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Palestine and the Agudah

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Mr. S. Schachnowitz, editor of the Agudist organ “Israelit”, who has just returned from a visit to Palestine, speaking at a big Agudist meeting at Frankfurt, with Dr.Ehrman, the Chairman of the Palestine Committee of the Agudath Israel World Organisation, in the chair, said that he had found two Eretz Israels, an old and a new, between which, unfortunately, there was no contact. It was wrong, however, to assume that the division was on the lines of Churban and Binyan, suggesting that in the old Yishub there were only sacred ruins. The old Yishub was engaged in a tremendcus constructive activity; it had model educational and welfare institutions. The new Yishub also contained more good Jewish elements than people thought. Tel Aviv, the centre of the new urban Yishub contained together with much other less promising things a large number of synagogues and houses of Jewish learning attended by old and young. Of the three types of Jewish colonies, Kvutzah, Moshav and Moshava, the last, the old type of colony, provided all the opportunities of leading a Jewish life at least to the same extent as the best Jewish communities in the Diaspora. The new Yishuv was greatly engaged with the question of the Sabbath, which was kept all over the country, but was not kept sacred by a large section of the youth. The so-called national Sabbath was a grave danger, being even further removed from the sacred Sabbath of the Torah than the Sabbath desecration in the Diaspora. There had been negotiations between the Sabbath Observance Organisation and the leaders of the Maccabee to prevent the public desecration of the Sabbath by the playing of games, and he hoped these negotiations would not be entirely without avail. He urged that the powerful wave of Palestine feeling among orthodox Jewry should be utilised to strengthen the orthodox positions in both the old and the new Yishubs.

Of the political and economic conditions, he said that he could speak only as a tourist. There seemed to be no anxiety on the score of public safety, though there was dissatisfaction with the British Administration. So far as economic life was concerned, the country was in a burst of constructive work, and it was difficult to say how much of it would be permanent. One thing was certain, however, that people with capital and initiative, or young people with the capital of their muscles and nerves and the will to work hard, would make good.

The orthodox school system of the Agudath Israel in Jerusalem, Tiberias, and other places, he concluded, gave promise of sound development among the children of the Yishub. Our school, he said, is a eucalyptus tree, by means of which we hope to drain the spiritual swamps.

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