During the twelve years of its existence the New York Kehillah has grown in power and influence until today it includes practically the entire Jewish population in its operations. Among its direct or affiliated leaders and supporters are the owners of powerful newspapers, officials in the state, Federal and city administration; influential officeholders on public boards, such as the department of health, the board of education and the police department; members of the judiciary; financiers and heads of banking houses, mercantile and manufacturing establishments, many of which exert a controlling influence in certain industries and financial combinations.
But the New York Kehillah is more than a local organization. It is the pattern and parent Jewish community in the United States, the visible entourage of the Jewish government, the dynamo which motivates those protests and mass meetings which are frequently heralded throughout the country, and the arsenal of that kind of dark power which the Jewish leaders know so well how to use. Incidentally, it is also the whispering gallery, where the famous whispering drives are originated and set in motion and made to break in lying publicity over the country.
The people of the United States have a deeper interest than they realize in the New York Kehillah.
The liaison between this center of Jewish power and the affairs of the people of the United States is made by the American Jewish Committee. The Committee and the Kehillah are practically identical as far as the national Jewish program is concerned. It may be added that through their foreign associations they are also identical as far as the world program is concerned.
The United States is divided into 12 parts by the American Jewish Committee. The remark that this division is after the Twelve Tribes of Israel may be disregarded. Suffice it to say that every state belongs to a district, and that District No. XII includes New York, and that the District Committee of District No. XII is chosen by the New York Kehillah, and is by weight of wealth, authority and continuous effort in behalf of Judah justly recognized as the center of Jewish power in America, and it may be in the world also. This committee, some of the names of whose members are impressive, represents the focusing point of the religious, racial, financial and political will of Jewry. This committee, it should be remembered, is also the executive committee of the New York Kehillah. New York Jewry is the dynamo of the national Jewish machinery. Its national instrument is the American Jewish Committee.
There are certain announced purposes of these associations, and there are certain purposes which are not announced. The announced purposes may be read in printed pages; the purposes not announced may be read in the records of attempted acts and achieved results. To keep the record straight let us look first at the announced purposes of the American Jewish Committee, then of the Kehillah; next at the line which binds the two together; and then at the real purposes as they are construed from a long list of attempts and achievements.
The American Jewish Committee, organized in 1906, announced itself as incorporated for the following purposes:
1. To prevent the infraction of the civil and religious rights of the Jews in any part of the world.
2. To render all lawful assistance and to take appropriate remedial action in event of threatened or actual invasion or restriction of such rights, or of unfavorable discrimination with respect thereto.
3. To secure for the Jews equality of economic, social and educational opportunities.
4. To alleviate the consequences of persecution wherever they may occur, and to afford relief from calamities affecting Jews.
It will thus be seen to be an exclusively Jewish program. There is nothing reprehensible about it. If it meant only what it said, and was observed only as to its ostensible purpose, it would be not only unobjectionable but commendable.
The charter of the Kehillah empowers it, among other things, to establish an educational bureau, to adjust differences between Jewish residents or organizations by arbitration or by means of boards of mediation or conciliation; while the Constitution announces the purpose to be:
to further the cause of Judaism in New York City and to represent the Jews in this city with respect to all local matters of Jewish interest.
Where the American Committee and the Kehillah join forces is shown as follows:
Furthermore, inasmuch as the American Jewish Committee was a national organization, the Jewish Community (Kehillah) of New York City, if combined with it, would have a voice in shaping the policy of Jewry throughout the land.
1. It is expressly understood that the American Jewish Committee shall have exclusive jurisdiction over all questions of a national or international character affecting the Jews generally.
2. The membership of the American Jewish Committee is to be increased, so that the Twelfth District shall have allotted to it 25 members.
3. These 25 members are to be elected by the Jewish Committee (Kehillah) of New York City.
4. These 25 men shall at the same time constitute the Executive Committee of the Community (Kehillah).
It will be seen, therefore, that the Kehillah and the principal body of the American Jewish Committee are one. The capital of the United States, in Jewish affairs, is New York. Perhaps that may throw a sidelight on the desperate efforts which are being continually made to exalt New York as the spring and source of all the thoughts worth while today. New York, the Jewish capital of the United States, has also been sought to be made the financial center, the art center, the political center of the country. But its art is Aphrodite, Mecca and Afgar; its politics are those of a Judaized Tammany. Tell it not to the American Jewish Committee, nor yet to the Kehillah, but let all Americans know that most of the United States lies west of New York. The country has come to view that strip of Eastern coast as a miasmatic place whence rises the fetid drivel of all that is subversive in public thought. It is the home of anti-American propaganda, of pro-Jewish hysteria, a mad confusion of mind that passes in some quarters as a picture of America. But America is west of the metropolis; New York is an unassimilated province on the outskirts of the nation.
As nine-tenths of all the Jews in the United States live in allegiance to organizations which look to the American Jewish Committee as their overlord, the influence of the New York Kehillah on the nation is not hard to measure. In every town, large and small, even where the Jewish community consists of a few, 30 or 75 souls, there is a leading Jew, be he rabbi, merchant or public officeholder, who is in constant touch with headquarters. What is done in New Orleans or Los Angeles or Kansas City is known in New York with surprising dispatch.
Incidentally, it would interest some clergymen to know that their names are listed among those who can be depended on to play the Jewish hand whenever required.
Now, the public statement of purpose on the part of these Jewish bodies has just been shown. It is seen that the protection of Jewish rights is the ostensible programagainst which no one can say a word. Perhaps the term Jewish rights is unfortunately chosen. If Jewish rights coincide with American rights, then more than the Jews are protecting themthe whole American nation is engaged in that work.
But it is not true that Jewish rights are the same as American rights. Unfortunately the Jews have adopted an attitude which could only have sprung from the belief that it is a Jewish right to Judaize the United States.
This is one of the dangerous doctrines being preached today, and most assiduously by Jews and those who have been influenced by Jewish thought, namely, that the United States is not any definite thing as yet, but that it is yet to be made, and it is still the prey of whatever power can seize it and mold it to its liking. It is a favorite Jewish view that the United States is a great unshapen mass of potentiality, of no particular character which is yet to be given its definite form. It is in the light of this view that Jewish activity must be interpreted.
That doctrine with which so large a mass of Americans are inoculated is making havoc with the whole Americanization program today. It is broadening America out of all semblance to its distinctive self and blurring those determining ideals and ideas on which American institutions are based. The attempt, first to give the people to understand that the United States is nothing particular as yet, and second to make it something different spiritually from what it has always been, is peculiarly agreeable to the philosophy which sways the internationally-minded Hebrew. We are not making Americans; we are permitting foreigners to be educated in the theory that America is a free-for-all, the prize of whatever fantastic foreign political theory may seize it.
There you have the secret of the great refusal of the foreign population to change themselves into conformity with America; why should they, when they are taught that America may be changed into conformity with them?
It is time to limit our broad-mindedness until it will fit within the limits of the Constitution and the traditions which made America what it isthe desired haven, even in preference to Palestine, of all the Jews and every other race.
So, then, what is the conception of Jewish rights which the Kehillah and the American Jewish Committee are organized to defend? It is only by deductions from the acts of these bodies that the answer can be formulated.
In the Jewish records for the year 5668 (1907-1908) we read:
Perhaps the most noticeable feature of the year in America has been the demand in certain quarters for the complete secularization of the public institutions of the country, what may be deemed the demand of the Jews for their full constitutional rights.
Let the reader notice that the only time he finds the religious note struck in this series of studies of International Jewish activity, it is struck by the Jews. Honest non-Jews have been nonplussed by the Jewish charge that any scrutiny of Jewish action is religious persecution, even when religion has never been thought of or mentioned. The explanation is not far to seek. In the above quotation the religious note is struck at once: the full constitutional rights of Jews demands that we effect the complete secularization of the public institutions of the country.
That is worth thinking of. But to continue the quotation:
Justice Brewers article asserting that this is a Christian country has been challenged more than once, and the idea was formally combated in papers by Dr. Herbert Friedenwald, of New York, Isaac Hassler, of Philadelphia, and Rabbi Ephraim Frisch, of Little Rock, Arkansas.
The legal and theoretical argument was supplemented in a practical way by widespread opposition to Bible readings and Christmas carols in public schools, an opposition specifically decided upon by the Central Conference of American Rabbis.
In New York the agitation against the carols produced a counter-demonstration in their favor, and the matter seems to have been left to the discretion of the individual teacher.
In Philadelphia, Cincinnati, St. Paul and maybe elsewhere, there were similar movements and counter-movements, and the question may yet return to plague us.
There you have, in officially authorized Jewish statement, what the Jews conceive to be a part of their Jewish rights.
A careful examination of the intensive propaganda conducted by the Kehillah and the American Jewish Committee will not only reveal that the whole United States is considered to be the legitimate field for Jewish interference, but also that a very wide diversity of rights is insisted upon by them.
In dozens of states and hundreds of towns and cities this program has been plied, but always with too little publicity to appraise the people what is going on. In any number of cases the Jews win their contentions because of the local pressure they are able to produce, usually by their very forehanded way of selecting and obligating public officials. In other instances they have lost, but every loss they credit to a beginning of their educational campaign. A loss enables them to teach a lesson to somebody by means of a boycott or a changed attitude on the part of the local bank, or in some other way equally effective in creating the fear of the Jews.
The Jews have evidently convinced themselves that the Constitution of the United States entitles them to change the character of many of the time-honored practices obtaining here, and if this is true, American citizens should take cognizance of these things and prepare to adjust themselves to further changes. If they do not take kindly to further changes at the behest of Jewry, they owe it to themselves to know what the Jewish program is, that they may meet it with a higher type of weapon than that to which the Jew naturally resorts.
It is intended in this and the following article to indicate, by the actual program, what the real objective of Jewry is in the United States. When you collect and summarize all the demands that have been made by the New York Kehillah alone, you gain an idea of what is afoot. A few of these demands are referred to now, subject to further illustration in another article.
1. The unrestricted admission of Jewish immigration to this country from any part of the world.
Heads of Kehillah labor unions in New York demand that the Jews in Europe be exempted from the operation of whatever American immigration law may be passed. The Kehillah is many times on record to this effect. No matter where the Jews may come fromRussia, Poland, Syria, Arabia or Moroccothey are to be let in no matter who may be kept out.
Note: As one pursues the study of Jewish rights, the quality of exemption seems to appear in most of them. Nowhere do the Jews proclaim their separateness as a people more than in their unceasing demands that they be treated differently than any other people and given privileges that no other people would dream of asking.
2. The official recognition by City, State and Federal governments of the Jewish Religion.
The Kehillah in its reports describes its efforts to obtain special recognition of Jewish holidays, in some cases going so far as to demand the continuance of pay to public employees who absent themselves at Yom Kippur, at the same time, opposing the continuance of pay to Catholic public employees who desired to observe the chief Lenten days. This is a peculiarly inconsistent form of the demand for exemption which has led to some interesting situations, to be dealt with later.
3. The suppression of all references to Christ by City, State and Federal authorities, in public documents or at public gatherings.
Kehillah records show that the Jews of Oklahoma addressed a petition to the convention which formulated the first state constitution, protesting that the acknowledgement of Christ in the instrument would be repugnant to the Constitution of the United States. The record also shows that a Jewish rabbi protested against a governor of Arkansas using a Christological expression in his Thanksgiving Day proclamation.
4. Official recognition of the Jewish Sabbath.
The educational, cultural, business and industrial life of the United States is regulated with reference to Sunday as the legal day of rest. For over ten years the Kehillah has sought legislative recognition for Saturday. In the absence of official recognition, however, much public business is held up on account of jurors and others refusing to serve on Saturday. Jewish lawyers in the trial of cases are frequently ill on Saturdays. There is, of course, no objections to Jews recognizing their own Sabbath. This is their American privilege. But to make their Sabbath the Sabbath of all the people is another question. The Jews chief objection to the observance of Sunday is that it is a Christological manifestation.
5. The right of the Jews in this country to keep open their stores, factories and theatres, and to trade and work on the Christian Sunday.
The Kehillah, through the Jewish Sabbath Alliance (Rabbi Bernard Drachman, president), is promoting the observance of the Holy Sabbath in every possible way, through propaganda made to promote Sabbath sentiment, and the distribution of circulars and pamphlets to the Yiddish populations of New York City. Sabbath sentiment is unobjectionable, but it becomes anti-Sunday sentiment. The Sunday laws of the city are, therefore, often broken. Much agitation and ill feeling result. Kehillah records are full of the disagreeable conditions which this demand promotes.
6. Elimination of Christmas celebrations in public schools and public places, police stations, and so on, public displays of Christmas trees, singing of Christmas carols and Christian hymns.
Kehillah compelled the Council of University Settlement in New York City to adopt a resolution that in holiday celebrations held annually by the Kindergarten Association, Christmas trees, a Christmas program for celebration and the singing of Christmas songs be eliminated.
Kehillah records show that Jews petitioned the Chicago School Board, demanding that sectarian teachings in public schools and the singing of Christian hymns be discontinued.
Also that at the demand of a Jewish rabbi, three public school principals were compelled to omit all Christmas celebrations and the use of the Christmas tree in public schools.
7. The removal from office or prosecution of all public persons who criticize the Jewish race, even where such action is in the public interest.
Judge Otto A. Rosalsky, member of the Kehillah, announces that he will try to put through a bill for the prosecution of all persons who criticize the Jewish race.
Kehillah leaders at public meeting condemn City Magistrate Cornell for criticizing the East Side Yiddish Community because of the increase in criminality of Jewish youth, and demand his impeachment.
Leaders of New York Jewry succeed in having Police Commissioner Bingham removed from office by the Mayor because of his criticism of criminality among Russian-Polish Jews of New York City.
8. The establishment of Bet Dins, or Jewish courts, in public courthouses.
The Kehillah has succeeded in the establishment of a Bet Din in the Criminal Courts Building, New York, at which there presides the Rev. Dr. Aaron A. Yudelovitch, Chief Rabbi of the United States.
Kehillah records show that prominent Jews of Jersey City, Paterson, Newark, Bayonne and Hoboken have organized to establish Bet Dins in New Jersey.
9. The right to eliminate from all schools and colleges all literature that is objected to by Jews.
Kehillah records show that Jews have prohibited the reading of the Merchant of Venice and Lambs Tales from Shakespeare from schools throughout the country, including those in Galveston and El Paso, Texas; Cleveland, Ohio, and Youngstown, Ohio.
At the present time a cleaning of public library shelves is proceeding in a number of cities to prevent the public securing books which public money has boughtthe objection to the books being that they discuss Jews as they are. All books in praise of Jews are spared.
10. Prohibition of the term Christian or the use of the phrase state, religion and nationality in any public advertisement, as being an invasion of Jewish rights and a discrimination against Jews.
Louis Marshall, as president of the American Jewish Committee, obtained apologies from Charles M. Schwab, as director of the United States Shipping Board; Benjamin Strong, governor of the Federal Reserve Bank and head of the Liberty Loan Committee; Secretary McAdoo and Secretary of War Baker, because of the use of the term Christian in help wanted advertisements inserted in newspapers by their subordinates.
The Jews succeeded in obtaining the withdrawal of the Junior Plattsburg Manual, used by students in officers training camps, because it contained the phrase the ideal officer is a Christian gentleman, which the Jews construed to be an infringement of their rights.
The Kehillah in its report for 1920 stated that several important New York newspapers, having been informed by it that the term Christian had appeared in the help wanted advertisements of mercantile firms, the owners of the newspapers sent in their apologies, and promised stricter censorship in the future.
The Jews do not consider the use of the term Jews in help wanted advertisements as discrimination against non-Jews, and Jewish mercantile houses continue its use in their advertisements in the New York Times and other Jewish-owned dailies.
These are Jewish rights as they are indicated by Jewish demands. But they are by no means all; they are merely typical of all the so-called rights and all the insistent demands.
To go still further: the Kehillah condemned the use of the term Americanization, because of the implication that there is no distinction between Americanization and Christianization. Americanization is claimed by Jews to be a mere cloak for proselytizing.
The Kehillah is behind demands on public funds for the support of Jewish educational, charitable, correctional and other institutions. One important point about the great influx of Jewish immigration is that tens of thousands of these people come from lands where Jewish government has been established by order of the Peace Conference, and where public funds supported Jewish activities. Their attitude toward America in this respect may therefore be accurately gauged.
It is a common practice in New York for the Jews to force themselves into juries which try Jewish cases. Jewish law students, with which the city swarms, work their way through college partly or wholly by jury duty.
Another Jewish right is that the Associated Press shall print what the Jews want printed and in exactly the tone the Jews desire. This is perhaps one of the factors in the loss of luster on the part of the Associated Press of late years, the feeling that it is too much under the influence of certain groups, which are not non-Jewish groups. Newspapermen all sense this; A.P. men throughout the country sense it; but they express it in newspaper terms; they say The A.P. gives a New York coloring to everything. But the ingredients of the New York coloring are 85 per cent Jewish.
From a survey of the demands, these appear to be some of the Jewish rights which the Kehillah and the American Jewish Committee are organized to secure. And how far they say they have succeeded, we shall next see.
[THE DEARBORN INDEPENDENT, issue of 5 March 1921]