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Declares Chain Store Competition Drives Jewish Merchants to Farm

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(Jewish Daily Bulletin)

The crushing competition of the chain stores has driven many small Jewish merchants to the farm, declared Rabbi Barnett Brickner of Cleveland, before Professor Charles R. Fay’s round table on Agriculture and the Agricultural Surplus at the Institute of Politics. Rabbi Brickner was one of the organizers of a Jewish Farm School in Canada and during last year visited the Jewish farm colonies in the Crimea and in Palestine.

Rabbi Brickner suggested, as a particularly interesting aspect, that the Jewish “back to the soil” movement in the United States has been accelerated during the last twenty-five years in the very period when the drift from the farm to the city has been most pronounced.

“It also proves that, given the opportunity,” he continued, “the Jew can farm as well as merchandise; that it is not racial genius for trade and commerce which has led the Jew into these occupations instead of to the farm, but the restrictive laws which for centuries forbade him to hold and till the soil.”

The motives behind the movement in the United States are partly economic, partly idealistic, he said. There is the small merchant, driven out by the crushing competition of the chain stores. There is the industrial worker who is tired of strikes, or who feels that his years of industrial employment are growing shorter. There is also the Jewish idealist who can not adapt himself to city life and who feels a’ craving for the soil, intensified in his case by years of legal deprivation.

“The Jews.” he went on “are engaged in every branch of farming, their children stay on the soil as long as those of their neighbors, and they have usually a trade to fall back upon in periods of slack on the farm. Jews have been leaders in the field of cooperation. To mention only Aaron Sapiro and David Lubin suffices.”

Rabbi Brickner described the Jewish farm movement in Russia and Palestine, saying that this will tend to solve the Jewish problem, so aggravated for centuries.” Prejudice against the Jew will lessen as he takes his place back on the soil, he said.

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