Chief Librarian, the Jewish Room, New York Public Library
There will be more wailing in Jewry on this Fast Day (Ninth) of Ab which falls on Tuesday than in many years before. There will be more sincere tears shed than have fallen for generations from Jewish eyes. For this year’s Ninth of Ab finds the Jewish people stricken with a calamity such as even in its long and chequered history has rarely befallen them. In Germany, bereaved homes, broken fortunes, destitution which almost beggars even the past records of Jewish misery, physical and mental suffering unsung, probably untold martyrdom, form a new page which has been added to the Jewish annals in Germany, and which, for the Jews in that land, promise to make next Tuesday’s Fast brim over with terrible sadness and unutterable misery. The lamentations that will rise on that day among the multitudes of German-Jewish refugees will have a poignancy such as has not often been experienced before.
But the Fast will also have a new opportuneness. Coming at a time when the Jew finds himself hounded and scorned, in what is supposed to be an enlightened land, it will remind the Jews that there is a Jewish national disaster to deplore, a Jewish past to undo, a Jewish future to protect and a Jewish hope to fulfill. It is right that the Jewish eye should be turned inward, if only for one day, and that the Jewish people linked to antiquity by a bridge of sighs, should also breathe its question to its own ranks, and through them to the world: What of the Jews in the future?
If for just a moment the Jews turn their minds to the great and overwhelming tragedy, the anniversary of which is on the Ninth of Ab, they will derive a great lesson: the indivisibility of their destinies, no matter how much any individual Jew may endeavor to place himself outside of his community. Their fate is a common one, no matter how any Jew may wish to “wash his hands of the whole concern.” It matters not what device he will employ to separate himself from the congregation of Israel. The great tragedies that befell Israel in his history made no selection of the Jews upon whom they fell. The wealthy and prosperous Jew, basking in the sunshine of material favor, scarcely designs to acknowledge his connection with his people; yet he is really all the while suffering, as he himself proves by the attitude he adopts towards those from whom he sprung, from the tragedy that swept over Jewry and of which he is either ignorant or absolutely disregardful. The Nazis in Germany no more selected their Jews than did the other martyrdoms which the Jews suffered. The lesson to be derived from this year’s Tisha b’Ab is not alone the separateness of Jewish history and Jewish traditionsâ€”Jewish social history and Jewish political conditionsâ€”but the oneness of Jewry. For grief and sacrifice, sorrow, tribulation and mourning bind man to man in their common pain and their common effects.
WHAT ABOUT PANTS?
Is no one going to do anything about pants, otherwise called trousers, and, in the current fashionable form, slacks?
There most certainly ought to be a code.
Ever since night shirts came into the money, way down South in Dixie land, when a group of gentlemen of rather less than more integrity rejuvenated the Ku Klux Klan, the emphasis has been on shirts, shirts, shirts.
There was Mussolini with his Black Shirts.
Then came Hitler with his Brown Shirts.
Followed a group of French with Green Shirts.
In Poland another bunch of fellows who like neither Jews nor Nazis are looking up Pink models in Shirtsâ€”just to be different, you see.
In London, a number of boycotting Jews who don’s like Hitler are wearing Blue Shirts.
Not counting the Night Shirts which the Klansmen in the South have been wearingâ€”and these might be classified as White Shirts, at least for the first two or three meetings, after which they get somewhat grayâ€”we have three kinds of shirts in these United States. There are the White Shirts centering around Seattle; the Silver Shirts, the organization created by William Dudley Pelley in the vicinity of Asheville, N. C., and now the Khaki Shirts, in which you can buy shirt and membership for $2 down and an extra sum for the shirts and equipment. “General” Art J. Smith is the boss of this outfit, with a Jewish shirt salesman as his chief adjutant.
Now is no one going to do anything at all about pants?
Romain Rolland, distinguished French writer, a faithful admirer of the old culture of Germany, an enthusiastic internationalist and Drey-fusard, is carrying on a controversy in the columns of the famous Cologne Times (Koelnische Zeitung) with Baron Fabre-Luce, equally well-known as a reactionary. For Baron Fabre-Luce the theory of the equality of the races is a sorry error and the National Socialist movement is an indication of a lofty degree of civilization, not a return to the Middle Ages. For Romain Rolland the policy of Nazi Germany is a crime against humanity and against Germany, the real Germany of world-citizens, like Goethe, “who felt the misfortune and the happiness of other peoples like their own.” To expel from Germany the free spirits, the Europeans, the pacifists, the Jews, the socialists and the Communists, is to rob Germany of a great part of her energies.