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Lamed Shapiro, “The Cross
with Ruth Wisse

Lamed Shapiro’s story “The Cross” shocked Yiddish readers when it appeared in 1909. Writing in response to the Russian pogroms, Shapiro was fed up with the usual laments for the dead, protests against anti-Jewish violence, and the limited deterrent effects of Jewish self-defense. He broke a taboo by turning the tables and treating violence from the standpoint of the perpetrator. The story is situated in America, where Shapiro thought Jews could gain this necessary perspective.