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Culture

May 13, 2005

100 YEARS AGO

• Despite the fact that the Russian government is attempting to keep news of this event out of the papers, reports from the city of Zhitomir, about 85 miles from Kiev, indicate that a large-scale pogrom has been taking place over the last five days. Thus far, 16 Jews have been killed and hundreds have been wounded. One important fact, despite the murders, is that the Jews of Zhitomir have been valiantly defending themselves and their families with whatever weapons they can find. As a result, those defending the Jewish quarter of the city killed and wounded a number of pogromists. It is also being reported that Pavel Krushevan, an antisemitic publisher, instigated the pogrom.

75 YEARS AGO

• A new organization of Jewish communal activists in Poland has signed a contract with the government of Peru in which 2.5 million acres of arable land in the eastern portion of that country will be set aside for colonization by Polish Jews. For its part, the Peruvian government, which hopes to improve its economy by inviting Jewish immigrants, is offering each colonist 70 acres of land and a house, in addition to covering the travel expenses. Currently, this plan to colonize eastern Peru with Polish Jews has support from both German and American diplomatic attaches based in Berlin.

• The city of Bucharest is being patrolled by the army in order prevent further attacks against the Jewish community. Members of the community were attacked in connection with celebrations marking Rumanian independence. In addition, thousands of Jews in Bukovina are fleeing a wave of antisemitic unrest, leaving their shtetls en masse for the city of Tshernovits. Although the Rumanian government has received numerous requests to protect the Jews from the hooligans attacking the shtetls, nothing has been done as of yet.

50 YEARS AGO

• During their recent tour of Israel, Yiddish actors Molly Picon and Jacob Kalish were flooded with complaints on the part of new immigrants, mostly from Poland and Rumania. The immigrants complained about the housing situation and the expense of finding a decent place to live: They reported having to pay key-money, although in Israel, this type of bribery is called “mezuzah-money.” Immigrants from Rumania also complained that it is far easier for a Litvak to get a job than it is for a Rumanian Jew. On top of that, they say that in Rumania they were singled out as Jews; here, they are singled out as Rumanians. The immigrants approached Picon and Kalish after Knesset members gave the actors a hearty welcome. One woman even suggested that Picon tell the Knesset to lower her taxes.

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