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Culture

April 22, 2005

100 YEARS AGO

• After following three thieves from a store on 14th Street, police uncovered the Allen Street headquarters of an organized shoplifting ring. Upon entering the two-floor dwelling, police arrested Isaac Abramovitch, Sofia Steinberg and Dora Glener, aka Rachel Friedman, and found thousands of dollars’ worth of stolen goods. Police also uncovered the shoplifters’ long coats, which had huge pockets and ripcords in them that could be pulled to let the stolen goods drop if the thieves thought they were being followed. Once in the police station, the three criminals pretended they were recent immigrants, although it soon came out that they had recently arrived from Chicago.

75 YEARS AGO

• Five years after its founding, Hebrew University opened the doors to its new Wolfson Library this week. At a ceremony marking the event, the High Commissioner of Palestine, Sir John Chancellor, said, “The founders of the Hebrew University are striving to create a home for a Jewish academy and for Jewish ideals, where Jewish culture can freely develop a connection between the civilizations of East and West. They are also striving to transform the university into a center for science and research, which will be open to all students, regardless of belief, race or nationality. The opening of the library, in one of the most beautiful, historic places in the world, is an important step in that direction.”

• The wrecking ball is coming to the Lower East Side, specifically to Forsyth and Chrystie Streets, where dark, dingy tenements are to be replaced with shiny, new apartment buildings. And if these decrepit walls could talk, what would they say? Anyone who remembers the old neighborhood knows, for example, that 222 Chrystie St., one of the buildings slated to come down, was once a center of the East Side’s underworld, a tenement house in which dozens of murders were reputed to have taken place. Some say that giving the East Side a facelift will never work. Others say that one day, millionaires will want to live here.

50 YEARS AGO

• Albert Einstein has died at 76. The great genius, who changed science with his Theory of Relativity, was brought to Princeton University Hospital last week with an infected gallbladder, but doctors then discovered his damaged aorta and he died shortly thereafter. In addition to being the most important scientist of the 20th century, the Forward reports that Einstein also was a fine Jew. A number of years ago, he was interviewed in the Forward. The reporter sent him a summary of the interview to make sure it was correct. The great scientist sent back his corrections: Whenever, in the text, Einstein referred to the Jews as “they,” he crossed it out and changed it to “we.”

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