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October 24, 2008

100 Years Ago in the forward

Jews on Manhattan’s Lower East Side turned out in the tens of thousands in a huge demonstration to support the socialist candidate for president, Eugene V. Debs. Along with such speakers as Morris Hillquit and Jacob Pankin, Debs’s short speech about the incredible increase in socialism was met with storms of applause. When Debs attempted to leave, thousands of people gathered around him, trying to shake his hand. The crowd was so enthusiastic, Debs was barely able to make any headway. Finally, a phalanx of more than 100 policemen guided him out of the thick crowd and to his next speaking engagement, in Brooklyn.

75 Years Ago in the forward

Agudath Israel, the political party of Poland’s ultra-Orthodox Jews, does a masterful job of combating its ideological enemies — the Zionists, the socialists and the atheists. The party also does an amazing job of imitating these same opponents. The Aguda’s latest attempt at keeping up with the political Joneses includes the creation of farms where their own halutzim can learn to work the land. The desire, even among yeshiva boys, to go to the Land of Israel and become farmers is so powerful that the Aguda organized farming communities, just like their mortal enemies, the Zionists. What differs, however, is whereas the Zionist halutzim work the land without hats, eat treyf and, worst of all, have mixed groups of men and women, the Aguda halutzim have no problem with working the land and then going off to read a blat gemore (a page of Talmud) or even jump into the mikveh.

50 Years Ago in the forward

A bomb tore a huge hole in the wall of a Reform synagogue in Atlanta, destroying its Sunday school and bringing fear into the hearts of local Jews. Fortunately, no one was hurt, although if the bomb had gone off an hour later, the synagogue would have been full of children going to classes. President Eisenhower condemned the attack and ordered FBI Chief J. Edgar Hoover to find the culprits. A few days later, as another synagogue was bombed, this time in Peoria, Ill., the FBI picked up five suspects from the Atlanta bombing. The Peoria synagogue that was bombed was the Reform Anshe Emes. Last year, an unexploded bomb was found at the city’s Orthodox synagogue. Local police and FBI are currently searching for the perpetrators.


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