A tall lanky man gazed smilingly from the windows of a tower in the Jewish Daily Forward building. He was amused at the idea of being interviewed. “Of what interest can I be as reading matter to any one?” he asked. The inquiry came from B. Charney Vladeck, recently appointed a member of the city housing board, by Mayor LaGuardia and one of the guiding spirits in the newly-formed Jewish Workers’ Committee for Jewish Affairs.
As he mildly puts it, “I have my irons in every fire.” He is general manager of the largest Jewish daily in the world. He is a member of the executive committee of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, a director of HIAS, a member of the American Jewish Committee, a teacher, a lecturer, and an orator. He is interested in every cause, from Pioneer Youth to the League of Industrial Democracy.
On the subject of the present Jewish problem, he grows both eloquent and caustic. Slowly, humorously, he delivers his views.
TOO MUCH TALK
“I think that there is too much talk, too much politics, too much parochialism in our Jewish activities. We have a great many so-called professional Jews, for whom a new Jewish tragedy, is nothing but a picnic.”
As a remedy and a preventive measure, he advocates the reorganization of Jewish economic life on a more productive basis The Jews cannot prosper as a middle class, when that class is being wiped out throughout the world.
“They ought to encourage trade, labor, and agriculture. In this respect, there has been no real organization, only ideas. The Jews will always be open to attack, if their position will only be that of a special economic unit.”
He deplores the fact that sixteenths of the Jewish people of the United States have no Jewish education. They are unfit to handle Jewish problems. This percentage of the race have no certain set ideas of what has to be done, acquired before the rise of present conditions.
PEACE AND SECURITY
“The only definite Jewish policy we can spread, is one to obtain peace and security for ourselves. Since the Jews do not make their own history, this must change in accordance with the processes that take place outside of our own control.”
Himself a fighter and a man of spirit, his past history is both an indication and a reflection of his unusual character.
He was born in a small town in Russia forty-eight years ago. He attended cheder, later the Yeshiva, and even underwent the ordeal known as “eating days.”
At the age of fifteen, he became interested in the revolutionary movement. His activities soon caused his arrest. When he emerged from jail, he was a full-fledged revolutionist.
There followed one arrest after another. During one of these imprisonments, he went on a hunger strike. The result was a stomach disorder, from which he still suffers.
In 1908 he came to America. Here he identified himself with the Socialist party where as an earnest worker and an impressive orator, he soon won recognition.
His first position with the Forward, was on the Philadelphia edition. Later, he came to New York, and assumed the city editorship of the paper.
In 1917, he was elected to the Board of Aldermen on the Socialist ticket. Then the troubles of Tammany began. One of them advised:
“Never debate with that man Vladeck. When he shoots off his face, he is likely to hit you in the weakest spot you got.”