Chaim Nachman Bialik, the foremost Jewish poet since the time of the great medieval Hebrew poet Jehudah Halevi, has suddenly passed away. Last year the Jews throughout the world celebrated Bialik’s sixtieth birthday. In Palestine, Bialik’s home for the past ten years, his sixtieth birthday was a Jewish national festival. Now his premature death will be mourned by all Israel as an irreparable national loss.
Bialik belongs to the small group of immortal Hebrew prophets and singers who have enriched the world by their passion for righteousness, by their love of justice and truth, by their fiery zeal in fighting for the eternal Jewish ideals.
Bialik was the outstanding symbol and exponent of Jewish culture in the land of the ancient Hebrew prophets, in the new regenerated Palestine which he loved with all his heart and soul.
Bialik wrote in Hebrew, in Yiddish and in Russian, but whatever language he used as his medium, he always expressed the soul and the conscience of Israel, like the Hebrew prophets of old, with boundless courage and sympathy and love.
The intellectual, spiritual giant of Israel has fallen. But his memory and his inspiration will live on as long as the Jewish people lives, as long as the great humanitarian prophets and sages and singers in Israel are remembered.
THE POSITIVE ATTITUDE
At the thirty-fourth annual convention of the Rabbinial Assembly of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, at Tannersville, N. Y., Hitlerism, the economic boycott and Jewish unity were discussed.
Rabbi J. Max Weis, of the American Jewish Committee, read a paper by Morris D. Waldman, secretary of the American Jewish Committee, who is in Europe just now. Rabbi Weis, in a supplementary statement to Mr. Waldman’s paper, said in part as follows:
“There was a considerable portion of the people in the United States and elsewhere who had gained the impression that only Jews and Communists had been killed and tortured. The slaying of Kurt von Schleicher and the leader of the Catholic Action party will arouse millions of conservative groups in various lands, and not merely Tannersville, N. Y., Hitlerism, among the liberal groups. Those who have been indifferent will now take a most positive attitude toward the brutal spirit of Hitlerism.”
Was it necessary to wait for the murder of von Schleicher and the leader of the Catholic Action party in order that “those who have been indifferent now take a most positive attitude toward the brutal spirit of Hitlerism.” Was it not enough that all German Jewry was persecuted, tortured in concentration camps, driven from their posts, reduced to starvation, that the noblest products of the greatest minds in Germany were burnt, that Jews and Catholics and non-Nazi Protestants, and liberals and radicals and pacifists were hounded and tortured and killed?
What positive attitude does this Rabbi of the American Jewish Committee expect the indifferent to take now that Hitler has murdered also General von Schleicher and a number of his own Nazi comrades who had helped him to power and whom he suspected of conspiring against him?
The positive attitude toward the brutal spirit of Hitlerism was adopted long ago by self-respecting, liberty-loving Jews and non-Jews. And it was that positive attitude that helped to isolate Nazi Germany morally and economically. And the Jews and the non-Jewish liberals everywhere outside Germany who instinctively and naturally adopted that positive attitude toward Hitlerism spoke for the conscience of mankind. If the Jews had failed to adopt such a positive attitude long ago, in the face of the worst degradation and persecution to which they had ever been subjected, they would have proved themselves unworthy of assistance or even sympathy from other quarters. The Hitlerite racial and religious war was waged not against the Jews alone. But the Jews have been and are still the worst victims. There would have been no excuse whatever if they had merely waited for others to fight for their human rights which had been trampled upon. The positive attitude adopted by the Jewish masses everywhere was based on moral grounds and on the first lawâ€”that of self-preservation.
And the secretary of the American Jewish Committee, Mr. Waldman, said in his paper which was read at the convention:
“We must not permit Hitlerite agitation to throw us back into a moral Ghetto of an unhealthy Jew-consciousness and of estrangement from our non-Jewish neighbors. We must be wary, too, of translating self-analysis into self-betrayal.”
Mr. Waldman also warned Jews against the “hysterical cry for united action,” saying:
“The tendency is already apparent among certain types of Jewish leaders to exploit this for their own purposes. They join in the hue and cry for united action, but always with the understanding that it is to be their kind of action, which must prevail. The subterfuge, while it is clear to those who examine the statements made, yet holds out a lure to the uninitiated.
“Unfortunately it is a common weakness to confuse mere action with wise action.”
It would be well for Mr. Waldman, writing as secretary of the American Jewish Committee, to realize that if it is a common weakness to imagine that mere inaction is a sensible policy.
By a policy of indifference and inaction, by merely relying on others to do for us what we must also do ourselves, what we must first of all do ourselves, we would, indeed, throw the Jewish people back into a moral Ghetto and would merit neither the sympathy nor the cooperation, but the contempt of our non-Jewish neighbors.
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