As I read the current news from America and the world — as well as from Israel as it approaches its secular 70th anniversary as a state on May 14, 1948 — I am struck by some similarities to certain issues from the past century. This notion was reinforced as I was cruising the Davidson Digital Archives this week, as I read an issue of the Detroit Jewish Chronicle from May 3, 1935. There were several stories that reminded me that, while there has been great progress, there is still a long way to go for the global Jewish community.
One whole page was devoted to the theme, “They Need Your Help.” Who needed help? Poor Jews trying make a life in Palestine. The page was an advertisement for the Allied Jewish Campaign of the Jewish Welfare Federation of Detroit that was seeking to raise $270,000. Doesn’t seem like a large number today, but in the midst of the Great Depression, this was a huge sum of money. The photos presented in the ad made a most persuasive case for the cause. And, 83 years later, while there are still poor in Israel, there is also a vibrant, thriving nation. After 70 years of statehood, this certainly speaks to a major success story.
Two other stories could have been written in today’s newspapers and still be relevant. A letter on the front page from the legendary Detroit Jewish leader Fred Butzel addressed the need for unity in the Jewish community, as well concern for Palestine and the aged in Detroit.
Another essay inside was titled: “The Jew Faces Fascism.” Indeed, this was certainly prescient as the Nazis soon began their series of atrocities. It made me think of the recent rise in anti-Semitism in the world and rise of extreme right-wing governments in Eastern Europe. I do not believe history repeats itself, but sometimes, it sure gets close.
Visit the Davidson Digital Archives at djnfoundation.org.