Menu JTA Search

Digest of Public Opinion on Jewish Matters

[The purpose of the Digest is informative. Preference is given to papers not generally accessible to our readers. Quotation does not indicate approval.--Editor.]

A description of the conditions in Roumania today, wherein anti-Semitism and the anti-Jewish excesses in that country are depicted against a background of extreme chauvinism, political corruption and economic demoralization, is contained in the “New York Times Magazine” of May 8, in a correspondence from Bucharest by Anne O’Hare McCormick. Roumanian nationalism, or “Romanity”, as Miss McCormick terms it, has reached such exaggerated proportions, she tells us, that some Roumanians hold the Queen’s foreign birth against her, despite Marie’s zealous efforts as a propagandist for the country which she rules. Further we read:

“The Calea (the main street of Bucharest) is subject to attacks of flag-waving as complacent as those of the Ku Klux Klan. It takes all kinds of familiar forms, from annoying foreigners and imprisoning them in red tape to baiting Jews and closing foreign missions.

“Anti-Semitism is one of the ugliest symptoms of the nationalistic fever. There are more than 1,000,000 Jews among the 17,000,000 inhabitants of Greater Roumania, a large proportion transferred from Hungary and Russia in the annexation of Transylvania and Bessarabia. In the one area they are supposed to be agitating with the rebellious Magyars and in the other with the agents of the Bolsheviki. When one asks what is the charge agains them, one hears with tiresome reiteration: ‘They are not good Roumanians.’ They are accused of international solidarity, and on the Russian border all internationalism is suspect. Fundamentally, the obscure resentment that occasionally flares out in the ‘incidents’ reported in America is the jealousy of the majority against a minority that by sheer industry, business acumen and intelligence acquires a power disproportionate to its numbers.”

SAYS RELIGIOUS GROWTH OF AMERICAN JEWS COMPARES WELL WITH OTHER FAITHS

Despite the pessimistic note sometimes sounded in the Jewish press and puipit, the Jewish religious growth in this country when compared with the religious growth of other denominations, is highly encouraging, according to the “Jewish Ledger” of New Orleans, (May 6).

“Statistics recently published,” the paper writes, “show that in 1926 church membership in the United States was increased by 489,556 names. The total number of communicants in the country is given as 47,550,902, of whom 16,808,171 are Roman Catholics, 8,968,288 Methodists, 8,670,895 Baptists, 2,610,716 Presbytetians and 2,558,279 Lutherans.

“To appreciate fully the comparative value of these figures, it should be borne in mind that, unlike our Christian friends, we discourage contemplating converts to Judaism. Yet our strength, measured, not by synagogue attendance, but by the consistent addition of institutions and their steadily increasing activities, is growing in large proportions. Judged by synagogue attendance, this growth may not be apparent. But synagogue attendance cannot be taken as an absolute criterion of strength in a religious growth and vitality in a faith like Judaism, which has hardly any dogmas, which has few purely theological doctrines and is essentially a religion of life and conduct. The real criterion of growth and vitality in Judaism is, therefore, to be found in the institutions that are established and maintained, in the number and kind of institutions and in their activities.

“And this standard of measurement does indeed reveal a strong and healthy condition. While our pulpit shows comparatively little strength and our pews exhibit a lamentable amount of indifference, while our pulpit has in many instances degenerated into a platform for the discussion of the latest spicy novel or of ephemeral literature of dubious worth and character and our pews have become habituated to seek merely amusement and entertainment, yet a constantly increasing number of religious schools are being established throughout the land, religious centers and clubs and associations are everywhere being formed, and institutions for higher learning are multiplying. Up to a few years ago, there were in the whole United States only two rabbinical colleges, one Jewish teachers’ college and one school for advanced Jewish learning. Today we have half-a-dozen rabbinical seminaries, located in Cincinnati, New York, Chicago, Boston and Baltimore, and as many teachers’ colleges, in addition to schools and courses for advanced Jewish studies. Our other religious organizations, too, are a product of only the past few years. Our Synagogue Centers, our Temple Sisterhoods and Brotherhoods, our Men’s Clubs and Women’s Clubs and Young People’s organizations, the United Synagogue Associations and auxiliaries of men and women, the University Chautauqua, courses, the College Menorah Societies, the Judaean Circles, and the Hillel Foundation-all these are of recent date, and they show conclusively the vitality and virility of our religious growth in this country”

JEWISH COMMUNAL ACTIVITIES

The Joliet, Illinois, Jewish Federation is erecting a temple in that city which will cost $125,000. The temple will contain an auditorium with a seating capacity of 550, a gymnasium and recreation rooms.

NEXT STORY