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Joseph Barondess, Jewish Communal Leader, Zionist and Labor Champion, Dead

June 20, 1928
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Joseph Barondess, communal leader, Zionist, labor champion, orator, peacemaker and active member of many Jewish organizations in New York City, died yesterday morning at Mount Sinai Hospital, following two operations. Mr. Barondess, who was in robust health until recently, was taken to the hospital about a month ago, suffering from kidney trouble. Mr. Barondess would have been 61 on July 3.

The funeral will take place at 1 p.m. today from Meyer’s Funeral Parlor, 76th street and Amsterdam avenue, New York City. Interment will be at the new Mount Carmel Cemetery, Newtown, L. I.

A stormy petrol in the Jewish labor movement at the beginning of the Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe to the United States, Mr. Barondess became one of the most popular figures in the Jewish community in New York, zealously championing various causes to promote the welfare of the immigrant population and participating in manifold activities along the lines of social work, education, protection, of Jewish rights abroad and in the Zionist movement. Recently, he was elected president of the Jewish National Fund in America.

Mr. Barondess attained a particular position of distinction in many Jewish movements through his activities to bring about peace wherever controversies arose. His deep resonant voice appealing for the traditional Jewish “Sholom” was a dominant factor in many dramatic conclusions of raging controversies. A memorable occasion when Mr. Barondess appeared in his role of peacemaker was the Joint Distribution Committee conference held September 12, 1925, to organize the $15,000.000 United Jewish Campaign, when the Zionists and non-Zionists were engaged in a bitter controversy over the Jewish colonization project in Russia. He assumed a similar role in the Wise controversy in December of the same year.

Arriving in the United States in 1888 from Kamienec-Podolsk, where he was born July 3, 1867, he was one of the pioneers of the Jewish labor movement in the United States. He was the founder of the Cloak Makers’ Union which he headed until 1892. He was the organizer and founder of the Hebrew Actors Union, the Hebrew American Typo-graphical Union No. 83.

In 1910 he was appointed Commissioner of the Board of Education by Mayor Gaynor and reappointed to this post by Mayor Mitchel in 1914. While in this position he was active in the fight in behalf of teachers who sought the right to continue in their profession after marriage.

During the World War Mr. Barondess was active in relief campaigns, speaking throughout the city for the war work drives.

He served on the Committee of Jewish Delegations which effected the incorporation of provisions for the Jewish minority rights in the Treaty at Versailles and participated in framing the Zionist proposals to the British Government on the Jewish National Homeland in Palestine. As vice-president and acting chairman of the Administrative Committee of the American Jewish Congress, he was active in the campaign against restrictive immigration. He appeared before Congressional Committees on immigration matters and obtained special permission for the admittance of hundreds of Jewish immigrants to Canada who had been barred from the United States by the quota laws.

Among his many positions in Jewish organizations he was chairman of the board of directors of the Deborah Sanitarium for Consumptive Relief, honorary president of the Federation of Ukrainian Jews in America, vice-president of the Herzliah Hebrew Academy, a member of the board of Hias, the Brooklyn Federation of Jewish Charities, Machzikei Talmud Torah, former Nasi of the Order Sons of Zion, the I. O. B. B., I. O. B. A. and the I. O. B: S;

Expressions of grief were voiced by leaders of all shades of opinion within the Jewish community.

ABRAHAM CAHAN, Editor “Forward:”

“I knew Mr. Barondess since the winter of 1889, when we were making preparations for founding the Arbeiter Zeitung. There were times when our paths diverged, but the period during which we were not on terms of close friendship is small compared to the many years of most cordial and warm relationship.

“During the last few years I saw him quite frequently. He would drop in to see me at my office as a rule to ask for some favor in behalf of some one of the many applicants who were always knocking at his door. Sometimes, we would spend a day or two together at the seashore.

“He certainly was one of the most charming and warmhearted members of our community. An affectionate man, always ready to serve a good cause. We will all miss him keenly. It is almost impossible to imagine our immigrant population without his handsome face and kindly smile among the conspicuous personalities.”

RABBI STEPHEN S. WISE, president, American Jewish Congress.

“I am deeply pained to learn of the passing of Joseph Barondess. No Jew in our generation has devoted himself more eagerly and devotedly to the interests of his people than Barondess. He was a child of his people who throughout his life retained a lovable, child-likeness naivete. He was leonine in his courage when the honor of the Jewish name or the security of Jewish life was involved. He deserved well of his people and the Jewish masses knew him for their own.”


“The death of Joseph Barondess is a decided blow to many elements of American Jewish life. His untimely death has created a profound sorrow among all Zionists who knew of the important part that Mr. Barondess took in the development of Zionism in America. First a prominent labor leader, he devoted himself to the interests of the Zionist movement for many years. Mr. Barondess was the embodiment of generosity and devotion to social ideals. His record and his activity were an inspiration to the Zionist youth.”

JOHN L. BERNSTEIN, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society of America:

“The death of Mr. Joseph Barondess is an irreparable loss to the whole of Jewry. His interest during his whole life in everything that tended to promote the best interest of the Jewish people has been a blessing to Jewry at large. To his very last day he has given all his energy to Jewish education, to the Jewish immigrant and to the upbuilding of Palestine. In his death the Jewish people have lost a great champion.”

RABBI ISRAEL LEVINTHAL, Rabbi Brooklyn Jewish Center and Chairman Committee for Support of the Hadoar.”

“Joseph Barondess was a unique figure in Jewish life. There is no one that can take his place. This is not the time to give a detailed estimate of his many sided activities in behalf of his people whom he loved so devotedly and so passionately and in behalf of every worthy cause for the amelioration of humankind. He was the dreamer par excellence. From the first day that he came to America he dreamt and labored to turn his dreams into realities. His work for Palestine, for the revival of Hebrew culture, for the support of the Hadoar, the Herzliah High School and the hundred and one other causes were all the outcome of the dreams that he entertained of a finer, nobler and better Jewish life. He was the personal friend of every man in need. His office was a sort of house of refuge for everybody who needed help. No favor was too great for him to do to help a fellow man.

“The world is poor in his going. Israel is indeed orphaned in his passing”

RABBI WOLF GOLD, vice-president of the Mizrachi Organization:

“Mr. Barondess was one of the noblest persons in the city of New York. He was a person who was always willing and ready to sacrifice personal matters for the sake of the Jewish people in general and the community in which he lived. He was one of the greatest friends a person could claim. His devotion to the people was of the rarest kind I ever knew.

“Of late Mr. Barondess became very religious and it was his greatest hope to spend his last years in Eretz Israel.”

Sixteen Southern cities are represented at a meeting of the Southern Interstate Conference of Young Judea, which opened its three day session at Jacksonville, Fla., Monday.

Mayor John T. Alsop, Jr., of Jacksonville, greeted the delegates. Rabbi Hirshon of Tampa, Ben Zion Seigal, New Orleans, president of the conference and Dave Hershon, Atlanta were among the speakers.

Cities represented include: New Orleans, Atlanta, Birmingham, Montgomery, Mobile, Houston and Waco, Texas; Miami, Tampa, Columbus and Rome, Ga.; Savannah, Shreveport, Memphis and Chattanooga.

Casil H. Friedman, East Chicago, Ind., has been named valedictorian of the 1928 class of the University of Illinois.

Friedman, who is graduating from the college of law, has not only maintained a high academic standing but has been prominent in many student activities.

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