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The Southern Jewish weekly. [volume] (Jacksonville, Fla.) 1939-1992, December 06, 1940, Image 2

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Page Two
What Jews Need in
These Blitzkrieg Days
By SAMUEL M. BLUMENFIELD
These are blitzkrieg days. Events move with a rapidity
unknown in any other period in human history. What was
known to be important yesterday may no longer be valid
today. It is therefore proper to ask ourselves whether our
presentation of Zionism of yesterday can still serve our needs
today.
Many things will be learned
from recent events by our gener
ation and the generations to come.
We are too close to and too much
part of these events to be able to
evaluate them fully and to under
stand their far reaching implica
tions. There are, however, two ba
sic facts which stand out right
now, from which we can learn
much if we are to be effective in
Zionist education. One of them is
the validity of ideas and ideals and
the other the crucial role of inner
communications.
The Validity of Ideas and Ideals
Our young people belong to a
generation which was raised and
educated on the conception that,
by and large, what counts in life
are things material; physical
wants and economic 'needs, stom
achs and glands—these are the su
preme influences in the life of both
the individual and the group. Con
temporary events it seems to me,
make it quite evident that ideas
and ideals also count and are, in
fact, as vital and as real as our
personal wants and appetites. Hon
else could we explain the case of
a France lying prostrate, though
rich, even overfed? Competent
writers here and abroad have
pointed out that the tragedy of
France was not due to lack of re
sources, but to the lack of faith;
not to the lack of means, but to
the lack of ends, hopes and ideals.
It was this lack of faith and of
ideals which brought France to its
present state. On the other side
of the picture, we have seen thou
sands of Germans jumping from
parachutes to perform their des
tructive work, willingly and joy
fully. It is sheer nonsense to im
agine that in the back of every
Nazi youth there is some one prod
ding him with a gun. Even the
most fanatical anti-Nazi must ad
mit that the German soldiers have
engaged upon their diabolic task
with supreme devotion and zeal
because of their belief in what
they were doing and because of an
idea which motivated their acts
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and their entire beings. We may
bemoan the fact that in 1940,
German youth can be so misled
and so misguided, but one cannot
deny that this conviction, wrong
as it is, this ideal, false as it is,
lias galvanized a whole people to
do its destructive work in the en
tire world.
This phenomenon, as unpleasant
as it is, can teach us a great deal.
As I see it, if men and women are
capable of giving themselves so
thoroughly and completely to a
wrong ideal, to a false god, how
much more would people in gener
al, and youth in particular, give
of themselves willingly and joyful
ly if imbued with true ideals and
with right causes. Our task, in the
light of current events, would
therefore be not to give up in des
pair because our people presuma
bly are not interested in ideals,
but rather to imbue them even
more with what we consider to be
.he right ideals to save them from
che mood of despair which perme
ites Jewish life today.
Inner Communications
Another truth which has also
ecome very clear to me in the
iight of recent events, is the im
portance of communications. We
read daily how each warring na
tion is trying to destroy the com
munications of the other one, how
bombers are trying to destroy a
railway in one place, a port in
another and a hangar in a third
place. But the importance of com
' munications applies not only to
military strategy. It applies even
; more so to the realm of the spirit.
Communications do not mean
merely reaching new destinations;
it means also the tying up and
the binding together of the rela
tions between men and their fellow
j men. What is this diabolic “fifth
i column” of which we hear so much
today, if not the attempt to des
troy inner communications by get
ting people to suspect one anoth
| er, by breaking, relationships; by
destroying this contact between
man and man, the enemy can come
in and find fertile soil for con
quest.
Now it seems to me that Zion
ist education must deal with these
two vital issues. It must bring
back the notion that life does not
begin and end with the individual
and his limited physical wants or
with a particular group and its
limited material needs. It must
convince the child, youth and '
adult alike that ideals, in our case, j
Zionist ideals are sis vital, as pow
erful and as real as anything that
takes place in our lives. And sec-
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THE SOUTHERN JEWISH WEEKLY
add another r
ondly, we must find ways and
means of re-establshing our inner
communications so that we may
understand one another as Jews
and be able to work with one an
other for our own self-fulfillment
and the well being of our people.
The Function of Jewish Education
I am very much impressed with
the definition given by Professor
Hutchins of the University of Chi
cago. He speaks of the function of
education to be “to connect man
with man, to connect the present
with past, and to advance the
thinking us the race.”
In terms of Jewish or Zionist
education our function must be
to find ways of connecting Jew
with Jew, of connecting our pres
ent with, the past, and of advanc
ing the thinking—to paraphrase
Hutchins’ term —of the Jewish
Race or People.
How shall we re-establish com
munications among the divergent
elements in our community? How
can we connect again Jew with
Jew?
We have been told that these
days we need no longer worry
about Jews getting together. Whe
ther they like it or not, some one
will make them stick together.
Hitler will do it, Coughlin will do
it why worry any more about
that? I question seriously the
truth of this allegation.
The very reliance on outside bru
tal forces to bring us together is
in itself an indication of a spirit
of defeatism, and an expression of
self-contempt which says, in ef
fect, that we Jews cannot be con
nected together; that we have
nothing to keep us together unless
we are driven from without.
A concrete illustration of that
spirit of self-hate was brought to
our attention not very long ago
in a national broadcast A distin
guished professor, a Jew, partici
pated in a radio round-table dis
cussion and it was pathetic to see
how a man, who is unquestionably
a scholar in his field, was deliver
ing himself on the subject of what
is a Jew. He went! out of his way
to prove that the Jews are not
capitalists and are not commun
ists, that they are not this and not
that, but he had nothing to say of
what they are. I cannot help feel
ing th a t if that same professor
were to speak on any other group
were he to speak on Hottentots!
Bushmen or any other primitive
group he would have found some
way of saying not only what they
are not, but also what they are.
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He would probably have discovered
that some of them are skillful as
hunters, others as warriors, and
still others as craftsmen or sing
ers, but being himself a Jew, per
force, the professor could not find
anything positive to say about his
fellow-Jews.
It is quite obvious that no peo
ple can go on merely on “nots.”
It is not enough to be united be
cause others do “not” like us. It
is not enough not to be commun
ists or capitalists. We have got to
be something and only a full un
derstanding of Judaism, an appre
ciation of Jewish tradition and
culture and an intimate relation
ship to Jewish hopes and aspira
tions can make Jewish life worth
living.
By preserving our vital religious
and cultural traditions of yester
day, by sharing actively in the
problems facing Jewry of today
and by keeping alive the hope of
Zion rebuilt and Israel reconstruct
ed, we can best serve the interests
of Zionist as well as of Jewish ed
ucation.
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