March 11, 2005
100 YEARS AGO
• To the esteemed editor of the Forward: Recently, I have been going to the Thalia Theater more than to the other Yiddish theaters, but last Sunday I witnessed a scene outside the theater that gave rise to bitter feelings. Next to the Thalia stood a few peddlers, young boys, selling candy and fruit. It was clear that they weren’t standing there for pleasure, and certainly they had families to support. Suddenly, a group of theater employees ran out and kicked their baskets of goods into the street. I ask you, dear editor, is this just?
After receiving the aforementioned letter, we sent a reporter to the theater. That reporter received an official apology from the management.
75 YEARS AGO
• Brooklyn resident Morris Baskin was arrested on charges of involvement in an international prostitution ring, along with nine members of his immediate and extended family. Baskin, who made frequent trips to Poland to bring back his “merchandise,” did so by marrying more than 100 brides. Not only did he accept dowries from the brides’ families, but he also forced the women to work as prostitutes after he brought them to New York. The State Department worked together with the Polish police on this case. Also arrested was Harry H. Hall, vice consul of the U.S. embassy in Warsaw. Apparently Hall passed a large number of blank visas to Baskin.
• During a festive Purim shpiel that took place in the Polish shtetl of Bialatshov, a life-size puppet of Haman, hanged in effigy, turned into fodder for a blood libel. After the festivities, the Haman puppet was thrown out. A day later, two Christian boys found it. They alerted the police that the Jews were guilty of carrying around a model of Jesus on the cross, mocking it and then discarding it. The boys nailed the puppet to a board, stuck a sword in its side and gave it a crown of thorns to make it look like Jesus. Upon hearing this news, the Christian residents of the town attacked the houses of the Jews, wounding a number of them.
50 YEARS AGO
• Dozens of Egyptian and Israeli soldiers are dead following last week’s attack on Israeli soldiers manning the border between Gaza and Israel. Egyptian troops burst over the Gaza border into Israel under the cover of night, but they were pushed back after a battle that lasted a few hours. As a result, Cairo reported that 38 Egyptian soldiers were killed, as were eight Israelis. Following the attack, the Egyptian government lodged a strong protest to the United Nations, saying that it was one of the most barbaric Israeli attacks in years. Israel’s representatives say that Egyptian soldiers and irregulars are responsible for the frequent border attacks.