With Governor Herbert H. Lehman as the guest of honor, making his last public appearance for many months, as he announced, the Maccabean Festival, arranged by the New York Zionist Region at Madison Square Garden, December 24, brought together 15,000 Jews in celebration of the Chanukah holiday. Stars of stage, screen, radio and opera, wiht Harry Hershfield as master of ceremonies, provided the entertainment program, of which the features were the kindling of the lights by Cantor Josef Rosenblatt and a choir of twenty-five, and the singing of a 120-voice choir under the direction of Leo Low, well-known Jewish composer and conductor.
The Festival, which was conceived three years ago by Morris Margulies, was hailed by those present as the most effective celebration of Chanukah held in the history of the New York Jewish community. Morris Margulies, who is secretary of the New York Zionist Region and of the Zionist Organization of America, was given high praise for his part in the conception of the Festival and for the carrying out of its many details. Abraham F. Wechsler, chairman of the Festival Committee, was chairman of the evening.
The speakers included Governor Herbert H. Lehman, Morris Rothenberg, president of the Zionist Organization of America, and former Congressman William W. Cohen. President-elect Roosevelt sent the following message to the Festival:
“Please convey to all the participants in the Maccabean Festival my greetings and good wishes. This occasion recalls the fortitude of Judas Maccabee and the rededication of the shrine of his people. The name is a symbol of courage, vision and faith, and the kindling of the lights is an emblem of enlightenment not only for the people of Israel but for the non-Jewish peoples as well.”
Governor-elect Leman said:
“The Maccabees have always been a symbol and a guide. They stood by their ideas unafraid and prepared to sacrifice their lives if necessary so that their faith might not perish. Their example of bravery and vision can well be emulated in our own time. We have need of the spirit of steadfastness and patience. On all sides forces rise to crush spirituality and to debase human values. In ancient days it was Antiochus who tried to impose idols upon the people. In these days there are other forces which, taking advantage of the circumstances, try to substitute false ideals and values for those sound, constructive doctrines of progress and liberalism which should guide and influence all communities, regardless of faith and denomination.
“In this beloved country of ours we can play a great part in the advance of mankind and in the maintenance of good citizenship. We must continue to give expression to those ideals which have made ours a living faith. We must join with others in championing the cause of the poor and the oppressed, in extending the benefits of Democracy, in adjusting living conditions to the new understanding of social obligations.”