‘self-destruction’ of U.S. Jewry by Assimilation Denied at Parley

Israel Breslow, a vice-president of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union, who was unanimously elected this morning president of the Workmen’s Circle at the quadrennial national convention of the organization, which has a membership of 60, 000 families and is the world’s largest Jewish labor fraternal order, said that statements by Dr. Joachim Prinz, until recently president of the American Jewish Congress and by former Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion that the American Jewish community was assimilating itself to self-destruction “are written with the hands of doom and spoken with the lips of myth, not history.”

Mr. Breslow said that Jews have survived pogroms, exiles, extermination and medieval persecution. “The miracle is not only the State of Israel but the people of Israel, and the miracle of survival of 2, 000 years of history is not to be surrendered to the pious effusions of men who forget that the will to live saved the Jewish people from disintegration,” he declared in his acceptance speech, Mr. Breslow argued that attempts to depict American Jews as a people of only merchants, lawyers, and financiers, “falsifies” the fact that American Jews are still the workers of this country.

“Jews, in America, are in the professions and service industries, they are organized as workers in these professions and industries, and all attempts to make it appear that American Jews are sinking into the swampland of affluency and being assimilated into the general community have no basis in fact,” he declared. He said that the same decline in the number of blue collar workers that has taken place in industries that were once considered to be mostly Jewish has also taken place in the non-Jewish community. He emphasized the need for secular Jewishness but said that a negative approach to religion would not achieve the success of such a program. Instead, he said, it was essential for the Jew to know his origins and his culture in order to arrive at a positive secularism.

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