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J.D.B. News Letter

February 27, 1928
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(By our Berlin Correspondent)

The plight of the Russian Jews living abroad, and the possibility of organizing a movement for their relief was discussed at a meeting of Rabbis of the Berlin Jewish Community held here yesterday, with Rabbi Dr. Meier Hildesheimer in the chair.

The President of the Federation of Russian Jews in Germany, Dr. Jacob Teitel, said that the distress among the Russian Jewish families living in Germany had now reached a stage where it was nothing less than a catastrophe. People who had been well-to-do merchants, industrialists, medical practitioners, rabbis, were now compelled to live on the charity which the Federation was able to give them. The coffers of the Federation were empty. It was impossible to raise among its own members even a fraction of what was required in order to be able to alleviate even the most extreme cases of distress. If help could not be obtained from other quarters, he said, the Federation would simply have to close down and then the plight of the Russian Jews in Germany would be indescribable. Judge Teitcl made an earnest appeal to the spiritual leaders of German Jewry to start a movement to provide help for these people who had once themselves given large sums for welfare purposes.

Rabbi Hildesheimer said that the German Jews looked upon the Russian Jews living in their midst as an element which greatly enriched the spiritual life of German Jewry. The sufferings which the Russian Jews in foreign countries had to endure were without parallel in Jewish history with all its long record of suffering. In the day of their prosperity, the Ruissian Jews had always given generously for the aid of the Jews of other countries. It was a debt of honor which must now be repaid.

Dr. Hildesheimer read a letter which he had received from Professor Simon Dubnov who was unable to be present on account of illness. Professor Dubnov said in the course of his letter that he wished that this meeting of “the Ashkenazim of the West with the Ashkenazim of the East would bear fruit.”

The Hebrew poet Dr. Saul Tschernichowski dwelt on the tragedy of the Russian Jewish writer compelled to live in exile. His position, he said, was tragie in a twofold sense. Not only was he unable to earn a livelihood, but he was also cut off from the sources of his creative work. The Federation of Russian Jews was their only mainstay and when the funds of the Federation were exhausted they had nothing open to them but starvation.

On the proposal of Rabbi Emil Cohn, it was decided that the Union of Berlin Rabbis should issue an appeal to the Jews of Berlin and of Germany, urging that the Berlin Jewish Community, the larger Jewish communities in the provinces and some of the smaller communities, should include in their annual budgets subsidies for the purposes of the Federation of Russian Jews. The B’nai B’rith Lodges, too, especially the Grand Lodge, will be urged to help the Federation. All Rabbis are to appeal to their congregations to pledge themselves to make a definite contribution towards the Fund.

A commission of Rabbis has been appointed to direct the collection of funds. The Prussian Federation of Jewish Communities will also be asked to grant a nermanent subsdy for the Federation of Russian Jews.

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