by Rabbi Dr. B. Gottschalk (Posen).
Synopsis: Gottschalk explores what binds liberal Jews to Judaism. He points to the meaning of the name “Israel,” one who has fought with God, as what distinguishes liberal Jews from other Jews. All Jews can say of themselves that they live and die “with God,” but liberal Jews can say that they have “fought with God and won.” The difference is that other Jews feel bound to God and wish only to do what he commanded. Liberal Jews, however, struggle with God, just as Moses, the prophets, and Maimonides did, into our modern times. Liberal Jews do not feel bound to God and do not bring sacrifices of intellect, insight, or piety—they bring their hearts as a sacrifice. They do not allow what and how they feel to be prescribed. Only when their innermost being says “yes” to God does he become their God.
Steinthal recognized that the hesitance to engage critically with the concept of God marked a childlike stage in belief which persisted until the previous century when Cohen tried to bring God closer to us by describing him as the God of morality, the power behind goodness, the God of reason. Cohen did not convince many. This image of God could warm only those who shared his intellectualism. What lives now in thousands of hearts is the “God-feeling” [“Gottesgefühl”]. Their reason has dismissed the legend of heaven; their knowledge has revealed the power of nature and with that dethroned the old God. But the heart was left empty. In these hearts the struggle for an anchor, a focus, or a goal takes place which then takes the form of a search for God. Finding him is the liberals’ revelation and their burning bush.
Liberals are not trying to intellectualize God by shedding traditions but by recognizing that he fills their hearts and souls and from their guides everything—how they honor, love, and worship him.
In that struggle, liberals go beyond Judaism, but there is no thought to leave Judaism. They see that the essence of Judaism is not what God has taught, but to test what they have learned from God. For them, the essence of the prophets and the psalmists are not that they speak of God, but that God has spoken from them.
The pains and joys of the other Jews are still felt by liberal Jews. Their religious experiences are profoundly Jewish, which is why they love the holidays and customs and the Bible and support institutions that foster Jewish religious life. This is why they fight for Jewish honor and decry baptism.
The liberal Jews do want to create a synthesis between Judaism and culture, but not sacrifice Judaism to culture. They do not want to merge it with other religions, but they do want it to shine as a beacon for other religions that have lagged in developing their concept of God. They see the time of the Messiah not as erasing all religious differences but as bringing all religions closer. Gottschalk distances liberalism from the free-religionists and the non-denominational movement and concludes that liberals are indeed religious Jews, Jews that fight for, with, and about God and thus indeed now and always “Israelites.”
“The Truth about Russia.”
The Horror in Ukraine
Synopsis: This article details horrific massacres of Jews. The official reports of a Red Cross committee document that tens of thousands of Jews have been murdered and hundreds of thousands have been abused, raped, or robbed.
Aus dem Reich.
After the Elections.
Synopsis: The most anti-Semitic party, the “Deutschnationale Volkspartei,” did well throughout Prussia in the state parliamentary elections. The article calls for unity among Jewish groups—liberal, orthodox, Zionist, centrist, or German nationalist.
Berlin. Synopsis: The liberal faction of the Representatives’ Assembly responded to a proposal that a committee representing all groups be formed to consider the question of Jewish schools by declaring that they would consider Jewish schools only if it were impossible to address the religious educational needs of Jewish children in state schools.
Berlin. Synopsis: Pastor of St. Simeon’s, Hermann von Wicht spoke on “Equal Rights or Sedition” at the local chapter meeting of Central Organization of German Citizens of the Jewish Faith. He lamented the rise of anti-Semitism after the war and how the masses are easily influenced by slogans.
Berlin.Synopsis: 1919-1920 was a successful year for the Berlin Free School for Continuing Education with 5,000 attending circa 100 courses taught by rabbis, professors, and professional men and women. Courses covered the Bible and Talmud, religion and history, literature and art, economics and current events.
Berlin. Synopsis: 6,000 (50%) voted in recent student union elections. Of the 100 available seats, the German folkish groups won 56. The liberal Jewish group won 4, and the Zionists won 5. Socialists and other left-leaning groups won the rest.
Berlin.Synopsis: Professor Julius Guttmann spoke on Spinoza’s relationship to Judaism at the Institute for the Scientific Study of Judaism.
From My Notebook.
by Ludwig Davidsohn.
A selection of aphorisms.
Jews in China.
Synopsis: Professor Dr. Stübe (Leipzig) reported on Judaism in China in the “General Newspaper” which this article republishes excerpts. Stübe cites as his main source the work of Bruno Schindler who recently journeyed to China to study these communities.
Jews settled in China as merchants and while they have retained their religion, they often look very Chinese in their costumes, manners, and attitudes. There are two major settlements: near Beijing and Kaifeng (Henan province). Kaifeng was the capital of the Song dynasty (960-1278) and suffered heavily from wars and catastrophic flooding during the Ming dynasty. Kaifeng’s downturn caused many to leave the city, including much of its Jewish community which dispersed throughout the empire. Only the poorest stayed and today only about 1,000 remain in a community with a charismatic, albeit violent, leader.
Leipzig. Synopsis: Investiture of a Rabbi. The newly elected Rabbi, Dr. Cohn, formely of Krotoschin was ceremoniously installed. He was escorted into the synagogue by his colleague, Rabbi Dr. Goldmann and the board members in a procession accompanied by organ music. He was welcomed at the podium and gave his first sermon.
Stuttgart. Synopsis: Obituary for Nathan Levi, lawyer and notary, and founding member of the democratic party in Württemberg in 1864 with Julius Hauβmann, Karl Mayer, and Ludwig Pfau with whom he remained close friends.
Allenstein. The General Assembly of the Association of Jewish Congregations in East Prussia made the following declaration on February 6: The exemplary peaceful mutual understanding of the congregations of our province is being greatly threatened by abuse aimed at Jews. The Association as elected representatives of East Prussian Jews makes the strongest appeal. This abuse is marked by religious strife and a race war that severely damages the reconstruction of the fatherland and must call on the sense of justice of all citizens.
Myslowitz. Synopsis. Chief cantor and religion instructor, Jakob Spandau, celebrates 25 years of service.
Hepp, Hepp, Hurrah!
Excerpts from Ignaz Wrobel’s [one of Kurt Tucholsky’s pseudonyms] article that appeared in “Welt am Montag.”
Anti-Semitic paranoia in Germany reminds one of the romantic excitement of French nationalists who found the Boche and his spies behind every wrong in the world. Here, nothing can go wrong without the monocled faces of those who are too big for their britches blaming Jews for everything. Films are bad because Jews made them; groceries are expensive because Jews are cheating; the press is run by Jews, and we lost the war because Jews were secretly undermining the Front. Now Ludendorff was not a Jew, and I didn’t know that many Jews were in the German diplomatic corps as Germany lunged into the war. These upstanding men have even figured out that in Wilhelm II’s veins flowed some Jewish blood which is why rabble was elected and the world fell into misfortune. Hepp, hepp, hurrah!
What’s going on here is the worst kind of dumbing down of the masses. Roda Roda’s old saying fits like a glove here: “Anti-Semitism. . . a nice thing, but nothing will come of it until the Jews get involved!”
What these sad-faced knights would do if they didn’t have Jews is almost unthinkable. They live off of them! And hardly a single one of their arguments works.
A mixed people like the Germans that are a peculiar blend of Vandals, Kashubians, Poles, and a shot of Lowland Saxons that never formed a unified Germanic race has no right to complain about racial mixing.
Nothing works. The accusation that Jews are in charge of public life is an admission of weakness. The French illustrator, Caran d’Ache once drew a country lane on which a Jew and a Frenchman met. In between them lay a franc. Both were bending toward it at the same time. “Mais c’est le juif qui aura le franc!” (But it’s the Jew who’ll get the money.”) Accusing the Jews of price-gouging in the face of the behavior of German agriculture that is systematically sabotaging the large cities is an absurdity.
For every Schmuhl there are ten Piesekes and what the Grenadier Street can do on a small scale, Herr Stinnes do on a large one.
Without the Jews, the elections are no fun at all for the German nationalist. Without the Jews, he couldn’t lead them! He only leads them because there are a whole lot of people who differ from parrots only in that they aren’t so pretty to look at. The petit bourgeois Hausfrau, many mid-level civil servants, the small-town social elite—all have a lumpish anger at the mentally nimble Jew and are ecstatic at the chance to score one against their irritating competitors. No one senses how bad he makes his fatherland look if he admits that the ghastly influence of its Jews can destroy a whole country. The worst proponents of the war weren’t the Jews; rather they were the stakeholder officers and civil servants, the Teutonic professors and women who with their loud mouths brought this country into this misfortune. A misfortune that one now wants to ascribe to the Jews.
If the German Nationalist Party weren’t so brainlessly dumb to be anti-Semitic, a large segment of the Jews with natural conservative tendencies would have joined it; yes, I even know some instances of Jews who forgot honor long enough to vote German Nationalist.
But folkish students, foresters, and physical education teachers don’t think that deeply. The chest of German men swells, the beard speckled with lentils blows in the wind, heroic German songs trill in the air, that put the Welsch [?], the Jews, and the Blacks on the same level, just because they’re not German. Overemphasizing national uniqueness has always been a weakness.
“Don’t buy from Jews!”—Now that’s a campaign slogan for the thinking man. It creates a trusted unitied front, and the Bavarian beerlover, the East Prussian schnapps distiller, the Rhineland industrialist—suddenly they all fight loyally together, shoulder to shoulder. I have nothing against collective judgements, that are always unjust and yet sometimes just. “The Jew”…that’s right and wrong, because one doesn’t mean the individual, but the stereotype. It’s a judgement about the whole, for example like, “The German officer was useless in the war; the German judge isn’t trusted by the people in political trials; the Prussian bureaucrat tends to value his writing apparatus more than the common good.”
“Don’t buy from Jews!” But they buy. This anti-Semitism melts away when it comes to doing business, and no German Nationalist grafter is embarrassed by doing a deal with some Jew from Lodz in the export trade. If during the war the officer had been embarrassed to get help from the residents of Galician towns to help him smuggle his three hundred eggs as a “radio,” maybe the humble Jews could have learned something from him. He wasn’t embarrassed.
That’s what lost a war. We still don’t know today that a world which used to do so with hatred, now simply shrugs its shoulders with disdain and steps over traits that are stood up as virtues to the children here.
Reconstruction of the Economic Life of Russia’s Jews
Synopsis: Excerpts of a report published in the “Israelitisches Familienblatt.” Over 1 million Jews are among the living victims of war in Russia. International aid organizations are now receiving cooperation from local authorities so that raw materials, tools, credit, and funds can be used to create jobs. Signs of progress are visible and the labor market has become more stable. New leaders promise that they will not tolerate pogroms. In the agricultural sector, similar progress is being made. For example, in Lithuania the number of Jewish farmers has risen from 5% to 11%. Jewish refugees from White Russia have been forming communes. Much of this growth can be traced back to the work of the JCA (Jewish Colonization Association) from 1899 to 1918.
From the Art Collection of Berlin’s Jewish Congregations.
Synopsis: Albert Wolf’s collection (Dresden) forms the core of the exhibit. The most interesting pieces were paintings from Poland and Russia: Genre paintings, important personages, locales, and historical paintings, including Samuel Hirszenberg’s painting, “Colus.” Etchings by Mundlack, Struck, Budko, and Friedmann hung amid drawings and paintings of other artists. The exhibit also included Jewish furnishings and religious art: curtains, Torah bands, Hanukkah lamps, Purim plates, and spice boxes. One case holds Haggadah illustrations and other calligraphic art, including that of Isidor Rothziegel, which are displayed in public for the first time. There is also a “Berlin Room” with a series of pieces on Moses Mendelssohn and his circle. This room also holds a valuable rug from 1590 on loan from the Old Synagogue and a menorah from 1713.
Synopsis: An evening of arias, art songs, and ballads will be presented by Richard Rodek, accompanied on the piano by Franz Czerny, on March 2.
Synopsis: A few weeks ago, the German Nationalist Protection and Defiance Federation started publishing the “Schlesische Volksstimme,” which is distributed for free, especially at train stations.
An interesting and instructive lecture on “The Nibelungenlied in German Literature with an Emphasis on Richard Wagner’s ‘Ring des Nibelungen’” will be held by the well-known Breslau writer, Maria Renee Daumas… Maria Renee Daumas, although now completely German, comes from an old French noble family from Marseille with Jewish blood in its veins and which distinguished itself with its sympathy for the sad fate of Jews. When Jews were expelled from Marseille in the 15th century, a Pascal, Duke de Daumas was responsible for letting the victims keep their trading rights for an additional 110 years.
The Liberal Association of Synagogue Congregations named its long-serving, highly deserving board member, who as reported recently passed away, Hugo Jacobson, to perpetual membership. – On Thursday, March 10, the Liberal Association is holding a gentlemen’s beer evening as a pre-celebration of Purim and to foster personal relationships among its members.
Engagements. Elfriede Fink, nee Schlesinger, Neisse, with Pharmacist Berhard Ucko, Groβ-Strehlitz, Upper Silesia; Alice Landsberger, Charlottenburg, with Hugo Goldmann, Berlin; Ilse Wolff, Dobrzyoa (Posen), with Paul Jacob (Printing Press Owner) Wüstegiersdorf; Alma Stoβmann with Leo Neumann, Breslay; Rose Rosenthal, Breslau, with Oskar Wagner, Militsch.
Marriages. Franz Behmack, Bunzlau, with Berta Preuβ, Löwenberg, Silesia; Sigmar Weiβ wwith Flora Borchardt, Breslau; Attorney Dr. Ernst Marcus with Lucie Ritter, Breslau.
Births. Son. Curt Lisser and Hanni nee Haller, Breslau; Max Centatver and Cläre, nee Pollack, Königshütte Upper Silesia; Fritz Wechselmann and Charlotte, nee Drescher, Breslau; Siegbert Zacharias and Lotte, nee Austerlitz, Bremen.
Daughter: Dentist Arthur Schüfftan and Sophie, nee Schüfftan, Breslau; Assessor Dr. Hans Gabriel and Lotte, nee Kohn, Breslau.
Deaths. Hulda Kochmann, ne Tischler, Breslau; Julius Kareski, Kattowitz; Berthold Marcousy, Landsberg, Upper Silesia; Johanna Böhm, nee Flichter, Breslau; Berta Efrem, nee Katz, Hamburg; Julius Salomon, Breslau; Helene Gotthilf, nee Jacoby, Breslau; Berta Schreuer, nee Glaser, Berlin; Berthold Spanier, Berlin; Siegismund Münzer, Breslau; Moritz Fuchs, Breslau; Baruch Colkt, Breslau; Alfred Berliner, Ratibor; Sally Altmann, Breslau.