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September 19, 2008

100 Years Ago in the forward

The Tshernovitz Yiddish Conference is one of those events that have attempted to stress the value and importance of our mameloshn, that one-time “jargon,” and to give it a place among the languages of Europe. During the past 25 years, much has occurred, the most important of which has arrived in the form of Yiddish literary works. Every quality piece written by our writers, every beautiful poem, deepens the impression that Yiddish isn’t junk; it’s a language equal to all others in the civilized world. But the old attitude is deeply rooted, and when an educated Russian Jew reads a story by I.L. Peretz or Sholem Asch, it seems impossible to him that Yiddish can be written in such a way. The juiciness of the expressions, the flexibility of the phrases, the melodic beauty and the power of the way in which the words are put together — all that is something new, something he never dreamed of.

(from an editorial by Abe Cahan)

75 Years Ago in the forward

At the World Jewish Conference being held this week in Geneva, Rabbi Stephen Wise demanded that all Jews worldwide initiate a boycott of all German goods, even if it means that German Jews will suffer because of it. “In the wake of six months of constant and increasing attacks on Jews in Germany,” Wise said, “there is no alternative other than to boycott Germany and to call for the rest of humanity to do the same.” Wise also reminded the conferees that at last year’s conference, they predicted that Hitler would never rise to power and that if he did, he would never be able to carry out his threats against the Jews. These predictions, Wise noted, turned out to be terribly wrong. Worse yet, those attending the conference are also targets of local Nazis, who threw stink bombs in the conference hall.

50 Years Ago in the forward

According to recently arrived refugees, the communist government in Romania instituted a vicious new anti-Jewish campaign. In an unrelated matter, seven American tourists were deported from Romania last week for unknown reasons, and happened to meet a group of Jewish refugees on their way to Israel. These refugees generally arrive by train in Vienna, where they have been met by Jewish organizations that say the news from Romania indicates that a campaign of terror is being waged against the country’s Jews. Those Jews who held government positions have been fired, and many Jews are being forced to sell their possessions to survive. As a result, a number of Jews have committed suicide.


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