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January 26, 1990 - Image 40

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-01-26

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

PURELY COMMENTARY

r"---

Landsmanshaften

Continued from Page 2

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40

FRIDAY, JANUARY 26, 1990

Theodor Herzl and his
"Judenstadt" the World
Zionist Congress and the
commencement of the
political Zionist movement.
In more than one sense, the
Landsmanshaften were at the
same time a manifestation of
self help that demands the
dignity and respect of self
liberation. Now it is the fami-
ly of communities that
adheres to this expressed
ideal.
In striving to escape from
the ravages of anti-Semitism
in the many European
persecuting countries, his
idealism in the history-
shaping pamphlet "Auto-
Emancipation," had begun to
propagate the idea of Jewish
statehood.
"Auto-Emancipation" was
the advocacy of self-help. The
Landsmanshaften also were
the embodiment of it in the
migration to the U.S.
Fully to appreciate that
history-making element, its
achievement and the creativi-
ty of its devotees will remain
one of the most fascinating
and also most dramatic
chapters in American Jewish
history. Memorable in all
aspects, its major thesis is
tackled as follows in the
New Standard Jewish
Encyclopedia:
Landsmanshaften are
societies or associations,
the membership of which
is composed of persons
from the same town or pro-
vince in the country of
origin. Such were set up in
the U.S. and elsewhere
(England, S. Africa) to help
solve the social, economic,
and cultural problems
caused by the vast influx of
Jews from Europe,
especially in the latter part
of the 19th century.
Many landsmanshaften
also had synagogues with
members drawn from the
same city (as was the case
also in Salonica and
elsewhere after the expul-
sion from Spain).
These societies fulfilled
three basic functions: they
satisfied the gregarious in-
stincts of the immigrants;
they served as media for
maintaining contact with,
and later, for providing
assistance to, the former
home town; and they
helped create resources
and experience for mutual
help through loan funds,
etc.

In most cases, the
language of the societies
has been Yiddish, and
their warm spirit has
helped members endure
adverse circumstances and
low economic standards.

Hundreds of these groups
existed as independent
local organizations, though
some banded together to
form loose national
associations.
A similar phenomenon
has sprung up, for exam-
ple, in Los Angeles among
Jews who have moved
there from other U.S. cities,
such as Chicago. The
landsmanshaften have
been variously known as
mutual, benevolent, frater-
nal, social and aid associa-
tions, and many have had
ladies' auxiliaries.
Many of these landsman-
shaften, having lost their
original motivation, are
now social organizations
seeking an outlet for their
accumulated funds. Simi-
lar societies have been
founded in Israel.
Landsmanshaften entered
upon the American scene
with a passion for action,

The family basis
for rescue must be
replaced by the
communal.

with basic and highest goals
rooted in self-help. Lands-
manshaft adds important fac-
tors to the current movement
that is basically a continua-
tion of the Jewish emancipa-
tion commitments. Like
Romanian rescue efforts, the
present massive Russian
aims depend almost entirely
upon the worldwide Jewish
communities, chiefly upon
American Jewry. In achieving
the goal of rescuing the cap-
tives from the anti-Semitic
scourge, self-emancipation
has a share in acquiring the
desired freedoms.- In the
totality of such efforts, the
Landsmanshaften retain a
most glorious libertarian
share.
An appendix is vital at this
point to define this thesis.
The reason for emphasis on
the Landsmanshaften as an
element in emancipation is to
recognize the need for deepest
commitments to all rescue ef-
forts. They begin with the in-
dividual — therefore the self-
help inducement.



University Roles
In Preservation

udaica departments in
American universities
have become sup-
porters of archival tasks in
the presevation of valuable
historic Jewish documents.
Encouragement of Jewish
studies and the scholars

j

supervising them add
significance to such com-
mitments to academia as the
educational compulsion on an
unrestrictive basis of concern
to all faiths.
When a university acquires
valuable documents on a na-
tional scholastic basis it
becomes an interfaith
evaluation.
This has just become ob-
vious with the announcement
from Providence, R.I., that
Brown University has shared
with the Wayne State Univer-
sity library a gift from
Detroiters Joseph H. and
Elsie Deutch. It is microfilm
inventory and exhibition
catalogues relating to the
Rabbi Baruch Korff Archives.
The Korff Archives include
papers covering more than 50
years of Nazi and Soviet
persecution, the Holocaust,
the revival of Israel, relations
with the Middle East and the
struggles for survival of Euro-
pean Jewry.
Rabbi Korff's background
has a special interest in this
regard. Soon after his arrival
in the U.S. he became an ad-
viser to the majority leader of
the U.S. House of Represen-
tatives, John McCormack, the
Union of Orthodox Rabbis of
the U.S. and Canada and the
War Refugee Board. He
directed the rescue activities
of the Emergency Committee
to Save the Jewish People of
Europe. He was a founder of
the Political Actions Commit-
tee for Palestine. He con-
ducted several clandestine
missions to the Middle East
under several U.S. ad-
ministrations. He remained
most widely known for his
role as architect and chief
spokesperson of the National
Citizens Committee for
Fairness to the Presidency in
1973-74 in defense of Richard
M. Nixon.
The Korff Archives were
presented to WSU by Joseph
and Elsie Deutch in memory
of their son, Harvey Alan
Deutch, who died two years
ago at the age of 39. Their son
was a 1970 WSU graduate
who had a deep interest in
Yeshiva Gedolah of Oak Park.
Harvey had an active role in
many other Jewish causes
and in the Israel Tennis
Centers. He made a signifi-
cant impact in the business
world. He is memoralized by
the JNF afforestation pro-
gram in Israel.
The Korff documentaries
are now available for study
and research at the Wayne
State University library.
That's how Judaic programs
are advanced by universities'
research facilities, with en-
couragement given by com-
munal interest. ❑

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