Copyright
Joseph H. (Joseph Herman) Hertz.

Happy in my Judaism : a plea for our Jewish brethren on active service : a sermon preached at the Bayswater synagogue on Sabbath Bereshith, October 13th, 5678-1917 online

. (page 1 of 1)
Online LibraryJoseph H. (Joseph Herman) HertzHappy in my Judaism : a plea for our Jewish brethren on active service : a sermon preached at the Bayswater synagogue on Sabbath Bereshith, October 13th, 5678-1917 → online text (page 1 of 1)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


DS
143
H47




HERTZ

11 HAPPY IN MY
JUDAISM"







THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES






HAPPY IN MY JUDAISM



7# JKU'lHll BRETHREN
ON ACTIVE SKR]'ICE.




A SERMON



F'KKACHKD AT THIO



BAYSWATER SYNAGOGUE,



SABBATH BERESHITH,
OCTOBER 13th, 56781917,



THE CHIEF RABBI



"HAPPY IN MY JUDAISM":



Sermon.



"HAPPY IN MY JUDAISM":



A PLEA FOR OUR JEWISH BRETHREN
ON ACTIVE SERVICE.



A SERMON



PREACH KD AT THE



BAYSWATER SYNAGOGUE,



SABBATH BERESHITH,
OCTOBER 13th, 56781917.



THE CHIEF RABBI




SERMON

Preached at the BAYSWATEB SYNAGOGUE,
On Sabbath Bereshith. October 13th, 1917-5678.



"And God created man in His own image, in the
image of God created He him." GENESIS i. 27.

Next to God's unity, the most essential and
the most characteristic teaching of Judaism
is that contained in this twenty-seventh verse
of the first chapter of Genesis. It has often
been pointed out by Jewish teachers that
whereas heathenism degraded man by making
him kneel before brutes or the works of his
hand, Judaism declared man to be made in
the image of God the crown and culmination
of God's creation.

This doctrine is not merely a matter of
historical theology, but a vital and timely
truth for the men and women of to-day.



2116337



Let me explain. For the last fifty years
there has been a battle between Man and the
Universe ; between man his dignity, his
freedom, his significance, on the one hand ;
and, on the other, the infinite world nature,
history, society. From this battle man seems,
in the eyes of many, to have emerged with
his importance considerably weakened, with
his soul shrivelled up to the vanishing point.
Instead of lord of creation, he is to-day
merely an infinitesimal article in the inventory
of the Universe. ' l Man is but a microscopic
being relatively to astronomical space, and
he lives on a puny planet circling around the
sun, a star of inferior rank, one among four
hundred million other such stars scattered
through the infinite abyss of immeasurable
space," says astronomy. The newer studies
and latter-day events merely reinforce upon the
average man this teaching of astronomy. The
widening of the historical horizon by the
study of primitive man and by the unearthing
of dead civilisations ; political phenomena,



like the rise of democracy with its levelling
downwards ; this present worjd-tragedy, when
tens of millions of men are arrayed in ghastly
combat against tens of millions all emphasize
the meaning of mass in human affairs, with
the consequent cheapening of the individual.
Not so very long ago it was hard to conceive
of a universal humanity because personalities

of men seemed so distinct. People found it

hard to see the forest on account of the trees.

In our generation, however, it is almost

impossible to see the trees for the forest.

Man is so clear that men become obscure.

The race is more and more, but the individual

withers.

Now we are prepared to see the timeliness
of the teaching of : " And God created man
in His own image, in the image of God created
He him." To-day, when the human soul
freezes, shrinks, well-nigh vanishes in the
horizon of infinite space ; when personality
becomes vague, defective, dwindling ; when



man is in danger of losing himself- Judaism
comes, and on the very first page of our Bible
proclaims to us : * There is something in thee
which antedates birth and outlives death.
Though unseen, immaterial, imponderable,
there is something in thee greater than
towering mountains, heaving seas, or the
silent lights that stud the canopy of night.
Unlike them, that something in thee has the
capacity to feel and think and dream ; to
love, to strive, to fall and to rise again !
A tiny atom, thou canst yet rethink the
Creator's thoughts, soar to the Divine, labour
in the cause of the truth and righteousness,,
because thou art a spark of that central Sun
which is the Creator, Sustainer and Life of
all eternities."

Such is the perennial message of this first
page of our Scriptures. When the Tishri-
f estivals are over, and the vast teachings of
New Year, Atonement Day, Tabernacles and
Rejoicing of the Law are apt to recede from



9

our memory, Judaism opens our workaday
year by giving back unto us our human
personality. Our duty as Jews is to proceed
to regain our Jewish personality, our Jewish
consciousness.

"Jewish consciousness " much more is
meant by this than by the phrase that one
hears from the lips of even lax Jews, viz., that
they are proud of being Jews. That phrase
always recalls to my mind the words spoken
recently by a renowned French co-religionist :
" I will not say I am proud of being a Jew.
I do not see how I am to be proud of something
that is not my achievement, but has come to
me as a matter of birth ; I would rather say,
/ am happy in my Judaism" That is the
great problem for Jewish ministers, teachers
and parents of to-day How to make our
children happy in their Judaism. For^ unless
they are happy in their Judaism the full
measure of Jewish personality will never be
theirs. Now they cannot be happy in their
Judaism if the}^ do not love it; and they



10



cannot love it if they do not know it, if
they are unfamiliar with Jewish ideals and
Jewish teachings, with the martyrdoms and
the .triumphs of the Jew throughout the ages !

There is one class especially that, above
all others, I am most anxious to see, not
merely proud of, but happy in, their Judaism.
Thousands of our sons are now hourly face
to face with death, prepared at any moment
to bring the supreme sacrifice. In view of
their ordeal, our fears and panics in recent air-
raids appear petty, cowardly, impious. Stand-
ing in the valley of the shadow of death,
they need something to fortify their souls;
something to kindle within them into a bright
flame the hope that transcends the grave, to
bring home to them man's kinship with the
Divine, to deepen within them the conviction
that fellowship with the Eternal must be an
eternal fellowship. Only one agency can
accomplish all this religion. Now none of
us is willing that such inspiration shall come



11



to our Jews at the Front from the Churches.
But as one of the Church dignitaries rightly
said : " If the Christian efforts of proselytising
among Jews are resented, why do not Jews
do something for their own religious welfare,
and circulate among themselves literature
appertaining to the tenets of their faith,
and thereby try to inculcate a more spiritual
outlook in their midst ? " My friends, the
sting of this question lies in its unanswerable
justice and bitter truth.

What is wanted is Jewish religious war
literature for free distribution among our men
at the Front. Nothing strengthens a man
more than that which heightens his sense
of personality. And only Jewish books can
do that for the Jewish soldier ; they alone
can waken his Jewish consciousness, and
render him happy in the thought of being
a member of a great, eternal, indomitable
people that has fought and suffered on
every battlefield of human thought ; a link



12



in a chain which all the tempests under
heaven could not break. To meet this, vital
need, I produced, some months ago, a ' ' Book
of Jewish Thoughts," of which 40,000 copies
have already been, or are about to be, dis-
tributed. The nature of this book can best
be seen if I read to you the letter with which
T prefaced it :

To MY JEWISH BRETHREN ON ACTIVE SERVICE.
I am sending you this little Book of Jewish Thoughts
and hope it will reach every one of His Majesty's Jewish
sailors and soldiers. It brings you the undying message
of our Holy Faith ; memories of Jewish loyalty and
martyrdom in the service of God and Humanity through-
out the ages ; as well as reflections on the higher issues
of this world-conflict when viewed under the aspect
of Judaism. For every Sacred Occasion of the Jewish
Year, moreover, you will find in it an echo of some
characteristic note of the Festival that will remind you
of the deathlessness of Israel and its Teaching.

May these "Thoughts" help you to realize that
every Israelite holds the honour of his people in his hands.
May they strengthen your trust in God, and deepen
your invincible faith in the justice of the. Allied Cause.
" Be strong and of a good courage ; be not affrighted,
neither be thou dismayed ; for the Lord thy God is with
thee whithersoever thou goest."



13



My prayers, and those of the whole House of Israel
are with you. May your going out and your coming
in be blessed.

The distribution of such a Jewish antho-
logy is of surpassing importance, for the book
reaches thousands of men who never see the
Chaplains. Often a copy falls into the hands
of non-Jews, and its contents come to them as
a revelation. Henceforth they are filled with
a new respect for Jews and Judaism. But
a book of selections, no matter how classical
these may be, is not sufficient. I have,
therefore, in the press a brief survey of
Jewish history. Unfortunately, funds so far
in hand for this second publication cover the
cost of only 5,000 copies, and 40000 are
needed. It is, furthermore, necessary tb
circulate the Jewish translation of the Psalms
amongst our men, and also copies of the
Jewish Version of the Bible. It is nothing
short of an infamy that in the past only
the Christian translation of the Psalms was
available for our men. A fortnight or so



14



ago, I received by cable permission to make
use of the new Jewish Version of the Bible
recently issued in America. Judging by the
splendid manner in which a few wise-hearted
men and women have helped me with the
first book, I venture to hope that the per-
mission given me by the Jewish Publication
Society of America will not remain an empty
and valueless privilege.

A year ago, an appeal for Y. JVL C. A.
huts was made in the Synagogues of the
Metropolis and Provinces. The Jewish re-
sponse for that most worthy charity totalled
a Very substantial sum. If a similar amount
were forthcoming in this Jewish and
patriotic cause for the propagation of
Judaism among Jews, for the diffusion of
Jewish knowledge among our men at the
Front it would mark an epoch in the
spiritual history of the Anglo-Jewish com-
munity. For, remember, the entire generation
ol the men of to-day and to-morrow would



15



then come to know their Judaism, to love
their Judaism, to rejoice and to be happy
in their Judaism. What nobler monument
to the loved and lost could you raise, what
nobler thanksgiving offering on behalf of the
loved who are still with us could you bring,
than the* providing of such religious litera-
ture for our Jewish soldiers and sailors !

Hy DfiN ' Ye are my witnesses," we read
in our Haphtorah of to-day. On this golden
text from the mightiest of prophets, an
Anglo-Jewish author a generation ago wrote :
" Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, Each
Jew and each Jewess is making his or her
mark, or his or her stain, upon the wonderful,
never-ending history of the Jews. Loyal and
steadfast witnesses is it, or self-seeking and
suborned ones ? A witness of some sort every
Jew born is bound to be." May God incline
our hearts to help every endeavour to turn
the sons of our people into loyal and steadfast
witnesses of God and of Israel's truth among
the nations. Amen.



WILLIAMS, LEA A CO., LTD.,
CLIFTON HOUSE. WORSHIP ST.. LONDON, B.C. 2.





1

Online LibraryJoseph H. (Joseph Herman) HertzHappy in my Judaism : a plea for our Jewish brethren on active service : a sermon preached at the Bayswater synagogue on Sabbath Bereshith, October 13th, 5678-1917 → online text (page 1 of 1)