Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Digest of Public Opinion on Jewish Matters

August 26, 1926
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

[The purpose of the Digest is informative: Preference is given to papers not generally accessible to our readers. Quotation does not indicate approval.–Editor.]

The plan for a “Jewish republic” in Siberia, for the purpose of saving Russian Jewry from assimilation and to preserve it culturally, as described to Elias Tobenkin by Michael Kalenin, Soviet president, is termed by two writers in the Jewish press as “a transferrence from Zion to Siberia of Achad Ha’amism,” the theory of the Hebrew philosopher, Achad Ha’am, who founded the movement in Zionism which aims for the preservation of the Jewish culture in Palestine rather than for a political Jewish state there.

But, declares Dr. K. Fornberg, who writes on “Siberian Hopes.” in the “Day” of Aug. 24.–

“Grateful as we may be to the Soviet president for being, as it appears, a true and sincere friend of the Jewish people, and much as we may be anxious, perhaps much more than President Kalenin himself, about the future of Jewish culture and the Jewish individuality, we must nevertheless observe that the thing is not so simple and easy as he imagines. Not to speak of the fact that his optimism regarding anti-Semitism in Russia which, according to him, is completely dead, is far from the actual facts; not to speak of his unique conception of Judaism which leads him to regard 400,000 Jewish officials and employes of the Soviet government as no longer Jews, it is our conviction that Kalenin’s idea of a mass migration of Jews to Siberia is too primitive and too optimistic.”

Making reference to Kalenin’s belief that the American Jews would render the same assistance to the Siberia “Jewish republic” as to the present colonization work, Dr. Fornberg asks: “The question arises: what attitude should we American Jews assume in this matter? Contrary to the Soviet president, we have very serious doubts.”

Enumerating the difficulties of a mass migration of Jews to the remote, cold and bleak Siberian regions, the writer concludes:

“We must also remember that the Jews are, after all, not a peasant people and not a colonizing people. The task, even under the best conditions and the accustomed climate, of converting the city Jew into a town Jew is difficult enough. To multiply all these difficulties by dragging him into the distant, cold Siberia, into a primitive region–this is not so easy nor so simple for the Jews as the Bolshevist leaders imagine. And as regards Jewish culture, the Jewish language and Jewish individuality, it must be borne in mind that all these are the products of city life of Jewish communities. and we doubt very much if “the Torah will come out of Altai and the word of God from the Kirghiz region.”

Recommended from JTA