A new attitude toward social justice is developing among organized religious groups in this country. The Synagogue as well as the Church is represented in this new approach. The Social Creed which was adopted by the Central Conference of American Rabbis some years ago, and the pronouncements on social justice which have been made by the Rabbinical Assembly of America at its recent convention, are milestones of a new approach. The American Synagogue evidences a progressive recognition of the fact that the field of economics is definitely within the scope of religion.
These are times when social and economic problems force themselves with greater compulsion than ever upon the attention of spiritual leaders.
There may have been days in the past when it was possible for Rabbis who wanted to have peace of mind for the pursuit of other things to exclude the area of social and economic problems from the scope of their concern, salving their consciences with the thought that the world would probably go on about the same as before. In these momentous days, however, no one who bears the title of “spiritual leader” can stand on the side-lines. Not only are the questions of world peace, social and economic justice, and the relationships between religious and racial groups within our land so pressing that only those can remain aloof who are deliberately and wilfully neglectful, but the determination of many of these questions is actually in the balance. For the first time in many years, possibly generations, important social and economic changes are in the offing, thanks to the economic collapse which has made people receptive to change, and thanks to new government leadership which is receptive to experimentation with a new approach.
The following statement adopted by the Rabbinical Assembly of America at its last convention, at the instance of its Social Justice Committee, is significant: “We dissociate ourselves from the opinion that questions of economics are not fit subject matter for treatment from the pulpit by ministers of religion, but should be left to specialists in the field of economics and political science. We realize the value of the expert studies of specialists in the social sciences, but we hold it to be the right and the duty of the religious leader to guide his congregation in respect to their economic and social behavior by interpreting for them the bearing of that body of knowledge accumulated by the experts on their own obligations to promote the common welfare. Without claiming for rabbinical utterances on social problems any authority other than inheres in whatever truth they may convey, we insist that no arbitrary limit be placed on the freedom of speech of the rabbi in respect to the concreteness and definiteness of his pulpit references to social and economic conditions. It is the responsibility of religion to keep alive the faith in the possibility of and the need for a more humanized economic and social order.”
It is true today, as ever, that “not by bread alone doth man subsist”. Yet it is manifest that without bread one cannot live upon the higher levels. It is more than an opportunity which confronts the Synagogue. Opportunism is the metier of politicians. It is an imperative duty upon institutions and spokesmen of religion to help set right what is wrong with our civilization.
THE CONTINUING PROTEST
The Jewish Daily Bulletin wishes to direct the attention of the proper authorities in Washington to a suggestion made on the floor of the House of Commons early last week on the subject of the continuing persecution of the Jews by the unrelenting Nazis.
Colonel Josiah Wedgewood, Labor M.P., suggested that London and Washington present joint notes of protest to Berlin, for the purpose, as he explained, of rescuing beleaguered civilization in Germany.
At the time this suggestion was being delivered, Dr. William E. Dodd, professor of American History at the University of Chicago, was preparing to board the S.S. Washington for Europe. His destination is the American Embassy at Berlin, where he is to take up his duties as American Ambassador to Germany.
Whether or not he carries with him verbal or written instructions from President Roosevelt on what course to adopt in relation to the anti-Semitic persecutions in the Reich, pursuit of the course of protest suggested by Colonel Wedge-wood, would be the first joint and official statement of policy against the persecution of the Jews by the two most powerful Anglo-Saxon nation-hoods in the world. The double-barrelled source of this protest would undoubtedly carry great weight when it is borne in mind that the Nazis are attempting to dictate an anti-Semitic policy even for the Nordic world outside the borders of Germany.
It has been pointed out by the “Moment”, Yiddish daily published in Warsaw, that the murder of Dr. Chaim Arlosoroff at Tel Aviv occurred on the anniversary of the execution of the three Arabs whom the Palestinian government hanged for their participation in the August, 1929, riots in Palestine. On the day Dr. Arlosoroff was murdered, the “Moment” continues, the Arab Executive issued a proclamation referring to the three who had been executed as fighters for freedom whose memory never will be blotted out among the Arabs.
It is amusing to discover in a Berlin cable the outburst of a Nazi clergyman named Muenchenmeyer who claims for his party’s anti-Semitic policy the favorable precedent of the following motley crew from the pages of history: Vespasian, Titus, Napoleon, Luther and Maria Theresa. This is an example of how Nazi zeal can make ridiculous even Nazi propaganda, for Napoleon was not an anti-Semite, and if Vespasian and Titus were anti-Semites, as they were, every Christian ought to be a pro-Semite, and of what consequence can Maria Theresa’s attitude on any historical issue be anyway? Since you’re ridiculous, Herr Pastor, why not also be funny?
“One does not become assimilated with impunity,” said a speaker at a Jewish convention, recently ended. One might amend: One does not become assimilated with impecunity.
There is no doubt about it, the Nazis are showmen with a great flair for publicity. There must be in their midst more than one Nordic Roxy. They are always putting on shows. They dramatized Schlageter, at Duesseldorf; they dramatized their hate of non-Aryan books; they dramatized their hate of the Versailles Treaty; they created an imaginary anti-Nazi propaganda plane which dropped leaflets which no one has yet seen. We wander what is the next show on the Nazi bill? Breda would be a greater surprise.
We are informed that one of the latest non-paying guests at Dachau, the Nazi concentration camp near Munich, is a Nazi official, von Dau, whose offense appears to have been that when he was appointed commissar for the Munich Neueste Nachrichten used the occasion to print therein, at a high rate of compensation, the novel which the management had previously rejected. It must have been a terrible novel!
We are informed that the lightweight championship has been won by a Jew, Barney Ross, but a Jew in more than the accident of birth.
Mr. Ross does not fight or train on Jewish holidays, won his championship fight with a mezzuzah in his trunks, says the memorial prayer for his father thrice a year and once rode 240 miles by automobile to attend a synagogue service. And of course you know that Maxie Baer who took the decision from the Nazi, Schmeling, fought the fight with a Star of David on his trunks.