THE JEWISH COMMUNITY
A speech delivered at the Savoy Hotel, London
Oct 29, 1930
Ladies and gentlemen:
It is no easy matter for me to overcome my natural inclination to a life of quiet contemplation. But I could not remain deaf to the appeal of the ORT and OZE societies; (Jewish charitable associations);for in responding to it I am responding, as it were, to the appeal of our sorely oppressed Jewish nation.
The position of our scattered Jewish community is a moral barometer for the political world. For what surer index of political morality and respect for justice can there be than the attitude of the nations toward a defenseless minority. whose peculiarity lies in their preservation of an ancient cultural tradition?
This barometer is low at the present moment, as we are painfully aware from the way we are treated. But it is this very lowness that confirms me in the conviction that it is our duty to preserve and consolidate our community. Embedded in the tradition of the Jewish people there is a love of justice and reason which must continue to work for the good of all nations now and in the future. In modem times this tradition has produced Spinoza and Karl Marx.
Those who would preserve the spirit must also look after the body to which it is attached. The OZE society literally looks after the bodies of our people. In Eastern Europe it is working day and night to help our people there. on whom the economic depression has fallen particularly heavily. to keep body and soul together; while the OR T society is trying to get rid of a severe social and economic handicap under which the Jews have labored since the Middle Ages. Because we were then excluded from all directly productive occupations, we were forced into the purely commercial ones. The only way of really helping the Jew in eastern countries is to give him access to new fields of activity, for which he is struggling all over the world. This is the grave problem which the ORT society is successfully tackling.
It is to you English fellow-Jews that we now appeal to help us in this great enterprise which splendid men have set on foot. The last few years, nay, the last few days have brought us a disappointment which must have touched you particularly. Do not gird at fate but rather look on these events as a reason for remaining true to the cause of the Jewish commonwealth. I am convinced that in doing so we shall also indirectly be promoting those general human ends which we must always recognize as the highest.
Remember that difficulties and obstacles are a valuable source of health and strength to any society. We should not have survived for thousands of years as a co=unity if our bed had been of roses; of that I am quite sure. But we have a still fairer consolation. Our friends are not exactly numerous, but among them are men of noble spirit endowed witl1 a strong sense of justice, who have devoted their lives to uplifting human society and liberating the individual from degrading oppression.
To you all I say that the existence and destiny of our people depends less on external factors than on ourselves. It is our duty to remain faithful to the moral traditions which have enabled ru; to survive for thousands of years despite the heavy storms that have broken over our heads. In the service of life sacrifice becomes grace.