July 23, 2004
100 YEARS AGO
• More than 5,000 pushcart peddlers filled six halls on the Lower East Side to protest the new decree by Sanitation Commissioner Woodbury. The new law, which takes effect this week, no longer permits pushcart salesmen to stand with their wares in the street and instead forces them to stand under the newly built Williamsburg Bridge. Making matters worse is the preferential treatment being given to those peddlers with citizenship papers, who are slated to receive the best spots under the bridge. Those peddlers who have not yet obtained citizenship but who have residence permits will have second choice, and those who do not have citizenship papers at all will get whatever is left.
75 YEARS AGO
• It was announced this week in Moscow that the Soviet government will be creating a Jewish republic in a far eastern territory near China, called Birobidzhan. The official name of the republic will be JSSR, or the Jewish Soviet Socialist Republic. The announcement was made by the vice president of the Soviet Union, P. Smidovitsh at a meeting to consider Jewish colonization. Smidovitsh also said that the Jewish republic would have equal membership rights, exactly like all the other national republics. The territory of Birobidzhan is slightly larger than France.
• An area just outside of the city walls of Jerusalem known as Abraham’s Vineyard recently was donated to an organization called the International Hebrew-Christian Alliance. This news first appeared in an article published in the Alliance’s journal, The Hebrew-Christian, and quoted its president, Sir Leon Levison, as saying its purpose was to “help needy Jews in Palestine,” whether or not they are apostates. Plans are also in the works to build housing for “Christian Jews” as well as a Jewish-Christian church, where apostates will be able to pray.
50 YEARS AGO
• It has been six years since the top Soviet Yiddish writers mysteriously disappeared. This was part of a long-standing Stalinist plan to murder Jewish life in the USSR, both physically and culturally. News has come out of the arrest, imprisonment and murder of these Yiddish writers and cultural activists. Names like David Bergelson, Peretz Markish and David Hofshteyn are on this list. But it is important to note that it is not only the important writers who have been liquidated: This list continues, and it is a long one; there are hundreds of writers and actors on it.