Announcing that he was going to retire for sometime to complete a new play to be produced in New York this season, Israel Zangwill, the guest of honor at the dinner arranged by the Jewish Publication Society at the Ritz Carlton Sunday night, enumerated some of the faults he found with the Jews in this country.
The dinner was in celebration of the publication of Mr. Zangwill’s translation of the poems of Solomon ibn Gabriol, a famous Spanish-Jewish poet of the eleventh century, inaugurating the Schiff library of Jewish classics.
Without overlooking the important creations of American Jewry such as the Jewish Encyclopedia, the English translation of The Bible, Mr. Zangwill deplored there were only 15,000 members in the Jewish Publication Society. Mr. Zangwill said he found it difficult to understand why in New York, the greatest Jewish city in history, men should be ashamed of being Jews, Mr. Zangwill also scored the Jewish press for failing to give more recognition to the work of the Jewish Publication Society. In an issue containing two pages about Charlie Chaplin, he found only eight lines about his translation of Solemon ibn Gabirol, whereas the New York Times published a page about it.
Indulging in some reminiscences, Mr. Zangwill told how his book “The Children of the Ghetto” had had a favorable influence on British authorities who were planning at the time the introduction of an alien act practically excluding Jews from the British Isles, This legislation was withdrawn partly because of this book, Mr. Zaggwill said, while certain Jewish circles feared the consequences of its publication by the Jewish Publication Society of America. Mr. Zangwill again urged the advisability of a Jewish vote to express the ethical concepts of our people.
In the course of his address Mr. Zangwill praised the work of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency which, he said, helps to link up the Jews of the world. He said he was receiving daily the news agency’s bulletin containing dispatches from all parts of the world almost immediately after their occurrence. Certain items of this bulletin, for which he said amidst the laughter of the guests that he did not pay, found their way to the general and Jewish press but these selected items do not give one the knowledge which comes with the perusal of the whole bulletin. Mr. Zangwill instanced certain reports, the knowledge of which should be followed by action and said he could not see how action could be taken without such knowledge.
Dr. Cyrus Adler took exception to the pessimistic tone taken by Mr. Zangwill. He pointed to the many educational institutions and seats of higher learning established within the last twenty years as indicating that progress was being made. Dr. Hyman G. N. Enelow of Temple Emanu-El presided and he expressed the hope that Mr. Zangwill would stay here long enough to write “a poetic vision of life in the Jewish community of New York.” Dr. Solomon Solis-Cohen of Philadelphia was one of the speakers, who, with President Simon Miller of the Jewish Publication Society, paid high tribute to the memory of Judge Sulzberger.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.