“Awake, Ye Who Slumber” (Vol. 1, Issue 2)
An editorial in a recent issue of the Commentator denouncing ‘the Rabbinical Assembly and the Central Conference of Reform Rabbis for their endorsement of the work of the Histadruth in Palestine has provoked considerable comment in Jewish circles. We feel it necessary to clarify our position in fuller detail.
Our opposition to the Histadruth does not spring from our failure to appreciate the valuable work of that organization in the material development of Eretz Israel. It is occasioned, rather, by their callous indifference to and disrespect for the spiritual values of traditional Judaism, an indifference that has recently festered into a general, militant opposition to the introduction of any semblance of traditional Jewish observance in the Holy Land. When their policy becomes one of discrimination against religious Jews, such as is being practised in the distribution of immigration certificates, it becomes a menace to the future of Judaism. Hundreds and thousands of poverty-stricken, religious Jews in Eastern Europe, fully qualified as Chalutzim, await eagerly an opportunity to emigrate to Palestine. Nevertheless, the Palestine Bureau under the dictatorship of Isaac Greenbaum, well-known for his anti-religious sentiment, turns a deaf ear to their heart-rending appeals, issuing certificates instead, on the basis of narrow party divisions. Among the many instances of open defiance of ‘traditional Jewish principles and shameless breach of faith can be cited the recent Haifa affair. Tho the Histadruth through its spokesmen at the last meeting of the General Actions Committee in Jerusalem, yielding to organized protest from Orthodox Jewry, agreed to introduce Kashruth into its public kitchens in all Palestinian cities, the Rabbinate of Haifa was forced to issue the following statement
“Whereas rumors have recently been circulated to the effect that meat issuing from th slaughter-house operated by the Histadruth is kosher, we feel it our duty to warn the public that the meat prepared in the said’ slaughter-house is ‘nevelah’ and “is prohibited by Jewish law.”
The Histadruth affiliates in America, parading at their recent Annual Convention with the endorsement of hundreds of American Rabbis, found it convenient to open their convention on Friday night. Their “respect for traditional Judaism” was given its highest expression when, in a smoke-filled room, they ushered in the Sabbath to the clicking of type-writers. It is our firm conviction that a Palestine built such a spirit will be totally meaningless to the Jewish people.
What ires us most, however, is the continued inactivity of Orthodox Jewry. The first in protest, the loudest in denunciation of anti-religious manifestations, our rabbis have always been the last in action. While they are either disregarding actual facts or dallying before taking decisive action, the anti-religious development in Palestine continues apace. The present outlook offers little hope for improvement after the Zionist Congress this summer. As long as the Agudath Horabonim, the Rabbinical Association of the Yeshiva and other Rabbinical groups maintain their present silence on this all-important problem in Jewish life, they are betraying their responsibility as the Orthodox leaders of American Jewry. Are we to interpret their inactivity as silent acquiescence with the action of the Reform and Conservative Rabbis?