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June 11, 1982 - Image 72

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1982-06-11

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72 Friday, June 11, 1982


Justice Brandeis' Historic Zionist Call to the Educated Jew

rests; al-
(Continued from Page 1)
Jew. The weaker ones Century
attained distinction or other passed either out of though the servility inci-
Judaism or out of existence. dent to persistent op-
In combination, they may
And finally, the Jewish pression has some coun-
properly be called Jewish capacity for hard work is tries obscured its man-
qualities. For they have not also the product of Jewish ifestation.
come to us by accident; they life — a life characterized by
Among the Jews democ-
were developed by 3,000 temperate, moral living racy was not an ideal
years of civilization and continued throughout the merely. It was a practice —
nearly 2,000 years of perse- ages, and protected by those a practice made possible by
cution; developed through marvelous sanitary regula- the existence among them of
our religion and spiritual tions which were enforced certain conditions essential
life; through our traditions; through the religious sanc- to successful democracy,
and through the social and tions.
political conditions under
Remember, too, that
• First: An all-prevading
whiCh our ancestors lived. amidst the hardship to
They are, in short, the prod- which our ancestors were sense of duty in the citizen.
uct of Jewish life.
exposed it was only those Democratic ideals cannot be
intellectual with endurance who sur- attained through emphasis
merely upon the rights of
capacity was developed vived.
by the almost continuous
So let us not imagine man. Even a recognition
training of the mind that what we call our that every right has a cor-
throughout 25 centuries. achievements are wholly relative duty will not meet
The Torah led the or even largely our own. the needs of democracy.
"People of the Book" to The phrase "self-made
Duty must be accepted as
intellectual pursuits at man" is most misleading. the dominant conception in
times when most of the We have power to mar; life. Such were the condi-
Aryan peoples were illit- but we alone cannot
Religion imposed the use
The relatively large suc-
of the mind upon the Jews, cess achieved by Jews
indirectly as well as di- wherever the door of oppor-
rectly. It demanded of the tunity was opened to them
Jew not merely the love, but is due, in the main, to this
also the understanding of product of Jewish life — to
God. This necessarily in- this treasure which we have
volved a study of the law.
acquired by inheritance —
The conditions under and which we are in duty
which the Jews were corn- bound to transmit unim-
pelled to live during the last paired, if not augmented, to
2,000 years promoted study coming generations.
in a people among whom
But our inheritance com-
there was already consider- prises far- more than this
able intellectual attain- combination of qualities
ment. Throughout the cen- making for effectiveness.
turies of persecution practi- These are but means by
cally the only life open to which man may earn a liv-
the Jew which could give ing or achieve other success. tions in the early days of the
satisfaction was the intel- Our Jewish trust comprises colonies and states of New
lectual and spiritual life. also that which makes the England, when American
Other fields of activity and living worthy and success of democracy reached there its
of distinction which divert value. It brings us that body fullest expression; for the
men from intellectual pur- of moral and intellectual Puritans were trained in
suits were-closed to Jews.
perceptions, the point of implicit obedience to stern
Thus they were protected view and the ideals, which duty by constant study of
by their privations from the are expressed in the term the Prophets.
temptations of material Jewish spirit; and therein
• Second: Relatively
things and worldly ambi- lies our richest inheritance. high intellectual attain-
tions. Driven by circum-
ments. Democratic ideals
"Is it not a striking fact cannot be attained by the
stances to intellectual pur-
suits, their mental capacity that a people coming from mentally underdeveloped.
gradually developed. And Russia, the most autocratic In a government where
as men - delight in that of countries, to America, the everyone is part sovereign,
which they do well, there most democratic of coun-
everyone should be compe-
was an ever-widening tries, comes here, not as to a tent, if not to govern, at
appreciation of things intel- strange land, but as to a least to understand the
home. The ability of the problems of government;
Is not the Jews' in- Russian Jew to adjust him- and to this end education is
domitable will — the self to America's essentially an essential.
The early New
power which enables democratic conditions is not
them to resist temptation to be explained by Jewish Englanders appreciated
and, fully utilizing their adaptability. The explana- fully that education is an
mental capacity, to over- tion lies mainly in the fact essential of potential
come obstacles — is not that the 20th Century equality. The founding of
that quality also the re- ideals of America have been their common school sys-
sult of the conditions the ideals of the Jew for tem was coincident with
the founding of the col-
under which they lived so more than 20 centuries.
We have inherited onies; and even the estab-
To live as a Jew during these ideals of democ- lishment of institutions
the centuries of persecution racy and of social justice for higher education did
was to lead a constant as we have the qualities not lag far behind. Har-
struggle for existence. That of mind, body and char- vard College was
struggle was so severe that acter to which I referred. founded but six years
only the fittest could sur- We have inherited also after the first settlement
vive. Survival was not that fundamental longing of Boston.
• Third: Submission to
possible except where there for truth on which all . sci-
was strong will —. a will ence — and so largely the leadership as distinguished
both to live and to live as a civilization of the 20th from authority. Democratic

inheritance, but to preserve
and, if possible, augment it;
and then transmit it to corn-
ing generations. The fruit of
3,000 years of civilization
and a hundred generations
of suffering may not be sac-
rificed by us. It will be sac-
rificed if dissipated.
Assimilation is national
suicide. And assimilation
can be prevented only by
preserving national char-
acteristics and life as other
peoples, large and small,
are preserving and develop-
ing their national life. Shall
we with our inheritance do
less than the Irish, the Ser-
bians, or the Bulgars?
must we not, like tt
have a land where t,
Jewish life may be natur-
ally led, the Jewish lan-
guage spoken, and the
Jewish spirit prevail?
Surely we must, and that
land is our fathers' land: it is
The undying longing
for Zion is a fact of
deepest significance — a
manifestation in the
struggle for existence.
Zionism is, of course, not
a movement to remove all
the Jews of the world
compulsorily to Pales-
tine. In the first place,
there are in the world
about 14,000,000 Jews,
and Palestine would not
accommodate more than
one-third of that number.
In the second place, this
is not a movement to
compel anyone to go to‘
It is essentially a move-
ment to give to the Jew
more, not less, freedom — a
movement to enable the
Jews to exercise the same
right now exercised by prac-
tically every other people in
the world — to live at their
option either in the land of
their fathers or in some
other country.
Zionism seeks to estab-
lish in Palestine for such
Of all nations, Israel such Since
is the
the act of each be- Jews as choose to go and
"takes precedence in suffer- comes thus the concern of remain there, and for their
ing"; bait, despite our na- all, we are perforce our descendants, a legally se-
tragedy, immortality
the doctrine brothers keepers,
of individual
exacting cured home, where they
found relatively slight even from the lowliest the may live together and lead a
avoidance of things dishon- Jewish life; where they may
lodgment among us.
expect ultimately to consti-
As Ahad HaAm so beauti-
But from the educated tute a majority of the popu-
fully said: "Judaism did not Jew far more should be lation, and may look for-
turn heavenward and exacted. In view of our ward to what we may call
create in Heaven an eternal inheritance and our pre- home rule.
habitation of souls. It found sent opportunities, self-
The establishment of the
`eternal life' on earth, by respect demands that we
strengthening the social live not only honorably legally secured Jewish
feeling in the individual; by but worthily; and worth- home is no longer a dream.
making him regard himself ily imlies nobly. The For more than a generation
not as an isolated being educated descendants of brave pioneers have been
with an existence bounded a people which in its in- building the foundations of
our new-old home. It re-
by birth and death, but as fancy cast aside the Gol-
part of a larger whole, as a den Galf and put its faith mains for us to build the
limb of the social body. This in the invisible God can- super-structure. The ghettc,
conception shifts the center not worthily in its matur- walls are now falling.
of gravity not from the flesh ity worship worldly dis-
Jewish life cannot be
to the spirit, but from the tinction and things mate- preserved and de-
individual to the commu- rial.
veloped, assimilation
nity; and concurrently with
cannot be averted, unless
"Two men he honors and there be re-establishes 'n
this shifting, the problem of
life becomes a problem not no third," says Carlyle — the fatherland a ce
of individual, but of social "the toil-worn craftsman from which the Jewish
who conquers the earth and spirit may radicate
"I live for the sake of the him who is seen toiling for
The glorious past can
perpetuation and happiness the spiritually indispensa-
really live only if it becomes
of the community of which I ble."
And yet, though the Jew the mirror of a glorious fu-
am a member; I die to make
room for new individuals, make his individual life the ture; and to this end the
who will mold the commu- loftiest, that alone will not Jewish home in Palestine is
nity afresh and not allow it fulfill the obligations of his essential. We Jews of pros-
to stagnate and remain trust. We are bound not only perous America above all
forever in one position. to use worthily our great need its inspriation.

ideals can be attained only When the individual thus
where those who govern values the community as
exercise their power not by his own life, and strives
alleged divine right or in- after its happinesS as
heritance, but by force of though it were his indi-
character and intelligence. vidual well-being, he finds
Such a condition implies the satisfaction, and no longer
attainment of citizens gen- feels so keenly the bitter-
erally of relatively high ness of his individual exist-
moral and intellectual ence, because he sees the
standards; and such a condi- end for which he lives and
tion actually existed among suffers:''
Is not that the very es-
the Jews.
These men who were sence of the truly trium-
habitually denied rights, phant 20th Century democ-
and whose province it has racy?
Such is our inheri-
been for centuries "to suffer
and to think," learned not tance; such the estate
only to sympathize with which we hold in trust.
their fellows ( which is the And what are the terms of
essence of democracy and that trust; what the obli-
social justice), but also to gations imposed? The
accept voluntarily the lead- short answer is noblesse
ership of those highly oblige; and its - command
endowed, morally and intel- is two-fold. It imposes
duties upon us in respect
• Fourth: a developed to our own conduct as in-
community sense. The dividuals; it imposes no
sense of duty to which I have less important duties
referred was particularly ef- upon us as part of the
fective in promoting demo- Jewish community or
cratic ideals among the race.
Self-respect demands
Jews, because of their
deep-seated community that each of us lead indi-
feeling. To describe the Jew vidually a life worthy of our
as an individualist is to great inheritance and of the
state a most misleading glorious traditions of the
half-truth. He has to a rare race. But this is demanded
degree merged his indi- also by respect for the rights
viduality and his interests of others. The Jews have not
in the community of which only been ever known as a
he forms a part. This is evi- "peculiar people"; they were
denced among other things and remain a distinctive
by his attitude toward im- and minority people.
Now it is one of the neces-
Nearly every other sary incidents of a distinc-
people has reconciled tive and minority people
this world of suffering that the act of any one is in
with the idea of a benefi- some degree attributed to
cent Providence by con- the whole group. A single
ceiving of immortality for though inconspicuous in-
the individual. The indi- stance of dishonorable con-
vidual sufferer bore pre- duct on the part of a Jew in
sent ills by regarding this any trade or profession has
world as merely the far-reaching evil effects ex-
preparation for another, tending to the many inno-
in which those living cent members of the race.
righteously here would The prejudice created may
find individual reward be most unjust; but we may
not disregard the fact that

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