Menu JTA Search

A Week’s Events in Review

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

With millions of Jews throughout the world observing Passover this week, one-half of the Jewish population in Poland—over a million people—were dependent on charitable institutions for their Passover food.

This is the best barometer of the misery which the Jews in Poland are facing today. In no country of the world has their misery reached such proportions as in Poland.

In Greece, where the Jewish population has recently lived through a civil war, and where Jewish misery is also great, the local municipalities have contributed substantial sums towards providing the Jews with Passover food. This is not the case in Poland. Not only do the government and the municipalities take no interest in the plight of the Jews, but ordinary municipal subsidies are being withdrawn from Jewish institutions.

HOLIDAY OBSERVED WIDELY IN RUSSIA

In Soviet Russia, where religion is not popular among the masses, the Passover was more widely observed this year than in previous years. With bread cards abolished in Russia, and with flour obtainable freely in every government store, the religious Jewish population in Russia was fortunate this year, for the first time since the Revolution, in being able to obtain as much flour as it wished and to observe the Passover with an unlimited quantity of matzoh and other Passover food.

The Passover celebrations in Russia were saddened for Soviet Jewry by the death of Peter Smidowitch, whom every Jew in Soviet Russia loved and admired. Himself a non-Jew, Smidowitch, as the vice-president of the U. S. S. R., devoted all his activity to Jewish colonization. As head of the Comzet, he saw to it that the Soviet government assigned the largest sums possible for Jewish land settlement. He obtained Crimea for Jewish colonization. He helped the development of the Jewish autonomous regions in the Ukraine. He did his best to have Biro-Bidjan proclaimed an autonomous Jewish republic as early as possible.

SMIDOWITCH SAVED MANY SYNAGOGUES

But his activities in settling the Jews on land are not the only factors appreciated by Soviet Jewry. Smidowitch was helpful to the Jews in Soviet Russia also along the lines of preserving the Jewish religion. As the head of the anti-religious department of the Soviet government, he saved many synagogues from being converted into clubs and advocated freedom of religion for Jewish colonies. He was also helpful to the Hechalutz in Soviet Russia and helped young Chalutzim go to Palestine at a time when no Soviet citizen was permitted to leave the country.

The Jews of Russia considered Smidowitch their protector from the Jewish Communists. Smidowitch was always ready to hamper the Jewish Communists in their activities against the average Jew in the country. He made no secret of his opposition to the Yevsekzia, the Jewish section of the Communist party, and it was due partly to him that the Yevsekzia was finally liquidated.

LITVINOFF OUTSPOKEN IN HITLER ATTACK

Mourning the death of Smidowitch, the Jews in Russia had occasion to feel pride this week in Maxim Litvinoff, the Soviet Commissar for Foreign Affairs, who despite his important role in world affairs, is proud of his Jewishness.

It was the lashing address against Hitler delivered by Litvinoff this week at the session of the Council of the League of Nations, that made Soviet Jewry proud of him. Litvinoff was the only diplomat in Geneva who outspokenly demanded that the League openly condemn Nazi Germany and check Hitler’s ambitions. The decision which the League of Nations adopted following Litvinoff’s speech was greeted in Berlin with surprised anger, and it may have a far-reaching effect on world politics.

PASSOVER DESOLATE FOR REICH JEWS

The Jews in Germany celebrated Passover this week in a more desolate spirit than ever before. The propaganda to boycott Jews in commerce was renewed this week in connection with the approaching Easter holidays, and more than 6,000 young Jews who were graduated from the German school system this week faced a situation where they will have no possibility of continuing their education.

The first Jewish school, for Jewish children only, was opened this week in Germany as the result of the difficulties which Jewish children are facing in the general schools. It seems that the Nazi government will encourage the opening of separate Jewish schools, in order to make the Jews feel that they are not equal citizens of the country. These schools will of course have to be supported by the Jewish communities and will receive no subsidies from the government.

NAZIS EXERT PRESSURE ON JEWS IN TRADE

Left temporarily unmolested in the field of commerce, the Jews of Germany are now beginning to feel the Nazi hand in their commercial enterprises. Jewish firms are actually forced to liquidate. Others are compelled to sell out to “Aryans.” The restrictions against Jews in commerce are growing and affect not only the Jewish merchants but also Jewish employees. The army of German Jews who are compelled to find salvation by emigration is therefore growing larger and larger.

Under such circumstances it is no wonder that the news about the possible admission of German Jews into South American countries was this week received by many Jews in Germany with great joy. This news came from James G. McDonald, the High Commissioner for Refugees, who is now in South America negotiating with governments there for the admission of Jews from Germany. After Palestine, South America is the only hope for German Jewish immigration.

PALESTINE FESTIVE AS PASSOVER OPENS

In Palestine the Passover started very gaily. Jerusalem was flooded with tourists from abroad and guests from all over the country who came to this ancient city to celebrate the Passover holiday.

The announcement made by the Palestine government about the forthcoming labor schedule for Jewish immigration did not provoke any satisfaction in Jewish circles. This announcement ment grants the Jewish Agency 7,600 immigration certificates for the next six months, which is only 100 certificates more than were granted for the six months just expired. At a time when the shortage of Jewish labor continues to grow in the country, such an insignificant increase in the labor schedule is highly disappointing.

It seems that the Palestine government, anxious to weaken the Jewish Agency, has agreed to acknowledge the existence of another Jewish Agency, established by the Orthodox Agudath Israel organization, which aims to perform the same function as the Jewish Agency in which Zionists and non-Zionists are equally represented.

NEW AGENCY SURPRISE TO JEWRY

An announcement of the establishment of the second Jewish Agency was made by the Agudah on the eve of Passover, and came as a surprise to the Yishub. In this announcement, the Agudah explains that it will conduct its own politics with regard to submitting claims to the Palestine government and the Mandates Commission of the League of Nations; that it will maintain its own colonization department; that it will conduct its own immigration policy.

This announcement simply means that the Agudath Israel has entered into an open fight with the Zionist Organization and will attempt to obtain from the Palestine government immigration certificates independently of the Jewish Agency. It means that the Zionist Executive will be faced with competition, the result of which no one can foretell, since the Colonial Office in London is far from opposed to the Agudah.

This development is especially important now that the Revi-

NEXT STORY