[The purpose of the Digest is informative. Preference is given to papers not generally accessible to our readers. Quotation does not indicate approval,-Editor.]
Deputy Isaac Gruenbaum, who was recently in America on the invitation of the American Jewish Congress, whose session at Washington he addressed, has on his return to Poland summarized his opinion of the American Jewish Congress in two articles appearing in the Warsaw “Hajut” of April 26 and April 29.
Deputy Gruenbaum’s opinion is that while the American Jewish Congress “once had brilliant moments, when it stood in the very center of Jewish life in America,” it is today merely a medium for two purposes: to protest against anti-Jewish acts in Europe and as a platform for Jewish leaders of Europe to describe the problems and the conditions of European Jewry. This change, in Mr. Gruenbaum’s estimate, is due to the indifference of the Jewish masses on the one hand, and the refusal of the Marshall group to participate in the work of the Jewish Congress, on the other. We read:
“Marshall and his group left the Congress and the wide masses lost their interest in it. With great difficulty it was decided at Philadelphia not to dissolve the Congress. The Zionists remained loyal to it. The same thing happened in other countries. It was the same with the Committee of Jewish Delegations. But all those organizations in Europe had a concrete purpose, a daily fight in behalf of Jewish rights. The American Jewish Congress practically lost its content.
“It appears that one purpose- the creation of a tribunal- was clearest in the minds of the leaders of the Congress movement. Dr. Wise incessantly emphasizes that the Congress gives the opportunity to prominent Jews in Europe to speak to American Jewish public opinion and to Americans. He mentioned at every opportunity that from this platform spoke Zangwill, Anita Mueller and, lastly, I.
“The need of such a tribunal has so far been displayed most convincingly through the polemic, the dissatisfaction, called forth both by Zangwill and by me. Zangwill and I expressed opinions which at once aroused differences, and resulted in attention to problems, in searching for answers to stated questions, in viewing well known subjects from totally new angles.”
In conclusion Gruenbaum discusses the future of the American Jewish Congress and makes the following suggestion : “The process of consolidation in American Jewry is taking place along religious lines, which carries with it the danger that Jewish life in America will be broken into at least three religions sects. Zionism must oppose this process. The American Jewish Congress is the most suitable instrument for this purpose, provided, of course, that it would be considerably strengthened.”
Objection to the statements and the tone of Deputy Gruenbaum is voiced in an editorial of the “Jewish Daily News” of yesterday. Writing under the caption “Guests Who Insult,” the paper asserts American Jewry does not want advice of outsiders regarding its problems and charges Gruenbaum with ingratitude for hospitality shown him on his American visit. The articles in the “Hajnt,” the editorial declares, “are written in a tone that is insulting to American Jews, whom the writer looks down upon, as one who descends from higher spheres to the world of low creatures.”
“The doors of American Jewry,” we are told, “are open wide for guests and visitors of all kinds. In his simple, good-natured and rustic fashion the American Jew extends a hearty welcome to those who come here, and we fail to see the politeness of those guests who, upon leaving these shores, repay us with insults. Such guests should, before they undertake to teach us, first, learn to behave like cultured, decent people. The guests must know that we do not invite them in order that they may teach us wisdom and good behavior. We believe, and we have a right to believe, that we can take care of our own affairs and do not need the advice of Dr. Gruenbaum and others. There is another thing we uncultured ones would like to tell Dr. Gruenbaum and his friends which they will not like perhaps. American Jews have never boasted about their gifts, they took the duty which fell on them as earnestly as they could have and never bragged. But it is becoming somewhat irritating when they come to us with requestsfor money and give us abuse in return.”
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.