The Immigrant Jew in America

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The Russian Jew in Philadelphia*
by Rabbi Julius H. Greenstone

* - From "The Immigrant Jew in America"-- issued by the National Liberal Immigration League, New York City, 1907.
Also included in earlier 1905 edition of "The Russian Jew in the United States."

That Judaism is more a religion of deed than of creed is best illustrated in the present time by the life of the Russian Jew. Religion with him is co-extensive with life, it regulates every detail of his daily existence and is so interwoven with every movement and action of his being that he never stops to question its authority. Even those who by contact with other civilizations and with other forces have changed their opinions about many of the sources and reasons of Jewish observances, are reluctant to abolish these observances from their daily life, so strong is communal opinion and so ingrained have these customs become in the very being of the Jew. The communities are organised in accordance with these customs, the whole social fabric in the Pale of Settlement is dependent upon these habits and ceremonies, the dignity and position of the members of the community are measured by their adherence to these laws and ordinances. So that, whereas we frequently meet with Jews in the smallest towns of the Pale who entertain the most unorthodox views, there are few, indeed, who would dare to indulge in unorthodox observances. The custom and habit of many centuries have not only surrounded all truly religious observances with halo of inviolable sanctity, but have also stamped many other actions--accretions from without--that have nothing to do with Judaism, with the religious sanction. For example, it took many years of heated discussion and disquiet before the Russian Jew became reconciled to the idea that the wearing of a short coat is not in conflict with Judaism, or that sitting bare­headed in one's house is not necessarily an indication of religious laxity. In fact, there are hundreds of Jewish communities even now in Russia, the members of which are horrifed to see one of their brethren dressed in accordance with European fashion. It is the reverence for precedent and tradition which in the minds of the Russian Jew led to the inclusion of many such outward details that have apparently no bearing on religion.

What a tremendous shock all these news and opinions receive when the same Russian Jew enters this land of personal liberty and unrestrained individualism. A complete stranger to the public, the force of its opinion dwindles into insignificance so far as he is concerned. Coming in most cases with the intention of improving his economic condition, he is soon confronted with the awful problem of Sabbath observance. His veneration for the old observances having been shaken, his opinions about the sacredness of the institutions of society, as they exist in the old world having been changed when he first viewed the statue of liberty and received the explanation of its significance, and later when he listened to the first stump orator or read the first newspaper that came his way, it was easy to submit to the custom of the land, which to his mind, became identical with breaking away from all that was regarded as sacred and inviolable in his native province. The power of discrimination and acute analysis is not the common property of the multitude. The majority of men are unable to distinguish between the essential and the non-essential, and the average Russian Jew is no exception to this rule. With one sweep of the hand he changed his notions about religion and religious observance, together with his ideas about politics and government. Many a young man, who was firm in his religious convictions, while in his native village, who having heard of the religious laxity prevalent in America, had fully made up his mind not to be misled by the temptation and allurements of the free country, succumbed in his struggle and renounced his Judaism when first submitting his chin to the barber's razor1 at the entreaties and persuasions of his Americanized friends and relatives. Religion then appeared to him not only distinct from life but antagonistic to it, and since it was life, a free, full, undisturbed life that he sought in coming here, he felt compelled--and gradually habit and example made the compulsion agreeable--to divorce himself from all the religious ties that had hitherto encompassed him. Thus it is that the immigrant Jewish youth, not only those who had embraced other teachings and theories before their arrival in America, not only those who had cast their lot with the Russian martyrs for liberty in their native land, but even the simple, unsophisticated young men or women who had been faithful and loyal to the institutions of old and who desired to conduct their lives in accordance with the precepts of their religion, became estranged from Judaism and suffered themselves to be carried along by the tide, without offering any struggle for the maintenance of their cherished ideals. The old had become impracticable, had interfered with their pursuits and desires, and they were not strong enough, morally or intellectually, to select the good and the essential, and harmonize them with the new life into which they had been forced. Thus it is that the immigrant Jew in America has frequently become callous and indifferent, and sometimes cynical and antagonistic, to everything pertaining to Judaism.

Although the great bulk of early Jewish immigrants to America consisted of young people, it was not very long before their elders, their fathers and mothers, were invited to settle here. After one member of the family had accumulated some wealth, and established himself in bisiness, he was anxious that the other members should be provided for, and when two or three brothers and sisters had settled here, it was natural that they should desire to have their parents with them. It is comparatively easy for a young man, especially one who is confronted with the disagreeable duty of serving for four years in the army without any prospect of advancement, to renounce all ties and leave the place of his birth, but it becomes an entirely different matter when older people, who have spent most of their lives in one place, are asked to sever all connections and begin life over again under new conditions. There are also the troubles of the journey, the passage of the boundary line, the great sea voyage, all of which appear insurmountable to the old, inexperienced villager of the Pale. Still, the love for their children, and the desire to be with them, in most cases enabled the parents to overcome all these difficulties and fears, and they safely arrived in the "free country," were lovingly received by their children and established in the new home provided for them. The old mother immediately assumes the duties of the household, and her husband, after a few days of sightseeing, is either initiated into some easy labor, or is left alone to spend his time as he sees fit, his support being provided for by his children. Glad as they are of the fine appearance of their children, of their modern ways and their business successes, they cannot suppress a sigh at beholding their shaved chins at seeing them eat their breakfast without having put on their phylacteries, prayed, washed their hands and pronounced the blessings before and after the meals--customs which they held sacred and inviolable. Their religious sentiments are constantly outraged by the actions of their children, and their cup of sadness and disappointment is filled to overflowing, when, on the first Sabbath they behold their children depart for their daily occupations. Who can measure the misery and wretchedness of the parents, strangers in a strange land, at seeing that which they regarded as dearer than life violated, voluntarily, by their own children? Many a father spent his first Sabbath in America in weeping and lamentation, many a mother turned hers into a day of mourning, a real Tisha B'ab (the ninth day of the month of Ab, the anniversary of the destruction of Jerusalem; the Jewish memorial day of mourning). They could not command as they would have done in their old home, for they are dependent upon their children. They cannot argue, for their arguments are met either with ridicule or with explanations of inexorable, unanswerable problems of economy which they do not understand. They can only silently weep at their misfortune and regret the day that they set foot in this "trefa medinah," this unclean land. In course of time, however, they become reconciled to conditions and though they themselves still adhere to the old customs and institutions of their religion, they regard as natural that the younger generation should disregard religious precepts and ceremonies. Some have engaged in business themselves and learned by experience the many temptations and allurements which constantly beset the way of the young and to which even some of the older people succumb. The old Jewess may still curse Columbus for his great transgression in discovering America, where her children have lost their religion, the old father may still relieve his burdened heart on the high holy days by reciting the confession of sins, but in the course of the year, they are either too much engrossed in other affairs or they become too much accustomed to religious violations to utter words of censure or regret. Thus the young go their way unmolested by the importunities of their parents. The old go theirs also. They organize synagogues and try to introduce here all the provincialisms and crudities to which they were accustomed in the small villages of Russia or Galicia whence they came. At home, some of the young men or women, whose regard for their parents' sensibllities is greater than for their own convenience, perfunctorily observe the minutiae of religion, whilst others disregard them even when in the presence of their elders. Among the enthusiastic Russian Jewish youth there may also be found some, who, ensnared in the meshes of nihilism or socialism, as they understand the terms, consider it their duty to make converts to their new faith, and begin their missionary labors at home, thus embittering the lives of their parents by senseless and vexatious disputes. But these are in the minority; most of the young people are entirely indiiferent and callous to their religion; they follow the smallest details of religious observance in the presence of their parents out of respect for them and disregard the most elemental institutions of Judaism when away from their homes. In neither case does there exist a genuine sympathy between the young and the old. The religious activities of the early Russian Jewish settlers were therefore entirely one-sided, made to harmonize with the needs and the habits of the older people. The generous, young, Americanized Jews permitted their parents to introduce the old ways into the new land. Even when they contributed toward the support of the synagogue, they did so not out of the sense of supporting an institution that was needed, but to indulge the old people in their whims and follies. They did not attempt to gain control of these institutions, for they did not want them. Tbe institutions have therefore become counterparts of similar ones in the small villages of Russia, wanting, however, the features which make the latter influences for good in the community. The congregations are sometimes characterized by a spirit of commercialism, not at all in harmony with the cause they represent and lacking the essential characteristics of a congregation by failing to unite the various elements into one body or to inspire them with broad religious feeling.

Mickve Israel Synagogue, Philadelphia, 1901


When Russian Jews first came in large numbers to Philadelphia most of the Jewish congregations in the city had already introduced reforms in their services. Religious scruples, social differences, and a spirit of clannishness that is natural to foreigners caused the Russian Jews to form synagogues of their own. The only orthodox synagogue where the services were conducted in strict accordance with tradition was the Portuguese Synagogue Mickvé Israel, but there the social distinction was still greater and the difference in the pronunciation of the Hebrew and in the ritual made the service almost unintelligible to the Russian Jewish immigrant.
The German Jewish population had at that time moved to the upper sections of the city, whereas the Russian immigrants settled mainly in the district south of Spru
ce Street, so that distance combined with other causes to force the newly arrived immigrants to organize congregations of their own in the districts where they lived. Already before the general exodus from Russia in the early eighties there was a small Jewish community in Port Richmond, in the northeastern section of the city, which maintained its own synagogue. But, as it appears, the later arrivals preferred to remain in the southern section, and in the course of but a few years a flourishing Jewish community with synagogues and other religious institutions was established in the district bounded by Spruce Street on the north, Washington Avenue on the south, Broad Street on the west, and the Delaware River on the east.

photo: Mickvé Israel Synagogue, Philadelphia, 1905

The two largest synagogues belonging to the congregations B 'nai Abraham Anshe Russia (organized in 1882) and Kesher Israel (formerly B 'nai Jacob, organized in 1883), are situated on Lombard Street, the first on the north side above Fifth, the second on the south side above Fourth Street. These, however, were not the first congregations organized by the Russian Jewish immigrants, nor were they the only ones. In many cases the founding of a congregation proceeded along the following lines: A few individuals, usually such as came from the same town or district, feeling the necessity of some concerted action, banded themselves together to form a beneficial society ordinarily bearing the name of the town or district whence most of the members came. The aim of such societies, in the first instance, was to assist financially any of the members who might be sick, to provide burial for the dead, and a death benefit for the widow or orphan of a deceased member. After the society became strengthened in numbers, a hall was hired for meeting purposes and was converted into a praying room. Witll the approach of the high holy days, a season when every Jew feels the need of a synagogue, a reader was engaged and seats sold to members or non-members. This brought a considerable revenue to the society and after a few years, in many cases, the organizations saved enough money to begin negotiations for a synagogue building. Jews evinced no scruples in regard to turning a church into a Jewish synapgue, and since the neighborhood was becoming more and more Jewish, the Christians gradually moving to other parts of the city, a church building was easily obtainable. In fact, most of the Jewish synagogues in Philadelphia were formerly Christian churches. The building was bought and altered for purposes of Jewish worship and the society imperceptibly turned into a congregation, retaining, however, for a long period, its beneficial elements. In this manner most of the Russian Jewish synagogues were formed. The distinction between a chevra and a congregation consists in the fact that the former has no special building for religious worship, whereas the latter has. We frequently meet with two or more chevras worshiping in the same building on various lloors, either because they are unwilling to unite and buy a building of their own or because, as is often the case, even when united they are un­able to procure sutIleient funds for a building. As might be expected, these chevras conduct their services in many cases in an undignified manner, the officers being interested in the money they expect to realize from the service rather than in the religious and moral improvement of the worshipers.

The position of the rabbi in the Russian Jewish community is peculiar. In Russia the rabbi is, as a rule, not connected with any particular congregation but is regarded as the ecclesiastical head of all the Jews. In larger communities he is given one or more assistants (dayyanim-­judges) who help him in the administration of justice, which is still one of the functions of the Russian rabbi, or in the decision of ritual cases. Some congregations may select for themselves preachers (maggidim) who interpret legal or homiletic works to large gatherings, every day at dusk, between the afternoon and evening services, and deliver religious discourses on Saturday afternoons. The rabbi, however, is looked upon as the chief of the community. He rarely preaches, he sometimes visits the constituent synagogues, and on the Sabbath preceding Passover and on the penitential Sabbath (between New Year and the Day of Atonement) delivers learned discourses at the largest synagogue in town, to which all are invited. The majority of the people rarely come in contact with the rabbi; his greatness is measured not by his work among them, but by his knowledge of Jewish lore and by his assiduity in study; his position is of the highest dignity and honor.

It is entirely different with the rabbi in this country, on account of the diverse elements of nationality and religious proclivities, no one rabbi is satisfactory to all the members of the community. Where the institution of chief rabbi was tried it invariably failed for this reason. The individual congregations were either unable or unwilling to engage the services of a rabbi and many of them even dispensed with a hired reader, since almost every Jew is able and anxious to read the services. The lay officers conduct all the affairs of the congregation, the spiritual needs of the older people are attended to by themselves or by one ot their number more learned than the rest, reading and interpreting portions of the rabbinic literature in the room adjoining the synagogue. The children are taught Hebrew and religion at their homes or at the established religious schools. The young people of older growth do not visit the synagogue and do not care for religious instruction, so that the services of a rabbi are regarded by them as superfluous. Still, with the, increase of the population and the more perfect organization of the community, the need of a communal leader became obvious and some congregations have elected a rabbi. To import a rabbi from Russia and ensure him a respectable livelihood was beyond the ability of any single body, and the union of a few congregations in the election of a rabbi, although attempted in a few instances could not succeed because of the diverse elements and different tendencies of each congregation. So that those congregations which desired a rabbi had to satisfy themselves with the material at hand and select from their midst a learned man, authorized to decide religious questions, and to undertake the control of their spiritual affairs. The salary offered is usually very small, but many perquisites fall to the share of the rabbi. These consist of wedding fees, fees for the supervision of the ritual slaughter of animals, fees for the supervision of the ritual preparation of various articles of food or the Passover, and of occasional presents by wealthy members. In retum the rabbi is expected to preach occasionally in the synagogue and to answer questions of law and of ritual. It will be noticed from his various duties and privileges here enumerated that the relation between rabbi and congregation is not close, not one of thorough sympathy and mutual understanding. The rabbi is still the rabbi of the community, not of an organized community, but one of individuals. Congregations frequently permit their rabbi to be elected by congregations also, without there being any union.....and, on the other hand, many so-called rabbis aris....not connected with any congregation, but, being s.... by a few individuals, exercise the functions in .... district. There are always, however, two or three, who by virtue of their activity and tact, succeed in making themselves nominally at least the heads of the community, and in causing the people to respect their opinions on communal questions. In Philadelphia, Rev. B. L. Levinthal, the rabbi of the B'nai Abraham Congregation since 1891, and subsequently elected by a few other congregations, is recognized as the chief of the Russian rabbinate, while Rev. A. H. Ershler, of the Ahavas Achim Anshe Shavil Congregation, and Rev. Nathan Brenner, of the B'nai Israel Congregation of Port Richmond, are also recognized authorities in Jewish law and identified with a number of communal movements. Besides these, there are a number of other rabbis, some connected with congregations, others deriving a livelihood from occasional fees--frequently given in an unbecoming manner. The evil of this system, however, is being recognized by the Russian Jews as well as by their rabbis, and the Union of Orthodox Rabbis, a national organization established a few years ago, has made many attempts to regulate the rabbinate, but so far with very little success.

There are three classes of educational institutions in a Jewish community of Russia, the cheder, the Talmud Torah, and the yeshibah. The first is usually a private venture conducted by an individual who receives a stipulated sum per semester for every child he instructs. The instruction continues for the whole day and the subjects included in the curriculum extend over the entire range of elementary Jewish education, from the Hebrew alphabet to the study of the Talmud and its commentaries. Religion per se, or Jewish history is rarely taught in the cheder, the pupil being expected to derive his knowledge of these subjects from his study of the Bible and the Talmud. The Talmud Torah is a public institution maintained by the community for givmg instruction free of charge to the children of the poor. It is like the cheder except that it is less modern in its methods. The yeshiba--is a higher institution of learning where the Talmud and subsequent rabbinic literature only are studied, under the guidance of a rosh yeshibah (chief of the academy). This is usually a public institution and is maintained by contributions from various communities and in a few instances from the whole Jewish body, and even Jews outside of Russia. In the yeshiba the instruction imparted by the teacher is of very little importance. The greatest stress is laid on individual study and research. The Russian government, true to its policy of preventing assemblies of young people, no matter what the object, looks with suspicion upon these academies, and in 1892 closed the doors of the oldest and most famous, the Yeshibah of Volosin, the pride of the Russian Jews. Still many of greater or lesser reputation, depending entirely on the erudition of their chiefs, still exist in Russia, where the growing youth devote their years to the mastery of the intricate literature of the rabbis. There is one characteristic feature in all Jewish educational institution in Russia,-- they are consciously or unconsciously kept distinct fro the synagogues.

The American public school system, under which every child is expected to spend the greater part of the day in secular studies, prevented the earlier settlers from introducing the educational methods to which they were accustomed. The problem was partly solved for them by the Hebrew Sunday schools which had been in existence in Philadelphia many years before the Russian Jewish exodus. The Hebrew Sunday School Society and the Hebrew Education Society immediately took steps toward meeting the increasing demands of the growing community and established school in the sections where the settlement was most dense. But these schools, though largely patronized by children of Russian Jews, were not considered sufficient by their parents, either because Hebrew was not regarded as of priml importance in the curriculum, or because the moden methods employed in these schools were looked upon by them with suspicion. Hence the cheder was introduced here, of course in a greatly modified form. The most common custom is to have the teacher come to the pupil's house after school hours every day and instruct him in the rudiments of Hebrew, especially that which is used in public worship. These teachers receive a very moderate compensation. They are frequently altogether unacquainted witl pedagogic principles. The more advanced teachers, after some struggle and privation, succeeded in obtaining a patronage large enough to warrant their opening a school for the afternoon hours, where Hebrew is the chief and frequently the only subject of instruction. That these private religious schools are productive of so little good is due to various causes of which but a few will be mentioned here. The teacher or rabbi, if he is experienced in teaching, which is not always the case, is usually of foreign birth and training and has very little sympathy with the wants and desires of the American child and no understanding of his tricks and subtleties. The language used in instruction is in most cases Yiddish, a language that is foreign to the pupil even though he use it in conversation at home. The rewards and punishments in use in these schools are obnoxious to a child acquainted with the more refined methods of the public schools. The system with which these teachers are acquainted is the old system of the cheder under which the child was expected to devote the whole day to Jewish subjects, and it is very difficult for them to adapt themselves to new conditions. If there is lack of sympathy and understanding between the immigrant father and the American trained child, there is open hostility between the rabbi of the cheder and his pupils. These and other causes militate against the cheder.

The need of providing instruction for the children of the poor was made obvious to the leaders among the Russian Jews, and a free school (Talmud Torah) was established in 1890, where religious instruction is given free of charge or for a small fee, to the children of the poor. In course of time, when the Jews began to move up-town, another school was established there, and recently a third has been organized in the far southern section. These schools are attended altogether by about 1,000 children and are supported by a regular membership and by voluntary contributions. Sessions are held every day of the week, including Saturdays and Sundays, and the method of instruction diirers very little from that pursued in the cheder. During the past year, in accordance with a resolution passed by the Union of Orthodox Rabbis, a Hebrew high school (later, Yeshibah Mishkan Israel) was organized by Rabbi Levinthal, where instruction in Talmud and in the higher branches of Jewish lore are imparted to boys of advanced age, with the view to preparing them for the rabbinate. Judgment must be reserved on this new venture until a later time. Some congregations have attempted to organize schools in connection with their synagogues, and in a few instances this has proved highly successful. It should be added that in almost all these institutions only boys are admitted, the girls being left entirely without any religious instruction or receiving it at home or in the Hebrew Sunday School Society's classes.

A few attempts have been made to organize the young people for religious purposes, but these have invariably failed. The numerous societies of young people in the southern section of the city make little or no provision for religious education, their endeavors being mainly along social and literary lines. The Hebrew Literature Society is the oldest and strongest of the kind down-town. Its former radical tendency is gradually disappearing and lectures on strictly Jewish subjects are listened to with attention in its halls; but it has not yet taken a positive stand in religious matters. The Young Men's Hebrew Union's activities are social and broadly educational. There are other societies composed of young people whieh make no pretence, even in name, to any religious activity. The Zionist societies, however, though not aiming directly at religious improvement, exert a decidedly good influence on their constituencies. Lectures on Jewish subjects are the role in these organizations and classes for instruction in Jewish history and Hebrew meet with some success among them. Since the establishment of the Zion Institute in 1902, a building especially devoted to Zionistic purposes, the activity in these lines has increased. There is a library and reading room, where a majority of the books and periodicals are in Hebrew. Recently a decorous service for the high holy days was instituted. The Zionist ideal, which presupposes a strong national Jewish consciousness among its devotees, cannot but be productive of stronger religious sentiments, of a more virile interest in Israel's past.

An attempt was made a few years ago to organize a reform synagogue down-town for those to whom the service in the existing synagogues had become distasteful. Friday evening services were held in a hall, in accordance with the reform mode of worship and an English sermon was delivered by one of the up-town reform rabbis. But the attempt failed for many reasons, the most prominent being the lack of interest on the part of the down-town Jews. After a short existence, the congregation was dissolved. Another attempt to organize the young people in a religious body was made under the name of the Jewish Endeavor Society, modeled after the New York society of the same name. With the financial aid of the Council of Jewish Women, this society arranged for Saturday afternoon services at one of the largest synagogues down-town, with attractive singing and an English sermon. The services were conducted in strictly orthodox style but were made decorous and attractive. This also failed and its failure may be ascribed to lack of interest in religious matters on the part of the young people. Aa the result of a suggestion made by Rev. Dr. Joseph Krauskopf, president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, at its convention in St. Louis during the summer of 1904, more active propaganda were made in the lower section of the city for the establishment of a reform congregation. The Union of American Hebrew Congregations sent its representative, Rabbi George Zepin, to organize the movement. He succeeded in interesting some downtown Jews in the movement and an organization was effected under the name of Congregation Israel. Down-town orthodox rabbis and laymen viewed the movement with alarm, and a circular advising parents not to permit their children to attend the services was distributed broadcast in the down-town districts. During the high holy days the attendance was quite large. It remains, however, to be seen whether this movement will meet with greater success than those that preceded it.

To obtain a glimpse of the future religious status of the Russian Jews now living in Philadelphia, it is necessary to consider the elements making up that body. It is quite evident that from the older immigrants who arrived in this country with settled habits and ideas very little can be expected.. They will continue to live in the same manner as they were accustomed to and observe the ceremonies that have become part of their lives. Such as have become estranged from religion are too few and their influence too insignificant to demand particular attention. The hope of Judaism in America rests with the young people and especially with those of the Russian immigrant cIass, both because of their numbers and increasing inftuence and of their superior intellectual attainments. It is these young people that demand our especial consideration if we venture a forecast of the future of Judaism in this or any other part of the land.

Broadly speaking, we may divide the young people of down-town Jewry into three classes. Such a division is not comprehensive, but it will be sufficient to give an insight into present conditions and will permit of conjecture as to the future.

First. The young people that hail from the lower class of Russian Jewish society who have never had the advantages of culture or education of any kind. These, on arriving, constitute in America the great army of sweat­shop workers and soon become the playthings of every unscrupulous demagogue. Oppressed by their employer who, in most cases, belong to the same social class, they rebel, and in their ignorance confuse economic and religious problems and misinterpret the new theories of social economy presented to them by the labor leaders. They become not only indifferent to religion but also actuated by a hatred toward everything that has a religious flavor. Their leaders are mostly disappointed Russian students, banished political offenders, or such other persons as have become embittered by the state of affairs in Russia and who carry their dissatisfaction with the political status in that land into the realms of economy and religion. They find ready listeners in the group of wretched, overworked, and underfed laborers, who are glad to flnd sympathy among the learned and who become willing disciples of all their theories.

Second. The young people who come from the middle classes of Russian Jewish society, who have had opportunities for some refinement at home and some education at the cheder and other institutions of Jewish learning and have acquired some modern education through private instruction. These, on coming to America, either become petty tradesmen, store-keepers, or, if they are suceessful in obtaining some support at the beginning, enter a professiona school and are graduated as lawyers or physicians, the two favorite professions among Russian Jews in America. Th peddlers who sell on the installment plan, or the shopkeepers, though many of them possess a good knowledge of Judaism and of Jewish history, and are especially attracted by the Zionist movement, having been compelled at first to abandon many religious customs and institutions, become careless about religion and indiiferent to its behests. The professional men also forsake religious practices either because they have become convinced atheists or agnostics or because it pays them better to stand aloof from the synagogue. It is an old paradox that Jews have greater respect for him who stands at a distance from them in religious matters than for one who takes a most active part in the synagogue.

Third. The young people who were born in this country or were brought here in childhood and have had the advantages of a public school training. These should be the chief concern of the communal worker, for on them the future of Judaism mainly depends. Their religious education is defective and their religious observances, if they do observe anything in deference to their parents, lacks spirit and interest. Most of them are not antagonistic to religion, but are indifferent to it, and wholesome influences may have a salutary effect upon their religious attitude. They are unsympathetic with the existing synagogues because the synagogue offers them very little, it being entirely managed and directed by the older people, who do not and cannot understand them. They are indifferent to Jewish practice because it has never been presented to them in a light that would appeal to their more modern and more cultured tastes. If synagogues were established exclusively for these young people and their management directed toward the needs of this rising generation, they could yet be won over to a staunch Judaism. The time is probably as yet unripe for such work, but it is not very far distant. Modem synagogues, presided over by trained American rabbis, will eventually be introduced in the Russian Jewish sections of our large cities, and a more perfect and homogeneous religious body will be formed in American Israel.

1 Shaving is prohibited according to ancient Jewish law. Leviticus, xix.,27; xxi, 5. Comp. Talmud, Makkoth, 20a et seq







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