Palestine No Charity Ward of World Jewry Returned Rabbi Finds

Dr. Abraham M. Hershman, for 26 years rabbi of Congregation Shaarey Zedek, Detroit’s conservative synagogue, has just returned from a three-months’ stay in Palestine in the course of which he mad an exhaustive study of the educational, economic and social conditions in the land. His impressions reveal how deeply impressed he is with the efforts of the Jewish settlers and how enthusiastic he feels over past achievements and future possibilities.

"My visit to Palestine has left me with the conviction that the creative yower of the Jew has not ceased," Dr. Hershman declared.

Describing the determination with which the settlers launch new enterprises and advance the industrial possibilities in the land, Rabbi Hershman pointed out that the ambition of the average run of people is not to become millionaires, but rather to create a new life and higher standards in the Jewish National Home.

THE NATURAL LIFE

It is this Jewish life of Palestine Jewry which impressed him most. Dr. Hershman pointed to the freedom and naturalness which dominates the Jewish communities in Palestine.

Nowhere, Rabbi Hershman said, has he seen Jews who live their lives in such a naturally human way, and this freedom, he maintains, atones for whatever faults one may find in the Homeland.

Emphasizing that the upbuilding of Palestine is the solemn obligation of all Jews, Dr. Hershman declared that Palestine resents being classed in the group of countries which are recipients of charity. Palestine Jewry, he explained, is a most liberal group which donates with an open hand for every important Jewish cause. The Jewish National Fund, which redeems the soil of Palestine to become the property of the entire Jewish people, is the country’s most popular fund to which all, without distinction, contribute. It was Palestine, Rabbi Hershman said, that was the first to start a relief fund for the oppressed Jews in Germany. To emphasize his point relative to Palestine Jewry’s liberality, Rabbi Hershman pointed out that for the relief of Russian Jews alone Palestine Jews contributed 60,000 pounds in the past year.

PALESTINE MELTING POT

"One of the things which impressed me the most while in Palestine is this devotion to things Jewish," Dr. Hershman said. "There is no difference between Jew and Jew in Palestine, in spite of the numerous elements that make up the Jewish population."

The importance of the latter point can best be understood when it is realized that there is hardly a section of the globe which is not represented in the melting pot of Palestine’s population. Rabbi Hershman said that there were some groups of Jews there hailing from the remotest centers of the world, and that one would never imagine Jews residing in some of the places which sent their representatives to join in the work of rebuilding the neglected Zion.

Tel Aviv he called the best governed city in the world, and he expressed the wish that he could kidnap its mayor, Meyer Dizengoff, and place him in charge of this city for the sake of Detroit. He added however, that he felt that Mayor Dizengoff would be unhappy here. He spoke with enthusiasm of the schools of Tel Aviv and of the spirit evinced by the people.

Asked whether he considers the present prosperity in Palestine a natural one, Rabbi Hershman declared that the land, like other lands, is governed by the law of supply and demand. Because of the large influx of Jews, there are not enough houses in Tel Aviv and in Haifa, and the result is that a large building program has been launched to supply the demand for more homes.

DEPLORES FACTIONAL STRIFE

While the conflict between capital and labor presents a problem, Rabbi Hershman said that the people generally are fighting against speculation for the good of the settlement.

Rabbi Hershman also deplored the factional strife which marks the division in Jewish ranks between Labor and Revisionist elements. While he regrets the bitterness injected by the domination of Jewish Labor in Palestine, Dr. Hershman spoke in laudatory terms of the Jewish labor leaders and the heads of the Histadruth. He stated that he considers I. Ben-Zwi and Berel Katznelson among the ablest leaders in Palestine.

Impressed by the life in the cooperative colonies—the Kvutzoth—Rabbi Hershman states that they are still in the experimental stage. Lauding the Chalutzim who are settled in these Kvutzoth, Rabbi Hershman quoted many incidents of unselfishness and self-sacrifice on the part of the settlers who are determined to make their colonies self-supporting. He pointed out that in instances where the colonies are unable to support themselves many of the pioneers hire themselves out as laborers and use their earnings as a means of carrying on the general work of their settlement. All earnings of these pioneers go into the central fund of the colony.

Dr. Hershman spent an afternoon in Kvutzah Hazafon, the colony of the Detroit Chalutzim. He found the boys and girls happily settled in the Homeland and leading a contented life as farmers.

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