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July 10, 1992 - Image 36

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-07-10

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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36

FRIDAY, JULY 10, 1992

My own fascination
with Yiddish freely
used in politics
commenced as
early as 1912 as an
immigrant who
came to Bayonne,

N.J.

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erious considerations
of issues confronting
the nation may lead us
to resort to lighter vein
comments. Even under
difficult conditions, a good
joke always merits apprecia-
tion. If we are denied an oc-
casional pun, we would be
sinking into despair when
we need to be encouraged.
In the earliest decades of
this century, and continuing
for at least four decades,
Yiddish speakers had radio
and debating halls; in their
ranks political and social
issues invited advocacies
and disputes.
One such instrument in-
vites enthusiastic recollec-
tion. It was the Hyman
Altman Jewish Radio Hour
on WJLB for at least 20
years. The Altman hour was
conducted by Hyman with
the assistance of his wife
Sarah. The program was a
community factor that con-
sidered all major American
and Jewish social, religious
and educational needs,

demands and obligations,
from Zionist duties to the
urging of strengthening ed-
ucational and cultural aims.
In light of the present pres-
idential campaign, we can be
treated to a recollection
about Hyman Altman. Polit-
ical advertising was ac-
cepted in his broadcasts as
English language appeals to
voters. It was in the 1937
presidential campaign that
the Altmans accepted a
Republican appeal in behalf
of Alf Landon, who opposed
Frankiln Roosevelt's can-
didacy. Hyman Altman read
the Republican appeal with
the enthusiasm and elo-
quence due a paying adver-
tiser. Having fulfilled his
duty in English, Mr. Altman
then returned to Yiddish
and said to his loyal au-
dience:
Doss is gevenn ah bat-
zolen advertaizment. Ich
shtimm far Ruzzvelt. (This

was a paid advertisement.
I am voting for
Roosevelt.)This is one of
many anecdotes of the
Yiddish political years.
Israel Sobeloff, the executive
director of the Jewish Wel-
fare Federation of those
years, shared with me scores
of similar stories. The
memories of them will re-
main and they point to
others about Yiddish polit-
ical roles in the first half of
the century.
I began taking a deep in-
terest in American politics
and was blessed with receiv-
ing the Congressional
Record for perhaps 40 years.
I started attending political
rallies, thanks to Uncle
Gedaliah, George Epstein.
Uncle George and his
brothers, Louis and Henry,
became Democratic leaders

in Hudson County, N.J.,
which included Bayonne. In
those early years, nearly all
political rallies were con
ducted in Yiddish and End=
lish. One is especially worth
noting.
Louis Epstein and Uncle
George were presiding at
Democratic rally in the
Labor Institute in Bayonne..
Louis Epstein opened
meeting by asking the
assmebly, "What should it
be, Ehddish tzu Engulsh?"
Half of the gatherinjh
shouted for the one; half for
the other. Thereupon, Loui:1
said, "Then we will make
gemixt." That gemixj
became a reality in tL
Americanization process. :-
Such anecdotal fasciit-
tions can never be erase .
from memories of pop-
ularized politics. El

.

I NEWS I

ADL Protests Hiring
Of Farrakhan Firm

Los Angeles (JTA) — The
Anti-Defamation League is
protesting the hiring of a
security service affiliated
with the Black Muslim
leader Louis Farrakhan to
patrol a federally subsidized
housing project in the
Venice area of western Los
Angeles.
A contract between the Al-
liance Housing project and
Farrakhan's Nation of Islam
security branch, not yet
signed but described as a
"done deal," was negotiated
under guidelines monitored
and approved by the U.S.
Department of Housing and
Urban Development.
In a letter to HUD Secre-
tary Jack Kemp, ADL's na-
tional director, Abraham
Foxman, said, "The Nation
of Islam and its leader, Louis
Farrakhan, have a record of
racism, anti-Semitism and
hate matched by few
groups."
"It would be as inap-
propriate for the Ku Klux
Klan or any other racist
group to be providing securi-
ty under government con-
tract as it would be for the
Nation of Islam," he said.
Mr. Foxman said there
would likely be heightened
tensions between the guards
and non-minority people in
the racially mixed project
and neighborhood, if sub-

V.T

jected to the Nation C7
Islam's authority.
David Lehrer, the Ari T;
Western states director, se':
that Mr. Farrakhan's secuitE
ty service "does not have •
stellar record, and it
employment would be like
asking the fox to guard the 1
chicken coop."
Iry Rubin, national leader (z)
of the militant Jewish
Defense League, said 11 4
group would demonstrate
front of HUD offices.
Under terms of the
$54,000-a-month contract
with Nation of Islam Securi-
ty, seven pairs of guards
would patrol the project's 15 ,
subsidized apartment',',_
buildings overnight from
Wednesday through Sunday.
The apartment buildings,
infested with drug dealing
and sporadic gang violence,
are in a once predominantly
black neighborhood nov
undergoing a process of gen
trification. During the re-
cent Los Angeles riots,
several new condominiums
in the area were vandalized
and one was torched.
According to the Times, a
HUD spokesman in Wash-
ington said he had not yet
seen the ADL letter, but that
any reports of anti-
Semitism or racism would
be "investigated and dealt
with."

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