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Looking Back: July 20, 2012

100 Years Ago

1912 After dozens of detectives searched high and low for Bronx resident Nathan Schwartz, the main suspect in the murder of 12-year-old Julia Connors, the suspect was found dead from gas asphyxiation in a room on Chrystie Street in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Disguising himself as Max Hershkovitz and claiming to be a recent immigrant to the United States, Schwartz rented a room in the Chrystie Street home of Nathan Kaplan and worked as a dishwasher in a local restaurant. Kaplan didn’t suspect that there was anything strange about Schwartz and didn’t actually see much of him, since his tenant would leave at 6 a.m. and return at 10 p.m. The only thing Kaplan noted was that Schwartz would return home with a large pile of newspapers every day. A few days ago, when Kaplan woke up in the morning, he smelled a strong odor of gas coming from Schwartz’s room. Not able to enter with the door locked, he called a policeman, who opened it. There they found Schwartz dead, with his mouth still on the gas pipe. A large pile of articles about the Connors murder was on the table.

75 Years Ago

1937 It wasn’t long ago that Harlem was called the “Jerusalem of New York,” although now its residents are mainly black. But on 128th Street and Lenox Avenue, there is still a little synagogue, and its congregants and its rabbi, like the neighborhood’s residents, are all black. The synagogue is a poor one, but on the inside it looks much like any other. There is a blue-and-white Jewish flag hanging from a table. The only unusual item is a large framed portrait of fallen Ethiopian monarch Haile Selassie. Descended from Ethiopian Falashas, the rabbi claims to have a local congregation of a few thousand black Jews.

50 Years Ago

1962 According to well-informed sources in Paris, a sensational report in an Israeli newspaper stating that 300 Jews were murdered during riots in Oran, Algeria, is unfounded. They said the number of Jews killed is more likely about three or four. These same sources noted that about 100 Jews have been killed in the Algerian unrest since the beginning of the year. Also, they noted, Algerian Jewish refugees in France are having a difficult time because the government continues to settle them in rural areas that have no Jewish communities.

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