Commentary Magazine


The Spiritual Reconstruction of European Jewry

Although the blackout is slowly lifting from the areas where once flourished the largest centers of Jewish life in Europe, only fragmentary reports concerning the survivors have filtered through to the outside world. The simplest information, such as how many Jews remain alive—and where—is sparse and often contradictory; and we know practically nothing about the forms of their community life, their religious observances, or the character of their hopes for survival as Jews. Under these circumstances, any discussion of the spiritual reconstruction of the Jewries of Europe must inevitably be little more than one man’s personal estimate of long-term trends.

The very phrase “spiritual reconstruction” can be subtly misleading, in that it evokes a picture of rebuilding in terms of bricks and mortar. The life of the spirit is by its very nature immaterial, intangible. To a greater degree than for many centuries past the spiritual life of European Jewry will be determined by the evolution of factors affecting what the Protestants like to call the “invisible church.” The heshbon ha-nefesh, the searching of the souls of countless individuals who daily faced death and mutilation under the Nazi terror, who as a group suffered physical and spiritual agonies unrivaled in history, may well prove of more enduring value in the reconstruction of the Jewish spirit than the outward communal or ritualistic forms of their religious life. Unfortunately the forms which this searching of soul may have assumed or the probable circles of its influence must remain for the present within the realm of speculation.

_____________

 

Surviving Amid the Debris

What news has already reached the world from the concentration camps holds forth little promise of an immediate spiritual revival. The greater number of the surviving Inmates—especially in the Jewish camps—were found to have been reduced to the level of gross animal existence; many had become too weakened to be capable of anything beyond a passive vegetation. Both life and death had been drained of their meaning, with the borderline between so tenuous and so easily crossed. Some Jews, employed in the crematoria, seemed to have developed an unbelievable callousness to the sight of the mutilated bodies of their comrades, and others had even been forcibly employed in the extermination of men and women of their own faith.

However, religious history has given evidence of how deeply humanity may sink, and still rise again to high spiritual levels. The close interrelationship between sin and faith, degradation and exaltation of the spirit, has been long known to Jewish sages and has been demonstrated in the experience of mystics and believers of all faiths. And—to consider positive factors—there were countless Jews in Europe whose saintly and self-sacrificing behavior has the redemptive quality of great martyrdom. In addition to the 30,000 heroic defenders of the Warsaw ghetto and the dauntless thousands of Jewish partisans and Maquis, there were many other unsung heroes, among them rabbis, teachers and social workers, who like the late Emanuel Ringelblum worked unselfishly for the Jewish community until the very end. The self-immolation, by mutual compact, of the girls in the Bnoth-Jacob institution to escape defilement by Nazi soldiers has the quality of a medieval shehitah. Some of these unnumbered heroes have undoubtedly survived, to bring the example and the inspiration of their courage and idealism into the new life.

We can only guess at the ultimate religious development of the thousands of Jewish children who spent their formative years in Christian homes. Unlike the traditional experience of tinnokot she-nishbu ben ha-goyim (children held captive among Gentiles), these children have had the novel experience of tinnokot she-nitslu al yede ha-goyim (children saved by Gentiles). Many may never revert to Judaism, and will be permanently lost to the Jewish community. Others will carry into their later life as Jews fond memories of Christian rituals and Christian legends, associating them with warm human contacts. Possibly we may witness within a few years the emergence of some new Judeo-Christian syntheses which will ferment a new religious orientation and contribute new elements to Jewish religious history, like that once infused by the Marranos. Or perhaps their eclectic example may reinforce the trend toward ceremonial orthodoxy characteristic of our disillusioned generation.

All this is extremely hypothetical. But it is not unreasonable to hope that out of the depths of misery and despair some new saving forms of belief and observance may arise which will provide an answer to the perplexities of our Jewish experience. The glimpses we have had of life in the large ghetto of Terezin (Theresienstadt) may encourage the hope that a few creative individuals, like Leo Baeck and some of his associates, having been spared the worst of the suffering, may retain the vitality and freedom of meditation necessary to form such a new integration. The great religious message for which the prosperous but as yet spiritually uncreative Jewish communities of Western Europe and America have been groping ever since the Emancipation may yet be spoken by these shattered remnants of European Jewry.

But developments of this sort cannot be expected overnight. It may be years before the Jewish masses in Europe have recovered sufficiently from shock to begin to look inward and find meaning in their experiences. Even then, a spiritual resurgence, involving the inner life of unknown, often humble individuals, is not likely to be reported on the front pages: the “invisible church” is not news. Fuller knowledge of the new spiritual trends in European Jewry may be expected only when they have assumed definite character as a movement.

_____________

 

Restoring the Book

In the end, the destiny of European Jewry will, of course, be settled in Europe; and the course which postwar reconstruction will take will primarily depend on the political and social patterns emerging in the various countries.

But before we turn to the discussion of these basic factors let us outline how Jewish communities outside Europe can assist their decimated co-religionists on the Continent in reconstructing Jewish institutional life—so important for all organized religion—and to reacquire the most fundamental tools of worship and education.

All over Europe, synagogues and Jewish schools have been destroyed, pillaged and desecrated by the Nazis. European Jews have been deprived of even such rudimentary instruments of the spiritual life as prayer-books, Hebrew Bibles and traditional literature. Teachers attempting to re-educate the Jewish youth find themselves crippled by the lack of texts and simple educational facilities.

These losses must be repaired from the outside. They cannot be supplied by the impoverished Jews of Europe, who will require large-scale assistance to meet elementary needs, from government agencies and from the Joint Distribution Committee and other Jewish organizations, if they are to survive the rigors of the coming winter.

The reconstruction of synagogues and schools will offer many difficulties, varying regionally and even locally. In hundreds of Jewish communities the synagogue structure, even if preserved, may never again serve its original purpose, simply for the lack of worshipers. In the case of certain buildings venerable because of their antiquity, beauty or historical association, their preservation as museums should be considered. They may, in the course of years, become centers attracting travellers and pious pilgrims, and serve as historic reminders of former glories and sources of inspiration for many generations.

Books have always been the very life-blood of the “people of the Book.” In compiling a bibliography of Jewish social studies for the years 1938-39, the last two more or less “normal” pre-war years, the present writer was amazed by the undaunted vitality of even much harassed Polish Jewry, as reflected in the vast output of books and articles. Written in Hebrew, Yiddish, Polish and other languages, this literature testified to the profound and variegated intellectual and spiritual interests of this largest sector of European Jewry on the eve of its unprecedented tragedy. Now Jewish books of any kind have become extremely scarce all over the Continent. One hears pathetic descriptions of devoted teachers in France and elsewhere trying to reassemble classes of pupils of varying age and capacity, who are reduced to the use of a single copy of some textbook, talmudic tractate or volume of poems that by a freak of chance happened to escape the wrath of the Nazis.

On the other hand, various German caches detected by the occupying forces contain a large number of priceless manuscripts, incunabula and rare editions which, even if returned to their original communities, would often appear to them as luxuries incongruous to their impoverished state. Nor are they likely to be able, for years to come, adequately to take care of such irreplaceable treasures. At the same time the enormous collections of Judaica assembled by the Nazis in Frankfort and Munich, only small parts of which could possibly be traced back to rightful owners, will in improper hands even be a source of danger. Unless transferred or dispersed, these collections, brought together for the sole purpose of pseudo-scientific anti-Semitic propaganda, can become sources of re-infection.

The Jews of the Allied countries, especially the intact communities outside Europe, can prove extremely helpful here. They can help Allied officials stationed in Europe locate the Nazi loot, restore it to its rightful owners or else to make the wisest disposition possible for the benefit of the general cultural reconstruction of European Jewry. Problems of reparation for losses sustained which are no longer retrievable, problems of a better and more rational redistribution of these cultural resources in the light of the new realities, the possible replenishment of lacunae from the accumulated resources of the more prosperous Jewish communities and the assignment of certain cultural resources to Palestine, the Western Hemisphere and other Jewish communities, in return for services rendered directly—these are all problems of staggering complexity and difficulty, which have thus far received scant attention from the authoritative bodies devoted to Jewish political action.

However, a beginning has been made. Under the auspices of the Conference on Jewish Relations, acting in collaboration with the Joint Distribution Committee, the American Association for Jewish Education and various other agencies interested in this work, a Commission of scholars, assisted by special research fellows, has begun to accumulate the necessary information and to think through the various legal problems involved. It has also begun to collaborate with the numerous non-Jewish agencies, both governmental and private, working in related fields. A similar organization has been established in Palestine under the auspices of the Hebrew University. In England the Jewish Historical Society has taken the initiative along similar lines. Efforts are now being made to correlate the activities of the three countries, in order, finally, to evolve a concerted plan of action.

A tentative list of all Jewish cultural treasures in the countries overrun by the Nazis will soon be available to all interested agencies. Fully documented, it will enable the organs of the United Nations, including Jewish army chaplains, the personnel of the Joint Distribution Committee, Jewish press correspondents, among others, to identify and help reassemble these cultural collections.

Here is an example of how we—individually and collectively—can aid the spiritual reconstruction of European Jewry. Communal leaders and scholars, rabbis and publicists, social workers and educators may greatly contribute to the intensive thinking, the gathering of information and the securing of cooperation with national and international bodies, all of which are indispensable for the performance of these tasks. Contact and discussion with their colleagues formerly connected with the communal and cultural institutions in Axis-occupied countries and now living in the United States may help secure some valuable data and insights, the aggregate of which will pave the way for ultimate constructive action. Such action certainly must not be delayed much longer.

_____________

 

The New Communities

Ultimately, however, the course of Jewish spiritual reconstruction in Europe will depend on the character and strength permitted to the emerging organized communities by the postwar political structures of the various countries. For, apart from the enormous financial difficulty of restoring communities whose accumulated resources have been destroyed or dispersed, whose leadership has been exterminated, whose members will in part return from distant areas and in part consist of a variety of new arrivals, their very political and legal foundations are now a matter of gravest concern. Let us state the case at its optimistic best. Let us suppose that the residue of hatred left by the Nazis is not widespread or great, and that the Jews in all European countries will enjoy perfect equality of rights, not only theoretically, as a matter of paper constitutions or international guarantees, but also as a matter of practice. Let us further assume that there will be no economic or social discrimination against individual Jews because of their religion, language or nationality. (These assumptions will, of course, be disputed by most realistic observers.) Even so, the future of the organized Jewish community and its institutions is subject to great, indeed vital uncertainties.

The recent inclusion of a section on “human rights” in the charter of the new international organization and the provision for an internationl commission to promote their application is undoubtedly a great moral achievement. Undoubtedly, too, it will have considerable bearing on communal life. It is wise to remember, however, that the provisions for protecting “human rights” apply not to individuals but to groups. Certainly, they are not meant to safeguard against purely individual miscarriage of justice. When an employer does not like an employee and discharges him without cause, when a political, “boss” prevents a citizen from getting a license, when a school superintendent refuses to appoint a qualified school teacher—such grievances can never be appealed to the International Commission. It has jurisdiction only when it can be proven that instances of political or economic discrimination are based upon the individual’s race, religion, language or nationality. In other words, it is the group that is now protected, by virtue of the fact that membership in it can no longer be penalized by public bodies with impunity. Such protection of “human rights,” if effective, will go a long way toward safeguarding the Jewish community as such.

This negative protection, however, is not likely to prove sufficient. The Jewish communities of Europe, throughout the centuries of their long history, have had a recognized status as a part of the state system. The disestablished Jewish communities in France after the separation of State and Church in 1906, the pre-fascist Italian communities and a few other “voluntaristic” bodies were only exceptional episodes in a thousand-year history which saw the communities serving as an organ of public law and supported in the exercise of their authority by all governments, regardless of their particular forms or biases. As recently as the period between the two world wars, the Jewish communities of Germany, Poland, the successor states of Austria-Hungary and fascist Italy had the right of taxing their members, even against their will. Even in the Soviet Union the secularized Jewish community has enjoyed legal authority, as a result of the minority rights granted by the Soviet regime to all national minorities.

The American system of purely voluntary allegiance to a congregation or other community institution has been quite alien to the experience of the vast majority of European Jews. The achievement of American Jewry in building a voluntaristic community without the support of public authority has been magnificent. At the same time, it must be remembered that we have been aided in this achievement by the constant influx of immigrants from communities of public law, whose habits and experience encouraged the continuation of some organized form of communal life on this side of the Atlantic.

Now the communities of the United States will be deprived of the stimulus provided by this mass immigration. American Jewry more and more must now stand wholly on its own feet. Indeed, it must lend its spiritual resources to its European brethren, especially since all support of the religious communities through public law will apparently be withdrawn in most European countries.

To be sure, the present trend among the so-called provisional governments, at least within the area occupied by the Western Allies, points toward the restoration of the political and legal status prevailing before the war or Hitler’s rise to power. But there seems little doubt that, before very long, strong revolutionary forces, in evidence throughout the European Continent, will cause a considerable reshaping of the economic and political structures of all these countries. One must seriously doubt whether the resistance forces, upon assuming and holding power, will tolerate the re-establishment of the various churches along traditional lines. It is far more likely that they will strive for complete separation of State and Church, despite the incontestably weighty opposition of the established churches. Separation, as in America and in France, would remove the very props from under the continued legal recognition of the Jewish community as an organ of public law.

It is very difficult for an American reader to realize what, separation implies for all Continental denominations. In the light of the age-old interlocking of “throne and altar” in Catholic countries and the even deeper “erastianism” of the Lutheran populations, separation entails an almost total transvaluation of all facets of organized religion: one need but recall how totally lost Protestant leadership was for several years in the areas ceded by the Germans to Poland in 1919, when it was suddenly deprived of all state support. Even the socialistically controlled early Weimar Republic was forced to come to the aid of the churches after issuing a formal decree of separation and to buttress them by many legislative enactments. The disaffection of the Catholic groups with the French law of separation, on the other hand, has for the last forty years been one of the chief bones of contention in the Third Republic’s stormy career. It has given new impetus to the disruptive forces of “integral” nationalism and royalism and, by allying itself with all other forces of reaction, finally helped bring upon France the disaster of 1940.

That is why, even if the Central and East European Jewish communities had otherwise remained intact, a decree of separation in itself would have necessitated far-reaching readjustments. Totally ruined as they are now, it would be tantamount to forcing a fresh start in their historical evolution.

There is, of course, an alternative to this dilemma—the recognition of the Jewish people as a national minority enjoying national minority rights. If this were established, the revived Jewish community, though in many respects different from its predecessors, would still be recognized as an entity of public law with considerable control over its membership; if need be, by legal enforcement.

Certainly in the Soviet Union the Jews will continue to enjoy the minority safeguards which the Lenin government had enacted in the early stages of the Revolution. But it would be rash to assume that the system prevailing in the Soviet Union would automatically apply to its various satellite countries, especially Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Rumania, which have demonstrated increasing tendencies toward cultural homogeneity, rather than ethnic and cultural pluralism. Despite the terrific bloodshed, it still appears likely that these four countries will harbor, between them, the majority of European Jewry living outside the Soviet area.

_____________

 

Jewish Minority Rights

Poland, deprived of her provinces east of the Curzon line, will retain only insignificant minorities, whether of Jews, Ukrainians or White Russians. The only minority which will have increased numerically, owing to both the colonization under Hitler and the prospective annexation of German-speaking areas by the Poles, will be the Germans. Obviously, for both domestic and international reasons, the new Polish regime will try to reduce the German minority, already depleted by the masses of refugees who escaped before the onrushing Soviet armies in 1945, to an absolute minimum. In the brief period of its administration it has already succeeded in expelling untold numbers of Germans across the border and in replacing them by Poles from both inside and outside the country. While in Potsdam President Truman was informed that only some 1,500,000 Germans have remained in the territories handed over to the Polish government.

Czechoslovakia, also, has publicly proclaimed its intention to rid itself of the bulk of the Sudeten-Germans by forcible, as well as voluntary, expatriation and to assimilate the rest. It has already lost practically its entire Ukrainian minority through the cession of Carpatho-Ruthenia to the Soviet Union. The Czech leaders have been less outspoken in regard to the Hungarian minority, but it stands to reason that the same procedure would be applied also to that minority which, long articulately dissatisfied with the territorial settlements of the Peace of Trianon, has actively contributed to Czechoslovakia’s downfall in the critical years of 1938-39. Should this program be realized, both Poland and Czechoslovakia would become national states with but slight admixture of minority groups other than Jewish.

Hungary, reduced to its pre-war frontiers, will naturally remain, as it was before 1939, a national state with no minority other than the Jews. More complex is the position of the Hungarian and German minorities in Rumania, long satellite of the Axis Powers. But with the likely elimination of the Ukrainian and Bulgarian minorities, as a result of the prospective territorial readjustments, Rumania, too, would strive to become a national state, again finding a major exception in the Jews.

History has demonstrated that in countries where the national composition is fairly homogeneous the Jews evince little interest in being singled out as the only minority. And their staunchest friends, usually liberal-minded people who desire to eliminate nationalist friction, see even less merit in having them thus segregated from the majority. Since liberty of conscience will eventually be granted constitutionally by all Eastern European countries, the Jewish community, in the long run, is likely to claim there religious rather than national rights.

The meaning of this powerful trend is clearly indicated by the repeated and unequivocal statements of the new Rumanian government, exhorting its Jewish citizens to submit to complete assimilation in return for full equality of rights. Even more outspoken has been President Benes of Czechoslovakia. In his interview with the correspondent of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on August 10, he greatly minimized the spread of anti-Semitism in his country outside the province of Slovakia, but he is reported to have added this highly significant prediction:

The establishment of a Jewish Home in Palestine is a necessity for all nations, because anti-Semitism is a regrettable but practically inevitable social phenomenon. It will not vanish till the creation of a Jewish country granting citizenship to all Jewry. It would be difficult to repatriate all Jews there, but it could be done soon at least for the European Jews. Those who would not leave for Palestine ought to be assimilated completely to the people of the country they want to live in, or live there as citizens of a foreign state.

In 1915 or 1925, even in 1935, a declaration of this type would generally have been regarded as coming from a radical anti-Semite. But it was uttered in 1945 by a man with a long record of friendship for the Jews who with Masaryk fought first for national rights within the old Austro-Hungarian Empire and later helped establish genuine minority rights in his reborn country. It will not do to explain Benes’ change of mind in psychological terms and to assert that, as a reaction to Sudeten-German and Magyar treachery, his pendulum has swung to the other extreme. The Jewish world might note his statement as a frank, perhaps brutally frank, expression of the new relationships now being established between the Central European nationalities. Considered together with the probable law of separation and the resulting absence of a religious community which can act as an organ of public law, these new trends seem indeed to place the bulk of Central European Jewry before the alternatives of emigration, life under a neo-medieval status of permanent aliens, or complete assimilation. Unless, of course, their own indomitable will to survive should find a new, as yet unpredictable form of Jewish spiritual and communal existence which would preserve both its distinct identity and historic continuity.

The only larger country in the Russian orbit where national heterogeneity with accompanying safeguards for national cultures is likely to prevail after the war is Yugoslavia. This country may be augmented both in size and heterogeneity by a federation with Bulgaria and the inclusion of some Macedonian and some formerly Italian or Austrian areas. In this amalgam of races, religions and languages, the Jews would stand a chance of securing national minority rights, effectively and not merely theoretically. Largely composed of relatively young, small and struggling communities whose roots in history and national consciousness are, for the most part, far less strong than those of their co-religionists to the North, this group is not likely to make far-reaching use of such rights.

Moreover, here, as in the Soviet Union, national minority rights have tended to receive a geographic emphasis. Exercise of national autonomy has increasingly become concentrated around a particular nationality’s close geographic settlements, in which it holds the undisputed majority. Enjoyment of similar rights by members of that nationality living outside its area appeared as a mere extension of the rights secured within the area. As such, it necessarily assumed a somewhat exceptional character. However, what was the exception for other groups was the norm in the case of the Jews. Even in the western provinces of the Soviet Union the Jews never constituted a majority in a whole district, although they outnumbered their neighbors in individual cities or hamlets. Hence the vigorous efforts made by Communist Jewish leadership, supported by both the government and American Jewish organizations, to secure for the Jewish minority, too, territorial moorings in “autonomous regions” around the Black and the Azov Seas. Biro-Bidjan, in particular, was intended to grow into a Jewish republic. So long as such majority status within a confined area was not secured, however, Russian Jewry, though a significant minority in both numbers and cultural attainments, had an unavoidably exceptional status even within the few-score national minorities recognized as such by the Union.

Some may deny, of course, that national minority rights have any bearing upon the spiritual reconstruction of European Jewry. Indeed, such rights in their conception, and still more in their execution, have tended to secularize Jewish life, to emphasize its political, economic or, at best, linguistic-cultural facets, which are not usually thought of as elements of “spiritual” life. Not that there are lacking men in the world, Jews among them, who even now talk of the spirituality of nationalism. Nationalism, as the indubitable mainspring of wars and revolutions, has fallen into disrepute in recent years. But it has not therefore lost any of its realistic vitality—many people, who vehemently condemn nationalism, are themselves nationalists when it comes to their own country or group. The present writer has devoted much time and study to the effort to clarify interrelations between nationalism and organized religion. He has found that not only is the contrast between these two forms of group life and personal allegiance highly exaggerated, but that the religious mainsprings of some types of modern nationalism, as well as the national foundations of some religious denominations, have never been sufficiently understood. The complexity of life becomes even more clearly visible when one tries to segregate some of its facets for purposes of scholarly scrutiny. Without going here into further detail he can state that, in his considered judgment, the problem of Jewish minority rights in Europe may indeed have a major bearing upon the future of all Jewish spiritual life, including its strictly religious manifestations.

_____________

 

Jewish Fate in the New World

One may perhaps anticipate after this war certain clashes—thoroughly bloodless, we may sincerely believe, and outwardly amicable, but none the less vehement—in both ideology and its corresponding institutional forms, between the systems prevailing in the Soviet Union and in the United States. The European Jewish scene is likely to reflect in miniature this vast world conflict in its own rivalry between the disestablished religious community along American lines and the established secularized Volksgemeinde, largely following the patterns dynamically evolving from Russia’s policy of national liberation. As has frequently been true before, Jewish community life and even certain external forms of Jewish spirituality will reflect these titanic struggles in the world at large. Of course, the two areas need not correspond exactly. The new Poland, for example, although following Russia’s lead in her international policies and applying some broad socialist program in her domestic social adjustments may nevertheless yield to the deeply rooted Catholic traditions of the peasant masses and fully revive the Catholic Church. In this case, the Jews, too, are likely to possess an established religious community of the traditional kind, differing from both the American and the Russian forms.

Czechoslovakia and Rumania, on the other hand, though paying lip service to Western democratic principles and socialistically revamping their social and political structures, will apparently try to deny formal recognition to both the Jewish religious community and national minority. They may try to obliterate completely the separate communal identity of their residual Jewries. In most other countries, it appears, the Jews will see placed before them the alternatives of living as a strictly religious group, without recognition by public law, or as a national minority possibly enjoying some safeguards in domestic as well as international law.

No one will venture to predict the immediate outcome of the vast internal struggles now shaping up throughout the European world. One may confidently assert, however, that the momentary trend toward monolithic national states is likely to prove even less successful in our increasingly interdependent world than were the somewhat similar attempts in early modern times to establish exclusively religious states. After bringing untold miseries to all European lands the principle of cuius regio eius religio of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries had to be abandoned universally in favor of the opposing doctrine of the liberty of conscience. The prevailing trend today undoubtedly is toward the recognition of a parallel principle of cuius regio eius natio, i.e. that state boundaries should fully coincide with the ethnic and cultural frontiers and, in case of conflict, the latter be made to conform with the former. This trend toward what is in essence a religion of nationality has already plunged the world into an endless series of internecine wars culminating in the two world wars. It must sooner or later be, reversed in our technologically, economically and culturally ever more unified world. Even the gigantic struggle between the American and the Russian ways of life and of their intermediate modified forms in various lands, must before very long resolve itself into some superior synthesis, if mankind is to escape the utter self-destruction of a third world war.

Like everybody else, the Jews will be deeply affected by these international developments. The future destinies of all organized religion and religious freedom will profoundly influence Jewish life as well. Should the principle of universal cultural-ethnic freedom come to supplement the fairly well accepted liberty of religious conscience, the future course of Jewish history, too, will be significantly altered. Of equal significance will be the ultimate solution of such specifically Jewish problems of international concern as the future status of Palestine and the outlawry of anti-Semitism.

No less important, for Jewish history, will be the long-term effects of what world Jewry and, most immediately, its European segment, will do to achieve its own spiritual and communal regeneration. In the last resort, only the Jewish people’s firm and persistent will to survive, clad in ever new appropriate institutional forms—though far less spectacular and dramatic than political events on the world scene—will be the truly decisive factor. Such a will, nurtured often from unconscious, even irrational springs of spiritual yearning and historical heritage, will ultimately find a way of communal readjustment to a new world order. The duration of this process, however, and the extent of the sufferings it will entail will, in large measure, depend upon the determination of Jewish leadership now and here to do all it can in hastening the cultural regeneration of European Jewry. In doing so it must endeavor to stimulate the “creative élan” of the masses and of their as yet unknown intellectual vanguard, to furnish them the necessary cultural tools and to help remove from their path certain political and economic obstacles. But it must absolutely refrain from laying down for them any definitive course of thought and action; least of all by forcing them to conform to old, accustomed and partly petrified modes of Jewish historic experience.

About the Author




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.