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Culture

January 10, 2003

100 YEARS AGO

• The Jews of Fez, Morocco, have been driven into a ghetto for their own protection at the behest of the city government. Apparently Muslim fanatics have been threatening the Jewish community, and the government fears that they will attack the Jews. Measures have also been taken to protect other infidel groups, which are threatened by the Islamic insurgents who are using Morocco’s current civil conflict as a pretext to attack non-Muslims. The recently formed Jewish Quarter is being guarded by government troops on the orders of the sultan, whom the revolutionaries consider to be too civilized.

75 YEARS AGO

• Among the impressions that Abraham Cahan writes after returning from the Soviet Union is that in Minsk, far fewer Jews go to shul than used to after a bitter campaign against the synagogues and cheders. Interestingly, Cahan reports that many of the Jewish communists involved in the anti-religious campaign now regret it. Another interesting item is the fact that a statue of Czar Alexander II that was removed from its pedestal and destroyed in the revolution was replaced with a statue of Jewish revolutionary Hirsh Lekert. Alexander’s name was scratched off the pedestal and replaced with Lekert’s.

• “Hey waiter! I’m in a rush! Give me something to eat, quick!” This is one of the frequent demands heard by our Jewish waiter, who describes his experiences in the Forward. It’s not news that men smoke. But a recent trend is that a lot of young women have begun smoking, and they smoke like chimneys. Then there are ladies who come in and order soup, only to take a taste and send it back. Some people like to read while they eat — who can argue with that? But there are always a few who spend a dime on a cup of coffee and sit there all day reading the paper. Next thing you know a group of four people want to sit together, but they can’t because the librarian is taking up the whole table. This kind of person can ruin a good restaurant.

50 YEARS AGO

• As part of a general trend in the Soviet bloc to remove Jews from their positions, two Jewish, East German communist leaders were formally accused of being American agents, Zionists, followers of Trotsky and Tito, and other similar charges. Paul Merker, a former member of the East German Politburo, and Kurt Miller, former deputy chief of the East German communist party, both Jews, were arrested on charges of being involved in an anti-communist, anti-socialist Zionist transgression.

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