Polish Jewry will be represented for the first time at the next conference of the World Union for Progressive Judaism which is scheduled to meet in Sydney, Australia, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency was informed today by Rabbi William F. Rosenblum of Temple Israel, New York, who returned on the Lafayette from Europe.
Rabbi Rosenblum was a delegate to the conference of the World Union for Progressive Judaism at the Hague early this month and also attended the sessions of the world Jewish conference as an observer.
The Hague conference, he pointed out, discussed the best way of stemming the tide of assimilation and bringing back the Jewish youth to Jewish religious ideals and practice.
Discussing the Geneva conference, he said that the deliberations added nothing new by way of protest, polemics or program.
He pointed out that a number of the leading organizations of the world were not represented, but stated that since a world Jewish congress is being summoned, it behooves the real leaders of Jewry to get together to make the congress representative of more than a handful.
“Two significant conferences were held in Europe during August,” Rabbi Rosenblum asserted. “One was without ballyhoo, the other was widely heralded both by its sponsors and denouncers. The first conference was that of the World Union for Progressive Judaism at the Hague and Amsterdam. There was a small band of delegates from
England, Holland, Germany, Australia and Poland. They discussed the best way to stem the tide of assimilation and how to win back Jewish youth to Jewish religious ideals and practice. The dominating figures of the conference were a modest woman and a saintly man with prophetic passion in their souls and determined, patient, consecrated purpose in their methods, Miss Lily Montagu and Claude G. Montefiore of London. The conference had no outstanding papers and no outstanding personalities to feature, only outstanding zeal for the Jewish faith. The main session was a round-table conference at which everyone spoke plainly and, as far as possible, practically. The result was a decision to continue building liberal groups in European countries. Amsterdam and the Hague now have them. Poland will be represented at the next conference to be held in Sydney and has asked for a leader to start this work there.
“The Zionists present, of course, injected the Zionist note, insisting that the time had come for liberal Judaism and Zionism to work hand in hand together since both were trying to build a homeland, one the spiritual, and the other the actual. The most striking insistence was on keeping the older generation loyal as well as attracting the youth and on presenting Judaism as an active ideal rather than as a passive resistence to assimilation effort.
“Stephen Wise and Nahum Goldmann had a very successful conference at Geneva,” Rabbi Rosenblum said. “They came there determined to convoke a World Jewish Congress and they persuaded the delegates that such a congress was to be convened in 1934. There are many people who will say that the Conference was not representative, that the more important organizations such as the Jewish Agency, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the ICA and the B’nai Brith were unrepresented and that the conference was therefore meaningless. However, they overlook the fact that most institutions and agencies for the benefit of peoples are brought into being by a few people, disinterested or self-interested as the case may be.
“The significant thing, however,” he emphasized, “is that it has been decided to have a World Jewish Congress in 1934 and that it now behooves the real leaders of Jewry here and abroad to bestir themselves in order that the forthcoming Congress may be more than a handful or handpicked. I admire the courage of Dr. Wise and approve his vigor in working for a goal he visions. But nothing can change the fact that the conference at Geneva added nothing new by way of protest, polemics or program except that it put German delegates in the precarious position of appearing to be one hundred percent for the Fatherland in spite of the ignominy and destruction being heaped upon them by Hitler.”
“Wise said in his intimitable dramatic way that he could not persuade himself that Hitler was Germany no more than that Cuza was Roumania. I prefer to believe that Germany is the Germany of Schiller and Lessing. The German representatives applauded but forgot that the immortal poets are dead and that their sweet, lyric cadences have given way to the swastika and the brown shirted hosts attacking their synagogues and their lives. Schiller and Lessing are dead but Hitler lives and at any moment his upraised hand may turn into a malling fist of destruction. Those German Jews who insisted that Eastern European Jewry needed the Congress while they did not must have had their tongues in their cheeks and their hearts in their hands.
“The World Jewish Conference at Geneva demonstrated the need for a world convention of Jewish interests, but one that will meet without ballyhoo and without publicity agents, one that instead of an anaemic Kongress Deutch will speak in the plain language of purely Jewish interest rather than the jargon of partisan Zionism or partisan Laborism or partisan Mizrachism. Before there can be a real world Zionism congress the Jews of each country must come with a world view as well as a world hope.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.