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Prohibition Administrator of New York Closes Sacramental Wine Shops

August 29, 1926
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

An order closing the 250 sacramental wine shops in New York City was issued yesterday by Major Chester P. Mills, Federal Prohibition Administrator.

Temporary suspension of all sacramental wine permits was ordered and the provision that all wine needed by Jewish worshippers for the coming holidays, Rosh Hashonah and Yom Kippur must be obtained through their rabbis. The order stipulates further that rabbis distributing wine must do so either from their homes or from their synagogues. The wine stores are to be closed within two or three days.

“The withdrawals of sacramental wine during the first part of 1926 were far in excess of the actual religious needs of the individuals of the Jewish race,” Major Mills stated. “This caused an abuse of the sacramental wine privilege. The cause of these excessive withdrawals can be laid to several reasons, among which might be mentioned a misinterpretation of the regulations governing the withdrawal and control of sacramental wine.

“Taking advantage of the fact that there are no Jewish holidays during the summer months, no permits to withdraw sacramental wine were issued after April 30, 1926. As these permits are issued for a duration of 90 days, the result has been that on August 1, 1926 there were no authentic withdrawal permits in existence.

“The Government fully realizes that certain individuals of the Jewish race require sacramental wine in the observance of their religious rites and further desires to aid these individuals in the procurement of such wine.

“There are certain holidays during September and in order that the religious needs for sacramental wine can be met the Government desires to inform the public the method by which this wine can be procured.

“The worshippers who desire to have sacramental wine for their personal use at the use of their family during September, should make known their needs to the rabbi of the synagogue at which they worship. The rabbi in turn is requested to determine as closely as possible the needs of his worshippers for sacramental wine. He will be issued such sacramental wine on permits approved and issued by this office upon personal presentation of his needs to the Federal Prohibition Administrator who is located at No. 1 Park Avenue. Ample provisions have been made at the administrator’s office for the quick accommodation of rabbis who will present their requests for permits to purchase this sacramental wine.

“In this way it is hoped that the entire religious needs of the community may be adequately met and at the same time assistance given the Government in formulating a correct policy for the distribution of such wine,” the prohibition administrator’s statement read.

Misinterpretation of the regulations, Major Mills said, was responsible for the inception of wine stores, according to the “New York Times.”

“The rules,” Major Mills said, “provide that the wine shall be distributed by the rabbi to members of his congregation, or by a church officer who corresponds in the Christian church to sexton.

“Some of the rabbis employed men to distribute the wine and these men opened wine stores. In many cases the storekeepers didn’t know the members of the congregation and they sold to every one. Thousands of persons of various Gentile faiths have been buying sacramental wine in New York.

“I have conferred with the leading rabbis in the city and they all agree that there are not more than 600,000 Jewish families here utilizing sacramental wines. Figuring five gallons to a family, which is the maximum, this would mean a yearly distribution of 3,000,000 gallons of wine. Between January 1 and May 1 of this year more than 1,500,000 gallons of wine were released on permits. That is more than half the yearly allotment and without doubt far in excess of the actual religious needs of the Jewish race.”

The third annual prize oration contest among the Jewish students of the University of Alabama was held recently under the auspices of the Department of Synagogue and School Extension of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. Eugene Zeidman, Birmingham, received the first prize for his essay. “The Jewish Outlook in America.” Miss Celia Cohen, Birmingham, received second prize for her essay, “The Jew in the World War,” and Hyman Rosenfeld, Tucaloosa, third prize for his essay, “The Jew in American History.”

Julius M. Meyerhardt was awarded first prize for his essay, “The Duty of the Jew,” and Lester Ziffren, second prize for his essay. “Immortality a Paradox,” in the contest conducted at the University of Missouri by the Department of Synagogue and School Extension of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.

Two students of the University of Virginia received prizes for their essays in the Prize Oration Contest there. The students were Jacob Berg, who received first prize for his essay: “How shall we interest students in Judaism?” and Frank Smith, who received the second prize for his essay, “The Jew in American History.”

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