Sure, Those Mink Are Dead;
At Least They Were Born
ELIZABETH APPLEBAUM ASSOCIATE EDITOR
Q: Famed actress Brooke Shields
once opined, "Smoking kills. If you're
killed, you've lost a very important
part of your life." Has anybody Jew-
ish said anything equally profound?
A: Brooke is a tough act to fol-
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low, all right, but let's see what
we can come up with!
Like Brooke, another major
dramatic talent of our time is for-
mer Playboy Bunny Barbi Ben-
ton. She said "I believe that mink
are raised for being turned into
fur coats, and if we didn't wear
fur coats those little animals
would never have been born. So
is it better not to have been born
or to have lived for a year or two
to have been turned into a fur
coat? I don't know."
Producer Samuel Goldwyn
commented, "Anybody who goes
to a psychiatrist should have his
head examined." Other great
Goldwynisms: while at a public
celebration he introduced Field
Marshal Montgomery as Mar-
shall Field Montgomery; "I've
been laid up with the intention-
al flu"; "I had a great idea this
morning, but I didn't like it"; "I
love the ground I walk on."
New York politician Bella
Abzug, speaking at an Equal
Rights Amendment rally, said,
"We need laws that protect every-
one. Men and women, straights
and gays, regardless of sexual
Another New York politician,
Albert Blumenthal, keenly ob-
served, "We find ourselves in this
pickle because you bought that
jar and filled it not with pickles
but with water, and now you're
trying to jam it in the public's
Sportscaster Howard Cosell
said, " I think I've made a differ-
ence in my phase of the broadcast
industry, but I don't think I've
impacted on the world in the
manner of Franklin Roosevelt."
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Howard Cosell: He's no FDR.
Ellis Island: The name's the same.
And how about this brilliant quently accused of changing
observation by one of Einstein's names) merely confirmed the in-
instructors: "It doesn't matter formation contained in the
what he does. He will never records of the ship that brought
a certain immigrant.
amount to anything."
Immigrants' names sometimes
(Some of these quotes ap-
peared in The 776 Stupidest were, however, unwillingly
Things Every Said (Main Street changed. There were ships' cap-
Books) by Ross and Kathryn Pe- tains or shipping agents who ei-
ther misspelled immigrants'
names or changed names that
were hard to spell or pronounce.
Q: What was the Hilsner Case?
A: The Hilsner Case began (Since 1820, passenger ships ar-
April 1, 1899, when a gentile riving at U.S. ports are required
seamstress was found murdered to submit a passenger list to gov-
in Bohemia. Her neck had been ernment authorities.) Immi-
grants who came from countries
Authorities arrested 22-year- that did not use the Latin alpha-
old Leopold Hilsner. Evidence bet -- such as those from Russia
against him was flimsy and and Bulgaria, which used the
Hilsner's trial was riddled with Cyrillic alphabet - were especial-
anti-Semitism. He was found ly vulnerable to unwanted name
guilty and sentenced to death. As changes.
There also were cases where
anti-Semites throughout Europe
promoted the case as a blood li- schools changed students' names
bel, and as Jews in the area fled at registration. Sometimes, the
Bohemia's shtetls in fear for their pupil's family adopted the new
lives, the case become a cause name in the belief that the school
must be right, or to ensure uni-
Among the famous figures in- formity in the family.
Q: What is a megila?
*Prosecutor Karel Baxa, whom
A: The word megila means
the anti-Semitic press dubbed
"the savior of Christendom." scroll. It most commonly refers
(Baxa later refuted his position to the Scroll of Esther.
There are, in fact, five megilot
in the case. In 1923, with the sup-
port of the Jewish Party, he was in the Jewish canon, publicly
read on specific holidays. They
elected mayor of Prague.)
*Thomas Masaryk, later the are Shir HaShirim (Song of
first president of Czechoslovakia, Songs), read on Pesach; Esther,
who condemned the persecution read on Purim; Ruth, read on
Shavuot; Eicher (Lamentations),
*Charles I, who, upon suc- read on Tisha B'Av; and Kohelet
ceeding to the Hapsburg throne, (Ecclesiastes), read on Sukkot.
Megila also is the tenth trac-
Hilsner spent the rest of his life tate in the Talmudic order Mo'ed
that deals with, among other
as a beggar. He died in 1927.
things, the regulations concern-
Q: Is it true that immigrants' names ing the reading of Megilat Esther.
were changed by the clerks at Ellis
A: There is no documented case Send questions to "Tell Me Why"
of a U.S. immigration officer ever c/o The Jewish News, 27676
changing an immigrant's name. Franklin Rd., Southfield, MI
Registry clerks (those most fre- 48034