Washington, D. C. (Jan. 4)
“No article from the ‘Dearborn Independent’ has been as scathing and condemnatory of Israel, and no Ku Klux orator has been more unrighteous,” was the unsparing denunciation of Municipal Court Judge Nathan Cayton’s recent charge of the existence of a “Jewish crime wave” in an answer delivered here by Rabbi Abram Simon, former president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, from his pulpit in the Washington Hebrew Congregation.
“Had the address been delivered by a non-Jew, one might have said, ‘well what can you expect?’ But when one of your own household outdoes the ‘Dearborn Independent’ and prints poison to become anti-Semitic meat, what self-respecting Jew can withhold his righteous indignation?” asked Rabbi Simon.
Declaring that “no respect of mine for him can withhold me from calling Judge Cayton, the Jew, before the bar of American public opinion for his unseeming, gratuitious, untrue and cruel condemnation of his people and religion, and yours and mine,” Rabbi Simon launched into an extended reply to the young Judge who has brought down upon his head a veritable tidal wave of Jewish indignation since he made his ill-fated remarks at the Adas Israel Synagogue last Friday night.
“Ordinarily one can dismiss with a smile what Nathan Cayton says, but what Judge Cayton says, a government official whose position calls for judicial temper, wide reading and an understanding heart, is quite another thing,” declared Rabbi Simon. “However, I am not asking myself what the Gentile will say, I am not asking what motives could have prompted Judge Cayton to deliver such a carefully prepared address to the press before the Hoover Crime Commission has reported its findings. The very words written so nonchalantly and yet containing hidden dynamite should have burnt in his soul at the possible effect they must eventually possess. I am not interested in hiding the truth or whitewashing the sins of my people, or finding fault with their sensitiveness. I am interested in knowing the facts, however distressing they may be, nor am I worried at Jewish self-criticism.
“I have known of epidemics of crime due to unemployment, suicidal suggestiveness and intense heat, but I have not known that there was an epidemic of this kind breaking out more or less uniformly all over the land which may be denominated ‘Jewish.’ I have nowhere heard that any one had the hardihood or the coldness to speak of a Catholic or Protestant crime wave, but I have lived to know a young Jew, stepping out of his position on a municipal bench, to act as a lay preacher in a pulpit, discovering what he has now christened the ‘Jewish crime wave’.”
Demanding the facts, Dr. Simon offered his hearers quite an interesting set of figures: “There was a time, we are told, when a prison did not harbor a Jewish criminal in Washington. The fact remains that there was also a time when there were no Jews in Washington. When I came to Washington a quarter of a century ago, there were, in a Jewish population of 5,000, some offenders born in the Jewish fold whose names were on the police docket.
“But why get excited over it? I declare before you today that with our present Jewish population of 15,000 or 3 per cent of the Washington community population, the percentage of Jewish delinquency is far below what would be expected from its population ratio.”
Stating that when he wished to ascertain the real effect of a crime wave he sought out the Juvenile Court records, Dr. Simon declared that the court’s records showed that in 1914 there were 852 children before it and in 1929 the figure had mounted to 1,051. The number of Jewish children who came officially before the court in 1914 was 31 and there has been a gradual decrease in the number from year to year, until in 1929 but 14 appeared in the court.
He pointed out that in 1928 there were received in Atlanta Penitentiary 2,621 persons, 149 of whom were Jews; in Leavenworth, 70 out of a total of 2,581; at McNeil Island, 12 out of a total of 655; and at the Chillicothe Reformatory for persons between the ages of 17 and 30, 11 of the 490 were Jewish.
After voicing a protest against Judge Cayton’s accusations, Rabbi Simon concluded by saying that “we Jews must therefore resent with all the power at our command, the unwarranted statements made by an inexperienced youth.”