All Jewry Mourns Death of Israel Zangwill, Famous Writer and Defender of His People
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All Jewry Mourns Death of Israel Zangwill, Famous Writer and Defender of His People

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(Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

The greatest literary genius of English speaking Jewry after Disraeli, author of “The Children of the Ghetto” indefatigable leader and spokesman in modern Jewry’s efforts to alleviate the sufferings of the Jewish ghettos in East European countries, Zionist and founder of the Jewish Territorial Organization, died here Sunday, August 1st in a sanitarium at Midhurst in Sussex.

The death of Israel Zangwill occurred after a week’s illness which followed a nervous breakdown resulting from pneumonia.

Jewish and British public opinion was greatly shocked and soul-stricken in view of the fact that Mr. Zangwill’s physicians had announced only the previous day that the crisis had passed and that they were hopeful of his complete recovery.

It was stated that the breakdown of the great author and leader resulted from several disappointments suffered in his recent theatrical enterprises.

Israel Zangwill, the son of Moses Zangwill, a Russian Jewish refugee who fled to England from his native country to escape a death sentence, was born on February 14, 1864, in London.

A factor which contributed greatly to Israel Zangwill’s rise in the world of letters was the wide field of Jewish life in America and the understanding of his genius displayed by American Jews, “The Children of the Ghetto,” the first novel which made the author famous, was written at the request of the Jewish Publication Society of America. The presentation in 1908 of “The Melting Pot” depicting the Jewish problem in America, attracted wide attention and caused the late Theodore Roosevelt, to whom it was dedicated, to shout enthusiastically, “That’s a great play, Mr. Zangwill! That’s a great play!”

When Israel Zangwill was young his parents moved to Bristol, where he attended the Red Cross School; after their return to London he entered the Jews’ Free School, later becoming a teacher there and taking the degree of B.A. at London University. A misunderstanding with the directors of the school caused him to resign his position, and he then devoted himself to literature. He edited and partly wrote, as early as 1880 an annual called “Purim”; shortly after leaving the Free School he published, under the psuedonym “J. Freeman Bell,” an elaborate novel written in collaboration with Lewis Cowen and entitled “The Premier and the Painter” (1888), a work somewhat in the style of Lord Beaconsfield. He had been appointed editor of “Ariel,” and for a time was associated with a number of young literati, representing what was known as the “new humor.” This phase of his work was represented by his “Bachelors’ Club,” issued in 1891, and by “The Old Maids’ Club,” produced in the following year, each of these books being a series of fantastic sketches.

Zangwill had been contributing to the “Jewish Standard,” a weekly causerie under the pseudonym “Marshalik,” commenting on communal incidents. He touched a deeper note in two sketches, “Satan Mekatrig” and “The Diary of a Meshumad,” contributed to M. H. Myers’ “Diary” (1888-89) under the pseudonym “Baroness von S.”, and afterward reprinted in his “Ghetto Tragedies.” These and his other works, (including, an analysis of modern English Judaism in “Jewish Quarterly Review”, drew to him the attention of the Jewish Publication Society of America, and it requested him to write a novel on modern Jewish life, which commission he executed in the well-known “Children of the Ghetto, Being Pictures of a Peculiar People,” (Philadelphia and London, 1892), a work that at once made him famous. The author’s profound knowledge of the life and problems of the ghetto, his command alike of pathos and of humor, his scintillating style and the evidence of the application of a keenly logical intellect to the perplexities of modern Judaism placed this book at the head of artistic presentations of the ghetto. It attracted general attention, and was translated into German, Russian, Hebrew (in part), and Yiddish. This work was followed by “The King of Schnorrers” (London 1894), which also was translated into Yiddish, and by “The Dreamers of the Ghetto,” (1898).

Zangwill’s novel “The Master” (1895) dealing with art life, and “The Mantle of Elijah” (1901), treating of imperialism and the political problems connected therewith, have been widely read; and various shorter sketches, published by him in volumes entitled “They That Walk in Darkness” (1899) and “Gray Wig,” (1903), show remarkable versatility and brilliance. He contributed to the “Pall Mall Gazette,” a series of critical causeries, part of which were published under the title, “Without Prejudice” (London 1896). He also published many poems and verses, including translations of “Piyutim” and “Poems of Ibn Gabirol,” which are included in the authorized festival prayers of the English Jewish congregations. Most of these poems have been collected under the title “Blind Children” (London, 1903).


The coming of the World War affected him profoundly and caused him to write “The War for the World” (1916) and “The Principle of Nationalities” (1917), both marked with Pacifist sentiment.

Zangwill’s dramas have been produced with more or less success, among them curtain-raisers like “Six Persons,” “Three Penny Bits,” “The Revolting Daughter” and “The Moment of Death,” a striking and original melodramatic study produced at Wallack’s Theater, New York, in 1901. In addition he dramatized his “Children of the Ghetto” which was produced with success in the United States, where it ran for nearly a year. Zangwill’s dramatization of his Christmas story “Merely Mary Ann,” written in 1893, was very well received both in England and in America (1904-5), and was followed by “Jinny the Carrier,” in the United States (1905). “We Moderns” was produced with great success in New York in 1924 with Helen Hayes in the leading role.

Zangwill had been successful as lecturer, traveling in that capacity in the United States (1898), through Great Britain, Ireland, and Holland, and to Jerusalem, which he visited in 1897. He had taken great interest in Zionism, and had attended most of the congresses at Basle, at first merely as a critic and onlooker, but later being drawn into the movement of which he had become one of the leading spirits. He wrote and lectured much on the subject, advocating in the United States (1904) and elsewhere the acceptance of the British government’s offer of an autonomous settlement in British East Africa. On the refusal of the Seventh Zionist Congress to consider any further offer of the kind, Zangwill formed a separate body, the Jewish Territorial Organization, intended to obtain, preferentially from the British government, an adequate tract of country in which persecuted Jews can live their own life under Jewish conditions. Among those whom he attracted to his territorialistic views is Lucien Wolf, the late Joseph Fels, the American Jewish philanthropist and single taxer and Mrs. Mary Fels who helped him greatly in this work.


Zangwill’s last visit to the United States in October, 1923, when he delivered his memorable address in Carnegie Hall “Watchman, What of the Night!”, is still impressed upon the minds of American Jewry. It was at that time that he raised a storm when he declared, in criticizing the present leaders of the Zionist movement, that “political Zionism was dead.”

“The Westminster Gazette,” in an editorial tribute to Zangwill, says: “If he had been willing to rest content with the international reputation he won with his ghetto books, which revealed the human side of the Jewish character with poignant imagination, he might have lived longer. But there was a fighting strain, essentially racial, in this man of wistful, gentle grace, so we had the paradox of the controversialist with the sharp verbal wit united with the dreamer.

“Zangwill put some of his best work into his political plays, notably his study of the problem of assimilation in America, the ‘Melting Pot,’ and the United States critics and some of our theatrical commentators owe a salute to the memory of the writer who was too free and stimulating to fit into the stock idea of a brilliant playwright.”

“The Morning Post” says: “By the passing of Israel Zangwill the world of letters loses fine talent and the Jewish community is deprived of an honest, courageous and zealous member. Of Zangwill’s services to Jewish communities alike in this country and abroad it is sufficient that he sought the welfare of the Jews with unwearied, unselfish zeal. His death will be sincerely lamented alike by all those who value excellence in literature and by the race to which he was proud to belong.”

Among other plays that Mr. Zangwill wrote between 1912-1922 were “Plaster Saints,” “Too Much Money,” “The Cockpit” and “The Forcing House.”

Mr. Zangwill married Edith Ayrton, daughter of Professor W. E. Ayrton, a non-Jew. She was a novelist in her own right. They had two sons and one daughter.

Commenting on the death of Mr. Zangwill, Mr. Nathan Straus declared:

“We have lost one of our greatest writers and one of the greatest men of Judaism. When Mr. Zangwill was my guest three years ago, he was even then not in good health.”

Louis. Marshall, President of the American Jewish Committee stated: “Israel Zangwill was one of the great thinkers and writers of this era. Profound and original in thought, graceful as an essayist, a poet and dramatist of powerful imagination, creative as a novelist and intense as a contender for Jews, justice and righteousness, as he saw them, he adorned and illuminated whatever he touched. His versatility was astounding, his wit was scintillating, his sense of humor unique and his literary style a delight. However one might occasionally differ with him, his strong personality, his manly independence and his fundamental goodness of heart never failed to charm.

“As a Jew he was loyal, reverend, and self-respecting, a hater of sham, proud of the fine achievements and traditions of his faith and deeply concerned for the future of his people.

“Posterity will justly rank him as one of the brilliant luminaries of Israel who loved his brethren even when he chastised them.”

Simon Miller, president of the Jewish Pubication Society of Philadelphia, writes: “The death of Zangwill robs the Jews of a most militant champion and most loving critic. His was an interesting view of all that concerned the Jew.”

A message of condolence to Mrs. Zangwill was despatched yesterday by Acting Chairman of the American Jewish Congress Hon. Carl Sherman and Bernard G. Richards, Executive Secretary. The message stated :

“The officers of American Jewish Congress learned with profound grief of the passing away of your distinguished husband, foremost Jewish literature of his time and unequalled champion of the Jewish cause whose noble work will have an abiding place in both literature and history of our people. Please accept heartfelt expressions of sympathy which are shared by large masses of American Jewry.”

Commenting on the death of Mr. Zangwill, Mr. Richards, Executive Secretary of the American Jewish Congress, at whose invitation Mr. Zangwill came to America in 1923, declared:

“Mr. Zangwill always rose above parties, and remained the independent critic, the impartial advocate, who could render service where others could not help. The fame of Mr. Zangwill as a great English writer, of course, added strength to his protests against the oppression of the Jews in Eastern Europe, his pleas for justice wherever it was being denied them.

“It was because of his independence of mind, his far vision, his courage and his able mastery of all questions affecting the welfare of Jewry, that the American Jewish Congress invited Mr. Zangwill to deliver the chief address or survey of the Jewish situation throughout the world, at its session of 1923. His address “Watchman, What of the Night” remains a remarkable document and much of what he had then said was fully justified not only by subsequent events, but by the utterances of Zionist and other Jewish leaders. Unfortunately, the style of the subtle literary artist is not always suited to the political discussion of a convention and much of what was said in this address reviewing Jewish conditions throughout the world and pleading for a greater Zionism, was misunderstood by numbers of our people. What was intended as criticism of England in relation to its work for the promised Jewish Homeland in Palestine, was regarded chiefly as an attack upon the Zionist leadership and hence a considerable part of the confusion and misunderstanding which arose. Subsequent developments have, however, made Mr. Zangwill’s position much clearer, others of note having echoed and repeated his utterances and demands. As time goes on, his unique service to Jewry, his insistence upon fair play and justice to all peoples, will be beter understood, and his fame as a literary figure will undoubtedly grow with a larger knowledge of his fascinating literary productions in various forms.”

Emanuel Neumann, Director of the United Palestine Appeal, made the following statement:

“The news of Israel Zangwill’s death comes as a shock to all Zionists. No one who has been associated with the movement for many years and who has followed Mr. Zangwill’s Zionist as well as literary career can help but feel that despite greater or lesser disagreements with official Zionist policies, he was, at all times, an ardent Jewish nationalist and essentially a political Zionist.

“During his last visit to America his addresses were the occasion for controversy between himself and the organization, but it must be borne in mind that this controversy was not due to any weakening of his Zionist sympathies or convictions; on the contrary, he was a maximallist, impatient with what he regarded as slow progress and demanded radical and heroic measures in order to attain the Jewish state speedily.

“Mr. Zangwill’s services to the Zionist idea have been those of a publicist and stimulating critic. The latter was the role for which he was by temperament and talent best fitted.

“Through his death another of the great lieutenants of Theodore Herzl has passed away and all Jewish nationalists, all Zionists, indeed every Jew who has profited by Zangwill’s wealth of intellectual and literary genfus will mourn his loss.”


The name of the Hebrew Hospital Asylum Association of Baltimore has ? changed to the Sinai Hospital of Baltimore Inc.

Within the last few years, Leon C. Coble president of the board of directors said, denominational; hospitals had changed the names designating them as such. Furthermore, the Hebrew Hospital was not conduct for Jews only, he added, but for Christian as well. The change in name will take from the hospital its sectarian character, he said.

Hunter College High School of the City New York has acceeded to the request of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations change the date of its examinations for Jewish students scheduled for Sept. 10th-the second day of Rosh Hoshonah-to Sept. 13th.

Two hundred delegates attended the annual meeting of Iota Kappa Ghi, Jewish young men’s fraternity in Galveston, Texas. The sessions lasted three days.


A copy of the original appeal to New York ers for funds to organize New York University has been restored, to the University archives the gift of Percy S. Strauss, chairman of the Centennial Fund Committee. The copy, the only one known to exist and dated 1830, was found in a Fifth Avenue book shop.

The book bears the title, “University of the City of New York,” which was the original incorporated name of New York University, changed to its present form in 1894. It contains, besides the appeal for funds and statement of purpose of the proposed institution the names of the first subscribers to the enterprise and the amounts given.

Max Levy, sixty-nine years old, formerly of Philadelphia, who developed the halftone process in photo-engraving, died today at his summer home, Allenhurst, N. J.

Mr. Levy was born in Detroit and fine entered the photo-engraving business in 18###. For his contribution to the advance in halftone illustration the Franklin Institute presented him with the John Scott medal.

Mr. Levy is survived by his wife, a so?, Fabian F. Levy, and a daughter, Mrs. E Belousoff. Funeral services will be held from his Allenhurst home Monday at 11:30 A.M.

Albert J. Mandelbaum of Chicago, will enter the class of 1930 of the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Dr. Joseph Krimsky, member of the Executive Committee of the League for Industrial Democracy, left for Williamstown, Mass., to attend the conferences of the Institute of Politics.

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