J. D. B. News Letter

–While Whitechapel continues to grow ever larger and more teeming with life than before, the process of decentralization of London Jewry goes on apace. In every quarter of the great city, little, and in some places big ghettoes, are being built up. And a certain class of Jew is definitely drifting away from the old centres in Whitechapel. Notable among these are the old aristrocrats of the London Community, the Sephardim, and the effects are being acutely felt in the Cathedral Synagogue of Sephardic Jewry, Bevis Marks, the oldest synagogue in the country.

At a meeting held a fews days ago, the complaint was made that Bevis Marks was now practically empty, except on the High Festivals. The congregations were scattered. The Elders and Yehidim were living far away. In 1764 Bevis Marks Synagogue had been the centre of London Jewish life, but now the activities had all been removed from that centre, and the synagogue alone remained almost empty. There were strong Sephardic communities in other parts of London and of England, but because the centre had been left empty, there was no longer any cohesion. They had no spiritual head, for there has been no successor appointed after the retirement of Dr. Gaster from the post of Haham.

Mr. D. A. Romain, one of the leaders of the community, voiced this pessimism, and there is no doubt that the centre of activities for the Sephardim has indee shifted. It does not mean though that Sephardic life is dying out. Another leader of the community present at the meeting, Mr. L. D. Barnett, immediately took up Mr. Romain’s challenge. Despite the pessimism of Mr. Romain, he cried, the flag is still flying and the spirit is still strong. If not in the center, the work will continue elsewhere.

An event unique within the small field of purely communal Jewish affairs in relation with the civic authorities, took place this week, and in so far as it is the first time such a thing has happened, it is to some extent noteworthy as illustrating the friendly and happy relations existing between the City of London and its Jewish population. There have been several Jewish Lord Mayors of London, and some of these, like Sir George Faudel Phillips and Lord Bearsted, have been regular attendants in their private capacity at the services in the Cathedral Synagogue in Duke Street. There have also been official state visits paid to the synagogue by Lord Mayors of London, Jewish and non-Jewish, but in such cases, there was only the State reception and no ordinary service as there was this Friday night, when, for the first time, the Lord Mayor of London, on the eve of his retirement from office, which takes place this week, combined the two functions and attended in state, accompanied by his sheriffs, and sat throughout a Friday evening service. The coaches were dispensed with because it was the Sabbath, and the civic prosession walked in state from the Mansion House to the Great Synagogue.

This same retiring Lord Mayor, Sir Charles Batho, has distinguished himself among the long line of philo-Jewish Lord Mayors of London, by his special interest and friendliness towards the Jewish population during his year of office. He has attended in state at a large number of Jewish functions, notably the opening of the new wing of the Jewish Hospital, and he sent a message full of warmth and feeling for the oppressed and suffering Jews of Western Europe, to the Conference of the Federation of Jewish Relief Organizations. On innumerable occasions he has shown himself a trusty and true friend of the Jews. It was a fitting winding up of his year of office to make this innovation in the relations between the Lord Mayor of the City and its Cathedral Synagoge.

Sir Charles was received on arrival at the Synagogue by the Wardens, Mr.Lionel de Rothschild, (who is also the President of the United Synagogue. the Union of Synagogues of the British Empire, of which Dr. Hertz is the Chief Rabbi) and Mr. Ernest Schiff. The Chief Rabbi himself spoke and for his sermon he chose as his subject the incident at the Wailing Wall Great Britain, the Chief Rabbi said had always shown herself tolerant of and dealt equal justice to all religions whether Christian, Jewish or Mohammedan. He felt that under British rule, Jews would be permitted to pray at the Wailing Wall as they had done for centuries under Turkish rule without molestation by those of other religions.

The following day, and why he should have chosen Saturday for the function is a question that may well be asked–although Mr. Bernhard Baron is a prominent member of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue– London’s big event was the opening of the great new factory which Mr. Bernard Baron has built, and describes as his dream factory and his life achievement. At one time where this factory stands, there was a big open space, closed in by railings it is tru, but one of those typical green London squares that are the health-giving lungs of London, and when it was sold for the building of a factory there was an outcry at the invasion of industrialism which was destroying London’s green spaces. But however that may be upon the site stands now a huge factory, in which Mr. Bernhard Baron believes that he is doing a great work by providing for his employees the most excellent conditions of work possible. The Pres amid all the rush of important political events, the opening of Parliament political cataclysms on the Continnent, the American Presidential election and ever so many other things, has given columns and editorials to this event, for Mr. Bernard Baron has become one of the most popular figures in England to-day. His factory is stated to be the largest reinforced concrete building in Great Britain. It is a conventionalized copy of the Temple of Bubastis, the cat-headed goddess of ancient Egypt, for Mr. Baron’s famous cigarette is the “Black Cat,” and the symbol holds. Two great black bronze cats, ten feet high, flank the main entrance.

There were present at the opening ceremony, besides the 3,000 employees. Viscount Knutsford, the Chairman of London Hospital, the Earl of Arran, Lord Riddell, Sir Alfred Yarrow Mr. T.P. O’Connor, the “Father of the British Parliament”, Mr. J. R. Clynes and Mr. J. H. Thomas, leaders of the Labor Party, and many other friends of Mr. Baron. Mr. A. I. Belisha proposed the toast of Carreras, Limited, the company which Mr. Barron heads. There were several little functions associated with the opening ceremony, as, for instance, when Mr. Baron surprised the foreman of the building works by calling him and handing him a cheque for £1,000 because he had worked well and to time. Viscount Knutsford presented Mr. Baron with a bronze bust of himself made by Mr W. R. Dick, R. A., the famous sculptor, and silver medals with a view of the factory on one side and a portrait of Mr. Baron on the other and inscribed “My thanks for all your help”were distributed by Mr. Baron to some of the oldest employees of the firm. It was stated that subsequently such a medal will be presented to each employee.

There was no one present to represent Carreras, for the Carreras family died out when the little Italian tobacconist of that name died owing £2,000. His busines was bought by Mr. W. J. Yapp, whose son, who in turn sold it to Mr. Baron remaining a Directo of the firm, was president at the ceremony.

And on this occasion Mr. Baron has told us his own life story. I was born in Russia, at Brest-Litovsk, he said. That was in 1850. I was taken as a child to Rostov-on-the-Don, and there I grew up among the Don Cossacks. I am really more of a Cossack than anything else. Then as a young man I went to America. I had nothing in my pocket when I got there. However I got work without any waiting–four dollars a week–and saved 21/2 of them. I worked , oh, how I worked and I went on saving; every week I saved. I saved because I wanted independenc; because I wanted to have a business of my own. I did not think then how great a business.

After I had been thirty years in America, I came to England. I had invented a machine for making cigarettes. I brought it to England. Then I heard of a small Tobacco business that was for sale. It was small but it was not unknown. It was Carreras. It manufactured a pipe tobacco that Sir James Barrie had written about in his “Lady Nicotine.” In 1903, I bought it that Carreras firm. For five years I made no profits. In the sixth year I made £11,000 and after that well every year more until now…

I advertised advertised advertised. And now we turn out millions and millions and millions of cigarettes a day. Well there is the story, Mr. Baron concluded. Just a young man with nothing in his pocket and now this factory, 3,000 people employed– and happy– a million and a half pounds given away– all my family, sons grandsons rich– and happy and myself feeling now old used up tired old not well.

Efrem Zimbalist gave a concert Saturday night in Carnegie Hall under the auspices of the American Art Society.

Talmud Torahs and other Jewish schools in New York City are holding exercises for the distribution of prizes, awarded by the Jewish Education Association, according to an announcement by Samuel Rottenberg, Chairman of the Committee on Prizes of the Association.

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