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Digest of Public Opinion on Jewish Matters

November 2, 1926
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[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 passing of Houdini, the son of a rabbi, who amazed the public and baffled scientists by his apparently inexplicable feats of magic and who exposed numerous fraudulent “mediums” and swindlers in the course of his romantic and extraordinary career, is regretted by the press.

The New York “Evening World” praises Houdini for using his unique gifts for the enlightenment of the human mind. Says the paper:

“He might have outdistance in many ways the daring and wonderful impositions of the greatest charlatan of the pre-Revolutionary era in France, the Italian adventurer, the Dr. Balsamo of one of Dumas’s historical romances.

“But he chose to use his peculiar powers to enlighten the human mind and not further darken it in superstition. He asserted for the most apparently inexplicable tricks and supernatural performances a natural or scientific explanation and would prove it by duplicating any of them himself.

“And Harry Houdini did not originate in the Orient, the home of the occult. He was just a plain American born boy whose father was a clergyman in the West.”

The “World” thinks Houdini’s achievements earned for him the title of scientist, and adds:

“Mediums who had baffled Harvard professors went crashing down to ruin through his demonstrations; apparently there was not one bit of occult hokum with which he was not familiar and which he could not reproduce to the delight of audiences who watched. A man who devotes himself to such a pursuit does a real public service. He will be missed, and all the more because of the puckish delight he took in the service he rendered.”

CALIFORNIA VOTES ON BIBLE READING BILL

The fight in California centering around the effort to introduce Bible reading into the public schools of the state has reached its culminating point with the submission to the vote of the people yesterday of Amendment No. 17. An editorial on this subject which appeared in the “Scribe” (Oct. 22) of Portland, Oregon, observes:

“The forces that have been battering at the walls of the sectarian school for a generation, endeavoring to make a breach for disruptive sectarian teachings, have learned wisdom with the years. Once they were outspoken in their purpose. In times past, misled by a sense of over-estimated strength, they spoke of the need of ‘compelling’ Bible reading in the public schools. Setbacks and defeats suffered throughout the length and breadth of the land have shown them that they misjudged the temper of a people jeaolous of its liberties and resentful of strongarm tactics. Now they plead that the reading of the Bible be permitted in the public schools. It is an old face under a new mask. We have a new manifestation of the old determination, to drive an entering wedge. As always the leaders of California Jewry are fighting valiantly to make headway against tremendous odds.”

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