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Family Escaping Russian Pogrom Incarcerated on Ellis Island

1914 • 100 years ago

The Island of Blood and Tears

Avrom Pogrebensky, a night watchman, scrimped and saved to bring his wife, Sarah Pogrebensky, and their two sons over to America from Samarkand, Russia. Finally united, the family was set to begin a new life in New York. But the school that the Pogrebenskys’ 7-year old-son, Raful, attended decided that the boy was mentally challenged and had him committed to a facility on Randall’s Island. Upon learning of this, immigration officials demanded that Raful be sent back to Russia. They incarcerated the boy and his mother on Ellis Island. Terribly upset over the way the government treated his family, Pogrebensky killed himself. But thanks to the tireless efforts of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society’s law committee, which appealed to the government, the mother and her two sons can now leave the island of blood and tears and stay in America. This news has been greeted with joy in all our immigrant homes.

1939 • 75 years ago

Palestinian Soldiers Register

More than 100,000 Palestinian Jewish youths from the ages of 18 to 35 have signed a national registry for the defense of the Jewish homeland. A protest against the recently published “white paper,” the registration was held at the same time as a massive march and mass meeting in every Jewish city in Palestine. There has never been a march of this nature in Palestine. It is claimed that some 300,000 youths participated. Hebrew newspapers reported with gusto on the fact that such a large number of Palestinian Jewish youths — from all walks of life — are prepared to battle for a Jewish homeland, a reality that this white paper denies the Jews. In related news, 308 Jewish refugees from Europe landed in Palestine and were all arrested.

1964 • 50 years ago

Soviet Anti-Semitism Condemned

Two thousand American Catholic and Protestant clergy, with Cardinals Francis Spellman and Richard Cushing at the helm, called for the Soviet Union to cease its attacks on the Jews and to consider the religious and cultural needs of the country’s 3 million Jews. The declaration appealed to the Soviets, saying the clergy was deeply concerned about anti-Jewish discrimination in Russia. The thousands of clergy called upon the Soviet Union to freely permit Jews to practice their religion and to reopen Jewish communal institutions that had been shut down. Additionally, Soviet Jews should have the ability to make contact with other Jewish communities around the world.

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