Guidelines for Revising Our Religious Services
by Rabbi Dr. H. Fuchs (Chemnitz).
Revolutionary times demand that we don’t just make small or larger improvements here and there but discuss foundational problems. Normal times rarely have the energy for this. Most people and communities can only drink watered down wine. Even so, pressing the grapes, seeking ideals and acting on them, has value. In certain times, it is our duty.
It seems that the time is right for the problem of the religious service because of the new, deeply religious movement emerging.
That not everything in our religious service is ideal does not need to be examined at length. For a hundred years it’s been worked on without any satisfactory results. For one person it’s too long, for another there’s too much Hebrew; some pass the time with mischief, and others don’t even bother attending. But our young Jews long for a meaningful service. They don’t want to be caretakers of antiquities but want to get something for their souls. For them Jewishness mainly means (let’s not touch on political questions) a religious spirituality. That’s why they have started attending services. Woe to us if we can’t satisfy their longing. Then we are lost. Now, and most quickly, services must be designed so that young Jews don’t lose their passion: otherwise Judaism will vegetate toward its demise in the next generation.
We religious leaders of the Jewish religion must therefore ask ourself: Can individual reforms help or must we plow new ground? With the order: “You shall attend services,” or with pleading and convincing achieve nothing in the long run if people don’t want to gladly come to the synagogue for their own reasons. The willingness is now present. Are the problems with our services superficial or do they go deep?
The purpose of the Jewish religious service is, in the conservative perspective, the fulfillment of the relevant laws and the recitation of traditional prayers. The word of the wise one: “Don’t see your prayer as a fulfillment of a duty, but as an outpouring of your heart” refers to the attitude of the one praying, not to the meaning of the laws. These have been given us once and for all—applying them is Aboda, obedient “service” just as for all religious obligations whether rest on the Sabbath or honoring parents. The orthodox person does not have to question their outcome: that is God’s matter.
The so-called liberal Judaism has a fundamentally different attitude toward the rites. They should rise from our hearts to heaven, from the person to God. There is no fulfillment of an objective law, but the subjective wish of the conscience which pushed toward fulfillment. It follows that the religious service is not a “should”, but a “want.” The longing for a stronger awareness of our relationship with God, stronger than we could otherwise have, is what drives us to services. We feel that the everyday brings a degree of alienation from God, troubles and work darken and weaken the intensity of our love of God and distract from our striving for holiness. Piety dies when it’s not nourished enough—that’s why we go to services. The meaning of services is that they are for feeding the soul’s hunger for God! Prayers of thanks, praise, and repentance, teachings and profession of faith should all be seen from this perspective as should our requests for the necessities of life, health, food, honor, freedom, joy, peace, etc. These too are an “outpouring from our hearts” before God.
Why does one go to the synagogue to do this? Why not outside in God’s nature or through art, music and poetry? Above all, why not in that small still room where the soul, alone with its God, can more intimately open up? Typically the answer is that in the congregation devotion is more intense. And there is a lot of truth in that. When 500 men in the large, old synagogue process with the lulav and the processing palm branch mysteriously whispers and rustles, when 4,000 men in the large new synagogue acclaim “He gave us the strength,” when a boy who has become a bar mitzvah or a girl being confirmed pledges faithfulness to God the Father in front of the congregation, or just on a regular Sabbath the congregation stands for the Sh’ma prayer, something in the soul grows upward, something that can’t grow anywhere else, and the bond between person and God grows stronger, more here than anywhere else, simply from the force of a crowd that pulls in and overwhelms the individual.
But often enough this mass of people disturbs and erases this feeling, possibly due to less devout neighbors. In some the finest religious stirrings cannot come forth in the company of others. There must be other reasons for a communal religious service.
That is to say, what a service can’t create, let it lay the groundwork for it. It does provide motivation, teaching and development, strengthening, refining, and deepening to the spiritual life. However, the actual religious life takes place in the mind and character, in thought and deed, which are properties of the fully developed individual soul. Religion can’t really be taught or otherwise passed on. That’s why Judaism reproaches its rabbis: If the spark does not glow within then no other person can light it. But when it is there—and in the truly sensitive heart—then can it be fanned into flame!
Sunday, June 19, 1921, 3 p.m:
Meet at the Kürassierkaserne
A Walk to Lohe
On our return, we’ll have some social time in the South Park.
Monday, June 20, 1921, 8 p.m.
Social Get-together in the South Park
Announcement for Sunday, June 26, 1921:
Day trip to the so-called Silesian Spreewald (close to Breslau).
All members and supporters of our movement are welcome guests.
Jewish-Liberal Youth Organization, Berlin
Sunday, June 19, 1921
Day trip from Friedrichshagen to Königswusterhausen.
Meet at the S-Bahn platform at the Charlottenburg train station at 7:10 a.m., train leaves at 7:22 a.m.
Or meet at the S-Bahn platform at the Alexanderplatz train station at 7:35 a.m., train leaves at 7:47 a.m. We will return between 7 and 8 p.m.
We will walk 30 to 35 kilometers.
Tuesday, June 21, 8 p.m.:
Social Get-together at Schloss Wahnsee near Beelitzhof
(Nikolassee train station).
Bolshevism and Jews
by Dr. August Müller, formerly Minister of Finance.
by Bidsche Hohnsalz (Zehlendorf) Third Installment.
A new large offensive began. The earth shook quietly from the continuous firing of the funs that echoed over from the front that was only one and a half miles away. Nights, from the crest of the mountains, you could see the glow from the cannon flashes against the red sky. Read more…
Aus dem Reich.
Berlin. Emigration. Considering the great significance that Jewish emigration from Eastern Europe has attained and its impact on the masses of emigrants waiting in Poland, Romania, and the continents’ harbors, the Jewish Colonization Association called for a conference of the mostly Jewish Emigrants and Migrants committees in Europe to examine the emigration problem and discover methods for regulating emigration.
The conference took place in Brussels on the 7th and 8th of June. There was an interesting exchange of opinions and experiences among the delegates but a decision was made to coordinate the various committees and organizations to work together under the aegis of the Jewish Colonization Association. The priority for a thorough monitoring of the health of all emigrants from departure and sailing to their destinations as well stops along the way. Only critical cases should be handled and no measures put in place that would encourage unnecessary emigration. [Link to the JCA’s 1921 annual report.]
Berlin. “Intellectual Elites“. Bad behavior of drunken students. There was a very ugly adventure that Joachim Sachs, a businessman, had with a group of students on the Kurfürstendamm one night. Thus read the complaint of public insult and serious injury against students from the engineering college. The complaint named Friedrich Zillmann and the government’s head of construction, Gerhard Streit. This is the second time that the district III court had to deal with this dismal matter. Sachs’ co-plaintiff was walking along the Kurfürstendamm toward Hallensee around 3:30 a .m. on the night of November 28th. In front of him about 10 people got out of a bus, blocked the whole sidewalk and changed “We are stopping everyone and we’ll beat up the first Jew we find. Within a short time Sachs was surrounded and curse words were hurled at him. He says that he was told to take off his hat so that they could see whether he was a Jew. To that he said, that he doesn’t hide that he’s a Jew and asked to be left alone. Then Zillmann called the co-plaintiff “Jew-carrion” [Judenaas], kicked him and punched him in the face so that he bled heavily. Streit then said, “Such a cowardly bunch needs to be thrashed.” The co-plaintiff yelled for help which brought two policemen who could arrest only Zillmann since the others had already fled. As the co-plaintiff was being escorted to his apartment, the second defendant coincidentally crossed their path and could then also be arrested.
When the defendants saw the court summons and realized that this had become a serious matter, they sent the co-defendant an apology. His lawyer, Dr. Werthauer, would only accept the apology if the defendants retracted their claim that their actions did not stem from their antisemitism. Since this did not happen, the case came to trial. The defendants excused their behavior by saying that they had left a bar in high spirits, having celebrated a fellow student’s graduation. Because they were drunk, Zillmann had forgotten to put on his soldier’s cap.
The criminal court fined both defendants 200 Marks, and Zillmann was fined an additional 50 Marks for resisting arrest. Dr. Werthauer objected to the punishment. It was far too little for an incident of such brutality where ten people of the so-called educated class attacked one individual who had behaved completely correctly.
The defendants’ lawyer Arens admitted that truly regrettably the defendants had behaved in a dishonorable and improper [unmanierlich] way, but asked that one not make a drunken molehill into an antisemitic mountain. The court then fined each defendant 1,000 Marks since the incident was indeed a very terrible excess.
Görlitz. In its most recent meeting the city council approved allocating budget for Jewish religion classes in the upper classes and middle school, as long as they are taught by academically trained teachers, who will receive 18 Marks per hour.
Giessen. With regards to the incidents at the University of Giessen which had been mentioned in this newspaper [Heft 24 and Heft 25], the Dean communicated the following: “1. The university’s Senate has unanimously ruled that the medical student Falkenstein be permanently expelled from this university because of the serious injuries he caused to a fellow student. This incident took place on April 28, 1920. For the second incident, a fine 500 Marks had been set. It is not just that the court lifted this guilty verdict without further process.” Mr. Falkenstein immediately made a complaint to the state administration for education in Darmstadt. The decision on this complaint has not been handed down yet. 2. Because of the incident in July 1920, when a confrontation between Mr. Falkenstein and several students occurred the Senate was notified and three students named. One of these did not study in Giessen, but a disciplinary process was initiated which prevented leaving the university. Later, Mr. Falkenstein himself told the police that the notification incorrectly named one of the students, but the disciplinary process against him continues. – With regard to the other incident also mentioned in this paper [heft 25] where several students had assaulted a traveler, the rector stated that the police had reported that there had been a fight between a dental technician and a travelling salesman in which no students had participated.
As a result of the antisemitic excesses at the University of Giessen a representative to the state of Hessen’s government, Bauer, and some of his colleagues have sent an inquiry: “The violent behavior of certain student circles in Giessen and the unbelievable behavior of the Giessen Sentate, evidenced by their handling of the case of the Jewish student Falkenstein and the disciplinary action taken against him will damage the reputation of the University of Giessen. What does the government plan to do to repair this situation thereby preventing further damage to the university’s reputation?”
Kirchhain. A long-standing injustice against Kirchhain’s Jewish citizens has finally been absolved. As in countless towns in Hessen, there was an annual allocation of grazing land that went to a circle of interested parties. The lottery’s participants were selected via an application to the town’s administration. Town natives were included of course, and those who had moved to the town would be charged a buy-in fee. Jewish citizens were in principle denied participation. The town’s administration wanted to reserve the right to participate in this lottery for its Christian citizens. All appeals and complaints lodged by Jewish citizens were fruitless. In 1919 five Jewish citizens applied for use of the common grazing rights and when they were once again not accepted they turned to the lawyer Dr. Weisbecker in Cassel who made a complaint to the town’s tribunal. The superior court in Berlin has finally ruled that the exclusion of Jews is unlawful and these should be allowed the same access as the Christian citizens.
Aus der Presse.
The Unrest in Ostrowo.
The “Posener Tageblatt” contains a thorough report on the serious problems in Ostrowo which have partially been reported on by the German daily papers. It casts a much harsher light on the unbelievable events there. The paper depicts the events as follows:
On Thursday afternoon Ostrowo because the stage for highly suspect events, which will best prove where we are headed if the conscience-less powers don’t quickly put a stop to a certain kind of Polish partriot. Eyewitnesses and victims have told us about the events: At five o’clock in the afternoon about 500 workers from the rail car factory gathered for a march against Germans and Jews. The demonstrators pushed their way into a number of stores, brutally abused their owners and employees, and looted. One of their first targets was the well-known Hirsch Brewery. The workers attacked it from all sides, forced their way into the office and started hitting the owner and his employees. Mr. Hirsch, wounded and covered in blood, was further mistreated on his way out and only reached his apartment after great effort. A policeman who tried to intervene was also beaten and disarmed. The office was demolished. About 50,000 Marks that had been prepared for payments were stolen. Also badly abused was the manager of the brewery’s tavern so that the bridge of his nose was shattered and his front teeth damaged. The watchmaker Retzlaff was beaten and driven from his store. After he, covered in blood, was thrown out into the street, his store was looted and destroyed. The owner of the first transport company in Ostrowo, Alfred Than whose family lived in Ostrowo since 1700, suffered a similar fate. During the workers’ looting spree one repeatedly heard the call “Out with the niemry! Kill the niemry!” [niemry: pejorative Polish word for Germans] Toward evening about 100 workers went to the Krepa farm, tried to destroy doors and windows and demanded that the owner and his family leave the farm and go to Germany.
A Letter to the Editors
The legal representatives of the C. Lewin Company asked us to publish the following statement:
The legal proceedings against some of the owners of the C. Lewin Company have no basis in tax evasion or the sequestering of capital. They are a result of the accusations brought by the German Nationalist Protection and Defiance Federation in retaliation for the civil suit brought by the C. Lewin Company against it. The accusations are of illegally using middlemen or shell companies, the fixing of prices, fraud through fake freight documents and bribing of railway officials. The owners of the C. Lewin Company feel that they are completely cleared by the denial of the civil complaint. The issuance of the arrest order was only possible because the investigation relied only on the evidence submitted by the Protection and Defiance Federation and the defendants have not yet been deposed despite the process having begun in December, 1920. However, witnesses have been heard whose trustworthiness is questionable. These witnesses are mainly former employees who were let go for cause. The main witness, named Graupner, is one of these fired employees who has tried to blackmail the company. The investigating judge who probably had no knowledge of the witness’s personality, swore him in and used his testimony as the grounds for issuing the arrest order. Mr. Leo Lewin and Mr. Max Lewin were released after a couple of hours after posting bail. There was seen to be a flight risk because the senior executive of the company was ill and had gone to Marienbad for treatment. Also, his son-in-law had just traveled to Vienna to collect his own sick wife. He had returned as planned on Sunday and there had been no arrest order issued for him.
80th Birthday. Frau Jeanette Schwersenz who now lives here at 84 Höfchenstrasse 84, celebrates her 80th birthday in physical and mental robustness. She lived previously in Posen which she had to leave due to the changed political conditions. In Posen she had contributed much through her charitable work in the Jewish community.
For the essays by named authors, which express the personal opinion of the writer, the editors have only the legally necessary responsibility.
Advertisements and Announcements
The Great Eastern German Art Exhibition
In the Scheitnig exhibition hall.
10 to 6, from June 2 – 30, admission 2 Marks
Bar Mitzvahs, Old Synagogue, Saturday June 28:
Harry Loebinger (Father: Ernst, Ohlauerstrasse 28)
Alfred Abraham (Father: Theodor, Klosterstrasse 20)
Hans Sternberg (Father: Isaak, Frankfurterstrasse 100)
Bar Mitzvahs, New Synagogue [, Saturday June 28]:
Rudolf Moses (Father: Albert, Kaiser-Wilhelm-Strasse 21)
Eduard Riesenfeld (Father: Solly, Augustastrasse 73)
Alfred Capauner (Father: Hermann, Augustastresse 116)
Marriages, Old Synagogue, Sunday, June 19:
3 p. m.: Miss Ella Nebel to Mr Victor Kunert
4 p.m.: Miss Jenny Jaschkowitz to Mr. Curt Wolff
Engaged: Elly Freund and Walter Riesenfeld. Reception on Sunday, June 19, 1921, Bahnhofstrasse 17.
It is the duty of every Jewish citizen to be a member of the Israelite Hospital and Burial Society (Chevra Kadischa) and to support them in this time of great need due to the war and the economic consequences. Non-members of the Chevra Kadischa will pay twice the amount for burials. To join, contact the office of the Israelite Hospital, Hohenzollernstr. 96 (Tel> Ring6716 – 18).