Jewish Day, Inc., which is managing the nation-wide Jewish demonstration at A Century of Progress (a massing of conventions, athletic meets and, as a climax, the pageant, “The Romance of a People”, in Soldier Field) occupies a suite of offices half a block long on South La Salle St. As organized for this task, the offices look like a composite political campaign and theatrical centre. A cross-section of the activities, and a cross questioning of the visitors, touches on a range of subjects and problems which covers almost anything in the modern and ancient world.
At one end of the offices is a large meeting room, in which various committees are in session. Women’s auxiliaries of Temples and Synagogues are working out a plan of cooperation with the pageant: delegates from benevolent lodges are arguing for division of territory; committees on accommodations are considering the problems of out-of-town visitors committees on arrangements for the several conventions (Zionist Organization, B’nai B’rith, American Palestine Campaign) which are to be held in Chicago to coincide with Jewish Day, are in conference; and there are subcommittees of the Jewish athletic clubs of Chicago and the mid-west, committees on banquets, mass-meetings, press-publicity, good will relationsâ€”committees on everything under the sun.
Next to the Committee room is the ticket section and information desk. The questions which are directed to these departments by cranks and lost souls are occasionally bewildering. An elderly lady wishes to know what was the date corresponding to the eighteenth of Ellul, in the Jewish year five thousand six hundred and seventy-sevenâ€”her son must observe a kaddish and has no time to come making the inquiry himself. A wandering Jew asks humbly whether they would allow him to take up a collection for his unmarried daughters among the one hundred and fifty thousand Jews who are expected at the pageant on the evening of July third. (“So many Jews,” he pleads in Yiddish, “if only one in ten would give me a dime I would have one thousand five hundred dollars for their dowry.”) His excellent arithmetic is of no avail. He is informed courteously and repeatedly that it just can’t be done. An elderly Jew wants the assistance of Jewish Day to get a visa for his nephew from Poland to the United States. A young man in a spotted suit asks, in a heavy mid-west accent, whether taxi-drivers are needed in Palestineâ€”the “game” is going to the dogs in America.
The girls behind the gratings whose business it is to sell tickets, and who are doing their best to keep up with the demands, refer the wild questioners to the information desk and call out: “Next please.”
Pause at a door inadvertently left open, and hear the following excited colloquy:
“I tell you those horns have to be taken off. A shtoreth Karnaim, who is obviously connected in ancient mythology with Astarte of the Greeks, was originally a goddess of the moon and had horns. But you can’t have horns on Dagon.”
“I’ve got to have horns on Dagon for symmetry, because there’ll be a twenty foot image of Chemosh in the centre, and two fifteen foot idols of Dagon and Baal-Zevuv on each side.”
“I don’t care what you need for symmetry. I’m not going to have scholars at Jewish Day laughing at me for giving inaccurate reproductions of the gods.”
An interruption: “Listen, this melody for the priests of Chemosh won’t do. It isn’t Oriental enough.”
MODELS A PRETTY GOOD GOD
A gentleman with flowing locks, every inch the traditional artist, brushes by the visitor, carrying a two foot model of an Asiatic god. He breaks in on the argument. “Gentlemen: here’s Baal-Zevuv, and a first class Baal-Zevuv, even if I say so myself.”
The wandering visitor moves away to break in on another argument.
“I’ve got to have four hundred more actors in the Egyptian scene.”
“Well, you can’t. Fifteen hundred is quite enough for you.”
“Why can’t I get four hundred of the Roman soldiers?”
“Because they won’t have time to change. And we can’t give them four parts. Three is enough.”
“Give me two hundred wanderers out of the Middle Ages.”
“No. We can’t start re-casting now.”
In another room the grand director of the pageant is giving instructions to electricians. “I want three of the strong spotlights coming out of the Temple pillars. The centre of the buzzer system has to be under the altar, where I’ll be sitting. And don’t forget. One telephone apiece to the High Priests, in positions L, M, N, O