The Philadelphia Jewish Exponent speaks of the Jewish situation in Austria and of the relief plans which the American Joint Distribution Committee is now considering for Austrian Jewry. The paper comments editorially:
Face to face with the horrible example of German Jewry, the Jews of Austria, sensing the imminence of conflagration, have been looking about for some means to ward off the danger or to meet it when it came. They have time and again given voice to their grievances against the present clerical regime which seeks to crush them and to elminate their influence in the government, in the professions and in the economic field.
The Austrian Jews have not stopped at mere protests. They are bent upon constructive work that may prepare them to face the impending menace and perhaps weaken the opposition to them. With the advice and help of the American Jewish Distribution Committee, they plan to launch a loan for a fund to be used for trade schools for Jewish youth solely and for credits to be given the struggling middle classes and those who were formerly engaged in the professions.
The American Jewish community will heartily support such a plan, as it is obvious that besides the immediate relief it will provide, it will also obviate much suffering and greater outlays in the future.
JEWISH EDUCATION IN ENGLAND
World Jewry, a London publication, publishes the following on the development of Jewish secondary school groups in England:
A new phase in Anglo-Jewish education was commenced six years ago when the late Rabbi Dr. Victor Schonfeld inaugurated the Jewish Secondary School and thereby initiated a movement for Jewish schools which has subsequently aroused widespread interest and gained considerable support.
At first the efforts of the founder were regarded with suspicion by people who imagined it would adversely encourage Jewish consciousness among the children and tend to segregate them from non-Jewish contacts. Owing to these early rebuffs, and other unfortunate circumstances, the founder did not live to see more than the very initial stages of the new movement which he had established with so much indefatigable devotion.
The situation in Germany, which carried in its wake an aroused Jewish sentiment, altered the opinion of many of Rabbi Schonfeld’s critics, some of whom are now the most ardent supporters of the school which is being carried on under the guidance of his son, Rabbi Dr. S. Schonfeld.
ALEXANDRIA, FONT OF RACIAL HATE
The London Times, discussing the origin of anti-Semitism, comments on a study of the subject:
There was an anti-Semitism before there was a Christian religion, and it has been argued that this “classical anti-Semitism” proves that hatred of the Jew was inevitable: was the natural result of his own racial, unalterable characteristics. It is against such “racial mysticism” that Mr. Parkes’ book is directed. The anti-Semitism of the ancient world, he contends, can be traced to a single source, the capital of Hellenistic Egypt, Alexandria. Here in a Greek city, where through the policy of the P#olemies the Jews occupied a favored position, was manufactured the entire collection of stories by which the Jewish negative characteristic of intolerance was transformed into a positive characteristic of hostility to all humanity. It is precisely in Alexandria that under Roman rule we hear of those conflicts between Jews and Greeks, of which we have an echo in the so-called “Acta of the Pagan Martyrs,” which have been preserved to us in the papyri.
Ancient history, no less than modern, is being reinterpreted in terms of economics, and many scholars have sought to explain the hostility to the Jew on economic grounds.
CITES MAIMONIDES ON CHARITY
The New York Times quotes the views of the Jewish philosopher Maimonides on charity as the best argument why people in America should contribute to the Christmas campaign for the neediest. The editorial follows:
As of timely interest to those who are planning to give to the Neediest Cases Fund, we reprint “The Eight Degrees of Charity” as set down by Maimonides, the 800th anniversary of whose birth will be celebrated this coming Spring. This wise philosopher of long ago, in his definition of charity in the highest steps of its golden ladder, gave clear prophetic indication of the charity which is made possible through the Neediest Cases Fund:
“There are eight degrees or steps in the duty of charity.
“The first and lowest degree is to give, but with reluctance or regret. This is the gift of the hand, but not of the heart.
“The second is, to give cheerfully, but not proportionately to the distress of the sufferer.
“The third is, to give cheerfully and proportionately, but not until solicited.
“The fourth is, to give cheerfully, proportionately, and even unsolicited, but to put it in the poor man’s hand, thereby exciting in him the painful emotion of shame.
“The fifth is, to give charity in such a way that the distressed may receive the bounty, and know their benefactor, without their being known to him. Such was the conduct of some of our ancestors, who used to tie up money in the corners of their cloaks, so that the poor might take it unperceived.
“The sixth, which rises still higher, is to know the objects of our bounty but remain unknown to them. Such was the conduct of those of our ancestors who used to convey their charitable gifts into poor people’s dwellings, taking care that their own persons and names should remain unknown.
“The seventh is still more meritorious, namely, to bestow charity in such a way that the benefactor may not know the relieved persons, nor they the names of their benefactors, as was done by our charitable forefathers during the existence of the temple. For there was in that holy building a place called the Chamber of the Silent, wherein the good deposited secretly whatever their generous hearts suggested, and from which the poor were maintained with equal secrecy.
Lastly, the eighth, and the most meritorious of all, is to anticipate charity by preventing poverty; namely, to assist the reduced fellow-man, either by a considerable gift or a sum of money, or by teaching him a trade, or by putting him in the way of business, so that he may earn an honest livelihood and not be forced to the dreadful alternative of holding out his hand for charity. * * * This is the highest step and the summit of charity’s golden ladder.”