Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver of the Temple, Cleveland, returned yesterday from a trip abroad during which he visited Palestine and Russia.
When interviewed by the representative of the Jewish Daily Bulletin, Rabbi Silver summarized his impressions of the two countries.
“I re-visited Palestine after eight years. The changes which I noted were simply amazing,” Rabbi Silver said. “From a small, backward Oriental province, Palestine had been transformed into a progressive country wherein modern standards of life and thought are fast gaining ascendancy. It is all a remarkable tribute to Jewish enterprise and enthusiasm.
“New towns and settlements have been built. Great land areas have been redeemed and placed under cultivation. The whole of the Emek is one beautiful plain dotted with Jewish colonies, where pioneers, amidst struggle and hardship, are rebuilding their own lives, and fashioning the home of Israel.
“Some of the cities of Palestine have suffered and are suffering from a temporary economic depression, brought about by the collapse of the ‘boom’ of two years ago. Palestine cannot be built along American ‘boom’ lines. The future of Palestine lies in the slow and steady development of its agricultural life. Urban development will follow as a matter of course.” he said.
“The Zionist organization ought to devote itself almost entirely to this task. It should not with its limited means attempt to do those things which by right ought to be done by the mandatory power. The Zionists are spending too much money on health work and education, and have therefore very little for colonization and credit. Health and education are government obligations, and should be met out of the moneys paid by Jewish taxpayers.
“I visited Russia, Jewish life there is sadly disorganized but not destroyed. The Jewish religion is not proscribed, and religious practices are not prohibited. But religious education of the youth in schools is prohibited. The faithful are making desperate efforts to save the next generation for Judaism.
“Russia is slowly and painfully recovering from the economic debacle which was brought about by the military communism of the earlier years, by the Civil War and the blockade. The New Economic Policy which marked the practical defeat of communism, prepared the way for Russia’s economic recovery. But the Government has not yet adjusted itself to the full amplifications of this Policy. It has been constrained to permit private trade, but it is endeavoring in every way to throttle it.
“A struggle is brewing within the ranks of the Communist Party. There are those who fear the growing power of the small bourgeois, and the richer peasants. They therefore urge continued revolution at home, and intensified revolutionary propaganda abroad, to end Russia’s isolation. The more ‘conservative’ members of the Party are more concerned at the moment with Russia’s rehabilitation than with world revolution. They would be glad to come to terms with capitalistic Europe and America.
“Russia is becoming militaristic. At the moment it is swept by a war fever induced by the fear of another international combine to overthrow the present government. The youth of Russia is trained to think in terms of the next defensive war,” Rabbi Silver said.
Construction of the new $150,000 addition to the Community center building in Albany was begun. Milton S. Levison is chairman of the building committee. The building is expected to be finished by January 1.
The building will contain a gymnasium. swimming pool, bowling alleys, handball court. physical director’s office, showers and locker rooms.