Jewish-Liberal Newspaper, December 17, 1920

“See that ye fall not out by the way.”

Synopsis: Introducing the topic of strife by recounting the story of Joseph and his brothers (Gen. 45, 24.), the writer goes on to explain how danger unites people but misfortune divides them and causes them to blame the other. Which is what is happening with the German fatherland in its current misery with the Jews being the scapegoat for all that is wrong. Unfortunately Germans and Jews share the inclination to foster hatred within even when the danger is external. For example, when Rome laid siege to Jerusalem, bloody partisan battles ensued during which one side even surrendered to Rome. Today, Judaism seems torn apart by the same kind of partisan strife, with the Liberals being suspected of doing anything for the sake of peace. The various perspectives within Judaism must be validated, but without sacrificing unity. We are all pursuing the same goal, though following different paths.

On Vanquishing Anti-Semitism.

by Pastor Lic. th. Ernst Moering, Breslau
A great misfortune has befallen Germany, but this misfortune is not just fate, it has been caused by guilt. If we had not been drunk on our successes, we would not have overestimated our power and would have been more cautious and careful with the aim of making friends in the world. If we had had better diplomats, we would have had better allies. If during the war a thoughtful statesman had been the Imperial Chancellor, one would have ended the war at a better time than October 1918, when Ludendorff’s nervous breakdown led to the dissolution of what was still holding together. If … yes if, yes if there hadn’t been an “if”!

It is horrible to watch these events unfold even if only in hindsight. It’s as though one is watching at a distance how a pedestrian gets run over by a car that he hadn’t even seen. Observing a fall from prideful heights to horrifying and often dishonorable misery stirs such feelings that one would rather shut one’s eyes and not see the images and not reflect on where we went wrong. What is left is the excitation and anger that comes from seeing how things were and how things are. But this anger is directed outwards instead of inwards. No one accepts the blame. No one likes being reminded of the mistakes of family or friends. It’s known that we more easily see the mote in another’s eye than the beam in one’s own. We have suffered misfortune. Who failed? The entire people. We all share the blame, because it was in our power to have a different political system, because we were all too much a part of the careless use of force—all of us because we were almost completely lacking in a simple, quiet recognition of political shortcomings. We are all to blame. But such a though is fatal. That pulls us down. Already in ancient myths man did not accept guilt. “The woman that you gave me…” The Jews that we have, they caused our misfortune.

Thank God, that there are still Jews! On whom else would some people unload their anger? It’s exactly the anti-Semites who can do without Jews the least! How grotesque it would be if they were to wake up one morning to find that all the Jews had gone. Their sputtering and shouts would never end because these poor creatures are constructed in such a way that they only feel good when they have someone at whom they can get angry! They are like those beasts that bark the whole night long even though there’s no sign of a troublemaker. Truly, these poor people have it tough, if they had to get over their incitement. How tragic domestic peace would be for some hatemongers from the Christian churches of both confessions. For there are people who can only be pious when they put down the religion of others. Why is that the Jew is such a favorite lightening rod?

For one, we can look at the effects of history. Just a couple of words on that. We know of course the middle ages, know how tied to the church they were. The church had pure teachings, everywhere else there was falsehood, damnation. The Jews were completely damned: they had crucified Christ. They had lost their land, lived in foreign lands. A treasured example for teaching naïve people about the consequences of evil deeds. The ghetto was erected creating a dividing wall, and because the Jews had special customs, that was naturally reason enough to wrap this anger with the veil of mystery and recount horror stories. And once the animosity was there, a few actions on the part of Jews increased it. Whoever is seen as the outcast is often not very particular in the choice of the cause of blame.

This was reinforced by the different appearance and manner. Every people has its particular customs and bad behaviors, its idiosyncrasies, to which another people takes affront or at which the ignorant laugh. These differences of course disappear with time, and sometimes, quite ridiculously, there are arguments about whether someone is Jewish or not. Some who have no Semitic origins are found to be Jewish, though “one hardly can tell that he’s a Jew.” From the east, new elements are coming in, with their particular dress and downtrodden conduct: they are seen as strangers. And strangers are mistrusted. Here in Germany one above all mistrusts that the stranger cannot love Germany. With this suspicion the German betrays himself. He doesn’t have a secure, firm bond with his homeland or a patriotism born of its intellectual culture; he is an internationalist or a chauvinist. When he himself is not completely firm, he thinks, how can the stranger have feelings for the homeland? Germans don’t realize that the eastern Jew rejoices when he escapes Russian oppression because they know so little about conditions outside of Germany; and one just won’t believe that because of Yiddish he is already entwined in German culture and will easily enter it more deeply.

To these two reasons comes a third nowadays. The Jews, as conservative as they often are, could not support the conservative political parties because these were all more or less anti-Semitic. They belonged to the left and gained leadership positions there—understandably given the political apathy of the middle class, and understandably found their way more easily than Christian intellectuals to the social democrats. But in 1918 the left-wing parties made crass mistakes. They promised “Peace, Freedom, Bread” because they believed in all earnestness that the Allies would be well disposed toward a democratic Germany. That was a delusion. Instead of telling the people that the peace will be terrible, because the old system ruined everything, they raised hopes (similar to what the military had done earlier) that they could not fulfill. Easily forgetful we are so that our anger was not aimed at the parties on the right, but against the left. And since those on the German nationalist side knew how to operate, they pointed to the Jews who were well represented on the left and blamed them. They did this all of course to make themselves richer for even though Krupp or Stinnes heaps up millions and agriculture clears its debts, only the Jews are getting rich – and they led us into the misfortune of being able to make a whole lot of profit. That’s how the proof is arrived at—which we can only grade the way the still-known theologian, Tholuk, once graded an exam: “Correct with incorrect unclearly mixed: D!”

What’s to be done? On the one hand once could wait with Noah’s patience in the ark until the waters have drained. Things will change. Even the anti-Semites cook only with water, stinking water, that is. This stinking water turns to steam and we have unquestionably reached the boiling point. But this passivity is unworthy of man. It’s up to us Christians who have not yet lost our senses to the stinking anti-Semitic gases to stand against the anti-Semites. This won’t earn anyone laurel wreaths so one will do this all the more gladly to show whether one truly fights for what is right and ethical or for individual glory. But the Jews must also fight against anti-Semitism. They can do it with strict discipline in their own ranks. Who sits in a glass house must hold themselves together. There are of course bad Jews. Saying that there are also bad Christians is no excuse. Of course there are bad people in both religions, probably to the same extent. But that should not placate us. We pastors must be especially careful for every badly behaving pastor damages the church. Officers have to win the trust of the people again and they can only do this through stiff discipline in their ranks. So must Jews see to it that their fellow Jews can stand up to the strictest judgement. The must ensure the highest moral standards spread through the farthest circles.

Only this way will we gain peaceful conditions. Only this way do we avoid radicalisms that are as grotesque as the intentions of the anti-Semites and the goals of the Zionists. The ones want to drive away all the Jews, the others want voluntary retreat. Both would cause the death of many Jews: they cannot leave the country to which they have such a deep bond. And both would damage our country: the contribution of the Jews to the economy and culture is so great that we cannot do without it. Therefore let us defeat anti-Semitism! And we have to get to work, because cleaning out the Augean stables was Hercules’ most disgusting feat.
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p. 2.

The Plight of Jewish Teachers and Workers.

Synopsis: In normal times, low salaries, although a shameful neglect on the part of the community, could be borne. Now, however, the struggle for a minimal existence being so difficult, the conditions have become catastrophic. One often doesn’t realize that the cantor can’t afford to keep his Sabbath suit repaired or the teacher spends his salary on coal for the classroom instead of on warm clothing. Four weeks earlier the Silesian Israelite Teachers Union pled their case before the Breslau city council. The outcome was that the Jewish teachers were to be paid according to the state’s guidelines for teachers’ salaries, which is seen as just. However, the congregations’ boards must be mobilized to act to raise salaries for their teachers and other employees.

This is not just an issue for the employees but also for the small congregations. If they can’t hire teachers or clergy, they will disappear. These important carriers of Jewish tradition are already dwindling and the Jewish community must unite to support them.

Remember the Vote in Upper Silesia!

Donate now and generously!

A Trade Means Financial Security.

Synopsis: Breslau has barely 100 Jewish tradesmen (out of 7500 people who pay taxes to the congregations). Jews are certainly capable of hard work as Poland, Russia, America, and the Orient show. In the war, Jewish hands proved that they were equally capable of digging trenches and building concrete defenses. The anti-Semitic claim that Jews cannot do fine handiwork or have endurance can be disproven by Jewish achievements in art which certainly requires both. Whereas other branches of the economy are struggling, the trades have it easier. Parents should encourage their sons to take up a trade, even if they have attended Gymnasium. The trades have unlimited financial potential; they have brought forth a Trelenberg and a Krupp. In addition, it benefits German Jews to be represented at every level of society so that Germans have an opportunity to get to know how they really are instead of just seeing them through the lens of anti-Semitism.

About the Jews in Lithuania.

Partial Translation: As reported by Professor Bergsträβer in the Frankfurter Zeitung. Jews play a different role in the former Russian northwestern territories than in Germany. In Lithuania, they represent 10% of the population and almost 50% of urban populations. Culturally their situation is also different from German Jewry’s as they maintained their language, have a separate intellectual life, and stayed racially pure. There is also a difference in worship as the eastern Jew keeps strictly to the laws. Since 1919 there has been a cabinet-level ministry for Jewish affairs with divisions for education, community administration, economy, and press, which represents Jews as a minority nation. It conducts business with the government in Lithuanian and with the Jewish administration in Yiddish (“Jargon”). The Jews have the same entitlements as all other minorities—the government funds Jewish elementary schools and will fund secondary schools if they teach Lithuanian.

While the political situation of the Lithuanian Jews is satisfactory, the same cannot be said about the economic situation. The entire Lithuanian population suffered terribly in the war but the recovery in the cities is especially slow. In 1915, the cities were evacuated during the retreat of the Russian forces and residents had massive material losses. Especially Jewish tradesmen were hard hit. The reconstruction efforts aim to move a large segment of the population to agriculture. Jews who already had farms are doing very well. Tradesmen are being helped with loans to purchase new tools. A number of banks have been established to assist the lower classes.

Kurt Walter Goldschmidt.

a Jewish poet and philosopher
by Dr. Ino Gaβmann.

Partial Translation: What could this fine thinker have achieved if he hadn’t had to earn his living by writing articles and teaching at high schools? As a writer, he earned one fourth or fifth of what a Berlin trash hauler earned. He thought to earn his living as a lawyer, but quit his studies to write. His work reveals his enthusiasm for Judaism—he angrily protests baptism—and harks back to the cultural achievements of the biblical era. At the same time he expresses his German sensibility and is able to formulate the foundations of Liberal Judaism. In 1884 he publishes a book on Henrik Ibsen. In 1907 his first volume of poetry, Cosmos and Chaos, appears. His poetry advances Nietzsche’s creative work as exemplified in the poems called “Walls” (“Mauern”) and “To Wrath” (“An den Zorn”). A cultural critique is published in 1908, Zur Kritik der Moderne, with essays on the modern psyche, race and individualism, and the theater. These themes continue in Erlebte Dichtung (1912) with portraits of leading poets of the day, including Carl Spitteler, the Nobel Prize winner in literature for 1920. Two works, The Value of Life and Halfmask: Confessions of a tragic philosophy from life and beyond life establish Goldschmidt as the equal of academic thinkers. He served in the war as a low-ranking soldier four years during which he continued to write. Manuscripts awaiting publication include a developmental novel that brings to mind Romain Rolland’s Jean Christoph.
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p. 3.

Aus dem Reich.

Synopsis:
Hindenburg. A lecture titled “On the threshold of a new fight for emancipation” was held at the local chapter meeting of the Central Organization of German Citizens of the Jewish Faith.

Königsberg. Rabbi Dr. Vogelstein from Breslau spoke on “Revelation and Development” being the two poles of religious life at the local chapter meeting of the Liberal Jewry Association. He also lectured on the spiritual values of the liberal movement at the local chapter meeting of the Central Organization of German Citizens of the Jewish Faith.

Hamburg. Erich Siegel directed the premiere of Jacob Scherek’s “Insanity” (“Wahn”) which deals with the topic of ritual murder.

The Decisions of the Conference of Fraternities.

Synopsis: Only German students of Aryan decent may belong to fraternities. Members may not marry Jewish or colored women. Members may not support separatist or international political parties.

Excavations in Palestine.

Synopsis: The Jewish Archeological Society in Jerusalem has received permission to excavate in the area surrounding Tiberius and Capernaum. Already, part of the ancient Roman city has been uncovered.
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p. 4.

Local Events.

Synopsis:
The Representatives Assembly will hold an open meeting to discuss the price of cemetery plots, the election of a new superintendent, salary increases for cemetery workers, and the creation of two teaching positions.

The Princess Luise institute, founded by Regina Schlesinger to support widows and orphans of all religions celebrates its 40th anniversary.

The Natural Healing Association of Breslau and – the Eastern Jews.
The board stated that it did not support the motion to prohibit Eastern Jews from their facilities, but that it had to place it on the agenda according to their bylaws. The person who had raised the issue denied having anti-Semitic tendencies. The board declared that no one will ever be excluded from the association on the basis of religion.

Heinz Kochanowski, son of the late cantor, Victor Kochanowski resident of Wallstraβe 5, will celebrate his bar mitzvah in the Old Synagogue on December 19.

Rosa Freudenthal’s delightful Chanukka exhibit (Goethestraβe 11) has been extended until December 19.

Associations and Assemblies.

Celebrating Chanukka in Breslau.


Synopsis: In addition to the family celebrations with their shining lights on the menorah and happy faces of young and old (off the old especially, as they well know how little attention was paid to this holiday 20 to 30 years ago), there were various celebrations sponsored by associations. Because of space restrictions, only three are described: a children’s party hosted by the Jewish Home, a celebration that included a living menorah and scenes from Stefan Zweig’s “Jeremias” by the “Comrades,” and the Jewish-Liberal Youth Association’s celebration that featured a concert, interpretive dances, and poetry readings.

Synopsis: The Breslau Union of Jewish Veterans met on December 13th to review the last year’s activities. In its first fourteen months, it grew to 700 members. The main topic of discussion was fundraising.

Synopsis: The Jewish-Liberal Youth Association board wrote to correct the statement that subscribing to this publication was mandatory for its members. Rather, subscription was recommended because the association will now rely on publishing its announcements in the newspaper instead of printing them separately at great expense. The money saved will be used to help pay for members’ subscriptions with the remainder being covered by the association’s treasury.

This edition of the Jewish-Liberal Newspaper includes an insert with the members’ list of the association of independent Jewish Craftsmen, Breslau.

Advertisements and Announcements

The source for these translations is the digitized version of the “Juedisch-Liberale Zeitung” available at Compact Memory. Find the digitized version of Issue 2 here.

Posted in Anti-Semitism, German Jewish History, German Jewish Literature, German Jewish Newspapers, Jewish Holidays, Yiddish | Leave a comment

Jewish-Liberal Newspaper, December 10, 1920

Appeal from the Reich President.

Sacrifice for Upper Silesia!
Synopsis: President Ebert and Chancellor Fehrenbach ask the German people to make donations to support the cost of ensuring that all former residents of Upper Silesia return to participate in the plebescite mandated by the Treaty of Versailles in which Upper Silesians will decide whether the territory be part of Germany or part of Poland.
“By the German people’s spirit of sacrifice may the Upper Silesians recognize that the Fatherland cherishes them.”

Chanukka.

During the terrible war years we became acquainted with the strength of military, political, and economic power and as never before, experienced the collapse of this power. Now we see external power triumph and as Germans and Jews we suffer mightily under it. Intellectual and moral culture seems to have succumbed to decline, might goes before right, brute force rules, humanitarian ideals seem to have been buried. For many the consequence is that they give up all of their personal ideals and seek only power and pleasure.

Into this, the celebration of Chanukka brings a comforting message. Alexander the Great’s campaign created Hellenism and with it a common world culture. Through the Greek spirit, he freed unknown, slumbering forces and made the dying classical Greek culture fertile once again through contact with the culture of the Orient—this almost dead culture of the east was then enlivened through the Greek culture. But he also completely destroyed the chains that had bound the people. The right of individualism appeared; unlimited and uninhibited forces of nature, violent people came forward for whom nothing was sacred. Violence and insidiousness ruled. Only one other time in history was there a similar plenty of these forceful personalities who scrupulously disdained the laws of morality when it came to pushing their plans through, and that was in the time of the Renaissance. During this unique time of Hellenism, the great and the horrible lay closely wrapped together, seeping into each other. The contrasts between the Greek and the Barbarian disappeared; the notion of a single humanity gained dominance. But while in Judaism this notion had grown out of a belief in one God and brought forth the rule of love and justice toward every person, in Hellenism this rule was at most known in the teachings of individual thinkers and remained a foreign concept to the common conscience.

Into this world with its glistening exterior came Judaism, which until then had existed far from the great events. The highly technically, intellectually, and artistically developed Hellenism must have had a fascinating effect on many, but on the other hand, serious people must have recognized the superiority of their own religious and moral culture. So Judaism struggled back and forth and balance came only slowly. Then Antiochus Epiphanes dipped with an awkward Hand into the sacredness of religious conviction. A petty, narrow mind had taken on the grand idea of unifying his widespread kingdom on the foundation of Hellenistic culture. He believed he would instill Hellenism by forcing them to don Hellenistic clothing. He hadn’t understood the spirit of Hellenism, and naturally not at all understood the spirit of Judaism. He thought he could hellenize the Jews with police tactics, force Hellenistic customs and Hellenistic gods onto them through violence.

The Hasmoneans rose up against this. For the first time in the history of the world there was a freedom fight that was motivated not by national freedom, but by freedom of the spirit and the conscience. For the rebelling Jews didn’t want political independence. Rather they struggled for religious freedom. In this unequal fight, the idea won out over force and gave the world proof that God is not always “with the strongest batallions.”

But in order to win, ideas need the people that carry them to act resolutely and willingly sacrifice everything to realize them. Only thus do ideas come to life. But this can only be the case when the people’s lives are entirely imbued with the idea. The Hasmoneans and their troops were steeped in their Judaism; the Syrian mercenaries did not know for what they were fighting.

External might has never meant anything to Judaism. It loses its essential being when it strives for political power instead of spiritual meaning. Through millennia it withstood all storms because its people were permeated with its spirit. In this way could this spirit be an element of progress for the whole culture. This lets us confidently endure this present time of domination. But it is our duty to fill ourselves with the spirit of Judaism. We are convinced that this spirit of Judaism expresses itself in its purest form in the way that liberalism presents it. Chanukka teaches us to take hold of these ideas and actively advance them. They must be victorious.

Jewish Social Welfare Work.

The laws of the Jewish state made the impoverishment of a fellow Jew practically impossible. A sense of brotherhood permeated the entire people. The word Zedoko was used for donations to the poorer, which is the same word for justice. This similarity of words shows that the poor had a right to help, just as, of course, according to the Jewish point of view, every citizen has a duty to work.

The respect for the dignity of man is the source of ancient Jewish social laws. No one was allowed to be enslaved because he could not pay his debt, as Roman law prescribed where there was no protection of class, no legal recourse. “If your brother becomes impoverished and is indebted to you, you must support him; he must live with you like a foreign resident. Do not take interest or profit from him, but you must fear your God and your brother must live with you.” [Lev. 25:35 – 37]

Jubilee and Sabbatical years prevented widespread poverty.

When communities formed after the exile, as the Jewish agrarian laws fell along with the Jewish state, the Talmud further expanded social welfare. Just as in the temple in Jerusalem in the “Kammer der Verschwiegenen” the wealthy made donations for the poor, so did the local poor receive donations from the weekly collection to address their need. They received food for the holy days, the sick were taken care of, brides outfitted, the dead buried out of the feeling of Zedoko, of the right to help from their brothers.

Synopsis: The article then describes how charity has remained the most important religious obligation throughout the changes Judaism has undergone. Even those who have given up religious aspects of Judaism continue to emphasize charity. Eventually, charitable activities were organized to make them more effective. Charity has been transformed from alms-giving to assisting individuals to work, the lack of work being seen as demoralizing. (Maimonides’s endorsement of earned income over receiving alms is cited and compared to the principles of modern social welfare.)
This social welfare work is best carried out through a centralized organization, so it is very important that Jewish communities remain unified in their goals. A centralized organization sponsored by German Jews was founded on May 16, 1917 in Berlin by the B’nai Brith and the congregational and women’s associations. These are struggling to address the poverty created by the war, especially those of widows and orphans. The paper-money economy is now impoverishing the middle class. These will not be overcome by money, but by thrift and hard work. The article is signed “Walsch.”

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p. 2

The Direction.

A word on our own affairs.
“Our local sister paper, the Jüdische Volkszeitung, dedicated an essay to greet us, and an article too. That was very friendly. The content less so.”

Synopsis: After recalling the evil fairy who was not invited to Sleeping Beauty’s christening, the writer goes on to compare the hundred year’s sleep to liberal Judaism’s, which had been relatively silent since its founding about a hundred years prior. Now it’s awake and vibrant.
The new paper had been accused of spreading division among the Jewish communities. Admittedly, there is some competition with the orthodox Jews because although they have divergent ideals, both groups want to win over the youth, and that won’t happen without a fight. But let it be a chivalrous fight. One of this new paper’s main goals, however, is to fight anti-Semitism, not other Jewish groups.
The “Jüdische Volkszeitung” recounts a passage from the Talmud about Jews walking through a strange needing to note each tree and bush so as not to lose their “direction.” Jews walking in their hometown don’t need to worry about the “direction.” The liberals are the former, the orthodox the latter. This new paper interprets the legend differently: Today’s Jewish life defined by partisanship is the dark forest. Without a sense of direction, one runs the risk of tripping over a root. The parties have their camps on the edge of the forest—the Orthodox, the Zionists, and the Liberals. The Orthodox and Zionists might want to stage a fight in the middle of the forest, but the Liberals want to find the path to the heart of Judaism. This fight amongst the three recalls Nathan the Wise’s lines:

Let each feel honoured by this free affection.
Unwarped of prejudice; let each endeavour
To vie with both his brothers in displaying
The virtue of his ring; assist its might
With gentleness, benevolence, forbearance,
With inward resignation to the godhead.*
“And so we extend our hand to the mean sister in reconciliation. As far as we’re concerned, let this first family tiff be the last one.”

*Gotthold Ephraim Lessing,Nathan the Wise: a Dramatic Poem, translated by William Taylor. London, R. Philips, 1805. This translation is available at Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3820

Secret Jewish Laws?

Synopsis: In a newly appeared piece, “Secret Jewish Laws?”, Professor of protestant theology, Dr. Hermann Strack, clearly states that there are none, these “secret laws” often having been the topic of anti-Semitic propaganda. Strack studied the Talmud and the Schulchan Aruch and affirmed that Jews are not hiding anything from Christians. In 1885 German rabbis published fifteen principles of Jewish morality (Grundsätze der jüdischen Sittenlehre) which are core to modern Judaism and Christians find unassailable. Strack specifically addresses Rohling, Ecker, and Dinter who are the source of current anti-Semitic writings and Captain a. D. Müller von Hansen’s The Secrets of the Elders of Zion, which turned extreme Russian nationalist propaganda into an anti-Semitic diatribe against the so-called Jewish attempt at world domination.

Jewish Spirit in the Newer German Literature.

by Dr. Ludwig Davidsohn. (continued)

Powerful and standing above everything else are, however, the manifestations of the Jewish spirit where it tries to connect to its greatest legacy, to those biblical times when Judaism formed the myths and poetry of mankind whose bronze tones hum through the millennia with unchanged clarity and greatness.
“I will not leave you, because you bless me”—an Israelite patriarch once wrestled with God—the blessing has not occurred, at least it has not been fulfilled in the way that the best of all peoples had hoped. The “third Reich” seems to be farther than ever, and that which we fearfully experience is the struggle of everyone against everyone else in a thoroughly mechanized era in which raw egoistic instincts are uncontrollably multiplied a thousand times.

It is as though the sorrow and grief over this lack of fulfillment of an ancient longing forms the deepest trait of the great Jewish literature of our day. This harrowing melancholy of a resigned seeking of the divine is the clearest marker of contemporary Jewish thought which differentiates it from non-Jewish literature.

The original, wholly Germanic also knows the melancholy of the disappointed very well; but somehow it always strives for the idyll: starting from Möricke’s, Eichendorf’s [sic] works to Count Eduard Keyserling, Friedrich Huch or one of the most German and greatest poets of our day, the Swabian Hermann Hesse.

The fervor and soul-stirring power of the Jewish sorrow over the demise of the divine in our lives and era are foreign to the Germanic.

Jewish, remembering Job’s cry, is the lament of Beer-Hofmann’s magnificent piece on Jacob’s dream, unforgettable the melancholy-become-music in the wonderful “Lullaby for Mijiam,” one of the most beautiful poems of the last decade.

This lament appears with all of Germany’s Jewish poets. It constantly comes through in Georg Hermann’s large and small novels—one need only read his typical small sketch “The Value of Life”—serious and masculine, the lament appears in Max Brod’s powerful book Tycho Brahe’s Path to God; like a powerful bell tolling, it echoes with the social Jewish poets Holitscher and the young Toller.

It is especially significant that it was a Jewish poet, Georg Hirschfeld who gave the most articulate expression in his novel, The Tavernkeeper of Beladuz to the sorrow over the modern de-spiritualization and economization of existence that killed all that is noble and beautiful in the life of the people!

And how loud and moving we find this and similar tones sounding in Jakob Wasserman’s great novels, Die Juden von Zirndorf (English title: The Dark Pilgrimage), Gooseboy, and Christian Wahnschaffe. Also, a large part of Franz Werfel’s poetry—cf. “why my God?”—is a continuous, convulsive weeping over the de-souling of the world.

We can find the deepest seriousness and powerful will to heal these wounds of our modern life in the great Jewish philosophers of modern times such as, for example, Georg Simmel, Hermann Cohen, Constantin Brunner, and Alexander Moszowski [sic]. With an almost passionate pathos the literary historian Friedrich Gundolf holds our twitching and greedy race in his last great work which depicts the harmony of the way of life conceived by Goethe as an unreachable ideal.

To the modern aesthetic, Judaism has brought so fine a mind as Hugo Marcus; this writer started out as self-taught but what development he achieved! His “Ornamental Beauty in the Landscape” is rightly deemed by experts a masterpiece and the finely chiseled, poetic aphorisms of this still young thinker, that have appeared under the title of “Meditations” deserve more attention than they have found.

True works of art are also the scientific writings of Fritz Kahn e.g. about The Milky Way and The Cell. Since Humboldt have such topics not been dealt with in such a delightful form!

Whoever neutrally observes the work of all these Jewish poets and intellectuals must admit that it does not “harm” or “falsify” the essence and spirit of recent German criticism, literature, and philosophy. Rather it enriches!

Only those of ill will can deny that in modern Judaism there are infinitely more positive and constructive forces at work than the few destructive ones. These positive forces act to bring blessings to our common German fatherland.
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p. 3

Those damned Eastern Jews!

Synopsis: During the retreat of the Polish army Jews were forced into hard labor, tortured, raped, and murdered. Reports of these incidents (in Wyszkow, Plozk, Jablona, Bolszowe, Tumierz, Delejow, Jezupol, and Stanislau) are interspersed with anti-Semitic claims made by drunken officers wearing swastikas.

Aus dem Reich.

The Law Regarding Leaving the Church.

Synopsis: Leaving the church (or synagogue) is a civil matter. This article describes the new procedures and timelines for quitting a religious institution and no longer having to pay church taxes.

The Fate of the Israelite Church Constitution in Wurttemberg.

Synopsis: The leaders of the Jewish congregations request parity with the Protestant church as to their interactions with the state. Currently, the Catholic and Protestant churches appoint their own representatives to the common church council while the state appoints the Jewish members. The Israelite Church Constitution of 1912 should be annulled. The Jewish leaders have been discussing this with the Protestant leaders who agree that both denominations should be governed similarly.

Spiritual Desecration of a Corpse.

Synopsis: Death is supposed to be the great equalizer, but an obituary in the Deutsche Zeitung describes how foreign racial elements made the deceased succumb to the illness. Outrage at the departed one being subjected to anti-Semitic diatribe in her death notice.

School and Anti-Semitism.

Synopsis: Dr. Paul Hildebrand lectured on the roots of anti-Semitism being found in schools where the nationalist youth organizations are flourishing for which the school administrators are to blame. The most effective way to combat anti-Semitism is to teach how to critically analyze the historical facts. The head teacher for the Chamisso School, Lydia Stoecker, supported Dr. Hildebrandt’s position.

Ausland.

Yiddish in the Polish Congress.

Synopsis: When the Polish Congress debated the protection of minorities the topic of the Jewish language, “jargon” came up. One parliamentarian expressed his opposition to this “language of crooks” (Gaunersprache) being allowed in courts and administration. Jewish members countered that this language was spoken by 12 million people.

No Separation of American and European Zionists.

Synopsis: According to a report in the London “Morningpost,” the American Zionists want to split from the European Zionists. No reason was given.

East-Jewish Folk Poetry.

Synopsis: This article discusses two recently published anthologies of Yiddish folk songs and love poems translated into German. It begins by describing the prejudices German Jews have of Eastern European Jews, the difficulties they have dealing with the many wartime immigrants, and the general animosity they feel towards them. Learning more about them, through their literature, for example, is one way to overcome these prejudices. [Translator’s note: the language of these poems is referred to as “jargon” by the article’s writer.] The poems’ connection to the German folksong will make them especially accessible and enjoyable. Article by Erich Spitz.
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p. 4

From Breslau’s Communal Life

by Dr. Reich, Privy Medical Counselor, Breslau
II.
The 1920/1921 and 1921/1922 budgets were reviewed. Recently, income had not kept pace with expenses as is the case with the Reich, the state, and individual budgets. Operating expenses have increased and so have the needs of the youth, the aged, refugees passing through, and the congregations’ employees. The two congregations’ expenses total 2,316,301 Marks; income is only 664, 579 Marks. As a result, tax rates have been set at 36% for city residents and 24% for those residing in the rest of the county.

Synopsis: The representatives approved the budgets almost unanimously; the Zionist representative abstained over a disagreement about funding the Zionist youth group at the same level as the Liberal youth group. It was pointed out that the Liberal youth group received funding because it was a religious organization dedicated to the spiritual development of its members. The Zionist group was not because it emphasized national themes. If there had been a Conservative youth group, it would have received the same level of funding as the Liberal group.

Natural Healing Association of Breslau and – the Eastern Jews.

Synopsis: The association’s annual meeting will take up the issue of whether Eastern Jews should be banned from using its outdoor facilities. Because of the implications of such a ban, members of all Jewish circles who belong to the association (and there are luckily many) are urged to attend.

Associations and Assemblies.

Synopsis: A public meeting of the local Agudas Jisroel group took place on December 6th. Rabbi Blum from Chemnitz spoke on “The Old Judaism in Modern Times.” He explored the contradiction between Judaism and the surrounding world and concluded that being different was beneficial. There have already been many instances of the contributions Jewish teachings have made in the areas of law, social welfare, and even the concept of making Sunday a day of rest. Agudas Jisroel’s task is to establish harmony between teachings and life—then will Judaism be relevant to the current times.

The Jewish-Liberal Youth Association of Breslau voted to make subscribing to the “Jewish-liberal Newspaper” obligatory for all members. The Association will host a Chanukkah celebration on December 12.

Advertisements and Announcements

Registration for a “Bar-Mizwah” course taught by Rabbi Dr. Sänger opens.

The Jewish Nursing Home is accepting women between the ages of 20 to 35 as unpaid nursing apprentices.

Posted in Anti-Semitism, German Jewish History, German Jewish Literature, German Jewish Newspapers, German Jewish Poetry, Jewish History, Jewish Holidays, Yiddish | Leave a comment

Jewish-Liberal Newspaper, December 3, 1920, pp. 3-4

From Breslau’s Communal Life

by Dr. Reich, Privy Medical Counselor, Breslau
I.
Among the important tasks that this paper will have to fulfill belongs the candid reporting on the matters of our Breslau community and the activities of its various bodies. Our community members who helped the liberal cause gain an especially brilliant and decisive victory in the last representatives’ election are to be continuously kept up-to-date with what the men in whom they placed their trust are doing as they exercise the mandate they’ve been given. The electorate is to be given some means of auditing that the administration is indeed being conducted in a liberal—of course!—spirit and not in a partisan, religious sense, but in the spirit of an objective equanimity that incorporates these concepts.

But also beyond Breslau, the interest in the conditions of the significant large communities in the German East will also be active and lively.

In order to establish the connection between what has happened until now and the objects of future regular reports, I want to briefly consider the most important events that have occurred since the close of the elections within our community administration.

In the first meeting of the newly elected representatives on March 21 of this year, after the introductory speeches which all voiced the wish for peaceful cooperation among all parties (to the blessing of the community and Judaism), we moved onto the election of a new rabbi to replace our departed, highly respected Professor Dr. Guttmann. Unanimously, which attested to the spirit that ruled in our body, Dr. VogelsteinRabbi Dr. Vogelstein from Königsberg was elected as rabbi of the new synagogue. His reputation from his previous position as a truly liberal minister [sic] preceded him as when he emphasized his point of view, and precisely because of this perspective demonstrates understanding and goodwill toward other beliefs. That is why the liberals, conservatives, and Zionists came together to speak of their trust and to lift him to the position that was once graced by Geiger, Joel, Guttmann. And the first months of his engagement have taught us that we have every reason to look forward to his abilities as preacher, as educator of youth and as a pastor [sic] with the highest expectations and hopes.

With the rabbi’s election in a given internal context we had a model administration which must have been generally appreciated by the congregation. It dealt with the payment of fees charged by our rabbis for weddings and funerals. Until now the fees for these pastoral activities were settled between the members of the congregation directly with the rabbis, and according to what they thought was suitable. That will now stop. In the future the fees will be paid to the congregation according to income and the rabbis’ salaries increased according to the loss of these fees. These new rules, which the rabbis also desire, will avoid the appearance that ministers see a difference between poor and rich.

A further, especially important proposal dealt with the new fee schedule for burials. Until now the administration’s cost for a burial was 75 Marks. Now the expenses for the coffin, shroud, coach, salaries of the employees, etc. have increased to 560 Marks. Before, the congregation had to set aside 75,000 Marks for burials; this now increases to 180,000 Marks.

A new fee schedule that accounted for these conditions was therefore a bitter necessity. The two congregation’s administrators were led by concerns about social justice when setting the new fee schedule. The weak shoulders were to be spared as much as possible; the wealthier ones had to pull the greater share.

While before the income range from 1050—3000 Marks was charged a fee of 60 Marks, in the future they are freed from paying anything. But whoever doesn’t want to take advantage of this can pay the moderate fee of 20 Marks. However, if someone in this income range wants to guarantee his deceased relatives a grave in the first row or wants to guarantee a family grave, he has to pay the still quite reasonable sum of 100 Marks. Even for the other income ranges a healthy sense of social justice caused the fees for the higher income ranges increase gradually and only the wealthiest circles are charged more heavily. The fee increases slowly to 80 Marks for an income from 3000—4500 Marks to 2400 Marks for incomes greater than 200,000 Marks.

These increases in revenue from burial fees made it easier for the congregations’ governing bodies to decide to increase moderately the service fees paid to the funeral director, coachmen, and the attending women, who had been forgotten when the fees of other employees were raised. This proposal was also accepted unanimously.

The attitude of our community’s administration toward the employees is illustrated by the emergency proposal made at the leadership meeting on March 21st to extend the 50% increase in wages for our employees and their dependents by another 100%. This proposal was accepted unanimously by the representatives, which gave happy evidence that all parties care that our employees have enough wages to live on, thereby ensuring a satisfied corps of employees who take pleasure in their work.

This agreement also showed itself on another point of a completely different nature whose content was of little significance, but whose principle was of the greatest importance. It concerned the leadership’s proposal to grant a donation of 1000 Marks to the Jubilee fund for the deceased Dr. Israel Hildesheimer, whose 100th birthday was on May 15th. Hildesheimer’s significance as a researcher, as one learned in the worldly sciences as well as of the Talmud, as a donor to the poor and opressed is well known. As well known, however, is that he was the pillar und support of orthodox Jewry. His main creation that lay closest to his heart was the Berlin Rabbinical Seminary, the main fortress of orthodoxy, in which young generations of rabbis were educated in the strictest Orthodox spirit. In spite of this, the liberal majority of the representatives voted with the other representatives to approve the grant and thereby proved that they were liberal in the true sense, because being liberal means being equitable.

Congregation Taxes.

For the tax year 1920/21 congregation taxes have not yet been collected, not even been set. Here and there someone wonders, some even feel a certain displeasure over the fact that soon they’ll have to pay all at once for several quarters. According to what we know, that will indeed be unavoidable. We can assure our readers that this is not the fault of our community administration. The issue is much more a result of Reich tax law which has withdrawn the current forms for collecting taxes from state, cities, and towns without making arrangements for plugging the holes that would occur. Almost every organization that has the right to tax suffers the same plight as our community whose executives, leadership, and representatives have been pulling every string they can to bring about to have the taxes collected. Just days ago they finally succeeded, so that the collection can begin. After announcing the collection weeks ago, it can now begin.

Associations and Assemblies.

The local chapter of the Central Organization of German Citizens of the Jewish Faith held an unusually well-attended gathering in the Chamber Music Hall on Sunday at which the vice-chairman of the association, Dr. Wiener, Berlin, presented on the topic “Boycott and Pogrom.” He pointed out that two directions out of the large wave of anti-Semitism have recently become clear, namely the organized boycott of Jewish citizens in all areas and the toying with the idea of unrest and even pogroms. With regards to the boycott, it is mostly the same old agenda but being pursued with renewed energy. It is aimed primarily at the press and publishing. Especially dangerous, however, are the movements forming at universities which don’t hold back from the ugliest agitation against highly regarded intellectuals. And in the schools, where especially the Deutschnationale Jugendbund sows hatred and conflict in young hearts. Recently there has also appeared a systematic current of anti-Semitism in business and industry, which has to be fought against all the more pointedly because it deals with questions of [the right to] exist. In this context, the speaker’s announcement that even in Breslau a German nationalist bank has opened as a cooperative.

Concerning the pogrom-movement the speaker rightly emphasized that it would definitely turn to action if the shameless anti-Semitic vilification continues and confuses the people and inflames them, a fact which would endanger the German name abroad. After his closing remarks, in which the speaker referred to the active pursuit of the difficult struggle, which was met with loud applause a member of the association, Chief Director Arnfeld entertained the audience with an incomparable recitation of poetry from the works of Beer-Hoffmann, Feibel, and Zuckermann.

To My Boy.

My boy plays alone for the first time
Today in front of the door in bright sunlight.
I am the man! as he looks proudly around.
If only the world weren’t so terribly big!
And as he boldly starts to explore his realm,
He hears a mocking call: “Hep, Hep, hold still!”
He doesn’t know the word yet, but in the tone
Shocked, he senses the voice of hatred.
He draws himself tall, he curls his small fist
And looks around. I see it, he trembles, he’s afraid.

Come here, my child, let me look into your eyes.
There’s still boundless trust,
A holy faith and a joyful bravery:
How lovely and good is everything around me!
These eyes are a sea in which the sky paints itself,
That brightly reflects all the stars.
A pain seizes me, a bitter fury, wild,
How quickly the world destroys this pure picture! (image?)
The word, that today first misled him
Is the kind of stone which will shatter it,
With which they’ll destroy him in his sanctuary–
Be strong, my child, don’t lose yourself.
Only the scars that you give yourself
Will never be wiped away.
And if men fall because of you,
Mankind will all the more gloriously rise again.
You have so much more than one steals from you,
Even if you keep only what you once believed so purely.
And should one tear all the flowers from your garden,
We are from an old root, we can wait.
Summer comes again, a fall day gleams,
That brings you both blossoms and fruit at once.
Be strong, be proud, and let yourself be taught one more thing:
Defend yourself, boy, defend yourself!

(“Meinem Jungen,” from the anthology of poetry: Aus jüdischer Seele, by J. Loewenberg. Verlag M. Glogau jun., Hamburg.)

Commemorative Speech

given at the memorial ceremony honoring fallen comrades on September 16, 1920 at the cemetery in Cosel near Breslau by Dr. Ernst Fraenkel*

“And when we move homeward,
We wear no crown of roses,
No green of oak crowns our helmets:
When we move homeward,
We hear no sounds of jubilation.”

You, dear dead camerades, on whose breast flaunt no roses at the homecoming, you whose helmets are not crowned with living oak, you who did not have the good fortune to hear cries of joy from wife and children at your homecoming, to see the great, calm light on the face of your mother, you we greet at this hour heavy with memories. We greet you who lie buried in the earth of your home, and our thoughts travel far over mountain and valley to the small, perhaps already worn down hills in France’s bloody earth, to the far, lonely steppes of Russia and Poland, and to the mountain heights of the Alps and the Balkans. We greet you, and from mournful hearts come to our lips three short but meaningful words: “We thank you.”

Honored attendees of this memorial gathering!
How often when we move through the surging, restless city life do we give people strange and apathetic, yes even hostile, looks when we rush by each other–as if they had never had that terrible, common experience of the World War, as if they, or at least most of them, year after year and day after day as friends and comrades in the trenches and in attacks had not looked in the face of the same death? How often, when we see, how the troubles and struggle of the day have torn people apart, who for years had always belonged together tied by the strong bond of a shared life, bitter questions rise? Is it not really truthful what the ancient philosopher Marcus Aurelius once spoke in tired resignation: “Just wait a short time and you will have forgotten everything; wait just a short time and everything will have forgotten you.”

It seems we have forgotten that a common heartbeat was in all of us; forgotten that a common will enlivened us, forgotten that a common trembling fear held mothers and fathers in chains. Forgotten in the need of the hour and of the present seem to be those who sealed their love of fatherland, their loyalty to home with death. And still, as much as appearances justify that tired philosophical saying: It is not true and it cannot be true. Because in that hour when it actually becomes true, in that hour when they would be forgotten, those who die believing in the great idea of Volk and fatherland, in that hour would not only German history, but all of world history have lost its meaning. And to doubt the meaning of the history of the world means doubting the very meaning of life.

And so we would have come in this plight and with this doubt in our souls to the fateful question as though from inner compulsion: What is the meaning of the death of all of these who rest in this place and far from here in enemy country, whose “sun set in the full brightness of midday”?

“What is mankind’s aim? Our eyes never see it between not yet being and no longer being!”

This aim does not seem to us to be so unfounded, so undiscoverable, because all of the priceless blood of the best of our people has flowed for nothing, because we see that despite the great and greatest sacrifices Germany still received the death blow? And yet we will not waver. We will wake and tend to the strong and quiet faith that lies in all of us, that behind all of these apparent contradictions there are the rule and action of a higher power. The blood that has streamed from your hearts, from your dear comrades, cannot have flowed in vain, and no tears that a mother shed for her child, shall have been shed in vain. We will continue to strengthen our belief that someday, when the differences of political and religious opinions no longer clash as roughly, that then the memory of our shared sorrow in these four long years, that the shared pain and shared loss of the beloved dead, will bring people closer together again, that in commemorating all that we have in common, one person will no longer see the enemy in the other, but instead see his comrade and friend. We want that each person in their own place work toward one great goal that the divisiveness some day disappear in the face of commonality. This should be for us the deepest and ultimate meaning of your sacrifice. But we shan’t commemorate you, our dead, in this hour, but in reverence and deeply honoring we bow before you as something holy, you mothers, who have sacrificed your sons to the great idea of the fatherland and the eternal idea of Versoehnung. A great pain has made your hearts tremble, regardless of your religion or your class. All of you were draped with a band, a band that no power will tear as long as the love of a single mother still exists in this world.

We however, who have fought and suffered with you, we will not and cannot ever forget you, our comrades. We will bring our children and children’s children to this place of peace, to this stone sign of how Germany’s Jewish sons fought and died for their fatherland with the same sense of duty and the same love as their Christian comrades, and we will recount for them your suffering and your heroism. And when we come to speak of those hours when we in the trenches lay nights under the pounding of mortars, when we stormed forwards with a hooray on our lips and faith in the one God in our hearts, then we will sing for them a song, the song that we all once sang as boys, the song that we sang so often when one of you would be laid to rest, the song that will sound as long as loyalty is loyalty and camaraderie is camaraderie: “I once had a comrade, a better one you’ll never find.”

*Ernst Fraenkel, historian, was born in Brelsau, volunteered to fight in WWI, was decorated with the Iron Cross, First Class, and earned his Ph.D. in 1919.
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p. 4
Page 4 has sschedules for services and events in addition to local advertisements.

The source for these translations is the digitized version of the “Juedisch-Liberale Zeitung” available at Compact Memory. Find the digitized version of Issue 1 here.

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Jewish-Liberal Newspaper, December 3, 1920, p.2

The Jewish Heart and the Income Tax

We hear our readers’ surprised question: What do these two things have to do with each other? That the Jewish heart cramps up when it thinks of the monstrous rates of the income tax is something it truly has in common with all other German hearts. But we do not mean it that way; rather we are referring to one stipulation in the income tax law that gratifyingly gives credit to what we proudly call the Jewish heart.

We, the much reviled, can say it without false boasting: The Jew has always been a generous donor, as anyone who has had to collect for a good cause can testify. See for yourself and ask, e.g. the collectors for the Christian charitable orders. They will confirm this for you with words of praise–and that the open heart and the open hand does not close for good Jewish causes does not even need to be mentioned.

Only in recent times it seems as though donor-fatigue is setting in. That has two causes that both stem from the same source. The impoverishment of our people and the devaluation of our money increase the demands on the merciful and social attitude of those that have; and the same reasons lead to the state having to lay its hands through taxes on a very large part of our wealth and the fruit of our labor. And that’s why here and there in places that were otherwise not just ready to help, but happy to help, a quiet reserve is being exercised: “We’d like to, but we can’t, the taxes, the taxes!”

And this is where our income-tax law comes to the tremendous aid of the Jewish heart. The thirteenth paragraph, which in contrast to the unpleasant sound of its number, is something thoroughly pleasant, namely the list of deductibles, that is, expenses that are not taxable. It states at number 7: “From the sum total of the income are to be deducted: Donations to cultural, charitable, communal, and political unions, insofar as the sum total does not exceed 10 of 100 of the income of the taxpayer.”

This provision for our whole social and political effort cannot be valued highly enough. Especially those who are blessed with significant income, who are supposed to deliver 45, 50, and even 60 of 100 of their salary to the beloved taxman, justly or unjustly, will certainly grasp the opportunity with special joy to give to charitable institutions whose sponsorship is personally important to you, as opposed to the other option. That we therefore can support those German political parties for which we work and which help defend our rights needs as little mention as that the Jew will not limit himself to give with an open hand to the charitable and social associations of Jewish character. But that the great and multifaceted poverty of Jews lays upon us the holy duty to pay special attention to and actively participate in Jewish causes does not need to be proven further.
Those of you to whom this applies, consider: What you, up to 10% of your taxable income give our “cultural, charitable, communal, and political unions,” could deduct from your tax statement. To name a few:

The religious congregations, the Central Organization [of German Citizens of the Jewish Faith], the Aid Society of German Jews, the Society for the Support of Agriculture among Jews, the Liberal Jewry Association in Germany and its local groups, the Jewish liberal youth organizations, the veterans association, the Society for the Promotion of the Science of Judaism, the association that supports the Breslau Jewish Theological Seminary, and the thousands of other organizations of similar character.

Consider it and act on it. Because the need is great!

Abraham Geiger Lodge in — America

The Independent Order B’nai Brith founded an Abraham Geiger lodge last spring in its American homeland, in Spokane Washington.

As much satisfaction as we German Jews can have that on the other side of the ocean, the memory of the great Jewish reformer will be cherished and his universal significance for Judaism recognized—110 years after his birth–so must we regretfully admit that in his and our home community, Breslau, a similar honor for this historically exceptional personality has been forfeited—no association, foundation, or institution bears his important name!
May this thought be enough to cause influential circles to fill this gap at a suitable opportunity, so that the Breslau community finally fulfills its duty to the man to whom the poet’s words rightfully refer:

“Where’er the mighty treads,
That place is hallowed. Ages pass away:
His words, his deeds, speak to our children’s children.”
[Quote from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Torquato Tasso: A Drama. Translated by M.A.H, London 1856.]

Aus dem Reich.

“Children in Need.”

During recent days a collection took place in the whole Reich whose purpose was to procure the means to address the healthcare needs of the German children who suffered deprivation during the war years. In unusual harmony the aid organizations of all religions came together for this work of love. From the Jewish side, the Central Aid Committee participated. Happily, in the area of social action all differences are bridged, and it would be desirable if in all other areas of public life such a spirit of harmony could exist among the various religions. With it, our heavily suffering fatherland would be far better served than by the poisoning vitriol of anti-Semitism, which divides and paralyzes the best energies for the renewal of our whole public life, which in turn inhibits the determination that we must show foreign countries and greatly compromises Germany’s standing in the world.

Knüppel-Kunze as a Wit.

Knüppel-Kunze is tired of dry tones. Knüppel-Kunze doesn’t want to be just the involuntary source of humor. That’s why he’s no longer content with his weekly paper, Deutsches Wochenblatt. If people are going to laugh at him anyhow, then they should at least pay him 18 Marks more a year for the pleasure. That is why he was loudly beating the advertising drum in the Deutsche Tageszeitung for his Deutsches Witzblatt which he has started publishing and which he maintains has the single purpose of fighting the Jewish character, that sacred topic no one dares broach, with humor and sarcasm. This attempt is not as new as this buffoon, outfitted with a rubber hose and cudgel, will have us believe.* Many of us surely remember the apparently poorly sleeping German Michel** who for so many years was the dumping ground of the meanest humorlessness by those who are mentally impoverished, those who can laugh hysterically at a picture of an exaggeratedly bent nose.

That’s what this sad new Witzblatt will look like. For hatred of man has never been counted among the fathers of humor. And the only kind of humor that anti-Semites are good at is, and will forever be, lunacy.

[*Richard Kunze, founder of the right-wing German Social Party, was nicknamed Knüppel-Kunze after he marketed a rubber cudgel for use as protection against bodily attacks by Jews.]
[**Der deutsche Michel was a caricature of a German stereotype depicted as a foolish man wearing a nightcap.]

Berlin. The Jewish community has set up a public reading room to which everyone has access on part of the synagogue property on Fasanenstraβe. There are more than 50 newspapers there, and books can be borrowed.

About the Jews in Soviet Russia.

The Moscow newspaper, Iswestija, recently had a few interesting reports on the current conditions of Russia’s Jews. According to the reports, the large masses of Jews, who had to keep moving with the Russian army during the war as it retreated from German troops, settled especially in the east of the emprire, in the Volga region, above all in the Urals and even in Siberia, where Irkutsk now has a community of 15,000 souls. A large part has engaged in productive work in their new home towns. But very many must rely on charitable institutions and societies because of the collapsed economy. Not a few wish they could return to their old homeland. Iswestija opposes this intention and recommends that these Jewish refugees be mobilized as workers.

Jewish Spirit in the Newer German Literature

by Dr. Ludwig Davidsohn.

The terrible fate that has befallen Europe and one which recorded history has never seen to such an extent and awfulness, has left no other country with such sorrow and troubles as our German fatherland.

And since there never was a great misfortune for which guilt has not been immediately assigned to Jews, this one too has caused an extraordinarily encompassing and poisoned vilification that is trying to convince the broad masses who are incapable of thoughtfulness and comprehending reality that, once again, all catastrophe comes from the Jews.

In intellectual areas, especially in literature, the disparagement and detraction of everything Jewish have taken on an extreme degree of injustice and hatefulness.

“The subverting, critical, Jewish mind falsifies and poisons the far nobler and higher-standing German mind,” is observed from many sides and in many variations; and boycott is preached from every direction as a weapon against the Semitic evil.

The two foundational questions that arise when one examines this old accusation are first, is the Jewish mind completely different from the German mind or to be spoken of as a complete contrast? How do the two differ? Then, if there is a specifically “Jewish” tone, does it truly exert a damaging influence on the “Germanic” one?

With regards to the first question, one must clearly acknowledge that there are certain differences.

Of course, “subverting criticism” doesn’t just come from Jews; they don’t have exclusive rights over criticism, even if the most gifted critics that summon up their wit and cool keenness of thought are Jews.

The many-faceted S. Lublinski, who unfortunately died too early, left a whole series of critical masterpieces of distinction. Not only as a critic and representative of the whole of the German intellect of his time, but also as a dramatist, philosopher, historian of religion, and novelist he created something truly meaningful.

Almost forgotten is the brilliant Leo Berg whose many books will still be enjoyable, inspiring, and instructive when the curiosities and leaps of many of the modern writers will lie on the junk heap for all time.

Still not well-enough known is the deep and significant, untiringly productive critic and philosopher-poet, Kurt Walter Goldschmidt of Berlin. He had to pay for the height of his perspective with a lack of resonance among the masses and lack of fame. But a small group of select individuals, and among these are the best, cherish him all the more because of this! Goldschmidt’s learnedness, confident style, and his all-encompassing education have only ever been achieved by a modern Jewish critic, by Brandes, a university professor who is valued throughout Europe and whose work has been translated into almost all cultured languages.

As it is with criticism, so it is with literature. Not any less lasting, certainly brilliant in its day, but having hardly any influence beyond its time should one judge the totality of Jewish minds, but judge by the many representatives who have created works of lasting value.

The somewhat ailing trait that accompanies the writings of the Austrian Jewish literary circle around Schnitzler, Hofmannsthal, Salten, Auernheimer and Altenberg, is typical of the overly refined, tiring old culture of the rich Jewish families who have lived in Vienna for centuries, but it would be just as wrong, to allow this type to characterize the achievements of the Jewish mind in the present.

Writings of timeless value that speak to the heart have these men in part bestowed on literature. Some of Hofmannsthal’s lyricism, his wonder-ful small drama written in his youth, Tor und Tod this unique tragedy of aestheticism that cannot survive, will not fade so soon! And Schnitzler’s best is more than clever and refined chatter as is borne out in his novellas such as, for example, the Hirtenfloete with its exceptionally fine and calm form.

A skill worthy of recognition is demonstrated by the poet, novelist, and dramatist, Stephan Zweig who only loosely belongs to that Viennese group. And the Moravian Jakob Julius David who stands far above the almost forgotten folk poet from the Black Forest Auerbach, shows that also the Jews who are “rootless, only feeling at home in the big city” can bring forth Heimatsdichter [folk poets] in the most wholesome and beautiful sense of the word. From David’s works the scent of native earth arises just as strongly and refreshingly as from the writings of a Hermann Löns or Ludwig Thoma. [Conclusion follows in the next issue.]

The source for these translations is the digitized version of the “Juedisch-Liberale Zeitung” available at Compact Memory. Find the digitized version of Issue 2 here.

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Jewish-Liberal Newspaper, December 3, 1920, p.1

Introduction

By Heinrich Stern (Lawyer), Chairman of the Liberal Jewry Association of Germany.

The German liberal Jewry, especially its organization, the Liberal Jewry Association of Germany, wishes the new Jewish-Liberal newspaper good fortune and much success! Breslau, the community with a profound Jewish sensibility, has often been the source of a positive impetus to the spiritual life of German Jews. We only need cite the name of Abraham Geiger and it is immediately clear to us why liberal Jewry can be thankful to Breslau. [Note: Abraham Geiger led the founding of Reform, i.e. “liberal,” Judiasm.]

It was time that liberal Jewry created a platform by which it can present itself to the public. The liberal newspapers that are still available are not sufficient to keep pace with the publications of other Jewish religious groups.

What do we expect from this new publication with a Jewish liberal perpsective? We expect that it will bear witness to the great changes that were initiated in the last several years to which opponents sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously close their eyes. Even supporters do not want to see them, or cannot see them. Whoever means to do right by something about which one cares greatly, must deal with it honestly; and so it must be said here that German liberal Judaism is in great danger of losing its Jewishness because of so much liberalism. When does one ever hear of liberal Judaism? Every three years when we have elections for representatives. After that all is quiet again. After the reform movement had made its way into the community’s parlors in the first decades of the nineteenth century with the power of a storm which every people’s movement has, Liberalism thought it could give itself up to feeling that it had achieved peacefulness. The attempts that the great leaders of the Reform had made to instill the foundation of liberal Judaism throughout broader circles of the German Jewish public failed as the rabbinical conferences did not have the courage to take decisive steps. Liberal Judaism, having been inadequately grounded spiritually, was watched over and fostered by men, who although they were sincere and loyal Jews with significant achievements in the community’s administration, eventually lost the connection with the great universal Jewish questions and instead engaged in fruitless battles about narrow questions.

The Anti-Semitism of the eighties and the nationalism of the nineties brought forth a new type of people, people who did not take being Jewish at face value, but who took up once again Israel’s ancient wrestling with the angel, that is, the struggle with the self about the meaning of Jewish existence.

The answer that the nationalist Jewry gave to this question was clear and unequivocal, yet it met with significant opposition not only for reasons of the German national consciousness, no, ever more strongly the Jewish youth struggled to reach the awareness that a Jewish movement can only be understood, fought against, and rejected from its Jewish motivation. We young liberal Jews—and this youth has nothing to do with physical age—know today that liberal Judaism is first and foremost Judaism. The ancient holy bond that connects us to our forefathers, unites us also with Jews around the world. That is why there is no Jewish issue that the liberal Jewry should fail to participate in; all Jews are warrantors for each other. This strong feeling of standing for each other must also echo from the columns of this newspaper; all things Jewish must find a place here. When German Jews build their organization, when the currents of migration chase our Eastern Jewish brothers throughout the world, when in Palestine Jews are struggling to regain their ancient, holy mother earth so that it becomes a free homeland for their children, then we have the duty and the right to advise and to act in solidarity.

If one is to find German liberal Jews alongside of their Jewish brothers of other pursuasions, we should not forget the questions of Judaism because of the questions about Jewishness. One has long tried to explain and interpret the concept of liberal Judaism. Today we believe that these attempts started at the wrong end. One always demonstrated what liberal Judaism was not, had revealed the differences, widened divisions, opened cracks, and in the end the many negatives made us liberal Jews forget to unlock and proclaim the greatest truth of our Judaism. Just recent years have brought about a fundamental change in this matter. One has felt that there is more to liberal Judaism than the issue of organ music at services, the necessity of following the dietary laws, and whether one should drive on the Sabbath. A youthful generation is growing up and reaching into storerooms of our mind, a generation that is aware of the everlasting honor that lies in being bearers of the greatest spiritual and cultural movement that the world has ever known. Developing these spiritual and cultural forces within Judaism, actualizing them in the life of the individual and in that of the whole, satisfies it and has become its life goal and purpose. No mockery or derisive doubt will deter this generation from turning the great ethos that lies in Judaism into a lasting treasure in one’s life. And only in this will they emphasize the liberal character of their Judaism, that the forms in which the eternal concepts of Juidaism are expressed are unimportant. They will not repudiate anyone who holds the forms dear; they will not reject anyone who thinks the idea is everything and the form is an irrelevant accessory.

If we are to be once again recognized as Jews by the world, not only in name, but also in attitude and by our actions, we must be allowed to construe our Judaism as our hearts desire, so that it be a Judaism that not only stands strong before our forefathers, but that can be something to our children, that anchors their hearts, strengthens their minds, and raises their spirit. Religious ceremony, knowledge, and Jewish action in the life of the individual and the life of the whole will flourish in the soil of the newly-recognized and newly-fulfilled eternal ancient truth. There will be no lack of opposition, not amongst ourselves nor amongst those who arrive at their Jewish ideal from other perspectives. Even if battles do arise, Israel was always united in things that are near to the heart, though much divided in the matters of the spirit!

During these days, Israel is preparing for the festival of light. For us, Chanukah is a holy memorial to the greatest of things–the victory of the idea over the might of the many. May the heroic battle of the Maccabees serve as a lasting admonition to us liberal Jews that only passion, a spirit of sacrifice, and untiring action can lead an ideal to victory. And so for us today the prophetic words of the Chanukah celebration are more meaningful than ever: “Not through the might of armies, not through strength, but through my spirit speaks the Lord of hosts!”

Upper Silesia

We can in good conscience assert: the Jews of Upper Silesia are liberal. Only a small minority of the older generation and very few of the younger are orthodox. But here it’s like almost everywhere else: the small group of religious, intensely engaged Jews was often able to suppress the liberal majority in the recent generations, because this majority was often apathetic and lukewarm; and compared to how the orthodox represented their claims with confidence and knowledge, did not show enough liberal spine. So the conservatives were able to achieve that orthodox rabbis became leaders of most of the Upper-Silesian congregations and services took on an orthodox form or kept it. Only eventually were these policies broken here and there such as in Ratibor, Leobschütz, Lublinitz, Rybnik. Oppeln has been liberal for a long time; extraordinary leaders of Liberalism served there as rabbis. Beuthen, long orthodox, now has services accompanied by organ music, but is still rather far from being able to be counted as liberal.

The freedom and the growing penchant for criticizing the status quo that came into the whole of our public lives because of the political upheaval could have also helped religious liberalism in Upper Silesia to an energetic upswing. But especially in Upper Silesia, two things stood in the way. One the one hand there is an exceptionally intensive participation by Jews in the especially vibrant economic life, which leaves them too little time to concern themselves with purely spiritual values, that is those things whose importance the people of today, who are focused on acquisition, too easily misjudge. And the other is the uncertainty over the future of the country which burdens and numbs the mind. One sees the example of the mass emigration of the Jews from the eastern provinces. As confidently as one hopes that Upper Silesia will stay with Germany, the remote possibility of a different outcome paralyzes initiative, and one postpones any decisions on Jewish matters until “afterwards.” Meanwhile however, besides the conscientious conservatives, the Zionists are everywhere on the ball and, often enough successfully, try to draw in those that have a desire for positive Jewish values but cannot be orthodox.

This contrast shows how wrong the notion is to attribute liberalism’s reserve to the fear of destroying the much-acclaimed “united front” of the Upper Silesian Jews. It is certainly understandable that we must oppose the enemies of Judaism as a closed phalanx, and that this is ten times as necessary in a region as threatened as Upper Silesia. But that doesn’t mean that the battle of ideas within Judaism must stop or be constrained. Judaism can use only those who know and profess where their place is on the Jewish frontlines, those who march individually, but know to which side they belong, a side that unites in battle.

What we have just said is only valid for the past. Because the time of the plebiscite is now nearing. Everyone that is Upper-Silesian or that has a connection to Upper Silesia, connections of blood, of the soul, of economic existence, in short, all of Germany is looking at the Upper-Silesian corner, where not only its fate will be decided but that of the whole Fatherland. We know that the German Jews of Upper Silesia and all that live in the Reich, have been called to participate in the plebiscite by the peace treaty, and whose well-earned right the Allies are striving—hopefully unsuccessfully—to limit or nullify, are ready and will do their duty. Those who are abroad are getting ready to return to their homeland, to the places that witnessed their happy childhood games, of their blessed youth and which they will now see with such different eyes, with a heavy seriousness and a completely new, deepened tenderness, with the same attitude with which one approaches the sickbed of a dear relative…

That now in these last, holy, and serious weeks every, but truly every, division between the Jewish parties of Upper Silesia must be erased, [p2] no word need be said. May every free thought serve only one goal–the vote and its fortunate execution.
When the battle has been fought, when Germany greets the returning vote-fighters as jubilantly as months ago it greeted those who came streaming back from East- and West-Prussia; then it will be the right time, with fresh and free energy to deal with the internal matters of the Upper-Silesian Jewry. Then, then finally must Jewish liberalism wake from its paralysis, and the Upper-Silesian Jew, whose vitality and economic proficiency is beyond every doubt and every praise, will show that he who also leads in religious progress is willing and determined to march at the forefront of German Jewry.

In this spirit we greet you with the old miner’s greeting: “Glückauf!” my Upper-Silesian brothers and sisters who are twice as dear and important to us today.

The source for these translations is the digitized version of the “Juedisch-Liberale Zeitung” available at Compact Memory. Find the digitized version of Issue 1 here.

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