Declaring he had no deep respect for Jewish fraternities, Dr. Stephen S. Wise of the Central and Free Synagogue, speaking yesterday morning before the Conclave of the Alpha Mu Sigma, a Jewish Fraternity, at the Hotel Martinique, attacked the “leadership of Jewish millionairedom” and said the present young-Jews were the products of Zionism, whether they realized it or not.
Dr. Wise compared the present life of Jewish students in American colleges to that that existed in his day when he went to Columbia in 1892. Then there were only two other Jews in his class.
In those days, he said, the Jew in the American college was a rarissama avis, rather than a “rah-rah.” Then the Jews were under the influence of Darwinism and the internationalism of 1848 and were inclined to regard their evolution not as a hypothesis but as dogmatic, new revelation. At that time there was a tendency to a belief that the Jews were not a race but a religion.
These factors, he said, led to a tremendous conflict between the younger and the older generations, and the younger generation was impatient of the methods of their elders. He said that the present young Jews, whether they realized it or not, were the products of Zionism and that the aim of Zionism had been “to convert Jewish young-sters into real young Jews.”
Dr. Wise said he had no deep respect for Jewish fraternities. He charged them with not having meant anything in American or Jewish life. They were not, in his opinion, finely or serviceably Jewish. The Jewish problems in American life were baffling, and leadership was needed. The tendencies in the earlier day had been for the educated Jew to live on the Jewish community.
“To supplant the leadership of Jewish millionairedom with the Leadership of the Jewish mind and spirit, that is the task for American Jewry,” he said.
For the American Jew the problems of Palestine and other wrongs of the Jews in Eastern and Central Europe were not so great a problem as the problem of leadership. The American Jews were doing nothing for Zionism and the vast majority of them were indifferent to the problems of their race.
“They don’t know enough to care and they don’t care enough to know,” he said.
The immediate problem for Jewish leadership in America was to raise the stigma of shame that was resting upon the Jews today, Dr. Wise said. Formerly Dr. Wise never read the crime stories in the newspapers, but now, he told his audience, he read the story of every homicide and robbery that appeared in order to see whether Jews were involved.
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.