March 14, 2003
100 YEARS AGO
• From Rivington to Hester Street, and all over the Lower East Side, dozens of Jews stood around waving their fists, threatening to “hang that Haman” even before Purim. “Haman,” in this case,” is Sanitation Commissioner Woodbury, who declared that the selling of fish from pushcarts will be permitted no longer. It seems that the Board of Health has determined that it is unsanitary to sell fish on the street and is planning to build a new fish market. In theory, a new fish market would be excellent. However, for the fish peddlers, it is simply an evil decree. Only 300 stalls will be made available at the new market, a problem for the more than 1,000 Jewish fish peddlers.
75 YEARS AGO
• Isadore Wertheimer, the treasurer of Temple Bet-Yisroel in Washington Heights, was sentenced to three years in prison for forging his father’s will. Wertheimer’s father, Yitzhak, owned a successful dry goods store. In the faked will, Wertheimer wrote that only he and his brother would get the store and nothing would go to their sisters. It was determined that the will was a fake because it was notarized the day after the elder Wertheimer died. Isadore said he falsified the will because he didn’t want his sisters, who, he claimed, never worked in the business, to get any of it.
• Another disputed inheritance case involves members of the family of the extremely wealthy businessman Benjamin Menachem-Moshe of Aden, Yemen, known as “Rothschild of Aden.” He became the biggest businessman on the Red Sea coast and traded throughout the region; it was said that half of the businesses in Port Said belonged to him. Menachem-Moshe had two daughters from his first wife, a son from his second and none from his third. When he died at the end of World War I, he left an inheritance valued at 100 million pounds sterling. And ever since then, the family has been fighting over the money. It’s been more than eight years of court cases from Egypt to Yemen with no result in sight.
50 YEARS AGO
• The most successful and best-known Jewish career woman, Carrie Nieman, died this week. Nieman, who founded the high-end department store, Nieman-Marcus in Dallas, Texas, was one of a small number of women who became successful in the retail industry. Nieman’s influence in the garment industry was so great that in recent years, designers sent their new fashions to her in Texas before sending them to retailers in New York. Nieman grew up in Louisville, Ky., and opened her first store with her husband and her brother in Dallas in 1908. It quickly grew into a large department store that catered to the new oil wealth in the area.