An Open Letter
to Pastor Lic. theol. Moering from Berthold Cohn (Vossen).
Synopsis: Cohn opens with praise for Pastor Moering and an observation how rare it is in today’s Germany to find a Christian with a similar perspective. He responds to the central themes of Moering’s article starting with the unreasonable assignation of blame for WW1 to Jews. He agrees that Jews did not incite the war or sell out Germany, but he considers that the German Jewry shares some of the guilt because in the years leading up to the war they did not do anything to moderate the national hubris. Indeed they even helped build it by buying into the myth of the “blonde master.” They believed that the German spirit would heal the world.
“We tried to be blonde and Arian, forgot out heritage, copied the Christian houses of worship in the design of our temples, and named our black-eyed sons Siegfried and Werner. We would truly have done the German people a better service had we been less “loyal Germans” and more independent, more “Jewish.”
Germans and Jews have this in common, Cohn suggests, that they tend to either deify themselves or—and this is no less dangerous—deify the Other. One should instead strive toward balanced self-confidence needed to recognize the right of others to be different. Not before then will anti-Semitism disappear. Cohn disagrees that the path Moering suggests would lead to this goal. Moering’s approach is to disprove each anti-Semitic argument, but anti-Semitism is like a hydra that constantly grows new heads. Having more interactions between Jews and Christians is not the solution. Healing will only come when both work on developing their inner qualities. Jews do not trust their own strengths and nature enough and stop feeling as though they live in glass houses, concerned with what the Germans think of them. Instead they should live as though in a strongly-walled temple, with God.
The German spirit—not what’s been called such since 1870—formed the Jews of this land. The objective and tragedy of all educations is the independence of the apprentice who makes his own way.
“That time has come. Many of us—and I speak of the Zionists whose goals seem so grotesque to you—feel the continued German influence at this stage of development as crippling instead of supporting. They want to escape the Augeas stable of anti-Semitism whose millennia of manure no Hercules can clear… The oldest homeland is opening again and it draws our souls with ever gathering strength.”
Cohn concludes that if Pastor Moering knew the Zionist movement well, he would never compare them with anti-Semites. Anti-Semites want the expulsion of Jews for political reasons. The Zionists want to prepare a homeland for those Jews who have decided for whatever reason to emigrate. And even those who emigrate will never separate completely from their German essence.
[to Cohn’s “Open Letter”] Synopsis: Pastor Moering appreciates the thoughtful arguments presented by Cohn, but he wants to describe how Zionism looks from the German viewpoint. The Germans will fight it because the non-anti-Semites don’t want to lose the Jews, fully recognizing their contributions to the German heritage. Zionism complicates the Jewish problem. We could never appoint a Zionist to a German ministerial position. Further, Zionism stems from the same spirit as the pre-war power position in that it can only envision the survival of Judaism if there is also a Jewish state. Zionism perhaps makes Judaism strong on the outside, but its materialism (that is, its insistence on external power) is not necessarily coupled with inner renewal.
[The second letter is written by Erich Spitz, author of the article, “Collected Thoughts on the School Question, January 14, 1921] Partial Translation: Spitz questions whether it is necessary to reject the German nation and people. It has only been 100 years since the emancipation and exit from the ghetto. One shouldn’t give up on the enterprise because of a rough patch. There has been significant progress made in establishing recognition and validation in the cultural, economic, and civic life in Germany. We are in part to blame if there are still some obstacles. Our economic rise was almost frighteningly fast and we had little time to reflect, so we do still show some of the negative characteristics of the ghetto, that is, we haven’t perfected “the modesty of a quiet self-consciousness.” This lack of inner freedom leads to self-denigration which causes us to disparage our cultural riches—the Jewish religion, Jewish literature, and Jewish history. But this mixture of immodesty and false modesty is not specifically Jewish—it is the characteristic of the parvenu.
Our rapid external progress is evidenced by our presence in only a thin slice of the class structure. We are merchants, doctors, lawyers, etc. We are not craftsmen or farmers. It is no wonder that in some professions we seem to threaten our fellow Christian citizens and that most Germans do not know us well enough.
While turning away from the German spirit may not be necessary from an historical point of view—is it necessary from a moral point of view? Germany is broken and needs the energy of all her people. We cannot turn our backs on her.
If we were to turn away, where would that path take us? I don’t speak of the many pioneers who bravely carry Judaism back to the ancient Jewish land—we support these bearers of a pure ideal with love and pride, even if we don’t share their hopes. But what should we think of those who want to separate themselves from the German spirit, but want to enjoy the benefits of German economic life and citizenship? We don’t want to live separated by walls behind which abuse and lethargy can grow. We want to live as German Jews, as free members of a free people.
Aus dem Reich.
Berlin. Agenda for the Central Aid Committee Conference, Janurary 24 -25.
Morning, January 24:
1. Opening Remarks (Berthold Timendorfer, Geheimer Justizrat, Berlin)
2. Business Report (Eugen Caspary and Dr. Segall, Berlin)
3. Presentation of the Central Aid Committee’s By-laws (Secretary Solomon , Berlin)
4. Financial Report (Henriette May, Berlin)
5. Board Election
6. “Current Demands on Jewish Aid Work” (Mrs. S. Wronsky , Berlin)
7. “Jewish Social Policy” (Dr. Georg Baum, Berlin), Discussion
Afternoon, January 24:
1. “The Plight of our Orphanages and Educational Institutions” (Emil Waldstein, Berlin), Discussion
2. “The Tasks of Jewish Children’s Welfare” (Dr. Fritz Lamm, Berlin), Discussion
Morning, January 25:
1. Health Objectives of Jewish Welfare Work” (Dr. Hanauer, Frankfurt a. M., Professor Dr. Toby Cohn, Berlin: “Care of the Mentally Ill,” Dr. Wilhelm Feilchenfeld, Berlin: Care of Patients with Lung Diseases,” Dr. Nawratzki, Berlin-Niklassee: “Care of the Mentally Underdeveloped Youth”)
2. “The Necessity for Local Centralization of Jewish Social Work and the Measures for Protecting against Redundant Support of Unqualified Applicants” (Clara Samual, Elberfeld, Eugen Caspary, Berlin
3. “Plans for Establishing a German Reich Workgroup for Free Social Welfare and the Participation of the Central Aid Committee (Dr. Albert Levy, Berlin), Discussion
Afternoon, January 25:
1. “Jewish Foreign Aid” (Dr. Friedrich Ollendorff, Berlin)
2. “The Carlsbad World Aid Conference and Its Significance for Jewish Social Welfare” (Dr. Alfred Klee, Berlin)
3. “Problems of the Question of Eastern Jews in Germany (Fritz Mordechai, Berlin), Discussion
An Unusual Burial
By Richard Katz, reporter for the Vossiche Newspaper
Synopsis: Prag, January 10. Yesterday at 2 p. m. the burial of the Torah rolls that had been torn during the demonstrations of November 16, 1920 took place in the Old Jewish Cemetery. Thousands attended despite the rain.
A poem by Felix Heimann, dedicated to his Upper Silesian homeland and his hometown Ratibor.
Königsberg. Partial Translation: The Association for Jewish History and Literature sponsored a lecture by Rabbi Dr. Baeck (Berlin) on “The Jewish Perception of God.” The lecture began with a comparison between the Buddhist and Jewish concepts of God, which contrasted Jewish affirmation and Buddhist negation. Although the Bible is a book full of pessimism, the Judaism is an optimistic religion that believes in the duty to bring forth the Good. The Jewish view of God is further characterized by a lack of mythology where the actions of man determine the fate of the world. Also characteristic is the “mysterious,” which in Hebrew merges with the concept of being hidden. The knowledge that one has been created leads one to be a creator—of Good. The great Jewish proverb, “You should because you can,” distinguishes Judaism from all other religions and generates a feeling of humility and deep respect. These two concepts, mystery and law” resound as a “yet, nevertheless” throughout the life of Judaism.
Nuremberg. The lawyers Dr. Erlanger and Dr. Silberstein, have received the title of “Justizrat” Dr. Held, head of the lawyers’ association of Middle Franconia and longstanding board member of the Jewish congregation of Nuremberg, received the title of a Geheimer Justizrat.”
From the Province.
Union of Synagogue Congregations in Breslau and Liegnitz.
Synopsis: The union’s main assembly took place in Breslau on January 16. Dr. Reich made the opening remarks and thanked the previous chairman, Mr. Mugdan, for his contributions. He mentioned those that had passed since the last assembly: Professors Guttmann and Brann, Geh. Justizrat Friedmann, and Dr. Loewenthal. He mentioned that after 3 years’ inactivity, there was important work to do on the religious education in small congregations and the proper support of the teachers. Topics covered were teachers’ professional training, allowing congregations’ employees to vote, remedying the financial situation of teachers.
Jewish Teachers’ Fund in Silesia and Posen.
Breslau. Synopsis: The fund was created 40 years ago to care for disabled teachers [men and women] and for teachers’ widows and orphans, and in some extraordinary cases to assist non-members. Unfortunately, there is not enough money to meet current needs and a plea for donations is made.
Schreiberhau. Synopsis: A public protest against the anti-Semitic incitement in the mountain region has taken place. All the speakers pointed to the damage caused by Postal Secretary Obst whose anti-Semitic agitation has kept tourists away. There is an official inquiry into Obst’s anti-Semitic activities.
Synopsis: The Commission for the Technical Operations of the Upper-Silesian Vote in Breslau wants all voters to participate, including ensuring that Jewish voters travelling to Breslau obtain kosher food. The Free Union for the Interests of Orthodox Judaism will assist as they did during the World War when they provisioned Jewish soldiers and prisoners of war with kosher food in an exemplary way.
About the Israelite Hospital in Breslau.
Synopsis: The news that the Israelite Hospital was in dire enough circumstances that it would soon have to close mobilized the Jewish community and the ill, healed, and doctors of all religions. Funds were raised and new business practices put into practice so that the hospital is safe for some time to come. The hospital was founded in 1726 to care for the poor Jewish sick in Breslau. At first it occupied rented rooms, but in 1760 had its own building. It was partially burned in the Siege of 1806. With the growth of the Jewish community and the many Jewish soldiers that required care after 1813, the hospital needed more space. In 1823 it opened a branch hospital. In 1841 a grant from the brothers David and Jonas Fraenkel funded construction of a new building that also housed an orphanage and later the Chevra Kadisha [burial society]. In 1903 it moved into its current campus of 6 buildings that could accommodate 250 patients made possible by donations from Emanuel and Max Breslauer, Louis Burgfeld, and many other foundations.
Israelite Orphanage in Breslau
Synopsis: Donations to support the 125-year-old institution are urgently requested.
Regarding the Business Listing of the Protection and Defiance Federation
Synopsis: After publishing the list of businesses that had agreed to join the boycott of Jewish businesses staged by the Protection and Defiance Federation we received letters from many businesses stating that they had not known they were included in the list and that any thought of anti-Semitism was alien to them. Apparently, they were unclear as to what kind of directory they were agreeing to advertise in. Firms that have written to the newspaper are listed.
Chevra for the Sick and Minyan is sponsoring a lecture by Rabbi Dr. Hamburger, Breslau on “Charity.”
Jubilee: Celebrating Dr. Horovitz’s 25 years at the Jewish Theological Seminar.
Jubilee: 25 years as a printer, Ludwig Stiaztny
Confirmation [sic] in the Old Synagogue on January 22. Fritz Schaal. Father: Hugo Schaal, Flurstraβe 4. Herbert Rogasner, Vater: Felix Rogasner, Dt., Lissa.