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Problems and Needs of Palestine Described by Chaim Nachman Bialik

February 18, 1926
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A graphic description of the cultural, economic and political developments in Palestine during the last four years, as viewed by one whose life has been devoted to the problems of reconstructing Palestine as the Jewish national home, was given by Chaim Nachman Bialik, Hebrew poet, before a group of New York newspapermen.

The demand that in addition to all the funds raised for Palestine throughout the world, a special fund be instituted for educational and literary work, which is to lay the foundation for the new Palestine and at the same time constitute the crown of the work was voiced by the poet of the Hebrew renaissance.

“The size and character of the immigration wave to the country in 1921, the year I settled in Palestine, was accompanied by feverish reconstruction and revival in commerce, industry and other fields of activity. This brought about a situation where the reconstruction of the country has become a fact.

“The most important element in Palestine is, undoubtedly, the Jewish workman,” Bialik declared. “He carries on his shoulders the responsibility for the growth of the Jewish position in the country and he, therefore, asumes a leading role in the Palestine Jewish community. The patriotic zeal, the love and ecstasy with which the Jewish workman tills the soil, the spirit of holiness with which his work is imbued, the awe-inspiring devotion which he puts into even the most menial task, are indescribable.


“The Palestine pioneer is imbued with a threefold purpose: first, to redeem his soul; second, to redeem his people and by this to redeem the world. Even his manual tasks are inspired by such depth of feeling and idealism and every inch of the rebuilt Palestine is so filled with this holiness that one would not be surprised if, one day, a prophet would again spring from the soil,” Mr. Bialik declared.

“The leaders of Jewish labor in Palestine are ideal men. They realize the national responsibility which the rebuilding of Palestine imposes on the Jewish laboring class. Naturally, sometimes mistakes are made, but the leaders are, on the whole, fully aware of their task and I hope that Palestine labor will always be blessed with leadership as capable and devoted as the present.

“Much has been written about the Fourth Alijah, the middle class immigration, and much ado made over the shortcomings of this type of immigrant. I do not hesitate to say that I consider the support of the Fourth Alijah one of the very important tasks the Zionist Organization has before it at present. Naturally, nobody would like to see Palestinian Jewish life a reproduction of the life of the Jewish middle class in the European ghettos. The fact, however, must not be overlooked, that Diaspora life has made the majority of the Jewish people what they are and has placed them in this class. If Palestine is intended to redeem the Jewish people, it is particularly these people who must be taken care of. It is this class which has suffered by the economic upheaval in Europe more than any other group and it is this class from which the main response to the appeal for Palestine reconstruction comes.


“The Zionist Organization, therefore, must concentrate on helping the settlement of the middle class. Our first task must be to make them a productive element. Any number of them who desire to become farmers should be enabled to achieve their desire and then they will fit into the structure of the renewed Jewish community in Palestine.

“Naturally, a number of them must be traders, but we have to be careful that a proportionately larger number of Jews become farmers. Our efforts must, therefore, be multiplied to settle them on the land.

“As is to be expected a large percentage of the new arrivals have not mastered the Hebrew language. Because the influx of immigrants into the country has assumed large proportions, the cultural problem is today a burning question. The homogeneity of the Jewish community of Palestine depends on the solution of this problem.


“Few people realize that the small Jewish community in Palestine has tremendous cultural needs-larger than the entire 14,000,000 Jews in the Diaspora. The largest part of cultural needs of the Jew in the Diaspora is satisfied by the products of the peoples among whom he lives. But for the 150,000 Jews in Palestine, we have to produce books dealing with all phases of modern life, text books dealing with all subjects–science, history, literature. We need a general encyclopedia for Palestine. The fact that last year only 165 books were published in Palestine is a severe accusation against the Jewish people. Palestine needs thousands of new books yearly. The spiritual life of the Jews in Palestine is bound to be crippled unless we provide for this growing, healthy, natural appetite which Palestine has developed.

“Next to the Keren Kayemeth which aims to acquire land in Palestine, and the Keren Hayesod, which wants to build on the land of Palestine, we need a Keren Ha’tarbuth, a worldwide organization for the promotion of Hebrew literature and culture in Palestine.

“The fact that the Jewish teachers in Palestine were compelled to resort to a strike in order to insure the regular payment of their salaries was very depressing. A strike of teachers!”

Mr. Bialik made severe charges against some members of the Zionist Executive for their attitude toward the educational problems of Palestine. “A popular proverb says that a sated man cannot believe a hungry one,” Mr. Bialik said. “People who understand, only by reasoning, the need for Hebrew culture in Palestine but are themselves overfed with foreign culture, cannot extend a sufficient measure of support to the creation and furthering of Hebrew culture,” he stated.

Asked by one of the representatives of the press what is the current opinion in Palestine concerning the collection of Palestine funds in America, Mr. Bialik said that the funds raised in America for Palestine appear to Palestine Jews insufficient and that the feeling prevails that American Jews spend much larger sums for trifles than are given to Palestine.

A campaign to raise $25,000 for the rection of a Talmud Torah to be connected with the Newport, Rhode Island. synagogue, was inaugurated by the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue of New York, Sunday at the Plaza Hotel, where a considerable sum was raised.

Rabbi David de Sola Pool is the rabbi of the Spanish and Portuguese Congregation.

Mr. and Mrs. Israel Unterberg gave a farewell dinner on the occasion of their trip to Europe and Palestine at the Hotel Astor last Sunday. The affair was arranged under the auspices of the Jewish Education Association, of which Mr. Unterberg is President. About 150 guests attended the dinner.

Mr. Bernard Semel acted as toastmaster. Judge Otto A. Rosalsky was the principal speaker.

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