Charles Evans Hughes, formerly Secretary of State, presided at a good-will dinner of Jews and non-Jews held Tuesday night at the Hotel Astor Group hatreds and bigotry marked as Americanism were denounced. The assemblage of clergymen and laymen unanimously adopted as the spirit of the movement a “Message to the American People,” which declared:
“Ours is a nation which was founded in neither race nor creed, but rather in the adherence to principles of liberty and brotherhood. From the earliest beginning of our history as a people it was our need and our privilege to invite all mankind to come and work together toward the building of a new world conceived in liberty and dedicated to equality. To this end our forefathers guaranteed to every man freedom of worship and the rights of citizenship, regardless of faith or place of origin.
“It is fitting that we, the heirs of a noble past, should remind ourselves, and our fellow citizens, of those great principles and that all should dedicate ourselves anew to observing them by mutual understanding, friendly accord and earnest cooperation for the common good.”
The speakers included the Rev. Dr. S. Parkes Cadman, president of the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America; Dr. Cyrus Adler, president of the Jewish Theological Seminary, and Mrs. Alexander Kohut, writer and prominent in the reform branch of American Jewry. The dinner was kosher, and Dr. Cadman remarked that it was the first dinner of the sort ever given by Christians. He closed his address with this remark: “If this be kosher meat, lead me to it.”
Mr. Hughes, who spoke extemporaneously, said:
“Let us begin this meeting with the fundamental expression of unity by drinking to the health of the President of the United States.”
Mr. Hughes read a letter from Governor Smith in which he said he knew of no greater need today than the promotion of tolerance through understanding.
“It has been my experience in life,” wrote the Governor, “that the first step in the removal of prejudice is knowledge. When people of different races and traditions act together for a common cause they soon recognize in each other, not the differences that divide, but their common humanity that unites them.”
The former Secretary of State began his speech introducing the first speaker of the evening, Dr. Adler, by declaring it an extraordinary thing that Christians and Jews should have to talk about good will.
Good will, for which dogmatic religion had done but little, was not to be achieved by attempting a unification of belief or practice, he said.
“But we can be unified in the solid rock of righteousness,” he added.
Mr. Hughes, after reminding his hearers there could not be international peace until the nations were enjoying peace at home, said.
“The most important thing for us to do in this country now is to reaffirm our old ideal of American liberty.
“It is extraordinary that in this twentieth century we should see a recrudescence of bigotry in this land, and that in the name of Americanism. which it soils.
“Let us take pride in our institutions of learning, the freedom of learning. A bigoted person is unintelligent. I get beyond the point of reasoning with him. We need an emancipation of culture.
“The fundamental basis of Americanism is not of the flesh. It is of the spirit. Some are Americans the moment they land on these shores. Some never become Americans, although they and their forebears have lived here for generations.”
“When the Republic was established it was our greatest American, George Washington, in his address to the Jews of Newport, Rhode Island, who declared that, ‘All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were by the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoys the exercise of their inherent natural rights, Dr. Cyrus Adler declared.
“I know that this is not exactly the theme which occupies us this evening but we all realize that during the intervening years many Americans have fallen from the high ideals of Washington. To restore this attitude of mind, that one religion or one class of citizens does not ‘tolerate’ another would of itself be well worth while.
“Even before these utterances of Washington there were evidences of goodwill. It is extraordinary when one considers the attitude in other parts of the world that Jews contributed funds to the completion of the steeple of Trinity Church in New York in 1711 and that Christians under the leadership of so eminent an American as Benjamin Franklin aided in the maintenance of a Jewish Synagogue in Philadelphia some seventy years later. In endeavoring, as religious men and women, to reestablish this Goodwill which has undeniably lapsed in many quarters we are also serving the Republic which cannot exist in its broadest foundations if its citizens do not hold each other in mutual confidence and respect.
“I daresay that any religion or people which has had a history of three thousand years or more will always have something in its record that it would wish expunged. Individuals and nations and peoples and Churches all make their mistakes and none of us can claim uniform perfection.
“But Jews may at least assert that from the very earliest days their ideals toward others have been actuated by the highest motives. It was the Levitical law which laid down the doctrine ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself.’ And it was the great Rabbi Hillel who more than two thousand years ago declared Brotherly Love the fundamental principle of the Code and that all the rest is commentary. This same Code forbade the vexing of the stranger even by injurious words. The Mosaic law proclaimed one statute for all, one law and one Code for the native born and the foreigner. Nor did we claim that we had a sole right to bliss in immortality; for the righteous of all nations, according to the Jewish doctrine, have a share in the world to come. So that in spite of many difficulties of the past both the Synagogue as an Institution and the Jews as a people are anxious and willing to offer Goodwill and naturally to be the recipients thereof,” Dr. Adler stated.
“Whatever may be said about the wars that were caused in by-gone days by religious differences I think we may feel sure that these are ended once and for all. Indeed we cannot justify ourselves as children of God looking to the Divine Being as the Father of all men without equally accepting the doctrine of universal brotherhood. Our power to do good may be limited, but if we have it not in our hearts at least to will to do good the one to the other then indeed no one of us is worthy of considering himself a man devoted to religion no matter to how many Churches we belong nor how many ceremonies we observe or how ardently we declare our creed. Hate and Godliness may not reside together.
“I would like to suggest as a definite pragmatic basis for the happier relationship a recognition of the fact that until a person has grown up and is therefore capable, in the light of knowledge, reason and experience, of forming his own judgments, it is not ethical to endeavor to wean him from the teachings of his home and I would make this a principle not simply as between Christians and Jews but as between all seets and all peoples.
“When we get to know each other and understand each other, when we are willing to give full faith to the professions of one another then indeed the era of ill will will have disappeared; the greatly to be desired age of Goodwill between Jews and Christians between men of all religions will have arrived and we may look for the Kingdom of God upon Earth,” Dr. Adler concluded.
Dr. Cadman began by declaring that group strife is the rock upon which every civilization has split. He charged that the man who cherishes hate is a part of “the great conspiracy that draws us into universal struggle about every twenty years and that makes the white man the most dangerous being on all the carth.”
“As affairs now stand we too often meet to emphasize our differences and minimize our agreements,” continued Dr. Cadman. “Destruction lies that way. Our mission is rather to emphasize our agreements and respect our differences and labor for the development of a common mind. In the war we had it.
“If it was possible to find a common mind in the business of murdering, then surely it is possible to find a common mind in the business of peace. If it was possible for Locarno to declare the reign of peace over Central Europe, then it is more than possible for America to ally around the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man and declare peace and goodwill to all in our land.
“What shall be the central principle in this common mind of peace? Is it not that sublime gift from the genius of Israel that has made Catholic and Protestant alike her debtor: ‘The Lord. Thy God, is one?’ We must trust and believe in the diversified races that make up our land.”
“We will never have good will in the world unless we begin with our children,” said Mrs. Alexander Kohut. She made a plea for the education of the child to eradicate prejudice.
AGUDAH DELEGATION CALLS ON PRESIDENT COOLIDGE
President Coolidge received a delegation of the Agudath Israel yesterday at noon. The delegation consisted of Mr. Jacob Rosenheim of Frankfort, Germany, President of the Agudath Israel; Dr. Leo Jung and the Hon. Samuel H. Hofstader, member of the New York Legislature.
Mr. Rosenheim spoke in English. He extended a greeting to the President in behalf of the organization and informed him of the aims and work of the Agudah.
President Coolidge expressed his sympathy with the endeavors of the Agudath Israel, a statement issued by the headquarters of the Agudath Israel declared.
NON-JEW CONTRIBUTES $5,000 TO UNITED JEWISH CAMPAIGN
A contribution of five thousand dollars from a non-Jew was announced from National Headquarters of the United Jewish Campaign. The gift was an unsolicited subscription from C. Sterling, owner and publisher of the Houston “Post Dispatch,” and was sent to N. D. Naman, chairman of the campaign which is now being conducted in Houston, Texas.
JEWISH COMMUNAL ACTIVITIES
The Congregation Kol Israel of Poland, one of the oldest synagogues in New York City, was offered for sale at auction yesterday. It is located at 22 Forsyth Street and has been in existence for more than thirty-five years.
Following the construction of Manhattan Bridge, the congregation built an uptown home and the old synagogue became a Hebrew school. When it was realized that the building would have to be sold, Dr. Samuel Buchler, Harry Jacobs and others connected with the Harlem congregation made a last-minute attempt to save it. They succeeded in raising $6,000, but $18,000 was necessary.
Moses Asinof, prominent manufacturer of Springfield and Chicopee, Mass., has in addition to accepting the volunteer post of temporary state treasurer of the $15,000,000 United Jewish Campaign in Massachusetts, undertaken to finance the maintenance of state headquarters in Springfield from which the drive for the $500,000 state quota will be directed. This half-million-dollar objective represents the sum expected from Massachusetts communities exclusive of Boston.