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Culture

June 4, 2004

100 YEARS AGO

• In the wake of pogroms and in light of numerous threats of new ones, Jews in shtetls are beginning to arm themselves. When Jewish residents of the shtetl of Talatshin, in the Moghilev province, caught wind of a pogrom being planned against them, they sent out announcements to neighboring Borisov, as well as to Shklov and Minsk, asking that able-bodied young men come to protect the Jewish community. Approximately three dozen youths armed with daggers and revolvers boarded a train to Talatshin. But upon arrival, it became obvious that someone had informed on them: The train station was crawling with police, who arrested most of the youths and brought them to the Orsha jail.

75 YEARS AGO

• A sensational story came to light recently in the East Broadway Rabbinical Court of Rabbi Yankev Iskolsky. Though the names of those involved are being kept secret, the story involves a woman from New York who married a wealthy Jew from South Carolina, where he owned large cotton fields and stores. Not long after the marriage, the woman took a trip back to New York, during which she called her husband down south and informed him that she was pregnant and would be staying in New York until after the baby was born. In the meantime, the husband, who was 40 years old, died and left $5,000 to the son he never met. It turned out that his wife actually never was pregnant and thus never gave birth. Knowing that she was physically incapable of getting pregnant, she devised a plan in which she purchased the newborn son of a poor woman whose husband had left her. The cost of the newborn was $50. The woman’s own mother exposed her scheme, and she informed the sister of her dead husband that the baby was not her brother’s. The dead husband’s sister was upset that the baby was purchased from a Christian woman, but the female dissembler at the center of the plot swore up and down that she bought the baby from a Jewish woman. The case arrived in the court of Rabbi Iskolsky to determine whether the child is Jewish, which the rabbi judged in the affirmative.

50 YEARS AGO

• “The Senator from Wisconsin couldn’t have done a better job for the communists if they paid him,” said Rep. Senator Ralph Flanders in a sharp attack on Joseph McCarthy. Flanders described McCarthy as the real danger to America and compared his anti-communist crusade to the Nazis. He also argued that McCarthy’s crusade has brought about premonitions of fear and tragedy for the Jews. The senator from Wisconsin, he said, has split the country, the Republican Party and the Catholic Church.

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