Former Jewish Press chief editor Elliot Resnick has just published his first historical work, America First: The Story of Sol Bloom, the Most Powerful Jew in Congress During the Holocaust.
A modified version of his PhD dissertation, America First explores the life of one of the most colorful Jews to ever grace the halls of Congress. The son of Orthodox parents and a member of Rabbi Herbert S. Goldstein’s shul in Manhattan, Bloom (1870-1949) was an energetic character who helped save the lives of many Jews – including the Gerrer Rebbe – and provided valuable assistance to the Vaad Hahatzala.
Most Holocaust historians criticize him for aligning himself too closely with the Roosevelt administration, but Resnick believes their assessment overly harsh. “America was fighting a world war. The lives of millions of American men in the army, navy, and air force were in peril. Was Bloom supposed to undermine his commander-in-chief at such a moment?” Resnick asks.
In the book, Resnick argues that both Bloom and Roosevelt deserve credit for possibly saving British Jewry from extermination.
In 1940, Roosevelt proposed Lend-Lease legislation to equip England with arms it desperately needed to fight the Nazis, and Bloom steered it through Congress in the face of strenuous isolationist opposition (Bloom was chairman of the House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee). Without Lend-Lease, England may have been forced to surrender to the Nazis, and its 300,000 Jews would likely have been slaughtered. Palestine’s 400,000 Jews would also have been endangered since it was British forces – aided by American supplies – that stopped German troops from conquering Palestine in 1942.
America First contains blurbs from Dr. Michael Berenbaum (the project director who oversaw the creation of the Holocaust museum in Washinton, DC), Dr. Edward Shapiro, Rabbi Berel Wein, Rabbi Gil Student, and Josh Hammer (senior editor-at-large of Newsweek). It’s available on Amazon and on the author’s website, www.1vs450.com.
“Elliot Resnick’s consideration of Sol Bloom in America First has forced me to reexamine my opinion of the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee,” Dr. Berenbaum writes in his blurb. “I had previously all-too-easily accepted the cliché’s portrayal that he was too timid and meek, either afraid or unwilling to advance Jewish interests at the most important time in our people’s history. Resnick has proven these opinions wrong and Bloom emerges as a far more complex character, more deeply as a caring proud Jew.”