concept of Yiddish-language schools, Polish communists are not terribly supportive of the idea. Moreover, the majority of Jewish parents who wish to remain in Poland do not want to send their children to Yiddish schools and prefer Polish-language schools so that their children can learn that language. One issue here is the frequently serious levels of antisemitism that exist in Polish schools. Most Jews, however, do not want to remain in Poland and wish to emigrate, despite the terrible anti-Israel propaganda made to combat that desire.

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