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November 04, 1966 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1966-11-04

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Purely Commentary

Musicians on all continents joined, last month, in
honoring the memory of a great pianist, a noted orchestra
conductor and a most interesting personality, when the
30th anniversary of his death was recalled.
It was an occasion for world Jewry to pay special
tribute to a man who had made great contributions to
Zionist efforts and whose deep interest in the pre-Israel
Palestinian projects made the cause of Jewish national
rebirth his chief concern in life.
These are generallY unknown facts, yet Gabrilowitsch
was adamant in his views. It
was not a secret: he wanted
it known that his chief inter-
est was in the Palestinian ef-
forts of the Zionist move-
His background was that
of a childhood in a most as-
similated Jewish home. There
were rumors that he had
been converted, but these
were never proven, and it is
doubtful whether he had ever
abandoned his Jewish faith
or whether his parents had
led him into a Christian af-
filiation. A lack of a Jewish
education, non-affiliation with
Jews, led him astray from
Jewish ranks. How, then, did ti
he come to Palestine and to
There is a story which
may or may not be aprocry-
phal, and much truth has been
attached to it by those who
were close to him. It was in
the late 1920s that Gabrilo-
witseh went to Palestine to
visit with a childhood friend,
an eminent violinist whose
name I have been unable to
ascertain—one who, like him,
was raised in a thoroughly Gabrilowitsch
assimilated home. When Gabrilowitsch confronted his
friend he found him without an arm and as he faced him,
aghast, he heard his friend tell him: "Ossip, do you re-
member our childhood, our indifference to our Jewish
background? It didn't help me when a pogrom broke out
in our home town. That's when I lost my arm. When you
go back to America, don't you forget what you see here
now. You can't escape it, Ossip ! You're a Jew !"
Never again did Ossip Gabrilowitsch want to escape it.
He came back to the United States, began to propagate
Zionism, joined in campaigns on behalf of the Palestine
Symphony Orchestra.
He associated closely with the founder of the Pale-
stine Symphony Orchestra, the world-famous violinist,
Bronislaw Haberman. Early. in 1933, Huberman had
written a strong letter to Wilhelm Furtwaengler, the
German conductor, denouncing Nazism. Many exiled
German musicians had gone to Palestine, and Huber-
man was inspired by the idea of a Palestine Symphony
Orchestra, whose first concert, upon the founding of
the orchestra, was conducted in Tel Aviv by Arturo
It was in this project that Gabrilowitsch took a special
interest. His dedication was especially evidenced in 1932.
He had contributed regularly to the Detroit Allied Jewish
Campaign. One of Detroit's most prominent community
personalities who was active on the board of the Detroit
Symphony Society again approached Gabrilowitsch for a
contribution. It was then that Gabrilowitsch's preference
became known, when, under date of May 17, 1932, the emi-
nent director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra wrote:
"As per our conversation over the telephone of
yesterday, I am sending you herewith check for (blank
amount), for the Allied Jewish Campaign. It is under-
stood that the amount of my contribution will not be
made public. In forwarding this contribution to you I
wish to make it clear that the modest amount it rep-
resents must not be interpreted as a lack of sufficient
interest on my part in the affairs of Jewish welfare.
On the contrary, my interest in such matters is very

Ossip Gabrilowitsch—world-famed pianist
and composer, whose dedication to Zion-
ism helped build the Palestine Symphony.

earnest, but for reasons which I explained to you over
the telephone yesterday, I have always made a point
of directing my contributions to Palestine—rather
than to American Jewish philanthropic organizations.
My reasons for this are very simple. I know that there
always are and always will be plenty of JeWs in the
United States whO will contribute to the regular
philanthropic campaigns in the country. Unfortunately,
there are only very few who take any interest in Pale•
stinian affairs.. I do believe that those of us who are
interested in Palestine should make an effort to some-
what readjust this balance, and this can best be done
by sending contributions to Palestine direct.
"The recipients of such contributions, (as far as
my donations are concerned) are not only musicians
and musical institutions, but also other philanthropic
organizations in Palestine. In the course of years they
have come to regard my small donations as something
they may look forward to with a certain regularity.
Therefore, I do not feel that such monies should be
deflected from them and directed to institutions
located in Detroit or elsewhere in the United States.
"I believe that my point of view in this matter
is logical. I have maintained it for several years in
the past, and intend to maintain it in the future. If,
nevertheless, I am sending you a check today, this is
done simply because you mentioned yesterday that it
may be of some moral assistance to your campaign. I
must state, however, that I cannot obligate myself to
repeat this contribution in the future, as it may
become more and more imperative to send money
direct to Palestine."
Sincerely yours,
Ossip Gabrilowitsch
The name of the man to whom this letter was ad-
dressed is immaterial. He is a former president of Temple
Beth El. He had held many important civic and Jewish
posts. He was deeply impressed, and this letter is among
his prized possessions.
The Ossip Gabrilowitsch Jewish saga is so deeply mov-
ing that it deserves a special chapter in American-Jewish-
Israeli history. In April of 1932 he stated in an interview:
"I regret that in my childhood I did not study Hebrew
and now, at this period of my life, you can understand it
would require very much of my time—but to be able to
read the Book of Books, the Bible, in Hebrew, is an ac-
complishment which has been denied me. It is fine and
poetical, this language of our ancestors, and you may say
for me that I would consider it a privilege to know He-
brew. Young Jewish people should be encouraged to study
the language."
Let it be noted that when he made this statement he
was 54 years old. He was only 58 at the time of his death,
Sept. 14, 1936.
On numerous occasions, Gabrilowitsch spoke glow-
ingly of the work of Hadassah, and he took a deep
interest in the Jewish National Fund. The land re-
demption agency of the Zionist movement seemed to
have a special fascination for him.
In 1934, Gabrilowitsch expressed a deep interest in
the JNF. He was invited by Mrs. Philip (Anna G.) Slomo-
vitz, who then chaired a donor event for the JNF, to be a
guest of the women's group. He made an effort to attend
the event, but finding himself pre-dated with an out-of-
town engagement, had his secretary, Miss Phyllis Harring-
ton, sent Mrs. Slomovitz a contribution to the JNF.
He had met Mrs. Slomovitz at the convention of the
National Council of Jewish Women, held in Detroit the
end of March 1932. She had gone to the banquet of the
convention on behalf of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Gabrilowitsch was the guest artist. After his recital, Mrs.
Slomovitz followed him into a reception room. Some
Council women, then extremely opposed to Zionism, guessed
her mission and rushed after her to prevent her reaching
the eminent pianist. But she gained her ground and ap-
proached the guest artist with the question:
"Mr. Gabrilowitsch, I understand that your honorarium
of $500 for tonight's concert is being waived by you, con-
ditional upon its being used for the new music movement
in Palestine? I represent the JTA. Do you have any ob-
jections to my stating the conditions you made for appear-
ing here tonight?"
"Objection?" he replied heatedly. "Of course not ! I
want it known that I want my fee to go for the aid of the
great cause of music in Palestine."

By Philip

And he proceeded to state that "there is in Pale-
stine a music school and choral organizations, and
there is hope for the organization of a symphony and
an orchestra"; that "something distinctly Jewish will
arise as a result of the new Jewish developments in
Thus, Gabrilowitsch was among the pioneers in estab-
lishing the Palestine Symphony Orchestra, whose first con-
cert was held Dec. 26, 1936, under Toscanini's direction—
three months after Gabrilowitsch's death. But that concert
was also an occasion for tribute to his memory—and the
present Israel Philharmonic is an outgrowth of the move-
ment that was inspired by Ossip Gabrilowitsch.
When he spoke of Palestine, in the several interviews
that were held with him, Gabrilowitsch took occasion to
comment on the work of his friend, Prof. S. Rosovsky, ail
Russian-Jewish musicologist, who was conducting studi ,
ancient Hebrew music, at the Palestine Institute of MuSh. _
He anxiously volunteered - opinions on what Amer-
ican Jews should do to help the Zionist cause: air
think," he said, "it is our duty to help those who are
in Palestine at present and to give them all the moral
and financial support at our command. I cannot speak
too highly of the type of men and women I saw in
Palestine—they are saints and the sacrifices they
make have left a deep impression with me."
His life was not without unhappiness. His wife, Clara
Clemens, the daughter of Mark Twain, gained only partial
success as a singer. His daughter, Nina, died last January
in a California motel, after having
been institutionalized. There are no
survivors—and there are no so-
vivors now to Mark Twain.
Mrs: Gabrilowitsch remarried,
but she was deeply devoted to her
late, first, great husband.
Less than a month before Gabri-
lowitsch's passing—he died of can-
cer—I had an appointment with her
at their home on West Boston Bou-
levard in Detroit. She was about
15 minutes late for the appoint-
ment and she apologized: she had
been at her husband's bedside at
the hospital.
We spoke about Gabrilowitsch
and about Mark Twain — but
what concerned her was the fate
Mark Twain of her daughter: "You know
what is happening now under Hitler," she said. "Ile
is persecuting not only Jews but half Jews—and my
daughter is half-Jewish ! Do you think the horrors of
Germany can strike us here?" I assured her that
America was not Germany !
In a tribute to the late pianist-composer, "I Knew
Gabrilowitsch," in the DAC News of Detroit, Herman
Wise, who was music editor of the Detroit Free Press
during the years of Gabrilowitsch's direction of the De-
troit Symphony Orchestra, wrote, with reference to Mark
Twain and his daughter, quoting Clara Clemens Gabrilo-
witsch's impressions of her father and her husband:
"Mrs. Gabrilowitsch enjoyed telling of the many eve-
nings she spent listening to her father and husband ex-
change ideas or philosophize about things in general Or
enjoy hearty laughs as the highly developed sense of
humor of the two men was brought into play. Each had
temper to spare, she said, with one important difference—,
Mark Twain expressed what he had to say with thunder
and blasphemy, her husband with firmness and with never
an objectionable word. But the two men had much in col:Si-
mon, particularly self-condemnation and the ability to
laugh at one's self, and their mutual respect was genuine!"
There is very little about Gabrilowitsch in Mark
Twain's writings, but the fact is that he was most respect-
ful of Judaism. This cynic who condemned all religions
admired Jews and Judaism. He criticized Christianity ,
never Judaism. He wrote an admiring article about the
Jews as "a marvelous race" during the early years of the
Affair Dreyfus.
Two great names are linked historically —'
Twain's with Ossip Gabrilowitsch's. And Gabrilowitsch
indelibly and inseparably fused with music, Jewry, Z
ism and Israel.

(Copyright, 1966, Seven Arts •Feature Syndicate)

Israel Week Celebration Starts Here Monday

Moshe Kol, newly appointed
Co-sponsors of the week's ac-
minister of tourism and develop- tivities to be held at the Sheraton-
ment of the State of Israel, will Cadillac Hotel are the Midwest
visit Detroit
X-f I
ees of the consulate general
%. . :-,,,--, o ff i ces
Monday to at
of Israel, the Sheraton Tel Aviv
tend the opening.:
Hotel, El Al Israel Airlines, Greek
of "Israel Week .
Line and Israel Government Tour-
in Detroit."
ist Office.
During his
Special attractions of the week
first visit here
will include nightly presentations
in his new post,*
open to the public free of charge,
Kol will meet
featuring films on Israel, arts and
with various
. *: ,. crafts exhibits, travel displays,
g r oups of lead -
,..,, 1 prizes and refreshments. In addi-
era to discuss
tion, there will be presentations
ways and means
for clubs as well as seminars for
of promoting travel to Israel.
Governor George Romney travel agents and their staff.
Special shipments of Israeli
and Mayor Jerome. Cavanagh
officially proclaimed the period merchandise will be available at
Nov. 7.11 as "Israel Week in Winkelman's in honor of Israel

2 Friday, November 4, 1966

The regional trade commission-
er for the State of Israel, Pinhas
Dror, will be at the Sheraton-
Cadillac Hotel during the week.
The public is invited to attend
the evening presentations for
which invitations are available
free of charge from any Detroit
travel agent.
A film, "Land of a Thousand
Faces," which will be shown
during the Israel Week, explores
Israel through the medium of
its thousand facial types, show
ing among other things, seaside
resorts, tourist facilities, and his-
torical and religious sites. This
unique travelogue is not nar-
rated but is accompanied by
music which most expressively
conveys the feeling and tempo
of the Israelis. This music was
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS composed by Noam Sherif, a

prominent young Israeli com-
The film's significance is further
explained as depicting colors in
Israel and emphasizing the fol-
lowing factors:
"An exciting camera tour through
Israel starting with cosmo-
politan Tel Aviv . . . going down
through the desert, where nature
and history have combined to give
the area great beauty and vitality
. on through the beautiful green
Galilee to Capernahum and Tabgha
on the shores of the Sea of Gali-
Travel to Israel has increased
threefold over the past five years
with 300,000 tourists having visit-
ed the Holy Land in 1965. Travel
officials are predicting that the
young nation of Israel, celebrating
its 18th year of independence, will

attract 600,000 tourists in 1970.
The Israel Week program in
Detroit follows:
Monday, 10 a.m., raising of lo-
raeli flag above entrances to
Sheraton-Cadillac H o t e I; 5:30
p.m., Woodward Room, reception
for travel agents, airline and
steamship personnel, civic officials,
leaders of industry and commerce;
6:30-7:30 p.m;, Sheraton Room,
seminar for travel agents; 8:30
p.m., presentation to the general
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thum
day, 6:30 and 9 p.m., presentations
to the general public.
All the latter events will be
in the Woodward Room of the
Sheraton-Cadillac Hotel. Refresh-
ments will be served after each
'presentation,. and prizes will be

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