Menu JTA Search

Our Daily News Letter

Download PDF for this date

The season of sensational trials in which the Jews of Chicago and the rest of the United States, have been interested, directly or indirectly, is not yet over. Following closely on the heels of the cases of Leopold-Loeb, Bessie Gensselin and Leo Koretz, cases in which Jewish names figured prominently and frequently, comes a new case in the outcome of which not only the Jews of Chicago but of the entire country, will be intensely interested. I am referring to what is called here the “sacramental-wine” case.

Over seventy persons, among them some twenty or thirty Jews well known in local synagogue activities are indicted in this case. A number of high government and prohibition enforcement officers are likewise involved.

At present this case is in a stage of investigation, which is being conducted by the Federal government, not by the state. However, there has been so much publicity in connection with it that when the trial of those indicted will begin, sometime this month maybe, it will attract no less attention than the several sadly-famous cases which occurred here recently.

I can say that neither the Leopold-Loeb case nor the Koretz case caused the Jews of Chicago so much embarrassment and discomfort as the present “sacramental-wine” case. In regard to the Leopold-Loeb and Koretz cases all the efforts of the newspapers to impress on the public mind the fact that the criminals were Jews failed to create an anti-Jewish sentiment. But in regard to the present case it is to be noted that even before the trial has begun and ere the public knows the details of the scandal, the general impression is taking root that this is a specifically Jewish case, and this in spite of the fact that the majority of those indicted are non-Jews. The knowledge that it is a case of the misuse of the privilege of “sacramental-wine” and that the Jews are the only ones to enjoy this privilege under the prohibition laws, is sufficient.

The average newspaper reader does not know that the “rabbis” and “congregations” mentioned in connection with this case are not real rabbis and congregations but ordinary criminals and nonexistent synagogues. He does not know that it is one big ring of swindlers and crooks, among whom there are a few Jews, who are organized for the purpose of carrying on an illicit liquor trade on a large scale and employing the “sacramental-wine “provision as a means of deceiving the government. He does not know, furthermore, that the most guilty ones in this case are a number of the very prohibition agents who are supposed to see that the law be properly observed. He assumes that this is a Jewish swindle, perpetrated by rabbis and synagogues and based on a gross misuse of the “sacramental-wine” privilege.

It must also be added that the manner in which the press reports this case is certainly not too conducive toward a clarification of the true facts in the minds of the readers.

Sometime ago Mr. Julius Rosenwald and other prominent Jews urged that the “sacramental-wine” clause be erased from the prohibition statues, but their move met with a great deal of opposition. If these Jews had succeeded in their purpose at that time we would not now be faced with the “sacramental-wine” case.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund