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July 11, 2008

100 Years Ago in the forward

Cantor A.A. Rosenbloom of Minneapolis is on the outs with his congregation on account of the fact that he got caught going to a hayzl, or a brothel. Not only did he go to a hayzl, but he also got drunk and got into a fistfight with the pimp. As a result, he spent the night in jail. When the people of the congregation got wind of their cantor’s activities, they fired him. One would think it was a simple affair, but on the very next Sabbath the cantor showed up in synagogue and made a beeline for the bimah. One of the congregants, a local rag peddler, jumped up and blocked his way, saying: “Stop! You’re no longer our cantor.” The cantor pushed the rag peddler out of the way, and the rag peddler responded by punching the cantor in the face. Two sides quickly formed — one for the cantor, the other against. A battle royale was in full swing between the two sides when the cantor himself picked up a Torah and threw it to the floor. Suddenly, the congregants who were supporting him switched sides, and the cantor found himself thrown out of the synagogue permanently.

75 Years Ago in the forward

Nobody, not even President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, can convince Germany to change its current anti-Jewish attitudes. So says a recent report in the Berlin daily Deutsche Nachrichten. The report attacks the president for what are said to be pro-Jewish and anti-German orientations. In addition, the report says, the atmosphere in Washington has become terribly anti-German, and Berlin’s ambassador to the United States, Hans Leuter, has been forced to return to Germany for a long “visit.” The report also claimed Roosevelt’s recent appointment of Jesse Strauss as ambassador to France as clear evidence of his pro-Jewish orientation.

While Hitler’s envoy to the Pope, Franz von Papon, is in the midst of working out an accord between the Nazis and the Vatican, the nominally official Vatican newspaper, Il Observatore Romano, has published a scathing editorial regarding Nazi racial policies. Condemning Nazi policies as materialistic and a “kind of idol worship,” the paper wrote that “this racial nationalism stands in opposition to human history, is unscientific and impolitic and anti-religious.” It also claimed that a government based on race would lead to intolerance and anarchy.

50 Years Ago in the forward

In Israel this week, talks are being held, with the aim of avoiding exacerbation of a government crisis. The talks deal with the recent resignations of two religious Cabinet ministers, Yosef Burg and Moshe Shapiro, on account of a dispute over the inclusion of the word “Jew” under “nationality” on Israeli identity cards. The religious ministers are opposed to the inclusion. One solution being discussed is to list religion and nationality separately on the cards. The religious parties are concerned that people who are not halachically Jewish will be seen as Jews on their identity cards.

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