Seattle Jews Divided on Anti-semitism
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Seattle Jews Divided on Anti-semitism

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Shall Jews, mindful of rumblings of anti-Semitism in America, walk softly and avoid the spotlight or shall they stand for their rights, answering every anti-Semitic falsehood and fighting the hydra-headed menace of Naziism wherever its ugly head is raised?

This is the question which faced the Seattle Jewish community of 1,500 souls today after a lively symposium on “Shall Jews Walk Softly?” at Herzl Synagogue, Seattle’s only conservative house of worship, last week. Seattle Jewish leaders took part in the symposium which was held at a Sabbath tea, following a sermon by Rabbi Philip A. Langh, Herzl spiritual leader.

Rabbi Langh declared in an address: “There is a price we have to pay for survival. We dare have no ‘bad’ Jews among us. Our professional men must be ethical. Our merchants must be honorable. Our men of wealth must be philanthropic. We must stamp out that species of anti-Semitism that goes by he name of ‘Jewish anti-Semitism'”.

In the discussion Otto Grunbaum, B’nai B’rith trustee and secretary of the Men’s Club of Temple de Hirsch, Seattle’s only reform congregation, and Jeffrey Heiman, former United States Assistant District Attorney and B’nai B’rith past president, advised caution in dealing with anti-Semitism.


Philip Tworoger, veteran communal worker and Judge Samuel Stern, world-traveler and prominent member of the Washington state bar, counselled militant action.

Interest in the question has reached a high pitch in the Seattle Jewish community. Almost of as much interest is the remarkable “back-to-the-synagogue” movement which the inception of the conservative form of worship a year ago last Rosh Hashonah brought about here.

With his advent in Seattle, Rabbi A. Langh, former spiritual leader of Congregation Anshe Emeth in Chicago, former United Synagogue of America mid-West director and Hillel Foundation lecturer, the conservative movement, — a dream of 15 years — was born in the Northwest. Rabbi Langh’s coming was marked by the establishment also of a conservative congregation in Vancouver, B. C. — the only such house of worship in Western Canada.

With his coming Seattle Jewry witnessed for the first time Friday evening conservative services, beginning at 8 p.m., at which men and women sat together in the synagogue and “yarmelkes”, skull caps, and Hebrew-English prayer books were provided worshippers. The services are followed by a Sabbath tea in the synagogue vestry room, at which congregants sit at tea tables lighted by flickering Sabbath candles and hear outstanding speakers on Jewish subjects.

A Spinoza tercentenary celebration November of last year drew an audience of 1,200, the largest in the history of the Seattle Jewish community, and during last year’s twenty-four Friday night services, an average of 800 persons attended each service, setting a record for synagogue attendance here.

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