Central Organization of German Jewry.
Difference and Commonality in Orthodoxy and Liberalism.
By Rabbi Dr. Fuchs (Chemnitz)
Synopsis: During elections for congregations’ representatives, Orthodox and Liberal Jews united against the Nationalist Jews [i.e. Zionists] which is the touchstone for this article which explores what these two communities have in common and what separates them. The main difference lies in how they follow the religious laws, not in their beliefs unlike the divisions in Christianity which are based on questions of faith.
Differences between orthodoxy and liberalism lie in the orthodox treatment of every letter of the Bible being authored by God, the precise interpretation of which leads to the great moral questions being treated as having the same importance as the smallest details. This has led to the exactitude and rigidity of scriptural interpretation which is the basis of orthodoxy. The liberals infuse their interpretation with rationalism proven out by the world around them, so, for example, the 6 days of the creation equal 6 eras. The orthodox spiritual view is that of a world controlled by supernatural force responsible for all natural action as well as miracles and the coming of the Messiah to re-establish the Temple in Jerusalem. For the orthodox the Torah has no human subjectivity about it, nothing personal.
Liberalism is criticized as being laziness or an attempt to imitate Christian religions, especially the ritualistically bare Protestants. The real difference lies in biblical analysis and the realization tht the Torah is the work of men. For the liberal, the many inconsistencies and contradictions are signs that it could not have been written by Moses or by a single person. Interpretation then is a task of separating an immutable core from the changeable wrappings. One must then distill which of the customs are morally grounded and which stem from changing habits formed by historical context.
Central Organization of German Jewry Becomes a Reality.
Synopsis: The Judæo-German Congregations’ conference proposed and accepted a constitution for a Central Organization of German Jewry on January 23rd. The remainder of the article reports on the debate. Important points included the global and local balance, religious autonomy but administrative uniformity, the voting rights of women and foreigners. Note that the decision on women’s voting rights was deferred to the board to consider. The voting rights of foreigners were supported with by an overwhelming majority.
Upper Silesians! The fatherland calls! Register for the vote now! Don’t delay! [page 1 Footer]
Recollections of Henriette Goldschmidt.
On the First Anniversary of her death, January 30, 1921.
“Teach us to count our days, so that we take away a wise heart.”
On the 30th of January, 1920 the senior leader of the German women’s movement passed through the dark portal that leads into eternity in her 95th year. A rare, blessed feminine being that was precious, rich with troubles but also success and recognition, came to an end. In the case of such an unusual personality like the departed was, one wonders about abilities and characteristics that were inherited from parents and ancestors. Henriette Goldschmidt was born on November 23, 1825 in Krotoschin in the province of Posen and raised by her parents in the liberal Jewish ways. She belonged to a family whose pursuit of education even then had already become tradition. Her grandfather was called “the German Benas” because of the modern German learning that he achieved in addition to his Jewish theological education. In the memoir dedicated to her husband, Dr. A. M. Goldschmidt, who had passed away in 1888, she tells of how her grandfather who had married at 18 and already had a child left Krotoschin to visit Moses Mendelsohn in Berlin to get a German education. From there he became tutor for a wealthy Jewish family in Friedericia, Denmark. There he became so well versed in foreign languages that when the Danish king visited Friedericia he gave a speech on behalf of the Jewish community in French, for which he was granted Danish citizenship. But since his wife in no way wanted to leave her homeland he returned to its narrow and repressive environment. Her father, the respected businessman Benas, had acquired an unusually worldly education while traveling extensively abroad. His intellectual interests were passed on to his four highly talented children, who had lost their mother early. They did not find in the woman chosen to replace her that insightful and understanding guide and teacher that they so very much needed. However, a sister of their father’s, Mrs. Goldschmidt, who would later become Henriette’s mother-in-law, served as a kind of fairy godmother and introduced them to the realm of poetry. Henriette and her sister Ulrike attended her hometown’s Jewish elementary school and then the secondary school for girls where French and German literature were taught. Despite the gaps in her education, her father’s model, example, and upbringing had prepared a good foundation on which to build later. The girls grew up with Lessing and Kant, Schiller and Goethe, and acquired such superior knowledge, that they became known in many circles as exceptional prodigies. Henriette’s idol was Börne and she enthused over the political poetry of the Vormarch poets, Herwegh, Alfred Meiβner, Freiligrath, and Karl Beck. How highly the father held the opinion of his daughters can be seen in the case where they vetoed the selection of a certain rabbi. The father had attended with his daughters the trial sermon of a rabbi who had garnered the sympathy of the community such that his selection was guaranteed. Only Mr. Benas had gotten a negative impression and asked his daughters about theirs. They stated unhesitatingly that the young man was an actor and dissembler and that his selection would be a misfortune for the community. Benas went to the state council and with their help was able to reject the selection and at the same time gained the stipulation that in order to be a rabbi, a university degree proving a science-based education was required.
The lively Henriette displayed a deep motherly instinct and a significant pedagogical talent. When she was barely 18, her 10-year older sister died and she acted as mother to the three younger children. Henriette was enthusiastic about the revolutionary ideas whose events and consequences caused the family to move to Posen. There in 1853 she married her cousin, the widowed Dr. Goldschmidt, who served as the preacher for the German community in Warsaw and gave his three orphaned boys a second mother. She fulfilled the task of raising these to be competent men in a truly ideal way, securing their love, gratefulness, and honor beyond the grave. Although Dr. Goldschmidt had taken a highly respected position where he could exercise an ennobling and cultivating influence on the German community in Warsaw, he had the desire to live and work in Germany someday and raise his sons as German citizens. In 1858 a position for a rabbi opened up in Leipzig, for which he applied and was unanimously elected. Full of hope, the couple moved to their new home on March 8, 1858. The stimulating life, music, theater, the university, all of which offered both of these sparkling intellects plenty of fertilization. And their home, whose soul was the delicate, gracious, refined Hausfrau soon became the center of an intellectually sociable, mirthful circle of important persons, men and women, the learned, professors, ambitious young talent, students which made unforgettable impressions on youth that was still maturing. Only one year after their move, Dr. Goldschmidt was giving the keynote at a Lessing festival. And it was a great honor for him that when he attended the fifteenth educators’ conference he was asked to give his perspective on early religious education. He said then, “The first lessons only have to emphasize what unites people and avoid that which would cause conflict in the child’s soul. To the child one speaks of God, of Nature, and of humanity!” – This same perspective was deeply held by his wife.
With Mrs. Henriette Goldschmidt has passed the last of the older generation, which in the mid-sixties of the previous century helped prepare the victory march of the German women’s movement from Leipzig. Outstanding both intellectually and spiritually she placed her life and work in the service of humanity. To the good of her gender and of humanity at large she called into life creations for the common good whose further development was a perpetual fountain of youth until her very advanced years. She felt gripped by the ideas of Friedrich Fröbel, zealously dedicated herself to studying them and founded at the end of 1871 the association for family and Volk education in Leipzig together with similarly-thinking women. Mrs. Goldschmidt saw a career in education as the true cultural vocation of the women. The largest portion of her blessed life was dedicated to the work of educating women to fulfill their roles as caretakers of humanity. The institutions of the association for family and Volks education, Kindergartens, a seminary for nursery school teachers at which the gifted foundress taught, eventually became model institutions, on which the first secondary schools for girls built by the city of Leipzig were based. In 1878 she founded the Lyceum for young ladies, the first in Germany, which offered the highest level of women’s education. Also at this institution Mrs. Goldschmidt taught Fröbel’s pedagogy; she educated thousands of students who regarded their teacher with unlimited gratitude and admiration. As one of the most well-known persons in the area of women’s education, she gave public lectures on “the position of the woman in ancient and modern cultures” and “the woman in the context of national and civic lif,” and earned a reputation throughout Germany as a celebrated speaker who spread Friedrich Fröbel’s teachings in the broadest circles. Her creative spirit soared already then as the highest aim of her strivings to lead women from “nursery to higher education.”
In 1881 she published “Thoughts on Women’s Education in the Context of Friedrich Frobel’s System.” In 1883 the Union of German Women met in Breslau and I had the honor of being introduced to the trio of stars of Jewish-liberal women who had contributed much to the German women’s movement, Mrs. Goldschmidt, Lina Morgenstern, and Jenny Hirsch. Already in the second half of the sixties Frau Goldschmidt’s sister, Mrs. Ulrike Hendischte, who as the wife of a circuit judge – he would eventually become the Senate President in Berlin– founded the Viktoria school for continuing education. She lived in Fraustadt and brought the first news of the new movement to my hometown, Lissa, where she inspired a miniature women’s education association to come into being. From that time on I was very interested in women’s efforts. Mrs. Goldschmidt held a lecture (1883): “Women’s pedagogical careers and professional training for girls” in which she not only made clear that women needed professional development for the work assigned to her by God of mothering and educating, but also gave her support for the scientific education of talented women for the medical profession.
In 1888 Mrs. Goldschmidt had to mourn her spouse’s passing, whose equal she was in intellect and character, a life-partner participating in his work and a willing, self-sacrificing caretaker in his suffering. She survived him by more than 30 years and found the greatest comfort in tireless dedication to her life’s work. Her 70th birthday gave her many admirers the most welcome opportunity to institute the Henriette Goldschmidt Foundation. Her 80th and 90th birthdays brought the ceremonious opening of the college for women which was accompanied by the highest honors. During the international women’s congresses in Berlin 1896 and 1904 the attendees strove to honor her and at the convention of the Jewish Women’s League in Leipzig 1913 she was celebrated as the grandmother of the German women’s movement. Her last earthly pleasure was the 50th anniversary of the movement in which she had participated in such a lively manner and that a young Ph.D candidate at the University of Leipzig had chosen as the topic of his dissertation, “Fröbels Pedagogy.”
I myself was so favored by fate to have enjoyed many years of kind interest from the meritorious woman I passionately admired. In January 1902 I was granted the honor to kiss the hand of the youthful-seeming elderly lady in her harmonious home where, among flowers and palms the busts of her husband and her favorite poets, Lessing and Schiller, I greeted her. On birthdays and other celebrations, Mrs. Goldschmidt sought to be of use to a younger generation through her words and writings. For me, where I was already a veteran of the women’s movement, I received great and pure pleasure from the valuable pages the venerable lady wrote me in her wonderfully delicate handwriting. On November 6th, 1909 she wrote:
“My very dear Mrs. Neitzer, I am very grateful to you for the exceptionally sympathetic biography in the “Guide to Children’s Literature.” You have such a warm sensibility that is so lacking in our time. Unfortunately one replaces it with elegant phrases – or one dissects the person and presents a skeleton instead of a living being. I am actually embarrassed that you included everything in the biography so lovingly. I sent a page to my girlhood friend who is still living—it is too difficult for me to show it to the others.
Since you care so much for me, I want to tell you that 14 days ago I attended a convention of the Fröbel Association where I gave a public lecture again after such a long time: “From Kindergarten to Women’s College” was the theme. I was very happy to be able to climb to my old podium. Thank you very much once again and best wishes to you and your loved ones from your admiring H. Goldschmidt.”
Around that time the elderly woman had written about her experiences with impressive intellect and emotional warmth in the excellent pedagogical book, “What I learned and taught from Fröbel” with which she, the younger one, created a lasting testimontial to her master and model. To honor this work in various wide-ranging places was my pleasure.
On November 4th, 1911, after the ceremonial opening of the college for women she wrote: “Dear Mrs. Nietzer, you can hardly imagine what difficult times lie behind me – that is the reason why I have not yet thanked you for sending me the lovely bound article from “Westermanns Monatshefte.” Be so kind as to accept my thanks now, written as they were with a much relieved heart. I am sending you a small souvenir from our college. The picture is not so youthful—but I must be satisfied that I don’t feel I’ve aged as much inside as it looks from the outside. With greetings and thanks, Your H. Goldschmidt.”
After my husband passed away, she wrote me in the spring of 1914: “My dear Frau Neitzer, How deeply and painfully touched I was by the news of the sad fate which had befallen you. Yes, it is a deep and great sorrow, that you must now bear – that the greater of women must accept as “fate.” It is one of the most unfortunate eventualities of the many with which we have to struggle. For my part this year also did not pass lightly. Whoever reaches such an old age as I must unfortunately lose loved ones – see them die. Of the three sons that my husband and I had, only one is still alive. I look for ways to get through this time and don’t have much to worry about as the work that’s been started is developing and flourishing. You are still strong and will certainly find work soothing and comfort in your children. Yours Truly, H. Goldschmidt.”
After her 90th birthday came a printed note of greeting and thanks. In it stood: “Your well wishes for my 90th birthday on the 23rd of November delighted me. You loving thoughts and kind recognition of my humble work in the service of our families and people are a great comfort in these difficult times – a ray of light for the young generation’s peace–work that is hopefully approaching soon. Leipzig, November 1915. Henriette Goldschmidt.”
Emanating wisdom and mildness of age, free of the tiredness of old age, Mrs. Goldschmidt’s piece “From Nursery School to College for Women,” came out in 1918 in which she tells the story of her life’s work. She expressed the wish that I write a short report on her swan song in the “Breslauer Zeitung,” which Dr. Wilda allowed me with kind readiness. On the 19th of October 1918 she wrote: “Dear Frau Nietzer, Thank you most sincerely for sending me your report. I am sorry that my piece appeared at such an unfortunate time. Even for me everything has become meaningless. The heaviness of our experiences is heavier than the high number of my years. In a short space you were able to present quite a comprehensive picture of what I portrayed in the sparest outlines. Again, thank you and accept my best wishes. Your H. Goldschmidt.”
It was the last letter that flew to me.
Henriette Goldschmidt has not left us. Her memory will live on unforgotten in her works, which are tightly bound to the history of charitable institutions of the city of Leipzig and the German women’s movement and as a true German, Jewish-liberal woman, that one may count among the educators of mankind. Breslau, January 1921. Regina Neitzer.
German Jews’ Central Aid Committee Conference
January 24 und 25 in Berlin.
Synopsis: This was the first conference of its kind. Agenda. 85 congregations participate and 11 of the larger associations. The Central Aid Committee’s publication, “Zedaka” was launched. The lack of funds was a common theme but the list of projects undertaken in the previous year was impressive, ranging from the care of orphans to the assisting refugees and the elderly. A thorough report in the next issue was promised.
The Jewish Theological Seminary.
Synopsis: The seminary’s report on 1920 made clear the gap left by the death of Professor Brann. The institution’s financial situation improved and the “Friends of the Jewish Theological Seminary” was founded to generate more donations. The published report included the speech that Dr. Lewkowitz made at Professor Brann’s memorial and an essay on the Greek sources of Solomon’s wisdom by Dr. Heinemann. On January 27, the 67th celebration of the seminary’s founder, Jonas Fraenkel took place. At that event Rabbi Julius Greilsheimer and Dr. Albert Wolf (Dresden)nwere ceremoniously discharged from the seminary as they had passed their theological and rabbinical exams.
“Boycott of Jewish Stores.”
Synopsis: An article citing Pastor Moering’s article appeared in the Volkswacht [a social-democratic newspaper]. It decried the boycott and the “evil spirit” that Kunze is spreading. It calls for all German citizens, regardless of religion, who still have sound reasoning to avoid those businesses that foster class and racial strife.
The Protection and Defiance Federation’s List of Businesses. Synopsis: More companies have written the newspaper and reported that they have requested to be removed from the list.
Associations and Assemblies.
Zionist Union, Breslau Chapter. Synopsis: Nahum Goldmann spoke on the topic, “Decline and Development.” Decline is associated with the feeling of being satisfied, of not wanting to change anything while Development is characterized by dissatisfaction and revolution. The speaker observed that Jews belonged to the developers because of their idealism. Through assimilation into a collapsing system, Jews are in danger of decline. The apathy of Western Jews to the terrible fate of the Eastern Jews is a clear sign of this decline. The Western Jewry has also shown lack of interest when it did not react strongly enough to the enfranchisement of Palestine. Instead of philanthropy, Jews should participate in the radical creation of a new world, just as after the great flood mankind was renewed and enlightened. Let Zionism be the ark that collects and sustains the energy required for a new epoch.
(We reported on the content of the Zionist leader’s speech without commentary. However, we don’t need to emphasize that we are in complete opposition to his viewpoint and think that Zionism is more akin to the flood than to the ark. The Editors.)
Charity. Synopsis: The Chevra for the Sick and Minyan sponsored a lecture by Rabbi Dr. Hamburger on this topic. He began by pointing out that these are times of social struggle, which could have been avoided had there been more charity. Even Jews, known for their material generosity, have failed when it comes to giving of oneself (“gmillus chessed” [gemilut chesed) for another.
Confirmation [sic] in the Old Synagogue on January 29, 1921: Adolf Rosenblum, Father Paul, Nikolaistraβe 22.
Announcements and Advertisements
Walter Loewenberg and Gertrud (nee Alexander) are delighted to announce the birth of a son on January 23, 1921.
Due to the reorganization of the Library, all books must be returned by February 10 to avoid a fine of 1 Mark. The library will be closed during February but the reading room will be open on its regular hours.
The source for these translations is the digitized version of the “Juedisch-Liberale Zeitung” available at Compact Memory. Find the digitized version of Issue 9 here.
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