May 1, 2009

100 Years Ago in the forward

An unusual blood-libel report has reached us from Brisk, Russian-ruled Poland, where a local tailor had taken in a Christian man as a boarder. Apparently, the young Christian initiated a love affair with the tailor’s wife, and when the tailor found out about it, he arranged for three butcher friends of his to come over and force the non-Jew out of his house. But the tailor’s wife discovered the plan and went to the police, whom she told that her husband and his butcher friends planned to kill their boarder and use his blood to make matzot. With this information, the police staked out the home of the tailor. When the tailor and three butchers walked in, they were all arrested. But when explanations were given at the stations, all were set free.

75 Years Ago in the forward

Although attempts were made to keep it quiet, an international antisemitic conference was held recently in Switzerland, including delegates from 24 different countries. A report in the ultra-right-wing Viennese newspaper Völkischer Front indicated that government ministers, politicians, professors, religious figures and business magnates participated in the conference, the goals of which were to discuss the following topics: 1) the battle against world Jewry; 2) organizational issues surrounding international groups attempting to root out Jewry; 3) new racial theories proving that contemporary Jewry bears no relationship to the Jews of biblical times, who were pure Aryans. In fact, a resolution declaring Jews of today to be “impostors” was passed.

50 Years Ago in the forward

You’d be mistaken if you thought that “Yiddishists,” those who want to speak a “pure” language and who don’t want to mix in foreign words, existed only among Jews. And at least we have an excuse as to why Yiddish contains words from so many different languages: We move around a lot, and everywhere we go, we are a minority. So, how words sneak into languages that have a territory and a border is another matter. In France, they have recently taken to tearing their hair out over words like “cocktail,” “gangster,” “weekend” and “striptease,” all Americanisms that have crept into their spoken tongue. It has gotten so bad that French purists have threatened to boycott newspapers and publishers that use such words.

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May 1, 2009

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