Messena, N. Y (Oct. 1)
(Jewish Daily, Bulletin)
The Jewish community, here, numbering nineteen families, lived through several days of intense anxiety followed by resentment at the attempt by several local officials to plant on American, soil the ritual murder libel, long, disproven, which has caused so much suffering to the Jewish communities in benighted lands of Europe.
The officials responsible for the spreading of the rumor are now frantically attempting to express their regrets and to offer amends to the local community for the insult they inflicted upon the nineteen families by asking the local rabbi as to whether or not “Jews offer human sacrifices on a holiday.” The Congregation Adath Israel, Orthodox, refused to accept the amends offered by Mayor W. Gilbert Hawes, declaring that it is the feeling of the congregation that the matter is of national importance and had therefore referred the case to Mr. Louis Marshall, President of the American Jewish Committee, leaving to him to decide what action is to be taken.
The representative of the Jewish Daily Bulletin who came from New York to investigate the matter, established the facts in the case as follows.
On Saturday, September 22, two days before Yom Kippur, a four year old girl, Barbara Griffith, the daughter of David Griffith, a worker at the plant of the Aluminum. Company of America, was lost. An exhaustive search by the parents, the police, firemen and private citizens failed to reveal the where a bouts of the child. A rumor was then spread that “the Jews probably kidnapped the child for the Yom Kippur ritual.”
Hundreds of residents assembled in the streets on Sunday afternoon, on the eve of Yom Kippur, creating a serious situation for the Jewish community who considering the excitement of the mob, actually feared for their lives.
An investigation disclosed the fact that the rumors were encouraged by the attitude of the Mayor, W. Gilbert Havci, and a trooper, Corporal H. M. McCann of Troop B., Malone, N. Y. At noon on Sunday, the child still unfound, Corporal McCann, telephoned Rev. Berel Brennglass, rabbi of the Congregation Adath Israel, and asked him to appear at the police station. Previously the trooper consulted the Mayor. Prior to calling the rabbi Corporal McCann, accompanied by a citizen, a non-Jew called at the home of Morris Goldberg, a local Jewish merchant who stated to the Corporal that he is not posted on things Jewish, when he was asked whether it was true that “in the old country Jews had the custom of using Christian blood in the holiday services, passing it to the members of the congregation.” Mr. Goldberg answered that he did not know if such customs existed in the old country, but that in the United States the Jews have no such custom.
At the police station, before which a crowd of 300 to 400 persons had gathered, Rev. Brennglass was greeted with the outcry, “Here comes the Rabbi at last.”
In a signed statement Rev. Brennglass described the interview at the police station. “I was called by trooper McCann to come to the police station. When I came I was asked by the trooper the following questions: Do you know that a child was lost? I answered yes. Have you a holiday tomorrow? Answer, Yes. Could you inform me if your people in the old country are offering human offerings on a holiday? Answer: I am dreadfully surprised to hear such a foolish, ridiculous and contemptible question from an officer in the United States of America, which is the most enlightened and civilized country in the world. Do you realize the seriousness of this question?
“The trooper said then that a foreigner told him so. I told him that it is a false and malicious accusation. Then the trooper asked again a question. Did your people offer human offerings in the olden times? My answer was in the negative. I then told the trooper that we shall have to know who the foreigner is, he is dangerous and should be taught a lesson that he is in the United States of America, and I left the station.”
The rabbi then came to the synagogue where the congregation had gathered for Mincha services, which were held under high tension.
The situation was relieved when at 4:30 the child was found in a woods about a mile from home, by two girls, Julia Phillips, sixteen and Maude Hutchins, fourteen. After a medical examination which proved that the child had suffered no injury, she told the police that she had gone into the woods on Saturday to look for her seven year old brother and had lost her way. She fell asleep in the woods. During the night it rained and she woke up several times, but it was dark so she decided to stay until morning. When she awoke in the morning the sun was shining and she stayed to dry her wet clothes. Then she tried to find her way out of the woods, wandering for a long time until she was found.
On Tuesday, Sept. 25, the Mayor arranged for a conference with the leaders of the Jewish community in the synagogue. At the meeting the Mayor declared that the idea to connect the Jews with the disappearance of the child had originated with him and that he had encouraged such rumors. The leaders of the Jewish community replied that they cannot accept an apology because the matter is not local but of national importance. They stated that they had referred the case to Mr. Louis Marshall.
Even after the child had been found, rumors persisted that she had been seized by Jews and that it was only after the Rabbi had been questioned that those guilty became alarmed and brought her to the woods.
Z. O. A. TO TENDER RECEPTION TO ALLENBY
An official reception to Field Marshall Viscount Allenby, will be rendered to him by the Zionist Organization of America, on Thursday morning, at 9:45, in the Italian Garden of the Ambassador Hotel, according to an announcement made by Herman Bernstein, Chairman for Political Affairs of the Zionist Organization.
Lord Allenby’s statement praising the Zionist forces in the aid they gave him in winning the Holy Land, was made public by Mr. Bernstein. In the statement Lord Allenby praised Dr. Chaim Weizmann, President of the World Zionist Organization.