Menu JTA Search

Silver Predicts “great Age” for U.S. Jewry at Tercentenary Dinner

The prediction that the next hundred years will be known as the “American Century” in the same sense as the 19th century was “The Century of Great Britain, ” and that “it will be a great age for American Jewry if the catastrophe of war does not shatter its security and life,” was made here last night by Dr. Abba Hillel Silver, addressing a Jewish Tercentenary dinner at Hotel Statler. More than 1,200 guests attended the function.

“As a minority,” Dr. Silver said, “we are helpless against the ravages of hate and demogoguery which war and economic depressions unleash. But given peace and economic stability, the American Jewish community will move forward and develop. It will expand its cultural and religious life and institutions, and will make worthy contributions to the total life of America.

“If the American Jews of the coming decades will carry on uninterruptedly and with wisdom and discrimination, putting first things first, and accentuating the positive and indispensable enterprises of Jewish life, they will make the numerically largest Jewish community in the world also one of the greatest in terms of faith, culture and scholarship.

“What may endanger our Jewish future here,” Dr. Silver continued, “is not conscious escapism or deliberate assimilationist tendencies such as characterized Jewish communities elsewhere and at other times. Rather, an unconscious drift and a carefree relaxation of all disciplines – not out of conviction but out of sheer indifference – such as belonging to synagogues but not attending them, or sending children to Sunday Schools which are so limited as to time that they cannot really give them an adequate Jewish education, or in very many instances, not giving them any instruction at all, or homes which are emptied of all Jewish content.”

Announcement was made at the dinner by William E. Stirton, vice-president of Wayne University, of the establishment of a Professorship in Jewish History at Wayne, with funds contributed by Mr. and Mrs. Louis Lamed. The first course in American Jewish History will start at Wayne on October 27, with Dr. Bernard Weisberger as instructor.

Mr. Stirton also announced that another gift, made by Mr. and Mrs. Morris Schaver, will establish a Publications Fund at Wayne for the printing of Jewish books. Two other Jewish funds mark the Tercentenary Year: The $175,000 gift of Mrs. Aaron Deroy, towards the Wayne Medical School Building Project and Leonard N. Simons’ recent gift of historical volumes, valued at $25,000 to Wayne University Library.

Philip Slomovitz, chairman of the Detroit Tercentenary Committee, who presided at the dinner, recalled in his address that the American Jewish community began with the settlement of 23 Jewish settlers in New York in September of 1654, stated that the 5, 000,000 Jews now residing in this country “have accepted their heritage with dignity, have established great traditions for philanthropy by providing succor for the less fortunate who can not share the blessings of this land with us and have accepted with pride and courage the great assignment of aiding in the establishment of the State of Israel.”

NEXT STORY