Life of North American Jewry in Review
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Life of North American Jewry in Review

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Large sums of money for Palestine or a larger membership in the Zionist Organization of America—assuming the two are not compatible, which shall it be?

On the eve of the regional conference to be held in this city in the interest of the Zionist movement, all day Sunday, January 7, local leaders are giving thought to this question. A review of Zionist activity in this city covering a period of fifteen to twenty years indicates that when the emphasis was placed on obtaining a large number of members in the Zionist Organization, the results were commensurate with the effort. At one time the Z. O. A. membership in Philadelphia numbered close to 6,000. This was prior to the time of the present $6.00 membership. Even after the present rate was introduced, the Philadelphia Branch, Zionist Organization of America, carried as many as 2,500 on its membership lists.

Then came the era of fund raising for Palestine on a large scale, under the various names of Palestine Restoration Fund, Keren Hayesod, United Palestine Appeal and now the American Palestine Campaign. Here too the results were commensurate with the effort. In the course of the past fifteen years the Jewish community of Philadelphia contributed upwards of $1,250,000 towards the various funds intended for Palestine rebuilding, giving Philadelphia a preeminent position among the Jewish communities of America.


The largest amount sent in any one year to the United Palestine Appeal was $185,947.55 This did not include additional large sums forwarded by Hadassah, the Jewish National Fund, and other independent Palestine agencies. In 1927-28 the sum forwarded to New York, exclusive of raising and collecting the money was $169,785.95 In 1925-26 the sum was $151,867.28. In those and in subsequent years lovers of Palestine in Philadelphia were devoting themselves almost exclusively to fund raising. Little time was given to Zionist membership. The result was that the membership in the Zionist Organization of America was reduced considerably. Today the number of registered Zionists is negligible. A chart showing the relationship between these two phases of the Zionist movement would prove illuminating.

Since 1929, due to the economic conditions, both the Palestine funds and the Zionist membership suffered severely. Now that it is hoped economic conditions are on the upgrade, the question as to the emphasis—membership or money—becomes quite real.

In addition to representatives from 35 or 40 communities in Eastern Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey and Delaware, this regional conference will be attended by Morris Rothenberg, president of the Zionist Organization of America, and Louis Lipsky, national chairman of the American Palestine Campaign—the men representing ###oth aspects of the problem. These spokesmen will be expected to furnish an answer to this question.

In the call for the conference, issued jointly by Mr. Rothenberg and Rabbi Max D. Klein, Philadelphia chairman of the Zionist Organization of America, it is pointed out that “at this conference the events stirring the Jewish world today will be evaluated and steps will be taken to bring Palestine to the forefront as the effective answer to the plight of world Jewry.” Whether this answer will find expression in men or in money remains to be seen.

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