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April 4, 2008

100 Years Ago in the forward

On Monday night, the New Atlantic Dance Hall, located on Manhattan’s Lower East Side on Delancey Street between Forsyth and Chrystie Streets, was packed with hundreds of young Jews, all having a fine time, dancing the night away. At about 10 p.m., the manager, Isadore Weissman, noticed the presence of five young Italian toughs who didn’t seem to belong and were looking for a fight. Weissman, who didn’t want any trouble, politely asked the group to leave. In response, the fivesome took out knives and revolvers and began shooting and stabbing at random. Chaos broke out in the hall. People began screaming and running to the exits. Many were trampled in the melee. Weissman himself was shot in the hand, 18-year-old Solomon Rubenstein was shot in the head and 19-year-old Abraham Shiller was stabbed in the chest. All were rushed to the hospital. The police eventually showed up and cordoned off the block around the dance hall, but the attackers had already escaped. The police are still looking for them in the nearby Italian neighborhood.

75 Years Ago in the forward

Horror stories detailing what is happening to Jews in Germany continue to pile up. One well-known German Jewish actor — who was not identified — informed reporters that he was arrested by the police and brought into the local police station, stripped naked, and forced to dance and sing while wearing a yarmulke on his head. He also reported that socialists and Jews are being arrested at random, then beaten and tortured. Some of them have even been murdered. After his arrest, this particular actor was deported to Poland. He is said to be a broken man.

Numerous mass protests were held this week in the United States against the Nazi dictatorship in Germany. It is estimated that more than 1 million people participated in these protests. Here in New York, 22,000 people packed Madison Square Garden to demonstrate. Among them were Orthodox Jews, Reform Jews, atheists and Christians. Also represented were Socialists, Zionists, Socialist-Zionists, union men and women, taxi drivers, professors, college students, housewives and businessmen. Every type of person was represented, from all classes and realms of society, all united against the Nazi menace.

50 Years Ago in the forward

Jews in Lithuania and Latvia are waging a stubborn campaign in support of Jewish culture in the face of an official Soviet policy of assimilating minorities. This battle is being fought in the older Soviet-ruled regions and in those taken over in 1939 as a result of the Hitler-Stalin pact. Jews in such cities as Vilna and Kovno have long attempted to maintain the semblance of a traditional Jewish life and also have attempted to support the teaching of Hebrew and Yiddish. Considered to be a thorn in the side of the Soviets, the Jews of these cities differ greatly from those Jews that have suffered 40 years of forced assimilation at the hand of the Soviets.

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