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J. D. B. News Letter

January 16, 1929
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Comment is lively in Jewish circles here on the ruling of the Wisconsin Supreme Court in the law suit brought by Max Polacheck against the Milwaukee Golf Club that it may be a “social error” for a golf club to request its Jewish members to resign because they are Jews, but it is not such deprivation of a valuable right that justifies an action at law against the club by the grieved Jewish member.

The case arose out of action of the directors of the club last Summer in sending letters to eight Jewish members requesting their resignation without stating a valid reason therefore. It was a matter of common knowledge among all the members that the officers of the club had entered on a deliberate plan to get rid of all its Jewish members, numbering about 30. The incident created indignation in the community and about 25 of the Jewish members resigned as an expression of their self-respect as Jews. Not all the Jewish members who were asked to resign joined in the suits, some of them being opposed to court action.

Justice Crownhart wrote the decision of the Supreme court. He stated that the writing of the letter requesting the resignations was not in itself in lawful no matter how foolish or malicious it may have been. “It deprived plaintiff of no valuable right,” says the decision. “It left him free to refuse to resign and free to continue as a member of the club with all its privileges. He was free to present any grievances he may have had to the members of the organization, and if they agreed with him, they could depose defendants from office…”

“We may not justify the act of officers in writing the letter in question. It may be conceded that it was a social error; it may have been done with bad intent, but so long as the consequences are not to unlawfully deprive plaintiff of some valuable right, he has no cause of action in law or equity. Courts of equity cannot undertake to regulate social obligations, or the morals of social organizations, until there are legal rights affected, and then only when the courts of law can afford no adequate remedy.

“We may deplore religious prejudices and intolerance ever so much, but the remedy does not lie with the courts. The remedy is cultural and educational, and perhaps to some extent legislative. However the freedom we claim for ourselves to believe in any or no religion, to belong to any religious society or to none, to think and express ourselves as we choose, so long as we violate no legal duty, makes it impossible to prevent our fellow members of society from exercising the same rights.”

Several other law suits arising out of the ousting incidents are pending in (Continued on Page 4)

the courts. They involve action by Jewish members against a land holding corporation created by members of the club to own and lease the land on which the golf course is operated, and will be contested on other grounds than the Polacheck case. The Jewish members own stock in this corporation and they contend that the action of the golf club in ousting a number of its members jeopardizes the financial strength of the land corporation which is organized for profit.

The action of the Michiwaukee club against the Jewish members is considered all the more deplorable because some of the Jewish members were largely responsible for organizing the club. Their assistance and influence, financial and moral, was eagerly solicited by the non-Jewish founders-at the beginning, when they were needed most. But the club grew successful in numbers and in prestige, and the presence of a goodly number of Jews was quite irritating to that “high” type of socially-minded American citizen who is very agreeable to his Jewish brother across the counter in store and bank, but who would rather not have said Jewish brother around as he plays golf of bridge or other social pastimes. So, the Jewish members being no longer needed for their financial or moral support, got what they might have expected would be coming to them had they studied the history of similar attempts to blend Jew and Gentile in social harmony and good-fellowship.

But the Jewish ex-members of Michiwaukee who love golf are not one bit saddened by the prospect of deprivation of their privilege to engage in that honorable game, which can only be played on an expansive acreage, for many of them saw the “handwriting on the wall” several years ago and planned to own and operate their own golf club, in which there would be no “Jewish quota,” and in which no Jew would be conscious of the suffered toleration and patronage of some few (not many) up-start social-climbing, spineless and ungrateful Gentiles whose actual rank in society is far below the Jewish social standard. And so they organized a golf club of their own known as the Brynwood Country Club, (the second Jewish club of its kind in Milwaukee) which owns a large tract of land close by the city limits on which there is now under construction one of the finest 18-hole championship golf courses in the United States. Morris Stern is president of this club. He once belonged to Michiwaukee, too. The Brynwood club now has over 150 members and expects 300 when the first 9-holes are opened for play in May or June. This, Michiwaukee “social error” was a boomerang to better Jewish organization, says one Brynwood founder, “it’s an ill wind that blows no good,” says another former Michiwaukeean.

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