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April 22, 1966 - Image 13

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1966-04-22

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

13. G. Richards—Most Informed Octogenarian

Prinz Won't Run Again Israel Chief Justice
for AJCongress Office
'On Trial' Out of Court
TEL AVIV (ZINS) — Israel
Convention Wednesday Chief
Justice Haim Cohn is now


(A Seven Arts Feature)
Bernard G. Richards, popularly
and properly regarded as the
"Jewish Information Man," is a
man of firm convictions who has
never in his long years on the
Jewish scene w‘,
hesitated to chal- '''''
lenge even the
mightiest in our
community when
he thought them
in error. Recent-
ly, however, he
a encountered an
error but kept
--- , his silence, thus
7---- ----'
lending fresh af-
firmation to the
adage that si-
lence is golden.
It was at a
birthday party
given for him
at the home of
his daughter. As
he came in he
noticed that the
inevitable birth-
day cake was decorated with eight
lit candles, each representing a
decade. As BGR took in the
scene his first instinct was to
rebel against the error—for at
heart he is still a rebel•but on
second thought he decided against
revealing his personal secret.
Laughingly, he told the guests,
"I will not contradict the candles."
How does a man rich in years
look on the American Jewish scene
today? I asked Mr. Richards the
following day when we met in the
privacy of his office, which houses
the Jewish Information Bureau.
With unconcealed sadness, he re-
plied in substance: The outlook for
the future is a gloomy one. The
sole consolation is Israel. Our own
community suffers of a lack of
knowledgeable and independent
leadership. Our youth has its
sights on other objectives and our
affluent people generally are too
lacking in Jewish education and
knowledge to be competen$ for
Jewish leadership. There are, of
course, many competent and dedi-
cated men in our community, but,
unfortunately, there are too- many
who are dominated by quest for
publicity and personal gain, par-
ticularly image-wise. I have heard
it said that if we could only bring
back the intellectuals to our thres-
holds all would be well with Jewish
life. In truth, this is pure nonsense,
a joke. They were never there.
What we need is not only dedica-
tion, but unity of purpose and
action in our communal life. A
splintered community cannot hope
to stem the tide of indifference
thtat apparently is the basic
Malaise of our Jewish living today.
2 Perhaps the word indifference is
not the right one, but I cannot
think of a better one, unless it is
fatigue. Yes, at one time we were
a community dominated by a pro-
found enthusiasm. Today I seem to
sense a climate of waning dedica-
tion. We have become functional
instead of aspiring Jews.
At an age when most people are
ready to rest on their laurels, if
they have any, Mr. Richards is
busy writing another book. He
would not talk about this matter
beyond intimating that it would
be a panorama in ,depth of Jew-
ish life. The feeling in this earner
is that it will be telling still untold
stories about an array of out-
standing personalities in Jewish
life apart from recounting events
that could not be unfolded before
the passage of time and preserving
the little things that are the spice
of tales and happenings. Mr. Rich-
ards confided that he was hope-
ful of completing his book of
memoirs before long, but that he
wasn't getting enough encourage-
ment. -
Basically Mr. Richards is a
writer, as can be attested by his
rich contributions over more than
half a ‘ century. However, he also
happens to believe that writing
alone is not enough for a writer.
It was this that motivated him into
founding the Jewish Information


Friday, April 22, 1966-13

Bureau in 1932 after leaving the
American Jewish Congress. He saw
in the project a practical- means
of reaching out to people with
information of Jewish interest,
and his vision has been vindicated
by time.
The bureau, he said, receives
about 500 inquiries a month via
letters, personal visits and tele-
phone calls, many of them from
students, writers, scholars, govern.
ment officials, rabbis, priests, mini-
sters and housewives. There was
a shadow of pride on Mr. Richards
face as he remarked that "the
bureau has become an instrument
for spreading Jewish information,
Jewish knowledge."
Pulling out ,letters from his
desk - with the grace of a ma gi cian
picking rabbits out of his hat; Mr.
Richards paused at one from a
woman in India who had sought
information about the Mendel
Beilis trial for a book she was
writing about Russia. Anita
Mugdal was -her name, and she
was of Bombay and thankful to
Mr. Richards for the information
he was able to give her.
Summing up his years of service
with the bureau, Mr. Richards
said: "What I have done is gratify-
ing, but I am winding up with a
gloomy outlook for the future. • I
would like to see a responsible
group take over the task, and that
would be my reward."

..... ...

.. -----

As I left this remarkable man of
eighty-plus, I thought to myself:
The candles were .right.

Anniversary Exhibit of
Baron de Hirsch Fund

WASHINGTON — An exhibit of
documents, pictures and memor-
ablia celebrating the. 75th anni-
versary of the Baron de Hirsch
Fund has gone on display in the
Klutznick Exhibit Hall of the Bnai
Brith Building here and Will be
shown the rest of the year.
The fund was established in
1891 by Baron Maurice de Hirsch,
a wealthy Bavarian landowner and
banker, to assist Jews emigrating
to America. It offered courses in
English and citizenship, establish-
ed trade schools in New York and
Philadelphia and founded an agri-
cultural colony in Woodbine, N.J.,
at which, at one time, 2,000 Jews
farmed the land.
It also established the Jewish
Agricultural Society Which helped
Jewish farmers with loans, agri-
cultural scholarships and informa-
tion on new farming methods.
The exhibit includes a copy of
an 1890 letter Baron de Hirsch
sent his American friends — he
never set foot in the United States
—in which he urged steps be
taken to alleviate the plight of
Russian Jewry.

NEW YORK—Dr. Joachim Prinz,
president of the American Jewish
Congress for the past eight years,
announced he would not be a can-
didate for re-election when the
organization's national convention
takes place later this month.
Dr. Prinz, rabbi of Temple Bnai
Abraham in Newark, made the
announcement as he was honored
at a dinner in the Essex House at-
tended by 500 Jewish community
A hand-wrought silver kiddush
cup was presented to Dr. Prinz in
the name of the officers of the
Congress. Frank Abrams of New
York, treasurer of the Congress,
made the presentation.
Dr. Prinz, who is also, chair-
man of the Conference of Presi=
dents of Major American Jewish
Organizations, said he was step-
ping down from the Congtess
presidency "b e cause it's the
American thing not to be presi-
dent for more than eight years."
The American Jewish Congress
national convention at Grossinger's,
N.Y., starts Wednesday, and will
run through May 1. In addition to
electing a new president, the con-
vention delegates from across the
country will choose a chairman of
the organization's national govern-
ing council and other officers.

the target of severe criticism both
on the part of the religious par-
ties as well as from the left. Both
demand the resignation of the jus-
tice for different reasons.
The religious elements attack
him for his marriage to a divor-
cee, since a descendant of the
priestly class is forbidden such a
marriage. The left assail him be-
cause of his. abstaining from vot-
ing in the United Nations Com-
mission which adopted a resolu-
tion against the apartheid policy
of the South African government.

USSR to Produce Two
TV Programs in Israel

man • Soviet television production
team arrived here Monday, mark-
ing the USSR's first effort to
produce TV programs in Israel
since the Jewish State was reborn
in 1948.
The Soviet TV men will produce
two documentaries. One will deal
with life in Israel. The other will
be a documentary film on the life
of Shuta Rostavili, a Georgian
poet born 800 years- ago, who had
lived in Jerusalem.

He who could see only three
days into futurity -might enrich
himself forever.—Chinese proverb.

Diplomat With a Mission.

The year was 1871. Benjamin F. Peix-
otto, the first American Consul-General
to Bucharest, was presenting his creden-
tials to the Roumanian rulers, in the
form of a letter from President Grant.
Part of the letter read : "...Mr. Peixotto
has undertaken the duties of his present
office more as a missionary work for the
benefit of the people he represents, than
for any benefit to accrue to himself."
"Missionary work" was not a mis-
riomer. For Peixotto, a Jew, had accepted
a diplomatic post in a country which was
decidedly anti-Semitic. But Peixotto
was used to working for Jewish causes.
- In 1863, he had joined B'nai B'rith.
There, he worked to repeal the law that
forbade non-believers in the New Testa-
Ment from holding public office in North

Carolina. Building a home for Jewish
children whose fathers were killed in the
Civil War was another of his projects.
Peixotto carried this same zeal with
him to Roumania. He worked to stifle
impending anti-Semitic legislation, and
his efforts were amply rewarded when
the legislation met defeat. He improved
Jewish educational standards in schools.
To bring about better unity, he helped
form the Order of Zion, which later was
affiliated with B'nai B'rith.
The historian, Max J. Kohler, said of
Peixotto : "His chief merit was recog-
nized to have been his services in rous-
ing all Europe, as well as the United
States, against Roumanian anti-Semitic
intolerance and the importance of inter-
national action."



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