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Culture

December 12, 2003

100 YEARS AGO

• Last month 6,991 Jewish immigrants arrived at Ellis Island. Who are they, and from where did they come? First, 2,950 were men, 1,968 were women and 2,073 were classified as children. The most immigrants, comprising about half of all of them at 3,849, arrived from the Russian Empire. The next largest group, 1,632, came from the Austrian Empire, followed by Romania at 699 and Hungary at 672. Other countries had significantly fewer emigrants. For example, 63 came from Germany, 37 from England, 24 from Turkey, eight from Bulgaria, two from France, two from Persia and one each from Belgium, Sweden and Switzerland. Of these immigrants, 2,092 planned to go on to other cities in the United States. The remaining 4,899 were planning to remain in New York.

75 YEARS AGO

• It’s too bad that talking pictures weren’t invented 20 years ago. That way, our Yiddish theater superstars, people such as Dovid Kessler, Jacob Adler and Zigmund Mogulesko, could have been immortalized on the silver screen. The talkies, as they’re called here in America, are nonetheless providing Yiddish theater actors with new artistic avenues. Sources say that Maurice Schwartz, director of the Yiddish Art Theater, is in negotiations with a major movie studio to make a talking picture out of Sholom Aleichem’s “Tevye the Milkman.” Many of the actors have already completed their first screen tests. Some of them, hearing themselves perform, burst into tears. Bina Abramovitsh, for one, said, “I have performed on stage for most of my life and this is the first time I’ve been able to sit and listen to my own voice.” In order to allay fears that the moving pictures will take time away from his live theater performances, Schwartz says that he is only dedicating a few hours a day to the movie project and that the new media will serve to expand horizons for his Art Theater. It is expected that the film version of “Tevye the Milkman” will be entertaining both Jews and non-Jews in theaters this February.

50 YEARS AGO

• The chief justice in the American sector of Germany, William Clark, was suspended for what the State Department is calling non-compliance. Justice Clark, known to be temperamental, has said that he plans, simply, to ignore the order. Clark, whose tenure in war crimes trials was to end in January, was called back to Washington in December, one month early. The judge informed the State Department that judges are not used to being told what to do and that he would therefore continue serving on the court in spite of their order.

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