A career of striving for the ideals of Americanism and Judaism was reviewed and eulogized yesterday at celebrations honoring the sixtieth birthday of Rabbi Stephen S. Wise.
At an anniversary service in Carnegie Hall, at a luncheon in the Hotel Biltmore, at a reception by the College Division of the American Jewish Congress, Jewish and non-Jewish leaders praised Rabbi Wise’s struggles for his principles. Throughout the country, in Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago and Portland, Oregon, similar functions took place.
At the service yesterday morning Dr. Wise’s “sincerity of purpose,” his “authentic voice of prophecy,” his “noble character and warm heart,” and his independence were all described glowingly by the speakers.
Rabbi Wise. declared Robert Szold, former president of the Zionist Organization of America, “works, day by day, hour after hour, fighting for the causes he holds dear. Sincerity of purpose runs deep through his character.
“Wise has brought a forthrightness of concept and a stalwartness of approach to the American Jew,” Szold continued, “which has stiffened his backbone, thrown back his shoulders, and caused him to walk uprightly, consciously proud of his Jewish heritage.”
MRS. KOHUT’S TALK
Rebekah Kohut, Jewish woman leader, recalled that she knew the veteran rabbi when he was a boy of thirteen. “I have seen him grow up into ripe manhood, but he hasn’t changed. He is the same boy I knew. When a fight is on, he fights, not caring what the cost might be to him, and sometimes he has paid very dearly for those fights. But we know that he can laugh too, we know what a contagious laughter he has,” she declared. Mrs. Kohut spoke with deep feeling.
Dr. Wise, in his response, spoke of his friends, teachers, comrades, and immediate family. He described the causes for which he has fought, declaring “a man who is dumb would have some degree of eloquence for the causes for which I have struggled.”
“Up to January, 1933,” he continued, “I believed that we were at the dawn of a new world, of a world of peace. And now I found myself baffied, though not without hope, in the face of a world in which there is the possibility of a greater war than that of 1914.” The very last words that he would speak, he asserted, would be “a word of warning that Hitlerism means war, that the world will have to choose between Hitlerism–war–the shattering of humanity, on one hand, and freedom and world peace on the other.”
He summarized his career in the single sentence: “I have spoken the truth as I have seen it.”