by Rabbi Dr. Vogelstein (Breslau).
Partial translation: Dr. Vogelstein had recently seen the term “liberal Judaism” used in contrast to “positive Judaism.” The label “liberal” has been adopted from political life, and liberal Judaism does share some traits with liberal politics. Granted that “liberal” is the wrong label for the religious movement, but so are “orthodox,” “observant,” and “conservative” for their respective directions.
There seems to be a notion that one should simply be Jewish, but how can that be? Communal lives must always be lead from a certain perspective lest confusion reign. Liberal Jews view Judaism from a liberal perspective. It is not less positive nor less Jewish than any other perspective. Liberal Judaism does not seek to “subtract” from Judaism. Those who think that liberal Jews are less religious are wrong. Liberal religiosity takes different external forms. Liberalism is not merely the “comfortable” form of Judaism.
Revelation and progress are the two fundamental concepts of Liberalism. The Bible is God’s word the expression of revelation and imbued with divine spirit. The process that revelation took is not something we claim to understand. But we do know that the wonderful, ethical monotheism is not something that is meticulously interpreted. Rather it is revelation that has come to life through religious genius. This revelation is not a one-sided action of God’s. Instead its characteristics are determined by the prophets. The holy scriptures are not only written for man, but by man. The words of the Bible are sacred to us, but more sacred is the divine spirit that imbues them. We are of the belief that the slavish literal interpretation of the bible does not do justice to its wonderful poetry and actually destroys its deep religious and ethical content.
The second concept, progress, was seen as equally important as revelation by the moderate theologian Güdemann and his conservative teacher Zacharias Frankel. This does not mean that tradition has no value—Judaism is a religion with history that spans “from the first word of the Bible to the last of the Talmudists, from the medieval philosophers to the laborious studies of a Darschau (?), from the casuist’s narrow interpretations to the free words of the modern sermon.” Thus did Abraham Geiger characterize the concept of progress. Liberals do not break with tradition, but they do not recognize a single moment in history as being the end of Judaism’s development. Liberals believe that only in this way does religion remain a living, life-giving force for all times. Whether or not one accepts the concept of development in theory, in the reality of life it remains dominant. Compare for example today’s orthodox with Judaism at the time of emancipation. One need only remember the struggles around allowing German sermons or singing from the congregation. Now sermons have been in German in orthodox synagogues for decades and the vestments of the rabbis and cantors have shed traces of cabbalistic appropriation–everything appears more natural. Liberals believe that the flow of progress can be halted as little as one can ignore history.
Youth and Anti-Semitism.
by Dr. Braubach, Attorney.
Synopsis: This article describes the anti-Semitism among university students, which used to be limited to the fraternities but is now more pervasive. For example, anti-Semitic groups won 2/3 of the votes in the recent local student election. These students will become the judges, teachers, and doctors and hold leadership positions among the Germans. The German fraternities played such a decisive role in the struggle for democracy which makes their current anti-Semitism all the more painful. Now they lower themselves to programmatically forbid members to have “Jewish or colored wives” with the exception of Indian women because India is the cradle of Aryanism according to Count Reventlow.
Dr. Braubach recalls standing in front of the Sistine Madonna thinking that this ideal woman, this mother figure was Jewish, and that the irresponsible leaders of this student movement have besmirched this woman, this mother of the noblest man the world has ever seen.
Braubach then speaks of the poverty of students, even those in fraternities, most of which live on less than 300 Marks a month. These conditions, combined with the fact that this impressionable youth is being educated by anti-Semitic professors explain why they are susceptible to anti-Semitic propaganda. The curriculum, which focuses on the war to the detriment of cultural, artistic, and scientific questions, is also to blame. The situation in schools is not much better, especially in the provinces. Many a father has considered pulling their child from public school because they are tired of having him suffer as a scapegoat and punching bag. It is time that a new spirit infuse German education that will educate young people to recognize the humanity in each other and work together for the good of mankind.
Aus dem Reich.
Berlin. Synopsis: Fritz Mordechai Kauffmann, the director of the Workers’ Aid Bureau, died a few days ago at the age of 33. As you might recall, he had recently held a thorough report on “Problems of Eastern Jewish Aid in Germany” at the Central Aid Committee conference. His death signifies a heavy loss for the organization.
Berlin. Synopsis: A new political party has recently been founded under the leadership of the German nationalist publicist, Richard Kunze. It bears the name, “German-social Party.” Its stated goal is the destruction of Jewish hegemony in Germany.”
Görlitz. An Evening with Lewinsky. Synopsis: The local “Workgroup of Jewish Associations” held an evening of recitations from the works of Jewish authors by Siegfried Lewinsky of the Dresden Staatstheater. Among the pieces were “Schlaflied für Mirijam” by Richard Beer-Hoffmann, the prayer scene from “Dorfzaddik” by Shalom Asch, and Peretz’s “Reb Joschenen Gabaj,” and in closing, the humor of Shalom Aleichem’s “Rat.”
Königsberg. Synopsis: At a meeting of the Association for Jewish History and Literature, Berthold Lazar spoke on “The Cultural Works of Jewish Law” where he highlighted that Jewish law has a different foundation from the law of other peoples. It developed at the same time as the historical development of the people, determining its fate through centuries behind the ghetto walls to the threshold of the present and prevented the Jewish people’s moral decline. No other law has this longevity. Built on the laws of Sinai, its binding power results from the ability to harken back to God’s will as revealed to Modes. It has the principle of individual freedom such that parents don’t have absolute power over their children or their slaves. It was the first to emancipate women. In stark contrast to the laws of all other ancient peoples, Jewish law demonstrates strong social tendencies, an example of which is the lovely institution of the work-free Sabbath. It differentiates itself through the mild treatment of debtors. It held marriage highly. Its punishments were humane, the punishment being relative to the motives behind the deed. This thousands of years old culture is reflected in the Talmud, which today is still valid for the people of the East.
Tilsit. Ritual Sugar for Passover. Synopsis: The local German Nationalist Protection and Defiance Federation protests that Jews receive extra sugar rations at Easter time. However, Jews do not receive extra sugar. A portion of the region’s sugar rations will be prepared according to kosher regulations.
An anti-Semitic Convention. Synopsis: Representatives from Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland will hold a conference in Vienna (March 11 to 13) to speak about the position of Jews in their countries and the degree of their influence.
Professor Theodor Nöldeke, a renowned orientalist who specialized in ancient Semitic philology recently completed his 85th year. Highly respected by Jewish rabbinical scholars, he was a personal friend of Abraham Geiger. The editors wish him many years of good health and contentment.
From the Province.
Upper Silesian Plebiscite. Synopsis: Various organizations have consolidated under the leadership of Mr. Loewy (Bank Director) to assist Jewish voters in the upcoming election. Over 300 volunteers are prepared to offer assistance at all Breslau train stations where they will be distributing warm meals. For help with lodging, contact Bertha Kober. Interested volunteers should contact Miss Emmi Guttmann. Rabbi Dr. Cohn is responsible for religious matters. Since over half of qualified German Jewish voters reside in Berlin, Rabbi Dr. E. Munk will be participating as well. In Berlin, warm meals will be available at the Jewish Dining Hall (Auguststraβe 16). In Upper Silesia arrangements for kosher meals have been made in coordination with the German plebiscite committee. Those requiring kosher meals should register with the synagogue in the town where they will be voting. Contacts are Arthur Altmann in Beuthen, Paul Cohn in Gleiwitz, Rabbi Dr. Kaatz in Hindenburg, Bruno Altmann in Kattowitz, Rabbi Dr. Goldschmidt in Königshütte, Preacher Rawitscher in Kreuzburg, Rabbi Dr. Baβfreund in Myslowitz, Max Weisler in Nikolai, Joachim Simonsohn in Sandowitz, Cantor Getzow in Sohrau, and Rabbi Dr. in Tarnowitz.
A light conversation by Dr. Ludwig Davidsohn.
Synopsis: Countless books have been written about death; death is the most thought about subject, yet it is still so little understood. Davidsohn describes a few literary reflections on death by German-Jewish writers to support his thesis that thoughts of death cause the sensitive Jewish soul endless sorrow and paralyzing melancholy. He turns to the Epic of Gilgamesh and its pessimistic portrayal of death. This view of death distinguishes the Semitic culture from the other cultures of the time, which never depict death as terrible. Instead it often appears as the brother of sleep. In the book of Job and in the Kohelet one finds echoes of death’s portrayal in Gilgamesh, however without Enkidu’s pessimism. As Jewish literature distances itself from the Bible, it occupies itself more with the dark mystery of death, as shown in Talmudic writings and Hassidic ghost stories. Davidsohn explores non-Jewish literature for treatments of death as well, highlighting Maurice Maeterlinck.
Whether man’s thoughts and emotions are immortal, we do not know. However, we know that matter does not die as such, rather nature uses it to form new compositions. Death is never absolute annihilation; everywhere there is resurrection and renewal, as observed by natural historians. Why should man doubt that all rules of nature apply to him as well? To the poet in the Bible who wrote, “Dust you are and to dust you shall return,” we can say, “and what’s wrong with that dust since God (with respect to nature) uses it in a continuous creative process?
Just as matter is eternal so are ideas. Davidsohn reads the sayings of Lao-Tzu or the writings of the prophets and encounters their ancient wisdom reaching out over the centuries. When a writer like Barbusse writes that the horrors of war make him question the meaning of life, he takes a short-sighted and ego-centric view. Mankind needs these biological explosions to achieve a higher form of life. As Hegel maintains, all existence is an upward-moving spiral. Those who live in these dismal times must keep in mind that transitoriness has its good sides and the malicious foolishness of the entente diplomats will in the future elicit only a disdainful smile.
Jubilee. Synopsis: Preacher and instructor Jakob Bähr celebrates his twenty-fifth year serving the congregation of Waldenburg. He was educated by Professor Brann and now leads the Union of Israelite Teachers in Silesia.
Myslowitz. Synopsis: Another announcement about registering for kosher meals during the election and a brief notice that head cantor and religion teacher, Sandau celebrated his 25th anniversary of service to the local community on March 1.
On the passing of Rabbi Dr. Rosenthal.
Rabbi Dr. Ferdinand Rosenthal died at the age of 83 after a brief illness. He was born into a respected scholarly family in Kenesa (Hungary) in 1838, attended preparatory school in Eisenstadt and Vienna, and studied philosophy, oriental languages, ancient history, and rabbinical literature at the University of Berlin. After receiving his Ph.D. in 1866 at the University of Leipzig, he became a rabbi Easter [“Ostern”] 1867 in Beuthen (Upper Silesia) where he served for twenty years as pastor and head of the Jewish elementary school. He was active throughout the Upper Silesian industrial region. In 1887 he was called by the Breslau congregation to serve as the lead pastor for the Old Synagogue on Wallstraβe where he served for 33 years before retiring merely half a year ago because of his advanced age.
What Dr. Rosenthal meant to his congregation, to Judaism at all, can be better validated by more worthy sources. With all those to whom he was dear, we too stand at his graveside realizing that he was one of the great figures in the Jewish world [“Israel”].
The memorial service took place on Tuesday in the Old Synagogue on Wallstraβe, the site of the departed’s activity. The large space was densely filled in which despite the bright sun shining in through the dome, was resplendent under the flames of the candelabra. At the sides of the coffin in front of the high altar stood the members of the Jewish student fraternity holding their flags stood watch.
The service began at 1 o’clock with the choir singing. Dr. Simonsohn stepped to the podium. In warm, deeply-felt words he painted a picture of the noble man, showing him in his deep piety, his sincere goodness and humility, his accomplished scholarship that had made him a leader and teacher of this great congregation, whose venerable pastor he had been for over a generation. After him spoke Dr. Hoffmann who had been elected as Dr. Rosenthal’s successor hastened to pay his last respects to his master and friend. He too emphasized the learned man’s unique ability to wear the three crowns—the crown of the Torah that made him a teacher, the crown of the royal priest, that he wore at the altar, and the crown of the good name, which he earned through his exemplary life. The part of him that is mortal will return to dust, but the divine that emanated from him will continue to have an effect and will live on forever.
Accompanied by the choir singing, the coffin was carried out followed by the procession of mourners. First were the university students, then the students and teachers from the religion school and behind the hearse came the rabbis and a countless number of mourners. They moved slowly through the streets until they arrived at the Lohestraβe cemetery hall where another choir greeted the coffin. There Dr. Vogelstein held the eulogy. He praised the exceptional pastor [“Seelsorger”] who was able to maintain unity and peace in the congregation and spoke words of comfort to the family members who could be justifiably proud to be able to call this precious life one of their own. After him spoke Rabbi Dr. Margolies from Florence who was the deceased son-in-law. Counselor Hirschberg and Professor Wohlauer spoke as representatives of the synagogue’s board of directors. Then followed speech after speech by representatives of other congregations and the many associations to which the deceased had belonged, and his students and friends as well as the B’nai B’rith Lessing Lodge of which he had once been president on whose behalf spoke Master Timmendorfer from Berlin.
The evening was sending out its shadows when the coffin was finally carried to the grave. The fraternity slowly lowered its flags over him once more; then he disappeared into the depths. The clumps of earth rained down to cover the earthly remains of a man to whom love had built a lasting monument in many hearts and whose memory will continue to live in his congregation and in all who knew him.
10-year celebration of the founding of the Jewish Craftsmen’s Association. Synopsis: The celebration took place in the Lessing Lodge accompanied by chorus and harmonium. Speeches were held by Master Butcher Grunpeter and Louis Wolff. The Jewish man, who in his own land had worked in every profession was banned from guilds in the middle ages. With the emancipation, exterior barriers fell, but Jews turned mostly to the intellectual careers for material reasons. Craftsmanship is now weakly developed mostly because of social reasons. But in the last decades there’s been a change where the accomplishments of Jewish craftsmen are being recognized. They have organized and have a common goal of attracting youth to the trades. Rabbi Dr. Vogelstein cited the passages from the Talmud and Mishnah that praised craftsmanship and noted that the great teachers and researchers had earned their keep and funded their studies through work in the trades. Ignaz Walsh represented the synagogue congregation’s leadership. Martin Fränkel spoke on behalf of the Israelite Hospital and Attorney Spitz on behalf of the Liberal Association. The veterans union and neighboring craftsmen’s organizations also expressed their congratulations. The celebration concluded with a dance and artistic entertainment.
An Evening of Arias, Ballads, and Lieder by Richard Rodek.
Synopsis: This aggreable young singer apparently still has a lot of development to undergo, although he performed Hermann’s “Salomo” and the shorter, lyrical Lieder quite well. The critic looks forward to hearing him again. The accompanist, Franz Czerny, technically adept and discrete, received a lukewarm review.
Engagements: Grete Schindler with Hermann Goldberger (Breslau); Luzie Imbach (Gleiwitz) with Jacques Walter (Breslau); Käthe Halberstam (Berlin) with Dr. Heinrich Hepner (Berlin-Schöneberg); Delia Gerson mit Leo Dzialowski (Brelsau); Käte Müller with Curt Jacoby (Breslau); Else Pincus with Leo Eilenberg (Breslau); Frieda Forder with Gustav Süβmann (Breslau).
Marriages: Friederich Biller… with Edith Zepler (Breslau); Alfred Katz with Hedwig Banasch (Flatow in West Prussia); Lutz Juliusburger with Else Memisohn (Breslau); Curt Löwy with Frieda Stein (Breslau).
Births. Son: Engineer Alfred Fischer and Margarete nee Riesenfeld (Breslau); Bruno Lipschütz and Grete nee Echstein (Troppau); Dr. E. W. Müller and Käthe nee Staub (Berlin).
Daughter: Emil Fraenkel and Käthe nee Pätzold (Breslau); Adolf S.l.ts and Elly nee Samuel (Beuthen, Upper Silesia).
Deaths: Anna Fingerhut nee Peiser (Breslau); Abraham Raphael (Berlin); Balbina Schreiber (Schrimm); Luise Altmann nee Jeremias (Kattowitz, Upper Silesia); Mortiz Warschauer (Breslau); Bernard Ksinski (Breslau); Leo Lebram (Breslau); Paula Prinz (Berlin); Marie Schlesinger nee Berger (Breslau); Mathilde Glück nee Pick (Breslau); Mortiz Süβmann (Breslau); Elise Grünfeld nee Pinkus (Breslau); Mortiz Schnell (Breslau); Rosalie Sauer nee Ollendorff (Festenberg).