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Dr. Morganstein Urges Jews Not to Apologize for Existing

Declaring that “Judaism must play an indispensable, distinctive and distinguished part” in the fashioning of the world which will emerge from the present war, Dr. Julian Morgenstern, president of the Hebrew Union College, addressing the opening exercises of the 68th academic year of the College, appealed to the Jewish people “to cease to fear what the world may think of us, or what it may do to us,” but to fear only God.

“Judaism must be lived by our Jewish people confidently, courageously, eagerly, exultantly, with full appreciation of the worth of our heritage, of its indispensability for human salvation and of the lofty role which we, as its bearers and transmitters, are called upon to play in this next, momentous and happier act in the drama of human life,” Dr. Morgenstern said. “It is a proud role indeed, from which we need not shrink, and the burden of which need terrify us no longer, but which we may assume with faith, with purpose and with self-consecration.

“It is well for us to realize this now and clearly. For the last three-quarters of a century anti-Semitism has been the most potent directive force in Jewish life. It has shaped not only our attitude towards the world, but also our attitude towards ourselves, towards our people and towards our destiny. It has made us deeply self-conscious and has created within us a decided inferiority complex. It has disposed us to be overly solicitous and apologetic and to constantly justify our existence. It has set us on the defensive and made mere survival as a people the highest Jewish goal toward which we dare aspire. It has called forth assimilation in its extreme expression, a cowardly haste, even a panic, on the part of cringing individuals to shake off the burden of the Jew by obliterating both their Judaism and their Jewish-ness and making themselves as they think exactly like the mass of men in the world without.

“But equally anti-Semitism, plus a not unnatural primary and largely emotional reaction to it, has created Jewish political nationalism, the attempt on the part of a large section of the Jewish people to make itself once again what it was actually only during brief periods of existence, and with no distinguished achievement nor particularly glory as such, a nation precisely like the other nations of the earth, with its own lands, its own army, its own government, its own politics and its own politicians, its own economy, its own culture, its own international and interracial feuds, to force Judaism and the Jewish people backward once again into the mould of nationalism, the spirit and inevitable purposes of which have been the chief cause of the present world-cataclysm, and which, we believe firmly, is now about to be superseded by a far higher form of organization of peoples in the impending pattern of world-unity.”

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