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Culture

April 29, 2005

100 YEARS AGO

• Because of the current state of unrest throughout Russia, Jews fear that signs are ripening for a wave of pogroms to take place, coinciding with the celebration of Orthodox Easter. Making matters worse, a Christian cleric in Zhitomir has been openly agitating among his Orthodox congregants for an attack on the Jews. In addition, circulars have been spread throughout Russia, exhorting Russians to rid their country of Jews, Poles and other foreigners. As a result, Jews have begun arming themselves with whatever they can find. Fearing rape, Jewish women and girls have taken to carrying bottles of acid to throw at pogromists.

75 YEARS AGO

• A new page is being turned in the annals of Yiddish theater: Six of the best-known Yiddish theater actresses no longer want to play only women’s roles and have decided to play men’s roles. These include Molly Picon, Zina Goldstein, Betty Jacobs, Gertie Bulman, Ella Zibel and Yetta Zwerling. One of the leaders of this theatrical revolution is composer Joseph Rumshinsky, who put together the cast. This Saturday night at midnight, these actresses are scheduled to perform as male characters in “Goldfaden’s Shulamis.” Men will be allowed in free of charge.

• Felix Warburg, chairman of the Joint Distribution Committee and the Jewish Agency for Palestine, returned this week from London after meeting with a number of British officials from both the Conservative and Labour parties. Warburg said that Premier Ramsey MacDonald assured him that both parties will be working together to ensure that the Balfour Declaration’s intentions are carried out. Warburg presented a plan for Palestine, which calls for cooperation among the British government of Palestine, the Jewish Agency and the Arabs. Warburg also said that it was incumbent upon American Jews to help the Jews of Europe.

50 YEARS AGO

• With a faltering economy, an unstable currency and a troubling security situation, the State of Israel celebrated its 7th birthday this week. Among other issues, the Israeli army reported the official number of deaths of Israelis in the wake of the War of Independence had totaled more than 6,000 men and women. Despite the somber news, the streets of Israel’s cities were decorated in blue and white, and the sounds of joyous song and dance were heard throughout the country. In addition, the country has enjoyed enormous growth over the past seven years: Its population has more than doubled, the country is being built up quickly and hundreds of thousands of new immigrants have learned Hebrew.

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