Page 46 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 38

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36
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
no mysteries and that there was no room fo r God in it.5 Form er
Yeshiva students, who entered Am erican colleges, had little re ­
spect fo r Jewish relig ion , learning and tradition. As one o f them
put it, “we were a ff irm ed enemies o f Judaism and o f all that was
connected with it.” 6
T h e war on relig ion reached its zenith in the public Y om
K ippu r balls organ ized by the anarchists in the years 1889-1900.
A concomitant o f the Y om K ippu r balls were the parodies on the
H igh Ho liday prayers ( T ’fila Zaka), published on the eve o f Rosh
Hashanah. Since then it became a “ trad ition” fo r radical publica­
tions to print b e fo re each holiday a satire denouncing the fo lly o f
the beliefs and customs connected with the popular observance o f
the holiday.7
One o f the most pro lific “ Heaven stormers” was Benjam in
Feigenbaum. His tracts and books include such titles as:
The
Passover Haggadah,
1888;
The Jewish Inquisition,
orig ina lly pub­
lished in the
Zukunft,
1894, and reprinted in 1906;
The Theory o f
Evolution,
1904; and
Who Introduced Yom K ippu r? ,
1907. His most
exhaustive book is
Kosher and Treyfa and Other Commandments
,
1908, and reprinted by the Forward Association in 1919.
In this anti-religious campaign Feigenbaum was fo llow ed by
L eo Rosenzweig, author o f
About Circumcision,
1916, in which he
advocated the abolition o f this ritual. T o this group should also be
added the names o f Philip Krantz, Iser Ginsberg, Leon Z o lo tko ff,
and A . Hurwich.
In the heated atmosphere o f the first Y om K ippu r ball o f 1889,
David Edelstadt wrote his poem , “ From the Darkness.” Its op en ­
ing lines read: “Why do you shout, O rthodox? Do you think that
every Jew is an ox, ignorant and stupid as you?” Morris V in-
chevsky jo in ed him with an attack on the unholy trinity o f re li­
gion, government and capitalism. In the name o f God they tell the
laborer, “ you should not think too much,” and instead o f better
living conditions o f f e r him “ the Garden o f Eden and consolation
— a fter death.” 8
5
B leterfun mayn leben,
vol. 1, N .Y ., 1926, pp. 225-231.
8 I. Kopeloff
, Amol in Amerika,
Warsaw, 1928, p. 175.
7 For an account o f the Yom Kippur balls, see N . Goldberg ’s chapter “Die
anti-religyeze bavegung” in
Geshichte fu n der Yidisher Arbeter bavegung,
vol. 2,
Y IV O , N.Y ., 1945. See also S. N iger in
Zukunft,
Jan. 1942 and I. Kopeloff,
I.e.
8 The quotations are from the poems “Ich seh a Drei-Einikeit,” “Got’s Strapces,”
and “Es steht geshriben.”