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Women – Wise and Otherwise

Mrs. Randolph Guggenheimer, Editor

The following letter which the Woman’s page received a short while ago seems to me so worthwhile that I am including it in this column:

My dear Mrs. Guggenheimer:

While recently in Washington I had tea with a very delightful Japanese lady. You must imagine her as an English University graduate (Oxon.), clever, vivacious, well-informed on artistic and literary as well as economic and political topics, and gowned to perfection in a dream of a French satin gown with white organdie collars and cuffs. We talked about everything in God’s world from proteins to paintings, from Fascism to frocks. And of course I admired her toilette. “You are always wearing European clothes?” I asked. “Not always,” she confessed. “I am quite at home in them and wear them without any self-consciousness, but once a week I make it a point to wear traditional Japanese costume, with my obi tied in the approved butterfly-fashion. I do it to keep up the contact with my native civilization, my own race. Were I not doing it I should lose something vital and important, something that would make me less acceptable to my European friends. We always have to keep in contact with the soil we sprung from. If that contact is entirely broken we perish, just as the giant Antaeus perished when he could no longer touch his Mother Earth from which he derived all his strength.”

These words seemed to me so true and so significant that, as a constant reader of your column, I want to hand them on to you and your audience. For I do feel that the modern Jewess is too apt to forget in the acceptance of Western civilization the roots that bind her to her own people and its distinctive traditions. The modern Jewess becomes easily deracinee and loses thus one vital power. Do not think for a moment that I advocate a return to the restricted formalism of orthodox life. By no means. But every Jewish woman should, I feel, do at least once a week some beautiful and definite thing that will remind her that she is the daughter of an ancient race with an age-old culture. The mere lighting of a candle on Sabbath eve, even without any prayer or formalism, or a similar gesture would be enough. But to ban everything that is typically Jewish from our life seems to me a grave mistake that tends to devitalize the race.

I should be glad to have your and your readers’ reactions to this suggestion.

Sincerely yours,

Ruth Kraemer.

128 Pelhamdale avenue,

Pelham, N. Y.

It seems to me that the traditions of our race should be an integral part of our family lives. Not only for the sake of our children, but for the sake of sentiment, this should be. We ought not become so practical-minded that the lovely, old sentiments of the past have no place in our world.

We have often seen peddlers with their wares on a tray suspended by a strap around their shoulders. Without something to hold the tray, it would naturally fall to the ground and be broken. The customs and traditions of our race are something like the strap that holds the peddler’s wares. Without these traditions the whole structure of our faith falls.

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