The Central Organization of German Jewry.
by Heinrich Stern, Attorney (Berlin) and Chairman of the German Liberal Jewry Association.
Synopsis: Stern describes the historical significance of German Jewish congregations having come together despite their divisions to ratify this new organization’s constitution and bylaws which are grounded in democratic principles with both genders having equal voting rights. Stern ascribes this victory over aristocratic and plutocratic thinking to the influence of liberal Judaism which now has the responsibility to support this new organization.
Difference and Commonality in Orthodoxy and Liberalism.
by Rabbi Dr. Fuchs (Chemnitz), Part II.
Synopsis: The first part of the article (published in the January 28, 1921 issueJanuary 28, 1921 issue) focused on orthodoxy; the second describes liberalism. The importance of the connection to the religion of the forefathers is a given for liberal Jews. However, the main principle is remaining true to one’s conscience, which is identical to the love of God and the desire for the ideal, and not following the laws of the Torah, the Talmud, and subsequent rabbinical teachings. More important are the prophets and the living feeling for God (Daath Adonoi). Both the orthodox and the liberals believe in the religious obligation of the community to develop their members into worthy individuals. Both also believe that the Jewish religion is the true religion which holds validity for all people and will be accepted by all people so that it can transform them into a heavenly kingdom of morality and peace. Rabbi Fuchs then goes on to claim that liberal Judaism is the better form of Judaism. The present cannot tie itself up with the orthodox religious observations. Liberal Judaism is the better Judaism because it does not need dogma, rather it is based on understanding. It has freed itself from the debris of the middle ages, from belief in spirits and angels. One must not believe the critics that claim that liberalism is the path to agnosticism, or even to baptism. It is simply another type of piety that is all the more difficult to recognize because it is internal.
The Central Aid Committee’s Conference.
By our special reporter in Berlin, H. B.
We reported on the first part of the conference in the previous issue [January 28, 1921] which continued with Mrs. Wronsky reporting on the “Current Demands on Jewish Aid Work” which she sees as consisting of three things: The actualization of the idea of justice, the idea of love, and the idea of humility. The presenter recommends a complete reworking of the methods of Jewish charity to more development-and goal-oriented work.
Dr. Georg Baum, attorney and incoming chairman, followed with a talk on “Jewish Social Policy,” according to which Jews need special aid organizations that consider their special relationship to their religion and to their professions. Jewish social policy has the following duties: Redistribution of professions especially with respect to academics but also in part to business into lower-level administrative jobs, the trades, and agriculture. In particular he described the situation of Jewish employees who suffer from the anti-Semitism of certain associations. Other duties are Jewish student aid, employment documents for Jews, especially for those whose proof of work needs special attention such as pensioners with limited income, combatants, and wounded veterans. A very important point that the presenter made was that the job counseling services of the Central Aid Committee are overwhelmed. The speaker them moved to population policy which is fostered by the previously mentioned services as well as providing for dowries, furniture, and apartments. During the ensuing debate, Mrs. Ollendorff (Breslau) pointed out that the congregations would no longer be in a position to provide the same level of voluntary contributions. Emil Waldstein (Breslau) warned against splintering available resources, which is especially important for those Jewish institutions with such small numbers of residents which makes them difficult to support. He recommends that foundations that provide for dowries and those job counseling services that provide not only advice but also the resources to pursue recommended careers receive continued support. Next Mr. Waldstein himself reported on “The Plight of our Orphanages and Educational Institutions.” These institutions are in the same pre-ware condition in terms of funds, income and operations which puts their work in the current situation at risk. Considering this the homes must be run more economically by tightest rationing of food and clothing in keeping with the homes’ goals, better utilization of the houses, facilities and administration, and leveraging the assistance of congregations and civic officials. The plight of the institutions requires each of them to fight against their fate and supports consolidating many of these institutions.
Dr. Fritz Lamm, Attorney (Berlin), then reported on “The Tasks of Jewish Children’s Welfare” which covers aid for the children that need charity because of health, parental, or legal reasons. To this group belongs youth who don’t have an orderly family life, that is, orphans, those born out of wedlock, abandoned children and those that are morally endangered, neglected, or juvenile delinquents, and finally children from needy families. The youth should be taken care of within the congregations with the agreement of public child welfare services. The influence of the Central Aid Committee on the upcoming child welfare laws will ensure that the religious needs of Jewish children are considered. Funds should be raised by requests to the state, community and charitable organizations, by turning to the living and for the sake of the dead, finally through collections “For the Jewish Child” which will take place once the collections for the German children’s welfare are finished.
On the second day of the aid conference Dr. Hanauer, privy counselor (Frankfurt a. M.), spoke about the “Health Objectives of Jewish Welfare Work.” His theses were that German Jewry is threatened by degenerative trends caused by 1) the decreasing birth rate and 2) widespread nervous and mental illnesses. Measures against these are 1) marriage reform (countering lack of marriage, late marriages, marriage with less desirable spouses, mixed marriages instead of which early marriage should be endorsed as well as well-organized, communal marriage agencies. 2) Welfare support for families with many children, 3) development of children’s protection laws that better care for orphans and children born outside of marriage as well as guardianship and foster-parenting. As for the nervous and mental diseases: Raising children with simplicity and to be undemanding, and physically strengthening them through gymnastics and sport; redistributing professions by leading them toward trades and gardening, as well as developing support for restorative care.
Co-presenters were Professor Dr. Toby Cohn (Berlin) who spoke on the “Care of the Mentally Ill,” Dr. Wilhelm Feilchenfeld (Berlin) on the “Care of Patients with Lung Diseases,” and Dr. Nawratzki, (Berlin-Niklassee): on the “Care of the Mentally Underdeveloped Youth.”
In the ensuing debate the speech by Dr. Eschelbacher (Düsseldorf) especially made an impression for he described in fresh and lively manner his own experiences in the areas of social policy and met with hearty applause.
Dr. Friedrich Ollendorff (Berlin) spoke about “Jewish Foreign Aid.” There is only one area in need and that is Eastern Europe. Care for its emigrants is raising the visibility of the generosity of Jews internationally.
Dr. Klee, Attorney (Berlin) reported on his participation as a delegate of the Zionist union at the Karlsbad World Aid Conference and its significance for Jewish social work where the aid organizations from 28 nations were represented. Pure philanthropy was rejected; instead lasting development work was decided upon.
The last report was held by Mr. Fritz, a businessman (Berlin), on the “Problems of Caring for Eastern Jews in Germany,” which is in particular impacted by the regulations concerning inner-German migration and finding employment. Jewish job placement services have been able to accommodate circa 17,000 Eastern Jewish refugees in mines and other industries. The presenter reported that the German labor unions regularly and zealously protect their Jewish comrades from anti-Semitic chicanery.
Dr. Baum closed the two-day proceedings by thanking the participants and hoping that the work of the German Jewry would be a blessing. He reported that they had been invited to Frankfurt a. M. for the next conference.
What made this conference an unforgettable one for all participants was the uplifting realization that the German Jewry has so many members involved in the service of charity, especially its women and girls of all classes, indeed more than any other religious community. In Judaism, one feels that an individual’s sorrow is the sorrow of all. Despite the heavy plight of these times the generosity of Jews has not let up, and it will never end, just as the optimism that recognizes that where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Aus dem Reich.
Berlin. The central committee of the Reichstag recently debated questions of emigration and immigration, specifically the proposal by the minister of the interior to house Jewish imigrants in concentration camps [“Konzentrationslager”]. The Reichsminister, Dr. Koch, detailed his perspective as follows: There is no occasion for giving preferential treatment to any foreigners. This is not about anti-Semitism, rather it is about the equal treatment of all foreigners. Exceptional measures that give an advantage to Eastern Jews cannot be maintained because the emigration of German workers has taken on such worrisome dimensions. Every immigrant from the east means that in the west a well-qualified German worker will emigrate—the Minister [of the Interior] will not abide that. The Berlin housing office has expressed its opposition to the immigration of Eastern Jews to the Minister and namely complained that the Berlin proletariat “cannot find an apartment because these have been taken from them by Eastern Jews.” Additionally, the state employment offices have complained that the Eastern Jewish immigrants take jobs away from German workers. The Minister is not in a position to change the measures that had been taken.
The president of the Reich migration office, Jung, expanded: “With respect to the undesired immigration, what makes the matter more difficult is that the immigrants try to cross the German border without passports or with counterfeit ones. As long as it is possible to cross over Upper Silesia, these difficulties will not disappear. In any case the government is doing everything it can to execute on the will of the Reichstag—to build a strong dam against this flood of immigration.”
Representative Hoch (Socialist) explained that it is a given that one must act energetically in order to deal with the immigration of Eastern Jews. However, one must take care not to exaggerate on behalf of one side or the other.
Berlin. Synopsis: The “Deutsche Zeitung” writes positively of the founding of the Central Organization at the assembly of German-Israelite congregations. It is always suspicious when a publication like the “Deutsche Zeitung,” which is always sharply critical of us Jews, welcomes an event in our ranks. We liberals must guard against this organization serving a nationalist [“völkisch”] agenda.
Wandering through Belgium
Excerpts from my travel journal (1910). [poems by Ludwig Davidsohn which will not be translated at this time.]
Königsberg. Partial translation: At a meeting of the Central Organization of German Citizens of the Jewish Faith Professor Goldstein (Darmstadt) spoke on “Modern Theory of Race” from a purely sociological perspective. Gobineau’s work on race spawned a European discussion where the concept of “race” quickly became bound to the concept of “nation.” St. Chamberlain built on Gobineau’s theory as follows: Nation equals race; Jews belong to a different race than the Germans, therefore they have no native rights within German culture. This theory distinguishes between the valuable culturally-creative Germanic race from the supposedly unworthy, sterile, intellectually infertile race of the Jews. To ground these theories, it is further maintained that Jesus, Confucius, and Lao Tzu had Germanic blood flowing in their veins. The conclusion is that the emancipation of Jews, that is, their enjoyment of equal rights, should be repealed because of their non-western race…
Goldstein asks what is then “race”? He cites Ehrenreich’s definition of race as a concept from natural sciences while “das Volk” is a cultural concept. There is an English or German people, but no English or German race. There are no peoples with a pure race in today’s Europe.
“One is only German by blood.” During the war this saying was disproved since the cruelest defamers of Germans had German blood. German is a particular sensibility. “Racial foreigners” have often achieved amazing things for the state. Gambetta was not of French blood; the Englishman Disraeli was a Jew, as was Marx; Stahl, actually Schlesinger, the founder of the Conservative Party was a Jew as was Lasker, the leader of the national-liberals; Cavour was a Frenchman, the Irish leader Parnell an Englishman and a Protestant at that; Prince Eugene was a Savoyard. The Swedish poet Belmann came from Bremen, Ibsen from Denmark, Chamisso, Alexis, Geibel, Fontane were half French; Görres came from Italy, Clausewitz from Poland, likewise Treitschke. Dürer was a Magyar, etc…
From the Province.
Ratibor. Synopsis: A committee has formed here to advise and aid Jewish voters coming to Ratibor. The committee plans to help with housing and to set up a kosher dining facility.
Görlitz. Synopsis: Paul Mühsam held a poetry reading sponsored by the Workgroup of Jewish Communities. He read as yet unpublished poems, “Evening Silence,” “Hope,” and “May.” He also read a chapter (“God and the Butterfly”) from his well-known prose work, “Conversations with God.” The article describes the reading in great detail.
To All Former Residents of Posen!
Synopsis: The emigration from Posen is compared to Abraham’s leaving his homeland. But Abraham didn’t need a passport or a visa, could take his tents with him and did not have to struggle for his daily bread as the immigrants from Posen have to. This article is an invitation to all former residents of Posen to join to form a group for mutual support.
The Völkisch Index of Businesses.
Synopsis: More names of businesses who want to distance themselves from the Protection and Defiance Federation are listed.
The Art of Eastern Jews.
Lecture (with projections) by Professor Grotte,
held at the semester start of Jewish Adult Continuing Education.
Synopsis: The review begins with the statement that Professor Grotte “took us into completely new territory” with his lecture and slide show on Eastern Jewish art, namely from Galicia and Russian-Polish areas. His slides revealed a “strange, entirely new art that speaks to one’s heart.” The named artists Professor Grotte included were the architect, Benjamin Hillel and Elieser ben Sussmann, whose artistry covered the walls of synagogues.
For more examples of Sussmann’s work, follow these links:
An Evening of Piano Music by Fritz Peiser.
Synopsis: At his first public concert, Fritz Peiser played Chopin so well that the reviewer thought he showed great promise as an interpreter of Chopin’s work.
Dora Bernstein’s, Terese Petzko-Schubert’s Concert.
Synopsis: Dora Bernstein, soprano, was accompanied by Terese Petzko-Schubert on the violin and Arpad Sandor on the piano.
Associations and Assemblies.
Synopsis: The Jewish-Liberal Youth Organization had its annual general assembly on January 31. The members of the board were re-elected: Erich Bayer, Kurt Brienitzer, and Attorney Erich Spitz.
The youth league of the Central Organization of German Citizens of the Jewish Faith will start up its activities again after its re-organization. On February 9, Rabbi Dr. Vogelstein will speak on the Ends and Means of German Jewry,” and Rabbi Dr. Simonsohn will speak on “The Task before the Youth.”
Announcements and Advertisements