Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

One of These Jews Will Be Next Board of Aldermen President

October 22, 1933
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Three members of the Jewish community are candidates on rival tickets for the important post of President of the Board of Aldermen in the New York City administration. The Jewish Daily Bulletin presents here brief interviews with the candidates as expressed to a Bulletin staff reporter.

The greater part of a twenty-minute conversation with Bernard Deutsch, Fusion candidate for President of the Board of Aldermen, was devoted by Mr. Deutsch to a discussion of conditions in the industrial life of America. He views the situation with respect to the Jewish people as “dangerous”. so long as the legal, medical and other professions are dominated by Jews.

Mr. Deutsch cautioned against a young college graduate going into a profession. He advised manual labor, agricultural pursuits, building, as substitute livelihoods. He decried Jewish leadership for neglecting this, important poser of modern Jewish life, and urged a survey that will prepare young Jewish men and women for the allied trades, or manufacturing, etc.

President of the American Jewish Congress and an active participant in Jewish affairs, Mr. Deutsch explained that the German situation has dwarfed a considerable number of correspondingly pressing problems into the background. He said that Jewish persecutions in Roumania, Poland and other countries need attention. Three million Jews are being lost in Russia, where religion is slowly being forced into decay and disintegration. He cited Palestine as presenting a thousand unanswered questions all of which are today “gracefully neglected” in the fight against Hitlerism.

Mr. Deutsch paced the floor and expounded what he termed the perils besetting modern Jewry. Especially in the United States, he said, there are hazards for the safety and liberty of the Jew. He wouldn’t go very far into the subject. He mentioned the vast number of unemployed Jewish attorneys and physicians who are today facing starvation on account of the overcrowding in professions. More important, he declared, is the issue raised by Adolf Hitler, which is having repercussions in America. That means, Mr. Deutsch said, simply that non-Jews are looking askance at the overwhelming number of Jews who are wearing the long robe, practising medicine, teaching, etc.

With a sigh, Mr. Deutsch admitted that at the present time it is almost impossible to give advice to the young man who wishes to attend medical or law school.

“When they ask ‘what shall we do’, what shall we say?” He said that he worries a great deal over the question.

Mr. Deutsch was born in 1884 in Baltimore and educated at the City College of New York and New York Law School. He is affiliated with a long list of organizations, including the New York State Municipal Court Committee, the Federation of Jewish Philanthropic Societies, the Jewish Council of Greater New York and the Free Synagogue Club. Last year he polled a large vote as independent candidate for Justice in the Supreme Court but didn’t succeed in winning the election. He is a generous contributor to philanthropic institutions.

Milton Solomon will be the next President of the Board of Aldermen if the predictions of his party backers, Tammany Hall, are realized. He was named for the post when M. Maldwin Fertig switched his support to the McKee ticket and Mr. Solomon was assured by his superiors that although a pinch-hitter, he possesses in a big way all the qualifications for the post.

“Mr. Solomon has firm convictions on all questions dealing with Jewish life,” said a Mr. White to the reporter. “But he prefers to answer you in writing.”

The setting for an interview was laid in campaign headquarters, Hotel Pennsylvania. Present in the room were Mr. White, Mr. Feldman, a Tammany lawyer, and Milton Solomon, wordless and expressionless.

Replies to routine editorial questions put to the potential candidate for the Aldermanic presidency were not forthcoming. Abruptly and with finality Mr. White said that “Mr. Solomon here doesn’t have to answer. His actions have proved his capability. Furthermore, it is dangerous to speak haphazardly for a racial paper.”

Assurances that The Bulletin is a newspaper of facts failed to convince. Mr. Solomon’s seconds requested a list of queries which might be answered leisurely.

The regular Democratic nominee is thirty-seven years old, a lawyer who was with the United States Marine Corps in overseas action during the War. He is short, has plain features, wears an expressionless mask and says little.

He was born on the East Side, studied at Boys High School in Brooklyn and the Fordham University Law School. He is a member of more than fifty organizations and never held office.

Quoting the campaign release on his biography:

“When the call came to him to be a candidate for the office of the President of the Board of Aldermen there was no hesitation on his part. His answer was immediate—’I will serve’.”

Former State Senator Nathan Straus, Jr., candidate for President of the Board of Alderman on the McKee ticket, chopped ten minutes from his crowded day to receive a representative of the Jewish Daily Bulletin.

He answered four questions in a rapid-fire demonstration of how fast a busy man can answer questions.

“What do you say on the charges that Mr. McKee is anti-Semitic?” he was asked.

“This is for the record,” said Mr. Straus. “Take it verbatim.

“No greater disservice could be rendered the Jewish people at this time in my opinion than any attempt to depict as anti-Semitic a movement or a man which is not in fact so. Nothing can do more to weaken our protests against the hideous persecution of the Jewish people in Germany than the cry of anti-Semitism where there is no anti-Semitism here at home.”

“What is your view on the German question?”

Impatiently Mr. Straus shuffled in his chair. He is a slim man, efficient-looking and has a lisp. It is difficult to talk with him without realizing that he likes to express his views bluntly, that he is a man of stern principle, that he is fearless, frank and determined.

“That is a poor question,” replied Mr. Straus. “I have answered it before; I think I have made some speeches on the subject.

“Yes, Germany’s withdrawal from the League will do the League a lot of good. The Reich is now engulfed in hostile criticism. Maybe that will bring Hitler to his senses.”

Mr. Straus insisted that he is still a “regular” Democrat in spite of the fact that some years ago he withdrew from Tammany ranks because he took issue with the district leader of the Seventh A. D. At the present time Mr. Straus, who resides in the Ninth, holds that regardless of party affiliation he makes it a point to support persons and planks meeting his approval.

“I am interested in public welfare,” he said. His record supports the statement.

The two richest fields Mr. Straus has cultivated are Zionism and public recreation in New York City.

Son of Nathan Straus, one of the world’s great friends of Zionism, who died in January, 1931, the former State Senator organized in 1928 the Park Association, which was composed of five small units whose purpose was to ameliorate the condition of the poor by obtaining playground space for their use. He succeeded in putting the new parent body which today consists of 5,000 members, on the map.

In 1929 the City of New York was persuaded to appropriate $25,000,000 for the general acquisition and improvement of city parks and playgrounds. Millions have since been spent at the discretion of the City officials (and by the inspiration of the Park Association), on the repair and enlargement of the municipal parks. Concessions became a paying proposition and their owners were obliged to serve from sanitary counters; play apparatus, trees, walks, park benches, flower gardens, water fountains were multiplied in number and greatly improved and enlarged and cultivated. The unemployed were given an opportunity to earn a dollar. Reports and studies of parks and methods whereby they might be repaired were made by the Park Association.

Mr. Straus’ interest in Palestine and the movement to settle Jews in the National Homeland is well known. He has continued to contribute to the maintenance of institutions in whose founding his father played an important part. Among them are the Straus Health Center in Jerusalem, free soup kitchens throughout the Homeland, Hebrew University, the Palestine Economic Council of which Bernard Flexner is the head, and other large and important palestra. In addition, he is the chairman of the American Palestine Campaign of Greater New York.

Mr. Straus studied at Princeton and Heidelberg. He joined the staff of The New York Globe and later published Puck, a humorous weekly In 1920 he was elected State Senator. He is forty-two years old.

Recommended from JTA