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September 15, 1928     The Jewish Transcript
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September 15, 1928
 

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5689 ROSH-HA-SHONA EDITION PAGE 47 Jews With a Conscience Seattle Talmud Torah By FRED BERGMAN, President of Seattle Talmud Torah T HAS become a realization that in order for Israel to live and carry on as a distinct religious and cultural troup, only one remedy can be ap- plied-Education. The question crops up: Why talk about remedies? The answer to that is, that particularly speaking of the state of affairs in Amer- ican Jewish life, we have been sickly,, weak and undernourished spiritually. Generally speaking, the Jewish organism has been collapsible and in danger of annihilation. Of course when these dangers of decay are pointed out to individual Jews or to any groups of Jews, there immediately arises the over-confident type of Jew, who with facts and figures will show you to the contrary. He will point out the great strides made by American Jewry. To substantiate these, he will point specifically to the magnificent structures which have arisen at costs running way into the hundreds of millions, housing synagogues, temples and social centers. To make his claim stronger, he will point to the huge amounts raised in America for various philanthropic and social enterprises, thereby extolling the humanitarian side which can be unequalled by any other people. This sure is credible. It is however not sufficient to exemplify Judaism. Further than that, let us not forget that these virtues within us are but the ex- pression of Jewish consciousness that flourished in the past. We were inoculated with these in days gone by, and even the materialistic and indifferent environment which surrounds us has not yet been able to abolish it totally. Is not the spirit on the wane? Is it not a danger that even these little sparks will gradually be extinguished? If we are willing to look at Israel's problems from a sane and practical standpoint, we must ultimately reach the conclusion that "unless something is done to stem the tide of destruction, assimilation, indif- ference and all such vices, Israel will disappear from the arena of life. Of course we find many of Jewish origin who will hail the day when Israel should vanish and be ab- sorbed by the nations of the earth. Surely, this is the quickest solution--much the same as the method to heal one's sickness by killing him. Such we might say would be an act of cowardice, and do we want that History should brand Israel as a people of Cowards? The rank and file of Jewry, however, will state unhesitatingly that the Jew must live forever, that Judaism, so glorious and superior as a religion, cul- ture and ideal, must be preserved. Then, however, what is being done to accomplish that? Is it merely because we give our individual consent that it must survive, sufficient cause for its existence. By all means no. Mere words oi praise without action are meaningless and childish. We must deal with bare facts. We have already grown out of our childish state. The same instruments used to bring Israel through the ages must be applied today. The greatest of these is KNOWLEDGE. Knowledge means light, and without it we must be living in darkness. A Jew with knowledge will not advance any fantastic theories how Judaism can be preserved. He knows the conditions of the past, and therefore will im- mediately apply EDUCATION as the proper solu- tion. There is no secret to our existence up until now. We are not a young inexperienced people. We are the oldest living unit in the structure of races and nations. Never mind a b o u t the argument that American Jewry is different. It is all the same, and in former times, Jews under the same circumstances had to cope with similar problems as are facing the American Jews. Our task, my fellow Jews, is to build. Build so that our future should be preserved. Build so that our future will withstand all withering storms that will endeavor to molest it. These views are held to- day by the most leading Jews of America, and there is none so blind who cannot see the problems before US. We must see that we create Jews with a con- science. Not the kind of Jews that always throw their chests out, bragging "I am a Jew and proud of it." That gets us nowhere. Rather, the Jews with a knowledge of that historic background based on the Torah, the moral laws, and the literature created through the ages, is the proper standard bearer of our race. The proper method is to start in from infancy, .4