Forward Looking Back brings you the stories that were making news in the Forward’s Yiddish paper 100, 75, and 50 years ago. Check back each week for a new set of illuminating, edifying and sometimes wacky clippings from the Jewish past.
100 years ago
Horse Poisoner Busted
Dozens of businessmen — some victims, others simply curious — packed a Brooklyn courtroom to observe the trial of Abraham Fishbein, better known as Red Shirt Abie, the horse poisoner. Among those who appeared at the trial were many poor delivery and ice men who lost their horses, and their livelihoods. Fishbein’s method was to demand protection money from stable keepers. If they didn’t pay, he would poison their horses. Statistics indicate that more than 3,500 horses are poisoned and killed each year in New York City. At a cost of $500 per horse, that’s quite a sum. Horse poisoners bring in millions of dollars of illicit funds each year.
75 years ago
Rioting in Haifa
Rioting and attacks instigated by terrorists continue apace in Israel. Numerous Jewish families living in mixed Arab-Jewish areas in the Palestinian port city of Haifa have abandoned their homes after being attacked by Arabs. Having left all their belongings in their homes, some of which were burned down, many have relocated to the Jewish neighborhood of Hadar-Hacarmel. As many of them left their homes, they were showered with stones; occasional gunshots were heard. A number of Jews were injured, some gravely. Arab terrorists also set fire to the train station in Kalkilya. Bombs were set off in Haifa, although no one was injured during these attacks.
50 years ago
Javits Speaks Out Against Soviets
Speaking from the rostrum of the Senate, New York Senator Jacob P. Javits noted the shocking story of three Soviet Jews who were arrested and sentenced to prison terms for selling matzo they had baked at home. Javits said that all organizations and countries that hold freedom of religion dear should lodge protests. He noted that the Soviet authorities are continually attacking Jews as being responsible for that country’s economic woes and that the Jewishness of the accused is consistently emphasized in the Soviet press.
This story "Shakedown Artist 'Red Shirt Abie' Convicted for Poisoning Deliverymen's Horses" was written by Eddy Portnoy.