London (May. 10)
We note with amazed alarm the growth of Hitlerism in Germany, the Chief Rabbi. Dr. J. H. Hertz, said in his opening address to-day to the Fifth Conference of Anglo-Jewish Preachers, surveying conditions in world Jewry since the last Conference was held in 1929.
Even if its complete triumph were not to result in the threatened massacres or in the deliberate starving out of the Jewish population, he went on, it would be sure to bring with it the elimination, he went on, it would be sure to bring with it the elimination of every Jew from the State service and the virtual repeal of Jewish emancipation in Germany.
An insane hatred has taken possession of large sections of the German people, a hatred which does not recoil from such a horrible expression as desecration of Jewish cemeteries.
CHIEF RABBI PROTESTS AGAINST CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE ABOUT SPIRITUAL POGROM AGAINST JUDAISM IN SOVIET RUSSIA: LIKENS IT TO CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE IN WESTERN PRESS DURING PHYSICAL POGROMS OF 1919-1921: AND SOME JEWS OF HONOURED NAMES IN COMMUNITY EULOGISE SOVIET REGIME-JEWISH APOLOGISTS OF BRUTAL SUPPRESSION OF RELIGION
Soviet Russia, the Chief Rabbi continued, is building a vast Tower of Babel, and one of the main objects of that impious project, now as then, is to storm Heaven and banish God from the souls and lives of men. There is no official discrimination against Jews as Jews, though antisemitism, rightly treated by the authorities as a reactionary force, is now and then evidenced by alarming manifestations. Judaism, however, as well as every form of religious life, continues to be mercilessly harried.
If an age is known by its indignations, by its outspoken abhorrence of religious persecution, then bitter indeed will be the judgment of the future historian on our generation, the Chief Rabbi cried. We all remember the conspiracy of silence in the press of the Western countries during all the years 1919, 1920 and 1921, when physical pogroms on an unprecedented scale raged on Russian soil. There is to-day a similar conspiracy of silence in regard to the spiritual pogrom; this time not so much on the part of the press, as on the part of the Western intelligentsia, despite the fact that what is trampled underfoot under Soviet rule to-day is conscience, religious liberty, and everything that is most Divine in the human spirit.
What is even more humiliating is the attitude of some Jews on this question. Western Jews there are who are quite indifferent to the closing of synagogues, the torture of rabbis, teachers and friends of Hebrew culture, and the strangulation of religion by the prohibition of religious teaching; and some of these Jews, bearing honoured names in our community range themselves among the eulogists of the Soviet regime and all its ways. Here is something new under the sun-Jewish apologists of the brutal suppression of Religion!
A BATCH OF ANNIVERSARIES
Speaking of the modern habit of celebrating jubilees and centenaries, the Chief Rabbi recalled that no further than five jubilees back, in 1682, only 250 years ago, the fires of the Inquisition were still blazing; and surely there were few souls in the Spain or Portugal of that day who dared dream that they would ever be extinguished. Contemporaneous England that had formerly set the fashion of complete expulsion of the Jewish population and had shown Spain the way to do it, was now generously readmitting them; for furthermore, the same year, 1682, witnessed the opening of the first synagogue in England’s North American colonies. Fifty years later, there were not only several communities flourishing in the United Kingdom, but the first Talmud Torah opened, in 1732.
The jubilee after that, 1782, is marked, on the one hand, by the edict of Toleration issued to the Jews of the Austrian Empire by Joseph II. – the first dawn of emancipation to millions of Central European Jews; and, on the other hand, by an event even more noteworthy, the appearance of Mendelssohn’s Bible, with German translation and modern commentary. The next Jubilee brings us within a century of our own day, 1832, the year of Leopold Zunz’s “Die Gottes-dienstlichen Vortraege der Juden”. That publication marks the coming of age of “The Science of Judaism”; and Jewish scholars began to dream of one day demanding full recognition for Jewish Studies among University disciplines. However, fifty years later, came the May Laws of 1882, with the “pogrom” as Czarist Russia’s contribution to civilisation; while the Tisza-Eszlar ritual murder trial, which opened the same year in the of the noble Magyars, showed that semi-Asia began with the Danube, and that in regard to Jews, the Middle Ages had not yet passed away-a melancholy truth repeated for our benefit fifty years after, by the all too real menace of Hitlerism in 1932.
WE ARE LIVING IN NEW DARK AGES OF POPULAR PRESS WHEN SEMI-EDUCATED ARE BIASED AGAINST RELIGION: IF JEWISH MINISTERS ARE TO SPEAK IN THIS TIME OF SPIRITUAL CONFUSION AND BATTLE WITH INFIDELITY WE MUST KNOW WHAT TO ANSWER TO INFIDEL
Do we, the religious guides and teachers of our day, continue the work of the literary Renaissance associated with the name of Zunz? the Chief Rabbi asked. We are living, he said, in the new Dark Ages of the popular press, when the semi-educated are biased against Religion, its moral inhibitions, and its sacred Scriptures; when men and women, forgetful of the fact that life is built on spiritual foundations are impatient of religious authority, impatient of moral guidance. If we Jewish ministers are to speak with a clear and unhesitating
voice in this time of spiritual confusion, if we are successfully to battle with infidelity, we must heed the advice of the ancient Sage, and know what to answer the infidel.
Going on to ask what they were doing to give the men, women and children entrusted to their care the positive outlook on things Jewish, so that they should rejoice and forevermore remain steadfast in their Judaism, the Chief Rabbi dealt with four channels through which Jewish learning might reach young and old-the school, the pulpit, the press and the book.
It is, alas, no exaggeration, he said, that in English-speaking lands, half the Jewish children do not receive any systematic teaching in sacred subjects. If the fate of Israel depended entirely upon the school as it exists among us to-day, the future would be dark indeed.
Great and potent was the power of the pulpit in former times, he continued. It is otherwise to-day. The present generation cannot be called the golden age of pulpit eloquence or influence. But even if the school and the pulpit would fulfil every reasonable expectation, there still remains the problem of how to reach the unschooled and how to influence the un-synagogued. For invaluable and irreplaceable aid in reaching these groups of accidental, and often negative Jews, he said, we must look to the press and tb##thebook.
He could not help thinking of the tireless energy of non-Jews in spreading the Scriptures, as evidenced by the last meeting of the Bible Society, the Chief Rabbi told the Conference, a marvellous story of spiritual enthusiasm which only made the contrast with our own performance the more glaring.
Turning to matters of a more heartening nature, the Chief Rabbi described the successful safeguarding of the Sabbath against the concerted attack of Calendar “Reformers”. The stars in their courses fought for us, he said, and the House of Israel was vouchsafed victory in a fight for religious liberty second in importance to none other in many a century.