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Our Foreign News Letter

October 28, 1924
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Vienna seems to be in the grip of an apostasy “epidemic.” Each week 30, 50 and sometimes 70 Jews desert their religion and assume Christianity. Among them are to be found aged men and women and young children who have not yet reached their “bar mitzvah.”

And nobody seems to be paying any attention to it. The newspapers carry the names of the converts which exceed in number the lists of Vienna bankrupts, but the Jewish public reads these names with absolute indifference.

The converts simply address a postal to the Kehillah stating that they have left Judaism, and that is all. Thus they remain without a faith, without a national or religious attachment. Formerly they were a poor sort of Jews, now they will be a poor sort of Christians, for their act is certainly not an act of conviction.

A great and ever present danger lies in the fact that the converts are allowed to mingle in the same circles and organizations as before. They continue to be just as welcome among their Jewish friends. This is bound to spread the contagion of apostasy and lead hundreds of others into the same act of betrayal to their people.

What is the cause of this epidemic? What makes so many Jews turn away from their faith? Is Judaism such a burden to them?

It cannot be said that material considerations are the motives behind the conversions, because none of the converted Jews have profitted by the change; they have gained nothing and their careers were in no way advanced.

It is a strange fact that the number of apostates rolled up greatly just before Rosh Hashanah, as has always been the case in Vienna in years past. One is tempted to fancy that these Jews are fearful of presenting their sins before the Jewish God. And possibly some of them have such a super-developed sense of music that rather than listen to the sound of the Shofar they run away from their faith.

Apropos of this, Vienna is having a music festival this month celebrating Vienna’s achievements in the field of music in the past 100 years. This festival, which is the most splendid thing of its kind ever arranged in any part of the world, is under the auspices of the Socialist organization and under the personal supervision of Dr. David Bach, editor of the Wienner Arbeits Zeitung and one of the foremost musical critics in Austria.

The outstanding feature of this festival is the official recognition given for the first time to the musical genius of Vienna, Arnold Schonberg, who will thus publicly be placed on a pedestal of immortality alongside of Mozart, Beethoven, Haiden, etc. This great composer happens to be one who ran away from Judaism, an apostate.

What was Schonberg’s motive in accepting Christianity? It is clear that this act did not further his success. We see that the official recognition he is now receiving comes from a different source : the Socialist organization of Vienna headed by a Jew, Dr. Bach.

But no valid reasons are required in Vienna Apostasy in Vienna is largely a result of the well-known Viennese light-mindedness, indifference to religion, ideas, etc. The Jews here refuse to bear even the lightest sort of responsibility to their people or to anyone or anything else.

We fancy the great Arnold Schonberg, too, dropped his Jewish faith on the eve of Rosh Hashanoh or Yom Kippur. Did he, too, run away from the Shofar?

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