February 27, 2004
100 YEARS AGO
• In a story that exemplifies the inhumanity of Russia’s antisemitism, a Jewish doctor who lived with his family in Kiev volunteered to serve in the medical corps of the Russian army, since the lack of doctors on the front in Siberia is well-known. But a Jewish family cannot live outside the Pale unless its breadwinner lives with them. Since Kiev is outside of the Pale and the doctor was serving in Siberia, the family lost its permission to live in the city. As soon as the doctor left Kiev, the police appeared and informed his wife and children that they were to leave the city at once and settle in a town where Jews are permitted.
75 YEARS AGO
• Up until a week ago, 19-year-old Leah Goldarbeiter was an average Jewish girl, a kosher Galitzianer who helped out her chasidic father in his little leather-goods shop in the Leopoldstadt, the Jewish quarter of Vienna. But after being crowned “Miss Austria” last week, things have taken a different turn. Overnight she changed from Leah to Lisa, and one can buy her photograph all over Vienna. Journalists have besieged her house in hopes of getting an interview. Theater and film directors are banging down her father’s door to get her to sign a contract. The judges in the contest, which included artists, sculptors and professors, did not know anything about the 1,200 girls who entered the beauty contest. The girls were designated by numbers only, not by names or places, so the judges had no idea they were choosing a Jew. And Leopoldstadt’s Galitzianers are going wild. Not necessarily because they produced such a hottie, but because it’s a great victory for them. “Where do the goyim go when they want to pick the most beautiful girl in all of Vienna? They come to us, to the Jews in Leopoldstadt!” said one of the celebrating locals.
50 YEARS AGO
• Sholem Asch is a frequent guest in France, but he rarely spends any time among the Jews there. The center of French Jewry is in Paris, but when Asch shows up, it’s usually in Nice, on the Riviera in a luxury hotel. The few Jews who live in Nice have broken up into two groups: one is pro-Asch, the other anti-Asch. There are more of the latter, who oppose the writer because of his recent pro-Christian novels. To prove his Jewishness, Asch recently showed up at the Orthodox shul in Nice. The president of the congregation wanted to give Asch an aliya even after a number of people warned him not to. The opposition then staged a walkout.