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April 06, 1984 - Image 72

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-04-06

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

72

Friday, April 6, 1984

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

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`Studies in American
Jewish Experience'

BY CHARLES MADISON

Special to The Jewish News

Studies in the American
Jewish Experience, II,
edited by Jacob R. Marcus
and Abraham J. Peck, 1984,
University Press of America.
The six studies included
in this volume, as stated by
the distinguished editors,
are scholarly treatments of
a variety of Jewish subjects:
"They are models of histori-
cal scholarship. Collec-
tively, we believe they are a
significant contribution to
our understanding of the
American Jewish experi-
ence and of the ethnic di-
mension in American his-
tory."
The first study, A Conflict
of Loyalties: Kuhn, Loeb
and Company and the First
World War, 1914-1917, by
Pricilla M. Roberts, is part
of a major work on the bank-
ing firm. It concentrates on
the conflict of loyalties
among the partners during
the early years of World
War I, when the German
background of most of them
tended to strain their devo-
tion to American neutral-
ity.
Jaccib Schiff, the manag-
ing director, as well as
others of the partners were
born and educated in Ger-
many and were as loyal to
their native country as they
were to the land of their
adoption. What complicated
the conflict in their loyalties
was the fact that Russia was
a member of the Allies.
Jacob Schiff— his influence
largely dominated his part-
ner — .was a deeply devoted
Jew and was strongly an-
tagonistic to Russia because
of its anti-Semitism; so
much so, that during the
Russo-Japanese War in
1904, he helped Japan in
various ways.
In 1914 Kuhn, Loeb and
Co., having become the
leading German-American
bank, surpassed in prestige
as an investment firm only
by J. P. Morgan and Co.,
tended to favor loans to
Germany rather than to
England. As the war con-
tinued, and Americans
more and more turned
against Germany and in
favor of the Allies, some of
Schiff's partners by 1916
likewise broke ties with
Germany.
Schiff, being then 70 and
no longer the vigorous di-
rector, was not only un-
favorably influenced by
German behavior but was
also affected by the revolu-
tion in Russia. Thus the dif-
ference in attitude among
the partners, complex indi-
vidually and personally,
gradually yielded to their
strong loyalty to the United
States.
American Judaism and
the Scopes Trial, by Stephen
H. Goldfarb, presents the
passive or negative reac-
tions of the various Jewish
groups to the fundamen-
talist attacks on Darwinian
evolution. Even the Or-
thodox Jews who believed
that the Torah is the word

ge.

Jacob Schiff

of God," generally assumed
that science will eventually•
acquiesce in its truth. The
only one who took an active
part as a defense counsel
was Arthur Garfield Hays,
an agnostic Jew widely con-
sidered the ablest of the
lawyers. What really con-,
cerned the Jews in this case
was that the fundamen-
talists were anti-Semitic.
Pamela S. Nadell's study,
From Shtetl to Border:
1868-1914, treats in con-
siderable detail the trials
and troubles of Jews seek-
ing to migrate from Eastern
Europe, mostly from Rus-_
sia, to the United States.
These Jews were mostly ig-
norant of the ways of the
world and knew nothing of
how to proceed on so long a_
journey and what they must
do to be able to leave the
country of their birth.
This need for guidance
soon brought forth men
ready to help them at a pro-
fit. These agents and their
various sub-agents helped
the immigrants to obtain
needed documents, steam-
ship tickets, etc. Some of the
agents unscrupulously _
exploited their clients,
overcharging them in var-
ious ways. Those Jews who
could not obtain passports
were taken illegally across
the border in collaboration
with residents near the bor-
der and bribed guards.
It was only later, after the
turn of the century, that
steamship companies eager
for passengers and greater
sophistication among the
immigrants tended to les-
sen the ordeal of the trip. It //'
is a narrative of sadness and
suffering, affecting most of
the millions of Jews who
managed to reach the
United States by 1914.
Ethnicity and the Growth
of Liberal Theory, by
William Toll, takes up the
liberal credo in the social
experiences of two repre-
sentatives of very different
minority. groups: W.E.B.
DuBois and Horace M. Kal,
len. Both educated at Har-
vard University and men of /
distinguished minds, found
themselves pretty much
separated from the majority
of their fellow Americans
because one was black and
the other Jewish. Their ex-c==(
periences led them to de-
velop American liberalism.
It should be noted that
"Each set contradictory
themes in creative tension

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