December 5, 2003
100 YEARS AGO
• Recently, in the middle of services, a Bund activist tacked up a proclamation poster on the front door of the biggest synagogue in Grodno. The congregants ran outside to see what it was and read every word on the poster with relish. But the gabbai ran to the synagogue’s Shabbes goy and told him to tear it down. One of the congregants, a laborer, asked them not to take down the poster, but they refused to listen to him. At that point, the laborer punched the gabbai and the rest of the congregants began to pummel both the gabbai and his Shabbes goy. The police showed up, and one of them mounted the bima and warned the Jews that if the Jewish youths don’t stop their anti-government activities, there would be big trouble.
75 YEARS AGO
• There were a few interesting cases this week in the Jewish Arbitration Court on Madison Street. Hyman Jacobs of Brooklyn sued his landsmanshaft, the Makover Society, for $10. Jacobs argued that it should pay him for the time he had to spend sitting shiva for his wife. Normally, the society pays its members a shiva benefit to compensate for lost work during the seven-day period, but in Jacobs’s case, it refused to do so. The Makovers argued that Jacobs had been separated from his wife and was a single member of the society. The judges decided that Jacobs should receive the $10 shiva benefit.
• Why are most of New York City’s Jewish waiters Galitzianers? There are two main reasons. One, Galitzianers, unlike Litvaks and Romanians, tended to avoid learning crafts in the Old Country. Few of them arrived here as shoemakers, tailors or tinsmiths. Their parents wanted them to be rabbis and kept them in yeshivas. The second reason is that because they were ex-citizens of Austria, they weren’t drafted into the army during the world war. They therefore found work as waiters at a time when busy shop workers began to frequent restaurants during their lunch breaks. At the same time, groups of these waiters pooled their funds and began to open their own restaurants. And when the bosses are Galitzianers, the workers are too.
50 YEARS AGO
• This week in Jerusalem, the Yad Vashem project to memorialize the victims of Nazism held its first meeting. A spot has been chosen, not far from Mount Herzl, to build a museum as well as offices to house archival materials. The group’s temporary budget is being provided by the Israeli government, the Jewish Agency, the Jewish National Fund and the World Jewish Congress. One of the hopes of the new project is to rescue a variety of archival materials in Europe that relate to the millions of Jewish victims of the Holocaust, which they fear might be damaged or even disappear.