On the Secular New Year
by Dr. Wohlauer.
Jewish holidays are about turning inward and making changes, putting away the old Adam and bringing out the new man, reborn to worthy action. So should it be with the secular New Year, which should be seen as an opportunity to take stock of our civil activities.
That Jews have served the fatherland with the same dedication as the Christian fellow citizens goes without saying. There are a few exceptions, for example, in the case of some Eastern Jews, where society has made them into pariahs, the destruction of the state is sought by some fanatics.
Another element to consider is that the physical landscape in which a culture develops shapes it. Greece’s net of mountains created the federated system and the sense of independence of its members. Palestine’s weather and soil conditions meant that Jews were not so attached to the land but were guided by the development of events. The Jews lived in tight spaces—if they had been of a different character this would have lead to military expansionism. Instead, they were satisfied with a small country that lay between the oriental power nations. They usually adapted to the dominant powers in the material world. However, in the spiritual world they were divinely inspired, passionate people who lived according to the words of their prophets. The one God, whose might and justice covered the world, lifted them out of political oppression. Their teachings were their pride. The material world meant little. This is the source of the contrast between the material and spiritual existence that is still felt today. It is the fanatic that wants the practical world to match the theoretical world.
The most serious criticisms of Jews are aimed at economics. Forced by necessity (Jews were excluded from most professions) and not from any special inclination, most Jews have become businessmen. And if Jews committed sins in this area the same way Christians did, they received a lot of blame. As an oppressed minority, Jews have to be more careful than others about committing offenses and exhibiting self-discipline. Ethical behavior might seem old-fashioned, but it should be sacred.
On the threshold of the New Year we should resolve to change and foster a greater sense of solidarity and demonstrate it in the way we behave in public and engage with the authorities. And we should teach our children respect for the rule of civil law. Only free people, who are not slaves to their drives, that have learned to command themselves, can create a free state.
Respect for school is often not fostered in Jewish homes, in fact, it is undermined. Immature criticism is not suppressed, rather it is invited and praised, clever superficiality is valued more than solid knowledge, school rules seen as negligible. An example of this attitude is the flood of requests we get to release children early so that they can start their vacations. Jewish parents should not be part of this. Perhaps the New Year can lead to improvement in this area as well.
The writer now takes up the question of the Jewish school and expresses the same sentiments as Rabbi Vogelstein [see below]. He argues that the integrated school is not the source of anti-Semitism and points to his own experience of Christian and Jewish pupils studying together peacefully. He does regret that Jewish students cannot observe the Sabbath, but concedes that life makes little room for this day of rest. In any case, a religiously oriented father will know how to make this day holy for his family.
Another advantage of the integrated school is the study of Greek and Latin, German and French thinkers and writers who are to be interpreted, not from a Jewish or Christian perspective, but from the context of the spirit that inhabits them.
Wohlau concludes that the integrated school will not endanger the a German who has committed himself to Judaism. The German Jew is only then a complete person when he can feel equally as home in the German as in the Jewish culture.
On the Question of the Jewish School
by Rabbi Dr. Vogelstein.
Synopsis: Dr. Vogelstein, rabbi of Breslau’s reform community, feels that it is his duty to express his opinion on establishing a Jewish school and to respond to the lectures recently held by Dr. Heinemann and Dr. Carlebach. He begins by positioning Dr. Heinemann and Dr. Carlebach to the right on the spectrum of conservative/reform Judaism which leads into a defense of the authenticity of reform Judaism. Dr. Vogelstein wants to make it clear that he supports Jewish instruction, as long as it’s a private arrangement. He becomes concerned, however, when the congregation’s administration is undermined in order to propagandize the Jewish school issue and threaten splitting the community.
Personally, he is against private schools in any form, believing that children of all classes and backgrounds should receive their primary education together. He certainly cannot back teaching arithmetic according to a Jewish method or pedagogy. Dr. Carlebach had proposed counting Hanukah candles, for example.
The lecturers pointed to the flourishing Jewish schools already in existence. Dr. Vogelstein argues that these were founded to liberate Jews from the ghetto and introduce them to modern culture. To found new Jewish schools would lead to a return to the ghetto. He refutes their claim that Jewish schools are necessary to provide a spiritual home and to develop complete individuals by citing the great accomplishments of those who did not attend Jewish schools.
As for the argument that Jewish schools would protect children from anti-Semitism, Dr. Vogelstein is certain that the recent upswing in anti-Semitism and religious hatred will soon ebb. Jews always have it harder than others and children should learn to deal with it and struggle against it. The struggle does not break the spirit, rather it builds character. As for the idea of the spiritual home—the family is every Jewish child’s spiritual home.
Those who attended the lectures might have mistakenly concluded that the plan was to establish a school for all Jewish children—an elementary school [“Volkschule,” providing eight years of basic education]. One needn’t establish such a school because it has already been in existence for 120 years—the Industry School for Jewish Girls. One alternative would be to expand this school to include boys. The current plan is to create a Jewish secondary school, which would be open to only a fraction of pupils, and probably not include girls. The school that is proposed would not be a Jewish school, but a conservative Jewish school because according to the proponents of the Jewish school, liberal Judaism is not true Judaism.
Dr. Vogelstein goes on to calculate the expense of such a school and asks whether the community should make such a sacrifice just to educate the sons of rich men? In conclusion, he concedes that Dr. Heinemann and Dr. Carlebach are justified in lamenting that too many Jewish children are ignorant of their religion. To that end, the community must work to improve religious education instruction offered in the public schools.
by Ludwig Davidsohn.
I. The King’s Lyre
Synopsis: Once a year, on a spring night, King David came out to his rooftop garden to play on his lyre. The wonderful tones erased the world’s pain and sadness. When the king died, no one could find his miraculous instrument. They could find only the one he normally used. That day in spring, when mourners could find comfort in David’s music, was the anniversary of Jonathan’s death.
David never loved a friend better than Jonathan and when he heard the news of Saul’s defeat at Mount Gilboa he went to the battlefield. There he found the bodies of Saul’s sons, including Jonathan. (To be continued.)
Aus dem Reich.
Berlin. The Union of Judæo-German Congregations will discuss amendments to the draft constitution for an organization representing all German communities at their next meeting on January 23, 1921. The presenter is Dr. J. Freund.
Frankfurt a. M. Rabbi Dr. Caesar Seligman celebrates his 60th birthday.
Frankfurt a. M. Hoechst AG has registered the anti-Semitic swastika as a trademark for its product, Ehrlich-Hata 606. This move has caused some astonishment as Ehrlich is a Jew and Hata is Japanese. Hoechst gave the following explanation:
“The swastika symbol has been registered to us since 1910 under Nr. 128933, though in a somewhat different form. We have been using it for dyes in India. A certificate from the Oriental Faculty states that it originates as a symbol for “Good Luck” or “Many Blessings” in Sanskrit, Gujerati, and Hindi. For further explanation of the meaning of the symbol we refer to two essays that appeared in the Feuilleton of the Frankfurter Zeitung, in September of this year. In addition, there is no question that in 1910, that is at the time of registering our first logo, the swastika was not known as an anti-Semitic, German nationalist progrom symbol. The recent registration of the swastika symbol in an altered form occurred because this would make it easier for us to protect the first registration. It is well-known that one often registers a logo in varying formats in order to better protect a trademark. We had no intention of using the symbol in its new form. When you look at the varying formats you will see that the registration of the swastika had nothing to do with anti-Semitism from our perspective.”
Magedburg. The local chapter of Central Organization of German Citizens of the Jewish Faith invited a number of Christian fellow-citizens to attend a lecture on anti-Semitism by Dr. Holländer. In it he described how the failings of all are ascribed to the Jews alone, as was particularly the case during and after the war. We Germans especially should take care as what the anti-Semites fictitiously accuse the Jews of, is being used against us by foreigners. The majority of the audience was Christian, and one could tell by the hearty applause that the lecture was well received and further discussions with other Christian groups are planned.
Luckenwalde. Mr. Woyda of Berlin spoke on the goals of the Jewish-Liberal youth associations. He distinguished the neutrality of the liberal associations from the orthodox and Zionist ones.
A statement by the Union of German-Austrian Jews.
Synopsis: On November 24, the Jewish National Council proposed an organization that would legitimately represent all Jews of all affiliations living in Austria as part of a worldwide folkish community. The Austrian Jewry rejects this and other efforts to create a special political or national status. The so-called National Council represents the minority of Jews and certain interested parties. We also reject any national or political minority rights that are based on a misinterpretation of Article 67 of the Treaty of Saint-Germain. We want nothing more than to be citizens of this state with the rights and responsibilities that entails.
From the Province.
Workgroup for the Jewish-Liberal Youth Associations of Germany. Announcement for an upcoming conference in Liegnitz. Speaking will be Dr. Baeck (Berlin) and Dr. Goldmann (Leipzig).
Schreiberbau. An exceptionally strong anti-Semitic movement has developed here, led by Postmaster Obst. This gentleman has gone so far as to insult Jewish persons with comments. The mayor is working to handle the situation by requesting that Obst be transferred. The Ministry responded that Obst could not be transferred based on his political orientation.
Synopsis: We received the following letter:
On July 15 of this year three schoolgirls from Fräulein v. Zawadzki Lyceum between the ages of 14 and 16, were caught posting anti-Semitic flyers from the German Nationalist Protection and Defiance Federation on the benches in the Südpark. At their trial it was determined that the girls were not aware that what they were doing was wrong. The director of the school testified that the girls had meant it as a joke. When the plaintiff inquired on October 3 as to the status of the proceedings, he was told that the case had passed the 3-month statute of limitation and was considered closed. The letter was received on October 22, 18 days after the initial inquiry.
The letter was written by an attorney named Foerder. Note that the inquiry had been submitted within 3 months of the trial, but somehow it languished past the critical date of October 15th.
Pawel Lyceum. Head teacher Gertrud Landsberg has recently been baptized, perhaps in the hopes of becoming the school’s director. A number of Jewish parents have already withdrawn their children from the school because of this.
Associations and Assemblies.
Modern Jewish Art. Dr. Freyer spoke on this topic on Sunday, the 19th of this month in the Lessing Lodge. The lecturer introduced a number of Jewish artists and analyzed their works, which he projected, as to whether they really represented specifically Jewish art, purposely leaving out any other artistic criteria. He defined Jewish art as one that recreated Jewish being, which he above all saw as the tight relationship between the Jew with his religion, bound with striving toward insight, so that the intensity of the Jewish spirit, which externally expressed itself in forceful gestures and in the pronounce sensitivity towards suffering. Most of the artists he introduced did not meet these qualifications; Bendemann, Oppenheim, Liebermann do depict Jewish life, but not Jewish figures with characteristic traits. Closer to these qualifications come Lesser Uri [sic], Struck and Hirschberg, whose Jews wandering in snow embody the living presence of the Jewish spirit. But especially Joseph Israels, who never gives his figures emotional gestures, but knows how to work with motifs represents Jewish art. And among the Expressionists are Jakob Steinhardt and Ludwig Meidner, whose figures embody an extraordinarily emphasized inner experience.
The lecturer explained that the reason for the small number of truly Jewish works by Jewish masters lay in the requirement for a cultural unity among the Jewish people. But here, even in the areas of Jewish mass settlement, Jewish poetry has indeed come into being, but no significant artists have. K.L.
Announcements and Advertisements
The Ferdinand and Flora Landsberger Trust is accepting applications from male or female relatives who need assistance to support their studies in machine- or civil engineering or applied arts.
The congregation and the Gustav Warschauer Foundation have funds to help with dowries for needy brides and are seeking applicants.