Social, Economic Hardships Seen As Helping Build Liberal Jewish Movement in Poland

A liberal Jewish movement will come to Poland. That is the conclusion of Rabbi Max Lasker, on the basis of the intensive study of the field being carried on by him there in behalf of the World Union for Progressive Judaism.

Writing to Dr. Julian Morgenstern, president of the Hebrew Union College, on November 12, from Warsaw Poland, Rabbi Lasker said that the economic and social situation of the Polish Jews is trying.

“In general the economic situation in Poland is hard,” he wrote, “and especially is this true of the Jewish position. They are face to face with a powerful national and religious competition. Not only is this true in seeking positions, but great difficulty is experienced by a Jew in receiving credits and loans. Naturally, under these conditions, the center of attention is on economic betterment. Religion is taken as a matter of course and habit, with no special thought as to its significance or to its needs.

“The Jew, as a separate entity, with equal social privileges and rights, fails to receive recognition.”

Due to his economic and social status, the non-assimilationist Jewish (Continued on Page 4)

“Among the youth in general there is little religion,” Dr. Lasker goes on. “We have, then, a novel situation, where some call themselves Jews by nationality, but Catholic by religion, or Atheistic Jews.

“Finally there is the assimilationist group. Realizing the danger that faces them, many of their children having completely left the Jewish fold, this group is anxious to turn back to Judaism.

“However, it cannot and will not re-enter the Orthodox group and hence is anxious to form a new ‘gemeinda,’ a liberal group. This then is the main group, in addition to some of the youth we hope to reach. But even here. I have encountered great difficulties. In Poland, every group seems to have its own politics. Now this element, which calls itself the Liberal element, likewise wishes to build up a political machine, to oppose the Orthodox and Zionists.

“I insisted on an organization being formed for the purpose of establishing religious services and giving instruction in the ideas of Liberal Judaism. After much difficulty, I managed to gather a small group which seems interested.”

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