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September 12, 2008

100 Years Ago in the forward

Last week, some of the greatest Yiddish writers and cultural figures gathered in Tshernovitz, Bukovina, for the first-ever Yiddish language conference. To be honest, it didn’t seem like something that would ever come to fruition. In fact, the American Yiddish press was mostly indifferent to the conference and essentially ignored it. It’s true that the Yiddish press here in America, even the socialist press, treats Yiddish poorly. Everyone writes with a different style and different spelling, and there’s a tendency to throw in English words even when there’s no need to. Here in America, writers never cared about their Yiddish, they just wrote. But from day one in Russia, Der Fraynd, the first Yiddish daily there, paid attention to the quality of its writing and to the Yiddish language. The Bund’s newspaper has also helped Yiddish grow. Perhaps a similar attitude will take root here. Let us hope that this first Yiddish conference will be a success.

75 Years Ago in the forward

Jewish youth in Germany now aren’t allowed to have romantic relationships with non-Jews. But when a Jewish teen by the name of Walter Liebling fell in love with a Christian girl, the girl’s mother knew about their relationship and did not attempt to prevent it. She also apparently liked Liebling and actively promoted the interfaith relationship. Upon hearing about this, a group of local Nazi officials paraded Liebling, his girlfriend and her mother around the streets of the city in order to try to embarrass them. For her part, the girl said that the government has no right to interfere in the private lives of its citizens. The Nazi government, however, apparently thinks otherwise: Seven Jewish young men in Worms who were discovered to have non-Jewish girlfriends were sentenced to undetermined terms in a nearby concentration camp.

50 Years Ago in the forward

In a speech before hundreds of Jewish leaders from around the world, Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion said that peace with the country’s neighbors is no closer than it was 10 years ago, when the state was founded, and that the countries that surround the Jewish state would like nothing more than to push it into the sea. Ben-Gurion added, however, that not all the residents of the Middle East are Arabs, an important fact. He also said that it would not be long before Israel would establish warm relations with the non-Arab states in the region — states that are, he said, actually more powerful and influential than the Arab countries.


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