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Looking Back October 10, 2003


• According to the Bund’s latest reports, three revolutionaries were put on trial for taking part in an anti-government demonstration in Rostov. The first day of the trial, more than 700 demonstrators arrived to protest. On their way to the courthouse, they were confronted by a group of Cossacks and a number of fights broke out. Demonstrators also fought running battles with the police and military contingents. The chief of police was thrown from his horse during the battle and is now on crutches. In the end, the three defendants were executed, but not before one, a Christian, spoke out, saying that the real enemy of the Russian people is not the Jews, but the government.


• The first pushcart market was founded 40 years ago on Hester Street. Before that, pushcart vendors trudged up and down the streets of New York, pushing their carts and selling their wares. All the peddlers were immigrants, and most of what they sold was either vegetables or second-hand goods. Some used horses to draw their wagons. They would visit the same neighborhoods every day, and housewives would come running out — with a pot in one hand and a ladle in the other — to buy vegetables from their regular peddler. Most of the early pushcart peddlers were Italians, and their shouts for their goods were part of the landscape of New York. When Jewish immigrants got involved in peddling, it wasn’t fruits and vegetables, like the Italians, but mostly secondhand goods. It happened that one day: Four tired pushcart peddlers parked their carts on the sidewalk of Hester Street. Standing there, they quickly sold out of all their goods in the thickly populated neighborhood. They did the same thing the day after. Other pushcart peddlers caught on and began fighting for spots on Hester Street. Ever since then, the spot has been a pushcart market. Now, New York has more than 40 markets like it all over the city.


• Mani Leib (Brahinsky), one of the most beloved Yiddish poets, passed away this week at the age of 69. The death of Mani Leib has sunk the Yiddish world into deep sadness. Yiddish readers worldwide love his wonderful poetry, much of which was published in the Forward, where he was a regular contributor for the last 30 years. Mani Leib, who was active in the socialist movement in Russia, was arrested there in 1904 and came to the United States a year later. In New York, he worked as a shoemaker by day and wrote by night. Millions of Jews read his poetry in the Forward and in other journals.

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