The Dream Continues
As Hitler tightened his grip on Europe, local Zionist leaders worked diligently to build support for a Jewish homeland.
Like American Jews in general, Washington Jews held differing views about Zionism. Many were early supporters of a Jewish homeland, but few belonged to Zionist organizations. Leaders of the Washington chapter of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) worked to change this situation. They organized a flurry of activities at local synagogues, homes of prominent members of the community, and the Jewish Community Center.
Local Zionists—like Edmund I. Kaufmann, head of Kay Jewelry, and Rabbi Isadore Breslau, director of the American Zionist Bureau’s lobbying efforts—rose to prominence on Washington’s national stage.
1943: A mass protest was staged by 500 Orthodox rabbis to pressure the U.S. government to help stop the carnage in Europe.
Courtesy of Agudath Israel of America Archives.
1940: Rabbi Isadore Breslau and Louis Spiegler, President of the local chapter of the ZOA, toast Edmund Kaufmann, the organization’s new national President.
Courtesy of Washington Jewish Week.
1930s-1941: The Kalorama apartment of Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis served as a salon for national and local Zionist leaders. When Justice Brandeis died in 1941, the local chapter of the Zionist Organization of America changed its name to the Louis D. Brandeis District of Washington, D.C.
JHSGW Collections. Gift of Bernice Kaufmann. 1998.43
1942: The Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington agonized over a fitting response to the S.S. Struma tragedy. The British had refused entry to Palestine for the 767 Romanian refugees on board. When the ship broke apart, all but one drowned. Unable to act unanimously, the Council resolved that memorial services could be held at synagogues, but protests would be inappropriate. Chairman Hymen Goldman (seen here), upset at the Council’s discord, left the meeting in tears.
JHSGW Collections. Gift of Aaron Goldman. 1998.41
Hyman’s son, Aaron Goldman, recorded the minutes of the meeting.
Photograph: JHSGW Collections. Gift of Aaron Goldman. 1998.41
Minutes of the March, 10, 1942 meeting of the Jewish Community Council’s Executive Committee
Courtesy of Special Collections and University Archives, The Gelman Library, The George Washington University.
1943: Activist Peter Bergson’s lobby groups worked to build popular sympathy for the plight of European Jews. The Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe sponsored newspaper ads calling attention to the Holocaust, and staged a pageant memorializing the massacre of Jews. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, several Supreme Court Justices, and members of the international diplomatic corps were among the thousands who saw the pageant, We Will Never Die, at Constitution Hall.
JHSGW Collections. Gift of Harry Selden. 1998.44