Berlin (Mar. 30)
(Jewish Telegraphic Agency Mail Service)
Many problems affeeting the life of the Jewish communities in Germany were discussed at the annual conference of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Prussia concluded here yesterday.
Dr. Ismar Freund, reporting on the situation of the Jewish communities in Germany said that the economic conditions had become stabilized; the worst of the crisis had passed but land was not yet in sight. “The communities are groaning under their burdens,” he said. “There are some which are not in a position to pay the salary of a single functionary. It is the task of the Federation to do what the single communities can not do. There are about 200 small communities which are still outside the Federation. This is a state of things which can not be tolerated. It will have to be made compulsory for Jewish communities to belong to the Federation. No Jewish community must be left without means of giving its children religious instruction; it is a question of life and death for the Jews of Germany and there should be sufficient funds available to train the necessary number of teachers and rabbis.”
Herr Alfred Berger, of the Poale Zion, said that the anti-Jewish boycott movement in Germany was growing and the result was an incredible proletarianization of the Jewish population. The banks afford no openings for Jews in subordinate positions; in industry there is no opportunity for a Jewish engineer to obtain a situation. Yet everywhere there are Jews as directors and managers. “There is no need for any sudden panic. We must think of the Jewish unemployed when there are vacancies to be filled. The Jewish communitiess will have to consider this question,” he declared.
Dr. S. Sandler of the Jewish Peoples’ Party, said that the Zionists stand for conciliation and cooperation. “But conciliation does not mean surrendering their convictions; it means only understanding the convictions of others. The Liberals go too far in their heresy-hunting against Zionists and make them appear fantastic. The Zionists are seeking in the life of the Jewish communities nothing more than the fulfillment of Jewish aims-Jewish education, the development of the Hebrew language, support of the Palestine upbuilding work and the carrying out of the religious requirements of all the parties. They understand the demands of the Conservatives and they can also understand the demands of the Liberals. They do not want to dominate in the communities, but to work together with the others on a basis of equality. The Zionists have never thought of putting forward minority demands in Germany. The Zionist attitude is in complete harmony with loyalty to the State. In the East European countries, the Jews are anational minority. To import such a state of things into Germany would be madness,” he declared.
Dr. Wertheim (Liberal) said that they respect the moderate tone adopted by Dr. Sandler. “This Conference, however, is not the place for such debates. We Liberals,” he said, “do not regard it as our purpose in the to put obstacles in the way of Zionism. Unfortunately, we are putting up far too little resistance to Zionism. So far as Jewish communal life is concerned the Liberals have always stood for the equality of all parties. They only insist on one thing-that the religious communities should remain religious communities. There is no concentrated attack upon the upbuilding work in Palestine. The attack is directed only against the national and political aspirations of the Zionists.”
The position of the foreign-born Jews in the Jewish communities of Germany was discussed at the second day session of the Conference. The Jewish Peoples’ Party put forward a resolution calling for equal rights for the foreign born Jews in the life of the Jewish communities. The resolution was defeated by 61 votes against 33, two delegates abstaining from voting.
Deputy Dr. Oscar Kohn (Poale Zion) said in the course of the debate: “I have come from German politics into Jewish activity, and I am to-day speaking to this Federation for the first time. The war taught me to know Jews and Judaism on the other side of the frontier. There is no question of concessions in giving equal rights to the foreign-born Jews. The East European Jews are not guests in Germany. They have been driven by dire necessity from their native countries. It is our duty to make good to them some of the wrongs which have been committed against them. It is un-Jewish to speak of cultural distinctions between Jews. The East European Jews are mentally and culturally on as high a plane as the German Jews.”
Dr. Peyser (Liberal) said that it was necessary for the foreign-born Jews to acquire their rights. “Distinctions exist and have to be gradually overcome. The community of all Jews is at present only a phrase and an ideal. In practice, there are fundamental differences which are the subject of heated argument. The foreign-born Jew who settled in Germany had to adapt himself first of all to the conditions in the country. That he had, meanwhile, to carry out certain duties does not affect the point at issue. The cultural distinctions which exist are so powerful that it is essential to make some sort of differentiation. As I see it, it is absolutely Jewish to insist that the German Jews should keep their Jewishness as German as possible.”