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August 25, 2006

100 Years Ago in the Forward: Exhausted and battered, a group of 30 orphans from the recent pogroms in the Bialystok area arrived on Ellis Island. Bearing deep scars from the tragedy they just went through, the children, who range in age from 2 1/2 to 20, lived through weeks of seeing their parents and neighbors viciously attacked by pogromists. It is difficult to know if they will be able to endure the trauma they witnessed, which is evident on their faces. Members of the United Hebrew Charities met them on Ellis Island, bringing them candies, cake and ice cream. The orphaned children will be placed with families who will do their best to replace the youngsters’ murdered parents and siblings.

75 Years Ago in the forward: With the advent of sound in the movies a few years ago, dozens of films have been made in a number of different languages. Why, then, with so many Jewish moviemakers and moviegoers, has there not been a Yiddish talkie? According to a studio insider, the major studios have received thousands of letters and telegrams from Jews from all over the United States, suggesting that they make a Yiddish talkie. But some studio heads say it won’t be profitable. One major studio did have plans to make a film version of Abraham Shomer’s “The Green Millionaire” and had the cast ready and the sets made. But a new supervisor, the son of religious Jews, got involved in the project and decided he wasn’t interested.

A large and somewhat unusual protest march was held in Warsaw this week. Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jews wearing prayer shawls assembled in the city’s Jewish mercantile district to protest Jewish storekeepers who open shop on the Sabbath. Police shut down the protest, which had been organized by Agudat Israel’s youth division, but the demonstrators later regrouped. For their part, Jewish store-owners said that they have to open on the Jewish Sabbath because they are forced to close on Sundays, due to Polish law. As a result of this and the current economic crises, they need to open whenever they can so that they are able to make a living.

50 Years Ago in the forward: The State Department inked a deal with the Saudi Arabian government to renew the lease on a large airbase in the kingdom, despite the fact that the Saudis refuse to permit any American Jews to enter their country. Of the 1,500 pilots, engineers and other airmen on the base, not one is a Jew. A number of American Jewish organizations have protested the agreement, and the Senate passed a resolution condemning discrimination against Americans based on their religious beliefs.


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