The Sentiment of American Jewry in the renewed relief work in East European Countries carried on through the medium of the Joint Distribution Committee, was expressed by Louis Marshall, President of the American Jewish Relief Committee, in his address which sounded the keynote of the National Conference of the United Jewish Campaign, which closed its sessions here today.
Mr. Marshall described the series of events which started with the outbreak of the War and which culminated in the unprecedented crisis in Jewish life in European countries in the last few years, leading to a union of all forces in American Jewry.
When Mr. Marshall rose to deliver his address he was given a tremendous ovation which lasted for several minutes.
“This has been a marvelous day. It has been a sublimated Yom Kippur for the Jews of the world,” Mr. Marshall began. “It has given us an opportunity for introspection, for resolution, for determination to shake off the dross and materialism and to devote ourselves to the spiritual aspects of life. I have never been more moved than I was during the reports of Dr. Kahn, and Dr. Rosen. There never were two more modest men on earth than they, never two men who deserved so much from the people for whose regeneration they have worked without thought of themselves. Their names are written large in history. They are written larger in our hearts and in our consciousness.
“I know how distasteful it is to them to hear words of praise. I sympathize with their feelings. I know how unselfish has been their devotion, but we owe it to ourselves to recognize and to make admission and confession of the fact that even we who worked with them had no real appreciation of what they have meant to the population of the Jews of the world.
“I think it is no longer necessary to bear witness, except such corroborative words or proof as will be given by those who will follow me, as to what has occurred, as to the nature of the work, as to the wisdom of the plans that have been formulated. I shall, although not entirely of a judicial temperament, attempt to charge American Jewry as to the duty which it owes in the circumstances and to assist them in the reaching of a conclusion by narrating a few historic facts which are essential, not only to an appreciation of what we are to do, but to a feeling of exaltation and a justifiable exaltation in the hearts of American Jewry, as to the true grandeur and nobility of the Jewish soul,” he declared.
“In October, 1924, twelve years ago, the American Jewish Committee called a conference in the vestry rooms of Temple Emanu-El for the purpose of taking action with regard to what was then anticipated to be a very serious situation as to the Jews of Eastern Europe. Nobdy had in his mind a conception of what really was to occur, but as the Jews on previous occasion had prepared themselves to help those who walked in darkness, and those who suffered, as we have done in the other periods of storm and stress, we thought at this time we would be prepared to act, and so we met. We formed an organization and from that organization the sister organizations, the Central Relief Committee and the People’s Relief Committee which were organized simultaneously, there finally grew the Joint Distribution Committee which distributed the funds which were raised by these agencies. It makes me feel almost as though I have no right to be called among the prophets. I was a very poor kind of a Saul on that occasion, because when I was asked how much money we would require, I said, ‘I think we will need a million dollars. ‘Well, we raised that million without any kind of an effort. One gentleman had the hardihood to suggest that we needed $10,000,000, and some of us were ready to have a committee appointed to inquire into his mental condition but he was the sanest man of the lot.
NEED OF HOUR MADE AMERICAN JEWS A UNITED PEOPLE
“We began in that small way, and as the calamity grew to larger proportions, and as the calamity finally eventuated into practically a cataclysm which overthrew all the old European Jewries of Eastern Europe which made the Jews of Eastern Europe wanderers on the face of the land, which converted those steady, staid, householders into refugees, when we found that the Jews were dying by the thousands of typhus and other dread diseases; when famine was lurking in every corner of the land; when the sword completed the horrors of famine and pestilence, we became more and more active. We recognized the needs of the hour, and the Jews of this country, for the first time in American history became a united people.
“In the Joint Distribution Committee there was no difference made between one organization and another. The question of the amount contributed by the several organizations counted for naught. We were all Jews, all recognized the gravity of the situation and that our part of the work was to save our brethren and to hold forth a helping hand. And so Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox, Reform, Socialists and ultra-Socialists, worked together in unison with but one purpose in mind–that of saving the Jews and of perpetuating Judaism,” he declared.
“The war ended, so to speak. The real war was followed by other wars, and to the Jews, worse wars. There followed the pogroms which have been so graphically described. There followed the economic wars; there followed a new outburst of anti-Semitism. There followed the terrible deterioration of coinage and money, the absolute destruction of values, and then came the new, the great problem: What could we do for the purpose, not only of keeping alive these unfortunate brethren of ours. What could we do to once more elevate them to the heights of self-respect, the kind of Jews they were and their ancestors were, that the men and women of our blood and our race, of our lineage and our religion, have been for forty centuries in all the world. That was the problem.
MR. MARSHALL PAYS TRIBUTE TO J. D. C. DIRECTORS
“Anybody who could speak in terms of contempt or derision or questioning of those men has no knowledge or appreciation of what courage means, because there never were braver souls in all the world than those Jews of Poland and of Russia who, when we were enjoying every luxury, were sufferring as no people the world has ever seen have suffered, and they were nevertheless under all those circumstances still devout in their faith in the God of their Fathers; they were still loyal to their ancestry, loyal to their great traditions, loyal to their history; they never waivered, and when death looked them in the face, the one thing for which they still yearned, was a higher intellectual and a higher spiritual life for their children, should they survive. There is nothing more beautiful, nothing more wonderful in the history of the human race than that aspect of the lives of those beings who withstood all that human flesh could bear, and yet kept their souls spiritually erect and unchangeable.
“I see the dispensation of God, in the fact that when the hour is darkest and the need is greatest there come upon the scene, men with vision, with the heart and soul and the true genius of simplicity, such men as Dr. Kahn, and Dr. Rosen. Even a skeptic must feel that there is a God above and that their coming forward is the act of God,” Mr. Marshall declared.
“We could not have performed this without these men. Possibly others might have arisen. We haven’t met them yet. We do not know who they are. Dr. Kahn and Dr. Rosen have the capacity for taking things into account, which means genius. They have that understanding, they have the mind, they have the soul and they have the unselfishness.
“You have heard their reports. I merely give you an estimate, a conclusion. You need to use your own judgment on it. I give you this suggestion, but you have heaard the testimony, you have seen the men, you have looked into their faces, you have heard their reports, you have seen their charts, you have heard their figures. You have heard the reports of men and women whom you know and whom you respect, you have heard Mr. Rosenberg, you have heard Mrs. Kohut, Dr. Bernstein, Mr. Billikopf, Dr. Hexter. You will hear from Dr. Moskowitz, you have read what has been said by others, you have heard the marvellous letters of Fuchs and Shorr and hundreds of others. There is an accumulative volume of evidence which would sweep before it like an avalanche the things that have ben uttered against us.
“What kind of evidence do you want desides? You have the evidence that means more than anything else, the confidence of the Jews in Eastern Europe. The men whose fate is in the balance, who recognize and admit that but for the work of Dr. Bogen, but for the work of Dr. Kahn in Poland and adjourning countries and in Russia, there would be very few Jews left to tell the tale.
“It is the Jews of Russia who have spontaneously recognized the need of the hour and the only hope that presented itself to these people was to try to get upon the land, not a land in a foreign climate thousands and thousands of miles away, but in the land of their birth, where they first saw the light of day, and where they were bound to live, whatever else might betide, because they have nowhere else to go.
“They cannot come here I am sorry to say. I know from the men I see before me what an asset that courageous group of men would have been if they had been added to our population. Having all of those innate qualities, and besides having had vitality and that resisting power which makes real men and real women. They are the persons who did not pass around the hat or ask alms. All that they asked was an opportunity to work, and they are not afraid of hard work.
“You heard Dr. Rosen say the work is hard. It is difficult. Yet they sought that and they seek it. All that they ask is not even a gift of the money we are giving but a loan which they will repay. As the reports show they are beginning to repay and with this money there will be created a fund which will enable us to engage in agricultural and other useful occupations, and there may be constituted that same bee-hive of activity and energy which unfortunately by the laws of Russia, under Czaristic days, was confined within the Pale, was restricted, was limited to certain occupations. This work will succeed, it must succeed, and the saving remedy that will come upon the soil and that will afford the nucleus for growth and development in Russia, will produce a new generation of Jews, who, as evidence shows are loyal to their old religion, who even in the days of struggle would rather see their crops diminished in value than to violate the sacred Sabbath.
“I say such a generation will give us all occasion for pride. It will make us here in happy America, better men and better Jews and better citizens, worthy of the blessings that the Almighty has showered upon us.
“I have spoken about Russia because that is so dramatic, so novel, so hopeful, so full of the promise of a better day that we are apt to forget they can’t all go upon the land, that we still have our problems in the cities, that the Jews have always been an urban population, that we have the problems with Poland, that we have the problems of Roumania and that we must deal with them. We must deal with existing conditions. We have less to build upon but nevertheless we have this very valuable asset, this great adjunct, and that is that the people themselves are very willing to help themselves and help one another. Never has there been a time in our history when the poor Jew has not sometimes been helped by another poor Jew, when the rich Jew has forgotten all distinctions between wealth and position and considered himself to be literally a brother, and we are all brothers and we are all sureties for one another. When misfortune comes, we have got to be the surety and the endorsers and guarantors for the existence and continued happiness of our brethren who need our help. That makes us and has made us Jews. I challenge anybody to point to any people that have ever lived on God’s earth where that spirit of brotherhood and of suretyship is so ingrained in the heart and in the soul and in the mind of every, rightly constituted member of that particular group as it is among the Jews. And it is for that reason that I have always loved the Jews, with all their faults, with all their defects, with all their ability to argue, their philosophy, their logic, and all that, they are, after all, real human men and women with a brain, but what is more important, with a heart,” Mr. Marshall declared.
Further reports of the Chicago Conference, including the reports and addresses of Dr. Joseph Rosen, Dr. Bernard Kahn, Jacob Billikopf, Adler, etc., will be published in forthcoming issues of the “Bulletin.”
Representatives of seventy-eight congregations in New York and its vicinity will gather at the Hotel Pennsylvania on Wednesday evening. October 13th, to discuss the religious conditions among the Jews of New York. The meeting has been called by the Executive Committee of the New York Branch of the United Synagogue of America.
Maurice H. Shott, vice-president of the E. Kleenman Company, Cincinnati, O., died Saturday as the result of a heart attack. Mr. Shott was forty years old.
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.