The stories in this column are translations by Mr. Nollet from “Die Juden In Der Welt [The Jews in the World]” by Mark Wischnitzer, a long out-of-print book published nearly eight decades ago in Germany. The book examines Jewish communities, one country at a time, as they existed in 1935.
The Jews Of The U.S. (Conclusion)
The American Joint Distribution Committee was organized at the outbreak of war in 1914. It consisted of three leading organizations – the American Jewish Relief Committee, which represented a middle-class layer, the Central Relief Committee of the Orthodox, and the People’s Relief Committee. The Joint Committee developed a huge capacity for assistance during the war, and carried forth in Eastern Europe a variety of emergency assistance actions in the years 1919 and 1920, organizing the reconstruction of Jewish communities in Eastern and Central Europe that were ruined during the war and after the war.
The Joint Distribution Committee cared for the refugees, directed the care of children, renewed educational facilities, undertook the rebuilding of destroyed houses, etc. Through the year 1930 the Joint Committee distributed over $80 million to the different branches of its relief work, and even distributed aid via affiliated charities to Jewish agricultural settlements in the USSR.
The combined accomplishments of the 3,000 Jewish welfare agencies in the U.S. for 1930 show an expenditure of $40 million. Another $30 million went to the furnishing of religious centers, and another $7 million went toward education.
American Jews are tightly bound up with the history of their country. They took an active part in the struggles for its independence, and in 1776 stood side by side their countrymen. In 1812 the Jewish General Joseph Bloomfield commanded four military districts. In the Civil War, more than 7,000 Jews fought for both sides, and in the Spanish-American War more than 2,000 Jews fought for the American side.
In the recent world war Jews comprised more than 4 percent of the combined American military forces, which was more than their quotient in the general population – just 3.5 percent. Some 3,500 were killed and approximately 2,000 others were wounded.
Jews have no restricted role in American politics. A politician named Sigismund Kaufman (from Darmstadt [Translator’s note: Germany]), Moritz Pinner, and Louis Naphtali Dembitz became leaders of the abolition [of slavery] movement and supported the election of Abraham Lincoln as president. On the side of the Southern states stood Judah P. Benjamin, who was born in the West Indies. He was a prominent speaker and a member of the Confederate Senate, and later became the Confederate secretary of state.
A number of men have been active in the foreign service of the United States, including Mordechai Manuel Noah, who served as American Consul in Tunis; B. F. Peixotto, general consul in Bucharest; Simon Wolff, general consul in Egypt; and Oscar S. Straus, Theodore Roosevelt’s secretary of commerce and labor and later American ambassador to Turkey. (Solomon Hirsch, Henry Morgenthau and Abraham I. Elkus also served as ambassadors to Turkey.) Jews also represented America in Sweden, Persia, Czechoslovakia, and Albania. At this time Isidor Straus is the American ambassador in Paris.
In U.S. domestic politics there are Herbert H. Lehman, governor of New York; Harry Horner, governor of Illinois; and Julius L. Meier, governor of Oregon. There are Jews in the House of Representatives and the Senate, various legislative bodies of the various states, and in the judiciary. Louis Brandeis and Benjamin Cardozo are members of the Supreme Court.
In the area of research and development, a list of leading accomplishments is bound together with Jewish names. The psychologist Simon Flexner is a member of the directorate of the Rockefeller Foundation. The anthropologist Franz Boas teaches at Columbia University. The experimental biologist Jacques Loeb is known throughout the world. Albert Michelson, the president of the American Academy of Sciences, is a Nobel Prize laureate in physics. Emil Berliner invented the microphone and Gramophone discs. Edward R. Seligmann, chairman of the Economics department at Columbia University, is an author of important studies of the finance politics of the United States.
Since 1933 there has been a noticeable immigration from Germany. [Though Wischnitzer doesn’t state the reason, this is obviously due to the rise of the Nazi Party.] After Palestine, America stands as the country that accepts the largest number of Jewish immigrants from Germany. However, as things stand today, America will not accept more Jews than is allowed in its quotas.
(Next month: The Jews of present-day Legnica in Poland)
About the Author: Ezra James Nollet is a retired U.S. government chemist living in Poland where he is officer of the local synagogue in Legnica. Before the Deluge appears the last week of each month.
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