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February 25, 2005


• One of our readers has sent in a personal letter from the shtetl of Krinik, near Grodno, in which a small revolution has taken place. The town’s residents have attacked the police. Krinik is known as the birthplace of revolutionary Shmuel Sikorski, the Jewish tanner who, together with Russian revolutionaries, bombed the carriage of Interior Minister von Plehve, assassinating him. Sikorski, now sitting in prison, can take pride in his hometown. All of Krinik’s workers, Jewish and Christian, assembled in the synagogue and gave rousing speeches denouncing the Csar. From there they marched with red flags to the police station and destroyed all the documents there.


• In the early hours of Saturday morning, in the Jewish-Rumanian restaurant on Eldridge Street, in the heart of New York City’s Lower East Side, David Belkin, co-owner of the nearby Russian Tea House, was eating and cracking jokes with his friend, Saul Bravetsky, and the restaurant’s owner, Sarah Nedman. There were no other customers in the restaurant at the time. A taxi pulled up out front and out jumped two men who ran into the restaurant, pulled out revolvers and began shooting at Belkin. Belkin yelled, ‘Hot rakhmones!’ (‘Have pity!’) What do you want from me?” as he went down in a hail of bullets. He died on the spot. Bravetsky was grievously wounded and is currently in the hospital in critical condition. The police are looking for suspects.

• Anyone who loves the Lower East Side will be pleased that the city is widening Houston Street. This narrow and dirty street, which is badly in need of improvements, has served the East Side well as the main party street for the Jews. It should not be forgotten that some of the first Jewish cabarets in New York cropped up on Houston Street, in addition to cheap wine cellars, kibitsarniyes and other hangouts in which writers, actors and artists dreamed and danced. Boris Thomashevsky put the first modern Yiddish theater on Houston Street. And that old Jewish delicacy, the knish, grew into an industry on that very street.


• The government of Israel has announced that it will build a special structure in Jerusalem to house the ancient scrolls of the Book of Isaiah that were found near the Dead Sea recently. A Beduin sheepherder found them accidentally, after going into a small cave to retrieve a goat that had wandered off. In the cave he discovered seven clay vessels, which he collected and brought to an Arab antique dealer in Bethlehem. The dealer bought them for $80. He subsequently sold them to another dealer for $100. The price went up to such a degree that by last summer, four of the scrolls went for a quarter of a million dollars.


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