Vice-President, Jewish Education Assn.
Except for the sudden advent of Herzl and political Zionism in 1897, nothing has so stirred the Jewish consciousness of the present generation as the reversion of Germany into the Middle Ages in her treatment of the Jews. Of all Jewry, fate has singled out the almost completely assimilated, influential and brilliant Jewry of Germany.
Is it surprising that the blow has left many Jews in Germany not only dismayed but bewildered? In the days when Jews were accustomed to take up at a moment’s notice the wanderer’s staff and go into exile, such visitations were accepted with more or less philosophy and resignation. Today large numbers of Jews, and not in Germany alone, are confused and bewildered.
Whence this confusion? Whence this bewilderment? These Jews, younger men and women for the most part, belong to what may be called the “Lost Jewish Generation.” They are the generation that has grown up without Jewish education. The only means by which they could be integrated into Jewish life and into an understanding of Jewish life, namely: Jewish education, was either rejected or neglected. It was neglected by parents who were indifferent. It was rejected by parents who had adopted the false, cowardly and pernicious philosophy of total assimilation.
The tragedy of the “Lost Generation” thus becomes doubly tragic. They suffer without understanding and without dignity. They lack the only resource which could make this suffering endurableâ€”the consciousness of a great destiny, the sense of communion with a long line of heroes and martyrs.
In America too we have numerous members of this “Lost Generation.” Let us bring them back to the sure footing of Jewish knowledge and the Jewish way of life. Let us, at any rate, make of their children a “New-found Generation.”
That is the mission of Jewish education. That is the mission of the Jewish Education Association.
THE GERMAN PLEBISCITE
Germany will soon have an opportunity of expressing its perfect agreement with the policies of Herr Adolf Hitler, or â€” of expressing its perfect agreement with the policies of Herr Adolf Hitler. In the way that the Nazi alone knows, Hitler will achieve the perfectly complete backing of everyone in Germany who will go to the polls. The so-called plebiscite of the German people is the Aryan interpretation of the old game: “Heads, I win; tails, you lose.”
The plebiscite was first announced as a way of finding out whether Germans approved of the Hitler withdrawal from the Disarmament Conference and the League of Nations, the question to be framed in such a way that only one â€” the desired â€” answer was possible. But why not, the Hitler “brain trust” must have been reasoned, get your full money’s worth out of so comparatively expensive a proceeding as a plebiscite? And with that in mind the question has been reframed in the following manner:
“Dost thou, German man or woman, approve of the policy of the Reich government, and art thou ready to acknowledge this policy as the expression of thy own viewpoint, and will and solemnly pledge thyself thereto?”
Dost thou, indeed?
THE PROBLEM OF RELIEF
Elsewhere in this issue is to be found the first weekly contribution to The Jewish Daily Bulletin by Abba Hillel Silver, who discusses, in his initial contribution, the political implications involved in facilitating the exit from Germany of its Jews. Looking beyond today and beyond tomorrow, Rabbi Silver sees the day when nations other than Germany may say to the Jewish relief organizations: You helped Hitler get rid of Germany’s Jews; help us get rid of our’s.
To obey this logic in its most extreme form, one would not send a nickel into Germany for the relief of its Jews, nor acquire a single Palestinian certificate for a German Jew. There is perhaps in the ranks of Jewry the same principle of division which operates among classes of pacifists and conscientious objectors to war. The Quaker conscientious objector will drive an ambulance and heal the wounds of the sick; the Salvation Army lassie will take coffee and doughnuts into the front-line trenches, but the absolutist objector will contend that these ameliorative measures can only prolong the conflict and are merely cowardly evasions of the pacifist’s responsibility to war on war.
To war on war, to refuse to contribute a nickel for the relief of German Jews, to shut more tightly from the outside the frontier gates against German Jews who might recommence creating a life for themselves outside Germany is in a measure to agree with the Von Tirpitzes that thoroughness in ruthlessness is the merciful way; that a war waged with poison gases is a merciful war in that it does not prolong agony, and may help bring an earlier conclusion to hostilities. In the defensive war of world Jewry against Hitlerism even more must be considered than the collective fate of the more than half million Jews in Germany, but in that consideration the need for urgent remedial measures, at least for the sake of the growing young, cannot be lost sight of. The Jews have a tradition of taking care of their own. They dare not abandon it because it is challenged by an holocaust which is delimited neither in time nor in space; they cannot evade it because realpolitik declares abandonment necessary. The young at least must be preserved for a possibly more hopeful future, within Germany, at least, if not outside it. There is for the Jews outside Germany a golden mean of action somewhere between abandoning the Jews in it without relief of any kind, or working hand-in-glove with Hitler by sending into Germany vast sums of relief money and then arranging a first-class wholesale Exodus.