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Culture

April 9, 2004

100 YEARS AGO

• More than a hundred Jewish homes were destroyed in Homel during a recent pogrom. The Jews, however, led by a number of butchers, defended themselves against the pogromists and managed to wound a few. Although many Jewish businesses were destroyed, no one was killed. In a related story, word on the street is that Kishinev is expecting another pogrom.

• Christians are apparently talking about it openly and have begun to call the Jews “Japanese,” a reference to the current enemy of the Russian Empire, instead of the usual “kikes.” What’s worse, the government has found a new way to “pogromize” the Jews nonviolently, by closing down their shops and denying them the right to sell their goods.

75 YEARS AGO

• When Vilna resident Hillel Nigus walked out of his apartment building to go to work, he accidentally bumped into a young woman, knocking her down in the process and causing her to cut her knee. A mob quickly surrounded Nigus, accusing him of wanting to use the blood of a Christian child for religious purposes. Nigus managed to escape and hide in a nearby Jewish restaurant, but the mob began to smash the windows. For two hours, Nigus hid in the restaurant’s basement while the crowd demanded he be turned over to them. Eventually, the police showed up and sent the mob packing, allowing Nigus to go free. No arrests were made.

• Henry Ford, world-famous inventor of the inexpensive automobile, drove his latest creation to the Jewish-owned Olympia Hotel in Mount Clemens, Mich., and sat down in its restaurant. The owner, Sam Elkin, recognized his new customer, went over to him and said, “Shalom.” Ford said, “I’ve been hearing all about Jewish delicacies. I want some gefilte fish.” After eating a full meal, topped off with a piece of apple strudel, the auto magnate thanked his waiter for the delicious food and gave him a 25 cent tip. He said he liked the Jewish food so much that he would be back again.

50 YEARS AGO

• A large transport of matzo, wine and other Passover delicacies was shipped by an Army helicopter to a contingent of Jewish soldiers stationed at a base near the North Pole. This is just one example of the Passover activities going on in the U.S. Armed Forces. This year, about 300 Jewish chaplains will be leading Seders for more than 150,000 Jewish soldiers currently serving in the Army. A mass Seder will be taking place this year in Korea, with smaller ones being celebrated in Japan, the Philippines, Hawaii, Okinawa, India, Indochina, North Africa and Europe.

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