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Culture

July 16, 2004

100 YEARS AGO

• A blood libel was averted in the shtetl of Dokshitz, near Minsk, after an eyewitness fingered a pair of murderers who were planning to hide the body under the house of a local Jew. A private letter brought to the Forward indicates that the entire Jewish population of the town was in danger after the disappearance of a Christian girl. The murderers apparently wanted to blame the Jews for the murder and thus planned to place the body under the home of a Jew. The killers cut the body into pieces and placed it in a large sack. While they were carrying it, a local watchman asked what it was. They told him it was a dead pig. The size and shape apparently aroused suspicion and the watchman called the police.

75 YEARS AGO

• An unusual demonstration took place this past Saturday. A group of thousands of men, women and children marched up 16th Avenue in Brooklyn, N.Y., to protest Jewish storeowners who keep their establishments open on on the Sabbath. They went from block to block, for some 30 blocks, demanding that the Jews close their stores. Some storekeepers did shut their stores. Some did not. Some of those who did even joined the march. The leaders of the demonstration say that they are planning similar ones for all upcoming Saturdays. They say they will do it until every Jewish store in Boro Park is closed on the Sabbath. And then, they say, they will take it to other neighborhoods. While some nonreligious Jewish storekeepers say they will close on the Sabbath, it is only because they fear that eventually the leaders of the march will institute a boycott against them.

• A terrible battle has been taking place between the local Jews and the Soviet police in Berditshev, where the government has decreed that the Jewish cemetery, which is more than 200 years old, should be transformed into a park. Workers who arrived to dig up the graves were met with a hail of stones. A rumor also sprang up among them that those who worked at the site became paralyzed. The Soviet government says that the bones that have been dug up thus far are from horses. Local Jews say a number of tsadikim are buried there. The local city council tried to create a compromise, saying they would build a park but leave the remaining tombstones in place.

50 YEARS AGO

• The Jews have contributed a huge number of actors, singers and comedians to American culture. One of them, Gertrude Berg, who plays “Molly,” the famous Jewish mother, on the TV show “The Goldbergs,” is so popular that when she was sick in the hospital last year, she was besieged with phone calls and flowers. Even the pope sent her a gift. Berg has been playing the beloved Molly for more than 20 years since she got her start on the radio show, “The Rise of the Goldbergs.” Her fans fell in love with her voice, her accent, her “nu’s,” “goteniu’s” and “oy vey’s.” In real life, Berg is a lot like Molly — always smiling and full of life.

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