A call for the formation of a central thinking and planning agency to save the Jewish community of America from the chaos which now threatens it, is sounded in a statement made by Rabbi Solomon Goldman of Cleveland.
The past year, says Rabbi Goldman, has revealed how haphazard our organization of community life is; that our leaders are tired, impatient, quarrelsome, effete and inadequate; that our economy is faced with bankruptcy and our communal enterprises with disintegration.
The present situation in Jewish life in this country, Rabbi Goldman says, is due to the fact that there is no organized community. “There is no organization in the country that is either representative of, or has a program for the four million Jews of America,” he asserts. Similarly there is no Jewish leadership and no Jewish leader who has the power of attorney from American Jewry.
“Every city can boast of at least one Jew who is a ‘national’ figure, but none of these grandiose figures can boast that he has his city solidly back of him,” says Rabbi Goldman.
“Our leaders persist in neutralizing one another’s effectiveness. One is tempted to speculate on what would have happened to Jewry had the gentlemen become absorbed in their own useful pursuits and relinquished the helm. Could the ship of state have floundered more?” he asks.
“The havoc the depression has wrought should make clear to us the futility of our present efforts. Without social engineering and efficiency we cannot extricate ourselves from the morass into which we have sunk. But social engineering and efficiency are improbable as long as there is no Jewish Community.”
As an example of the disorganized state of Jewish life, Rabbi Goldman cites the fact that neither his own plan nor those proposed by Judge Horace Stern of Philadelphia, H. L. Lurie, Director of the Bureau of Jewish Social Research of New York, and Samuel Goldsmith, Director of the Chicago Jewish Charities, could be submitted to any one in particular.
“There has been no lack of effort in American Jewish life,” according to Rabbi Goldman, “but what that effort needed most is a central thinking and planning agency to direct it. If we will develop in all the cities throughout the land community-consciousness, it will lead to community organization. A Federation of communities will then follow naturally.”
Rabbi Goldman points to the financial downfall of the Jews in this country; to the fact that synagogues that have enjoyed national reputations for decades are now distintegrating, as an example of the changes taking place due to the depression. Sixty percent, he asserts, have either been foreclosed or owe their existence to Christian bankers. Rabbis’ salaries have been cut in half and some have not been paid for months. Scores of Hebrew teachers are receiving no salaries; one community closed its schools for three months; another dismissed teachers employed by it for ten years; the theological seminaries have fabulous deficits and teachers institutions have been budgeted out of existence. Jewish literati are starving and the Yiddish theatre is breathing its last.
“No movement testifies as much to our hysteria and dizziness as anti-Semitism,” Rabbi Goldman declares. “This year the world has been flooded with anti-Semitic bile? What has been the antidote we have offered? How far have we gone beyond orating, sermonizing and the appointing of committees?”
As a case in point he refers to the fact that while Adolph Hitler has been in the forefront of the Jewish newspapers, no attempt to present a study of the man has been undertaken.