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Daily Digest of Public Opinion on Jewish Matters

February 17, 1926
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[The purpose of the Digest is informative: Preferenes is given to papers not generally accessible to can readers. Quotation does not indicate approval-Editor.]

The Agudath Israel, the Jewish world orthodox organization, is characterized by B. Z. Goldberg in the “Day” of Feb. 16, as a menace to Jewish unity because of its recent activities, which have especially tended, he avers, to place obstacles in the way of Palestine reconstruction.

“The Agudath Israel,” we are told by Mr. Goldberg “originated in Frankfort. There was a German rabbi named Samson Raphael Hirsch, who had received a thorough Jewish education as well as a classical German education. Ninety years ago he wrote a series of nineteen letters about Judaism in German, signed ‘Ben Uziel.’ That was a new combination in those day-classical German in a ‘yarmulke’ (skull cap), university training and extreme orthodoxy. He was a fighter against Reform.” Rabbi Hirsch became rabbi of the orthodox congregation in Frankfort, which, the writer says, always sought to spread its influence.

“They (the Frankfort Jews) wanted to make connections with the Jewish world, and in the beginning of this century, in 1904, I think, the Agudath Israel was organized by Dr. Isaak Breuer, a son in-law of S. R. Hirsch, with the assistance af a few Russian rabbis.”

It was not until the world war, Mr. Goldberg points out, that the Agudah acquired power in Jewish life. The German government, during the time of Germany’s occupation of Poland, employed members of the Agudah for propaganda purposes, sending them among the Polish Jews to create sentiment for Germany. “The Agudah in Poland is a considerable party and has almost forty per cent representation in the Kehillah, but it must be borne in mind that in Poland, unlike in other countries, the Agudah goes with all other Jewish parties, even with the radical Bundists.

“Of course,” the writer proceeds “the Agudah was thoroughly opposed to Zionism. It was assimilationist in all Jewish questions except religion. The Agudah fought against Zionism. It was only after the Balfour Declaration that the Agudah came to Zionism…”

But even since that time, Mr. Goldberg says, the Agudah has been seeking to disrupt Zionist unity.

“In Palestine proper two of the Agudah leaders have been sadly famous,” he says. “Rabbi Sonenfeld, who holds that Jews must not work at all, but study, and DeHahn who actually informed on the Jews and went to the British administration against the interests of the new Jewish settlement…

“Now the Agudah delegation from Europe has come to America. The head of the delegation is Dr. Ehrmann, a grandson of S. R. Hirsch. They have come here to start a campaign for their ‘Keren Ha’yishub.’ They have intruded precisely when the United Palestine Appeal has been started.”

The Agudah, we are told, wants to uphold the old Jewish settlement in Palestine which is based and subsists on charity, as against the new reconstructive settlement, and “this explains the reason why the Mizrachi as well as the Jabloner Rabbi and his followers are so opposed to the Agudah.

“I believe the Agudah question is more than a Zionist question. It is a general Jewish question. This is the first time in our history that we have before us a strong organization of Jewish clericals who are sufficiently bold as well as politically trained to cause considerable trouble….

“If they get the power, they will become a dark force in Jewry…”

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