London (Feb. 5)
I beg for your indulgence if I am rather timid in addressing you to-night. I have had no experience in speaking on a seventieth birthday. As a septuagenarian this is my maiden speech, a sort of Septuaginta, Mr. Nahum Sokolov said in returning thanks last night at the dinner given him at the Savoy Hotel by the Zionist Organisation and the English Zionist Federation in honour of his recent seventieth birthday.
Dr. Oh. Weizmann presided, and Professor Albert Einstein, Mr. Felix M. Warburg, Sir Herbert Samuel, Professor S. Alexander, and other famous personages sent messages. The Chief Rabbi, Dr. J. H. Hertz, Sir John Russell, Director of the Rothamsted Agricultural Experimental Station, the Polish Ambassador, M. Skirmunt, Mr. Wickham Steed, former editor of the “Times” and now proprietor and editor of “Review of Reviews”, Mrs. Dugdale, niece of the late Lord Balfour, Mr. Ch. N. Bialik, the famous Hebrew poet, Sir George Jones, M.P., Mr. Daniel Hopkin, M.P., Professor Selig Brodetsky, Mr. Harry Sacher, and Mr. Leon Simon spoke in tribute to Mr. Sokolov.
In the course of a man’s lifetime, Mr. Sokolov continued his speech, certain dates are bound to stand out prominently like the sign-posts on a road. I need hardly say that few sign-posts on my earthly pilgrimage will stand forth in my memory as the illustrious gathering of to-night.
First and foremost, Mr. Sokolov said, I express my deep gratitude to you, Dr. Weizmann, for your kind words from the chair.
We were and we are bound together in a great work for our people, in the greatest Jewish history since the beginning of the Diaspora ever knew.
I know how much you desire, how much you patiently endure and how great your achievements already are, and, I confidently hope, will be in the future.
We were passing through a terrible time; but I think the turn of the tide has come in the political situation, and truth has marched many steps onward. My dear friend Weizmann, may the heaven above you and the one in your heart never have more clouds than you need for a beautiful cool shade!
I want to express my warmest appreciation to the Polish Ambassador for his kind wishes, Mr. Sokolov proceeded. Poland is dear to us, he said, as another symbol of the victory of the national ideal, as a country with over three million Jews, as the land of our pioneers. May it prosper in progress, justice and peace!
I am deeply sensible of the honour bestowed on me, Mr. Sokolov pursued, but I am sure I do not really merit the ecologies. Everything has been to me in Zionism as in literature, in journalism as in communal work – a labour of love. I am happy that it has fallen to my lot to be one of the messengers to Israel and to the Gentiles. I have received for our cause much valuable assistance from our Jewish masses, and have been fortunate in forming some very precious acquantances and great friends in the non-Jewish world. Every day I live I see Zionism more wonderful, more comprehensive, more necessary.
It is not to be got with catchwords. Catchwords may work miracles with the pen, but the facts of life are too stubborn to heed them. It is not to be got without trouble. We must not lose heart because a cloud for a time seems to hide the realisation of our ideal from us. Uninterrupted sunshine is not possible. It is not good for the soul. We must, unfortunately, have our occasional dark days. In the day of prosperity let no man exult, in the day of adversity let no man faint; the successions of fortune alternate. But truth and justice must ultimately triumph. It cannot be that the piety and the tears and the sweat and blood of our fathers and our youngsters are thrown away. It cannot be that our history is to end in the chaos of persecution and dispersion.
Zionism was considered by its adversaries as a dream. It was a dream as long as the Jews were asleep. Once we are not asleep, Zionism is a reality. The greater our trials, the greater cause we have to exert all our resolution and fortitude. “For Zion’s sake I will not hold my peace” until Eretz Israel will become a blessing to the world.
STATESMAN SCHELAR MAN OF VISION OF ENCYCLOPAEDIC KNOWLEDGE LINGUIST OF FIRST MAGNITUDE MAN OF ACTION COMBINING POETIC AND PROPHETIC SPIRIT WITH COOL AND SCIENTIFIC JUDGMENT: SYNTHESISES ALL VALUABLE AND PRECIOUS IN JEWISH AND HEBREW TRADITION WITH ACHIEVEMENTS OF MODERN CIVILISATION: DR. WEIZMANN’S EULOGY OF MR. SOKOLOV: HE SUCCEEDED IN PAVING WAY FOR ACCEPTANCE OF BALFOUR DECLARATION
A statesman, scholar, man of vision, of encyclopaedic knowledge, a linguist of the first magnitude, a man of action and one who combines the poetic and prophetic spirit with a cool and scientific judgment, Dr. Weizmann said of Mr. Sokolov in his opening speech. He is one of those rare men in Jewry to-day who synthesises all that is valuable and precious in Jewish and Hebrew tradition with the achievements of modern civilisation.
Dr. Weizmann went on to refer to the copies of the “Hazefirah” that came into the little villages of the ghetto and the articles signed N.S. which those who read them associated with “Ness”, a miracle. They brought a message from the wide world to the ghetto. So they associated Sokolov with a miraculous personality.
Mr. Sokolov, said Dr. Weizmann, undertook the work of explaining to the Allied Powers during the war the aims and aspirations of the Zionist movement and he succeeded in paving the way for the acceptance of the Balfour Declaration.
MR. SOKOLOV ONE OF THE ARCHITECTS OF THE ZIONIST MOVEMENT AND THE JEWISH NATIONAL HOME SAYS CHIEF RABBI: BUT HOME IS A PLACE WHERE YOU CAN CALL YOUR SOUL YOUR OWN AND IN LAST TEN YEARS BEEN THREE POGROMS IN JEWISH NATIONAL HOME
Mr. Sokolov was one of the architects of the Zionist Movement and of the Jewish National Home, a herald of the Hebrew renaissance, a statesman of ideas and faith, the Chief Rabbi, Dr. J. H. Pertz said.
A home was a place where you could call your soul your own, the Chief Rabbi went on. During the last ten years there had been three pogroms in the Jewish National Home. A home must be a castle. It must be a sanctuary; safe from massacre where Jewish spiritual values can thrive and be allowed expression.
FOUNDATIONS OF JEWISH NATIONAL HOME HAVE BEEN WELL AND TRULY LAID SIR JOHN RUSSELL SAYS: CAN SEE NO REASON WHY THERE SHOULD BE A TURNING BACK: COLONISATION IN PALESTINE FRAUGHT WITH LESS SUFFERING THAN ANY OTHER KIND OF COLONISATION I KNOW OF: ONE OF THE FEW COUNTRIES WHERE PEOPLE DELIBERATELY GOING OUT ON THE LAND
Sir John Russell referred to his visits to the Jewish colonies in Palestine as agricultural expert on behalf of the Zionist Organisation and the British Government.
The Founding of the Jewish National Home is one of the greatest events of our time, he said. I went out to Palestine as an agricultural expert to report on the Jewish colonies. I can say the foundations have been well and truly laid and I can see no reason why there should be a turning back.
It is no use pretending, Sir John said, that Palestine is a rich country. It has been mismanaged by hundreds of years of misrule and you cannot put nature right at once. The difficulties can be overcome. The qualities needed are enthusiasm, intelligence and forbearance. I know of no more inspiring sight than to see the young people working in the colonies in Palestine. They are Palestinians who speak Hebrew, intent on building up the Jewish National Home. Colonisation in Palestine has been fraught with less suffering than any other kind of colonisation which I know of. Palestine is one of the few countries where people are deliberately going out on the land. You don’t find farms to let in Palestine.
Sir John referred to his visits to the agricultural research stations and the experimental fields in Palestine and said they were building up a sound system of agriculture which would lay a firm foundation of prosperity.
Forbearance is needed, he said, to deal with the difficult Arab problem, but by scientific land methods Palestine is being developed so that it will hold both Arab and Jew.