Agudah Leader Replies to Criticism of Louis Lipsky

A reply to the charges made by Louis Lipsky, chairman of the Zionist Organization of America, against the Agudath Israel, the Orthodox Jewish world organization, the non-Zionist Orthodox group, was contained in a statement issued yesterday by Dr. Solomon Ehrmann, the representative of the Agudath Israel who arrived in this country some time ago to advocate the formation of an American branch of the organization. The statement read:

“In reply to the critical remarks of Mr. Lipsky against the Agudath Israel, particularly concerning the collections of the Keren Ha’yishubb, the organization’s fund for Palestine work, the following observations must be made:

a) “It is extremely surprising that Mr. Lipsky grows excited when the Agudath Israel buys land in Palestine, colonizes the land and conducts cultural work in the country. We believed that the Zionist Organization would be glad when those Jews who cannot support the Zionist funds because of their religious conscientious objections created a separate instrument for the rebuilding of Palestine. Besides the Zionist Organization, there are a number of societies and individuals who conduct work in Palestine. Why should the Agudath Israel be prohiibted in this?

b) “The negotiations between the Zionist Organization and the Agudath Israel which Mr. Lipsky mentions indeed took place, at a time when the Agudath Israel had already founded the Keren Ha’yishubb and was active in the economic field. Dr. Weizmann nor the other leaders of the Zionist Organization had the slightest objection to this. On the countrary, a hearty welcome was expressed by the Zionist Organization to the economic reconstruction work conducted in Palestine by the Agudath Israel. That the Agudath Israel cannot do this work with empty pockets, that for this purpose money is necessary from Europe as well as from America and that for this purpose the Keren Ha’yishubb was established, is self-evident.

c) “It is not true when Mr. Lipsky asserts that the Agudath Israel has not until now made any material contribution toward the reconstruction of the Jewish home. We would not buy 100,000 dunam of land, we would not establish colonies, would not create a labor organization, nor would we provide instruction for 2,000 children. we would not employ an economist of the calibre of Mr, David Triesch for a year to make a survey, if we would, as Mr. Lipsky says, condemn every effort toward the rebuilding of Eretz Israel.

d) “The Agudath Israel has never approached the British authorities and the League of Nations before attempting to realize its purely religious demands for the freedom of conscience within Jewry, through negotiations with the Zionist Organization. Only when these negotiations proved ineffective (just as the Mizrachi’s efforts were in effective) and only when the Zionist Organization first approached the non-Jewish authorities, did the Agudath Israel, under compulsion in order to protect the freedom of conscience, approach the British government and the League of Nations, but in each case it was only on questions of a religious nature.

e) “The Agudath Israel must create a separate fund in the rebuilding of Palestine, not only because the Zionist funds are administered by a majority of non-religious Jews, but also because a large part of these monies is being spent for non-religious purposes as, for example, on a training which systematically denies the divinity of the Torah. A member of the Agudah cannot give his money for the schools for which more than 25 percent of the Keren Hayesod monies are being spent.

f) “At the Tenth Zionist Congress, the Zionist Organization, following a bitter struggle, included in its program cultural work. Two months later the Agudath Israel was created. Should the Zionist Organization guarantee that it would not violate the Jewish religion in our Jewish land with the monies collected from Jews, the Agudath Israel would then have no reason to collect separate funds. The Agudath Israel would in that case have no ground to intervene with government offices on religous questions.

“On this condition, and only on this condition, the way for unity is open.”

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