“Bashful” Bert Stand, Tammany Hall’s first Jewish secretary, sits in his office in the Tiger’s central lair at Union Square and East Seventeenth street and beams at the world.
Stand, 33 years old, pink-faced and well-fed, was appointed to the post this week by James J. Dooling, Tammany’s new leader. He is part of the organization’s promise of a “new deal,” which has seen the removal of the last vestige of Curryism from the Hall’s high councils and the installation of young, progressive men, such as Stand and Dooling.
Politics, says the new secretary, is his life’s work.
“My dad wanted me to be a lawyer,” he told an interviewer yesterday, “but after I finished my studies at Stuyvesant High School I decided against going on to college and eventually followed in my father’s footsteps by going into party work.”
His father was the late Leon Stand, an election district captain under Edward J. Ahearn, to whom the younger Stand refers as “my adopted father.”
A BORN POLITICIAN
Leon Stand came to this country from Austria, where his family was in better than moderate circumstances.
“Politics runs in our blood, I guess,” his son said yesterday. “One of Dad’s brothersâ€”my Uncle Adolphâ€”was a member of the old Austrian Reichstag. I never saw him. He lived and died in Austria.”
After arriving in New York the elder Stand founded the Lemberger Congregation, a synagogue on East Fourth street, in which the Stand family continues to retain its membership.
Other Jewish organizations of which the new Tammany Hall secretary is a member are the Independent Order B’nai Abraham and the Sanders Association.
Although he owes his eminence in party circles to his ability to control the predominantly Jewish Fourth Assembly District, along with his brother, Alderman Murray W. Stand, he does not like too much emphasis to be placed on the fact that he is Jewish.
“I prefer to be thought of as a Democrat first and a Jew second,” he said.
“A SHINING EXAMPLE”
Asked whether he thought politics is a worthwhile field for Jewish youths to enter as their chosen profession, he said:
“I can only point to myself as a shining example.”
Prejudice is virtually non-existant in New York civic life, he believes.
“Don’t forget,” he pointed out, “we have a Jewish governor and an Italian mayor. That in itself ought to be enough to set at rest any doubt as to whether the Jew or anyone else has a chance in New York politics.”
He considered his own statement thoughtfully for a moment.
“Thank God,” he said then, “that we live in New York and not in Germany or the Austria of today.”
Stand is perfectly willing to discuss almost anything but politics.
“I leave that to my boss,” he says, waving his hand in the direction of Dooling’s office.
THE “BASHFUL” PART
Stand has been secretary of the State Athletic Commission (formerly the State Boxing Commission) for the past nine years, He also is an executive deputy commissioner of that body. He will continue to hold these posts, he explains, because from them he receives a salary of $5,000 a year, while as secretary of Tammany Hall he draws no regular pay.
His nickname of “Bashful Bertie” was given to him by metropolitan sports writers in joking reference to what they described as his habit of elbowing his way into the foreground of photographs of boxers weighing in for fights.
Stand is a bachelor. He is tall, spectacled, somewhat paunchy and jowly, and seems to know almost everyone by first name.
Or maybe it’s merely that everyone around Tammany Hall knows everyone else by first name.
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.