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Strong Position of Orthodox Element in Palestine Building Urged at Mizrachi Convention

November 9, 1926
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

(Jewish Daily Bulletin)

The recognition of Jewish religious traditions as an integral part of the new Jewish life which is being created in the Jewish National Home and the granting of a proper place in the settlement of the country to the elements adhering to these traditions were seen closer to realization, so far as the internal relations among the Zionist factions is concerned, when the twelfth annual convention of the American Mizrachi, the Orthodox wing within the Zionist movement, opened its sessions here Sunday at the Jewish Community Center.

This move, indicated by Louis Lipsky, president of the Zionist Organization of America, who welcomed the Mizrachi convention in his capacity as a member of the Zionist World Executive, heralded a new turn in the policy of the Zionist Organization, coming as a climax to the various experiments made by the Zionist Executive with the various radical and labor groups in the attempt to test the various colonization methods and the methods of establishing communal institutions and forms of new Palestinian life.

The unemployment situation in Palestine, resulting in a partial crisis in Tel Aviv, constitutes a challenge to the Zionist leadership, for the first time in the history of the Zionist movement since the issuance of the Balfour Declaration. This challenge will be the test of Zionist leadership and the devotion of the rank and file Zionists, was the opinion expressed by Louis Lipsky in addressing the convention. He urged internal peace at this juncture.

A note of opposition to the policy of the Zionist Executive was sounded by Rabbi Meyer Berlin, president of the Mizrachi who came from Palestine to attend the convention. Describing the political and economic situation in Palestine, Rabbi Berlin formulated a severe charge against the British government for maintaining a passive attitude toward the Jewish efforts in the country, asserting that this attitude is responsible for the present crisis. He also charged the leadership of the Zionist movement with “not possessing enough power or not understanding how to influence the British government to change its attitude.”

The convention was opened by Rabbi Louis Novick, president of the local Mizrachi organization. Three hundred and twenty delegates are present.


Dr. Weizmann, who was to have greeted the convention, was unable to attend. In a message he addressed to Rabbi Jacob Levenson, chairman of the Mizrachi Executive, he stated: “Knowing as I do the value of the splendid service rendered by the Orthodox Jews of the world toward the upbuilding of the Jewish National Home and of the devoted service which the Mizrachi has rendered in the work of the United Palestine Appeal. I take this occasion of expressing deep appreciation on my own behalf and also on behalf of the Zionist Executive. Our responsibilities in Palestine are great and serious. but they are equalled by the opportunities for development in every direction and I am confident that under the devoted guidance and wisdom of the Mizrachi leaders, your deliberations will be fruitful and maximum support will be forth-coming for the United Palestine Appeal, which is the greatest effort of American Jewry for the upbuilding of the Jewish National Home.”


Rabbi Jacob Levenson. chairman of the Mizrachi Executive, was unanimously elected chairman of the convention. A. L. Gelman, editor of the “St. Louis Jewish Record,” Rabbi E. D. Statnpfer of Evansville, Ind. and Isaac Epstein. of New York, were elected secretaries.

The convention was greeted by Rabbi Gedaliah Silverstone in the name of the Washington Jewish community. Rabbi Max Margolies of New York. Rabbi Isaac Gershtenkorn. president of the B’nai Brack Orthodox colony in Palestine. Maurice Bisgyer in the name of the Jewish Community Center, Max Rhoade in the name of the Avukah, Isidore Hershfield in the name of the Hias and the Washington Zionist district. Mols### Fleillchoff. of the Washington Poale Zion and Judge Bernard A. Rosenblatt for the Jewish National Fund also greeted the convention.

Cabled greetings were received from Rabbi A. J. Kook and Rabbi Meyer of Palestine. the Mizrachi World Bureau in Jerusalem. M. M. Ussishkin. the Mizrachi Bank in Palestine and from the Keren Hayesod.

“The Mizrachi Organization,” Mr. Lipsky stated. “has been an important factor in all Zionist activities in America and especially in the United Palestine Appeal.


“What actually faces us during the coming year? The Zionist movement at this time stands before a test. We face a critical moment for the first time since the Balfour Declaration. The Zionist Organization is being challenged in its leadership in Jewry. The fate of all Zionists is now being tested, therefore. we require of every Zionist devotion and hope. The Mizrachi will certainly exhibit it.”

Speaking of the internal situation in the Zionist movement. Mr. Lipsky stated: “It is important for the movement to reflect all sections of Jewry. The movement is now beginning to reflect Jewish people who have not only class interests. but Jewish interests backed by Jewish traditions. We regard the larger part of the Mizrachi program as part of the general program of the Zionist Organization. During the coming year the Zionist Organization of America will be found working hand in hand with the Mizrachi of America for the general upbuilding of the National Home,” Mr. Lipsky declared.


Rabbi Jacob Levenson, chairman of the convention, in the opening address, emphasized that the Mizrachi is now recognized as a power even by those who did not want to recognize it before. “Our strength has increased by thousands of new members and by our actual work.” he stated. “No one can ignore our organization as representing the orthodox element in American Jewry. This fact is acknowledged even by those who refused to acknowledge it in previous years. The time has gone when we used to say, let them do and we shall do also. We consider that irreligion is a misfortune for Palestine. It is our task to see that these irreligions elements are removed from exercising influence on Jewish life in Palestine.” he stated.

Rabbi Levenson complained that although the Mizrachi movement has in its ranks all the leaders in Jewish religious life in America, there is a lack of speakers who should carry the Mizrachi ideas into the synagogues to influence all synagogue members to become Mizrachi members. He proposed the Mizrachi Bureau of America create a special speakers department to increase membership. Praising Rabbi Berlin for his work in convoking the international Mizrachi convention at Antwerp. Rabbi Levenson stated: “Even Lipsky had to recognize that the Antwerp convention has shown that the Mizrachi is a power in Jewish life all over the world. The American Mizrachi is proud of having given to world Mizrachi such a leader as Rabbi Berlin.”

Reporting on the activities of the Mizrachi in Palestine. Rabbi Levenson stated that over six thousand Jewish children get their education under Mizrachi leadership. “They will be the future leaders of Palestine. Even the general Zionist must recognize our superiority in educational work in Palestine.”

Rabbi Levenson concluded his address. demanding that the Mizrachi should not limit itself to Palestine alone. but should spread its activities in the Diaspora countries.


A graphic description of the political and economic situation in Palestine was given by Rabbi Berlin. Rabbi Berlin received a tremendous ovation when he rose to deliver his address.

“I bring you greetings of peace from the land of peace and the city of peace.” Rabbi Berlin declared. “The upbuilding of Palestine is now no longer a charitable enterprise. It demands actual labor. The ideal of Eretz Israel will not be realized unless we will be the builders. If Palestine is to be built by others and not by us, then the spirit we possess will be missing there. When I say we, I mean entire Jewry, the devoted Jewry, the uncompromising Jewry and that is why our duty is not only to pray for the upbuilding of Palestine, but also to take an active part in the upbuilding work. By an active part, I do not mean just contributing money. I mean investigating conditions and observation of the situation at close range, to participate in the sufferings and in the happy moment of Palestine life. This convention can not be of acclamation like our previous conventions, because at previous conventions we spoke of our dreams for Palestine, how we would like Palestine to be. Now we have lived to see the day when we can speak of how Palestine is.


“It is natural that realization differs from anticipation, that it should bring its lights and shadows. Now, to our regret, is a time of shadows, which came about because the Balfour Declaration was an instrument of many possibilities. To our regret, this instrument was not fully utilized. The Palestine government has not put into the Balfour Declaration what it might have. In the interpretation of the Balfour Declaration by the Palestine government so far it gave us nothing more than an opportunity for immigration to Palestine. The responsibility for this immigration was placed by the Palestine government entirely upon us, the Zionists. The government has not given a single foot of land, although we are entitled to it. The Palestine government is partly friendly to us, it is dear to us, but the truth of the matter is that we never got anything which we didn’t pay for with money from the Jewish National Fund or from private capital. The government put the entire burden of building the country upon our shoulders. It doesn’t give us enough funds for schools, for sanitary work. it does not help us with credits. Under these circumstances, there should be small wonder that hard times came upon us. On the other hand Zionist leadership did not possess enough power, nor did it understand how to persuade the British government to change its attitude. Some of the leaders even try to justify the government. The great task of the redemption of the soil has been turned into small deeds. In great years we have created small things. The result of this was that one year of increased immigration brought us immediately to a crisis. The Keren Hayesod did not bring in what it could have brought in. The system of the Kwuzoth and the cooperatives may be ideal, but it is not practical from the standpoint of productivity. Private initiative of small enterprises has been discouraged. This frightened larger capitalists who did not try to come.


“The question has been debated as to whether middle class immigration has been a success or a failure. But it is ridiculous to classify as middle class the Palestine immigrant who has little more than nothing. At the first difficulties which are unavoidable in every new environment they ran for loans, ready to pay huge interest on them and even then they did not get the loans. Under these circumstances. and with such difficulties and without assistance, it is no more than natural that the Fourth Alijah should have failed,” he stated.

“Whatever our attitude toward the workers may be. we must admit that they contributed more than anyone else toward the upbuilding of Palestine. But this does not mean that the Fourth Alijah did not contribute the best it could. The middle class suffered because the Zionist Executive did not entirely welcome it.

“We now have in Palestine about ten thousand Jews whose situation is critical. However, everybody in Palestine is sure that better times are in store for us in the near future. The colonies are prosperous. The same is true of the cities. Jerusalem and Haifa are being extensively built. Even Tel Aviv, the chief sufferer in the crisis, is progressing. Don’t be under the impression that Tel Aviv is going backward.


“Palestine must be built in quality as well as in quantity. The Mizrachi, which believes that Zionism is not the caprice of one generation or two, must under all circumstances continue on the way. The way out of the situation lies in more active work for the Keren Hayesod, which is the important factor in the upbuilding of Palestine. The same is true of the Keren Kayemeth. If the Keren Hayesod will succeed, then Palestine will be built. If not. then do not blame Palestine for the crisis. Find the blame in American Jewry.

“Private capital is still the main factor necessary for Palestine and Mizrachi members must invest in private enterprises in Palestine,” Rabbi Berlin concluded.

A report on the religious activities of the Mizrachi in Palestine was given at the late evening session by Rabbi Wolf Gold. who conducted the Mizrachi religious work in the colonies.

The chairman of the evening session was Rabbi Naftalovitz of Harrisburg. Pa. Gedaliah Bublick, editor of the “Jewish Daily News.” addressed the evening session.

Rabbi Gold’s report was devoted to the Chaluzim and their attitude toward religion. Expressing his enthusiasm for the work done by the Chaluzim. Rabbi Gold criticized their attitude to ward religion.


Mr. Bublick, in his address, referred to the remarks of Mr. Lipsky on the relation of the Zionist Organization to the Mizrachi.

“Mr. Lipsky spoke about peace in internal matters.” Mr. Bublick stated. “Speaking of peace is the result of the fight we carried on before. The Mizrachi is a fighting organization. It must fight the right and the left wings. The right wing is a party in Jewry. so is the left wing, while the Mizrachi advocates the interests of entire Jewry.” he said. Regarding the crisis. Mr. Bublick stated. “We are now living through the greatest crisis in the history of Zionism. It is a crisis in the psychology of our people which has paused in the middle of our work. like a wagon which has stopped midway on a hill. If it doesn’t go forward. It will have to fall backward. Each Mizrachi and Zionist must. therefore, during this year acquire strength and help push the wagon up the bill. Mr. Bublick declared.

The convention paid tribute to the memory of Rabbi Simche meir Ha’Cohen of Dvinsk, the rabbi of Lutschin and to the memory of the late Rabbi Rubinstein of Providence, Rabbil Hillel Klein of New York, Rabbi Levin of Cincinnati, Rabbi Israel Kaplan, the Ko### Rabbi. Dov Abramovitz of St. Louis, who died in Palestine and Rabbi Abraham Barstein of Palestine.

In honor of the delegates the Union station was decorated with Zionist flags.

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