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August 1, 2008

100 Years Ago in the forward

When a hotel has a sign on it that says “Hebrews not served,” the hotelkeepers usually say that it’s not a question of antisemitism, it’s just business. They say that if they let Jews in, their regular Christian customers won’t come. But whenever their regular business goes south, they have no problem letting Jews in. All they do is leave the line “Hebrews not served” off their advertisements. In this way, previously antisemitic establishments have become ones that are liberal and philo-Semitic. Some hotels turn over completely in a year: One season there are no Jews at all, and the next they’re flooded with Jews. And the hotelkeepers are happy with their business. One story, of a hotel in Connecticut, is told about a Christian family who rented a room, only to find a gaggle of Jewish ladies sitting on the veranda. They asked the boss if he rented to Jews. He replied: “I’m an American. As far as I’m concerned, all people are equal. If you have other ideas, I’m sorry, but my place isn’t for you.”

75 Years Ago in the forward

British aristocratic circles are in an uproar over last week’s conversion of Lord Melchett to Judaism. And Britain’s Jews are no less surprised. In a private ceremony at North London’s Liberal Synagogue, Melchett was asked by Rabbi Morris Perlzweig why he wishes to take on the burdens of the Jewish faith. Melchett also was queried as to whether he is aware that the Jewish people are oppressed and tortured in Europe today. He replied that he wanted to let the world know he is a child of the Jewish people, that Jewish blood runs through his veins and that he has tied his fate to the Jews for that exact reason: because of what the Nazis are doing to the Jews in Germany. Although his family has been Christian for generations, the first Lord Melchett was descended from the Monds, a family of German Jews who converted to Protestantism in the 18th century.

50 Years Ago in the forward

The first Orthodox Jewish chaplain in the United States Armed Forces, Rabbi Yehoshua Betsalel Wachtfogel, is being sent to our newest state, Alaska, to care for military men on the many bases that are located there. A graduate of Yeshiva University’s Isaac Elchanan Yeshiva, where he was a student of Herman Wouk, he received his Bachelor of Arts from New York University. He also earned a doctorate at Dropsie College in Philadelphia. Wachtfogel was born in Jerusalem and comes from a family of many well-known rabbis. There is currently no organized Jewish life in Alaska for the state’s Jews, who number around 1,000.


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