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February 11, 2005

100 YEARS AGO

• A telegram arrived this week from members of the Jewish Labor Bund in Russia describing events over there. Part of it read, “At the behest of the Bund’s Central Committee, massive strikes have broken out in all regions where the Bund is active: in Vilna, Bialystok, Kovno, Dvinsk, Pinsk, Mohilev, Berditshev, Homel, Riga, Lodz, Warsaw and in many, many other places bloody battles are taking place between the people and the army. At the funerals of fallen comrades, large revolutionary demonstrations are taking place.” The reaction to this telegram on the part of Bundist sympathizers was enthusiastic: Thousands of dollars were collected and sent straight to the revolutionaries.

75 YEARS AGO

• Should a Jew by the name of Louis Goldstein be allowed legally to change his name? Not if he happens to appear in court before a judge by the name of Louis Goldstein! The petitioner, Louis Goldstein, wants to change his name from “Goldstein” to “Golding.” The judge, Louis Goldstein, asked him why. “The name doesn’t sound good,” the petitioner said. “It’s bad for business.” The judge, who is undoubtedly an expert on the name, replied: “Goldstein doesn’t sound good? Golding sounds better?” The judge refused to accept his request, saying that having a Jewish name never caused trouble in business for anyone.

50 YEARS AGO

• “Yiddish is sick, Yiddish has been destroyed, but quality work is being published in Yiddish, work which is full of talent and intellectuality,” Isaac Bashevis Singer wrote, using his pseudonym, Yitskhok Varshavsky, in a review of the recently published translation of the Bhagavad-Gita into Yiddish. “When I first heard about it, I asked myself, ‘Who needs the Bhagavad-Gita in Yiddish?’ I then said to myself, ‘What do you mean who needs it? I need it! And I am surely not alone.’”

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