The American Delegate(s)* at the First Zionist Congress Part 6

Posted on September 20th, 2017 by

Written by Avi Y. Decter. Originally published in Generations 2007-2008: Maryland and Israel

Sidebar III: “The Time is Now!” – The Editor of Ha-Ivri Publishes a Diatribe

Missed the beginning? Start here.

The Ha'Ivri Masthead, August 1897. Courtesy of Yeshiva University, Mendel Gottesman Library.

The Ha’Ivri Masthead, August 1897. Courtesy of Yeshiva University, Mendel Gottesman Library.

In August 1897, Katriel Hirsch Sarasohn, the publisher of the Hebrew-language newspaper Ha-Ivri in New York City, used his lead article to attack the New York Hoveve Zion [Lovers of Zion] Society for failing to send a delegate to the first Zionist Congress, soon to convene in Basel, Switzerland. Sarasohn contrasted the commitment of the Baltimore Zion Association with the ineffectiveness of its New York counterpart and employed the embarkation of Rabbi Schepsel Schaffer as a club with which to beat New York’s Zionist leaders.

Sarasohn was a highly critical and contentious publisher. In 1892 he had printed an attack on Shavei Zion by S. W. Natelson, denouncing the leaders of New York’s Shavei Zion and Hoveve Zion organizations in such inflammatory terms that Adam Rosenberg, an officer of Shavei Zion, felt compelled to sue for libel. Rosenberg accused Sarasohn of “publishing the most scandalous libels against the officers of Hoveve Zion charging them with swindling, humbugging the poor and embessling the Society’s funds.” The case achieved sufficient notoriety to be reported in the New York Times, and Sarasohn appears to have been compelled to cease his attacks on Rosenberg.[1]

This document is notable not only for what it can tell us about the state of Zionist organization in New York and Baltimore on the eve of the Congress, but also for what it says about the role of personality and politics in the Zionist movement. Soon after the first Zionist Congress adjourned a new Federation of American Zionists was organized, giving the Zionist movement in America greater coherence nad strength. But debate, dissent, and conflict persisted nonetheless.

The article, Ha'Ivri, August 1897. Courtesy of Yeshiva University, Mendel Gottesman Library.

The article, Ha’Ivri, August 1897. Courtesy of Yeshiva University, Mendel Gottesman Library.

The Article (in translation)

The learned Rabbi Dr. Schaffer of Baltimore has been chosen as a trusted delegate by the Zion Association of that city to represent them at the Zionist Congress in Basel. This organization, by choosing to send this distinguished and beloved rabbi to the Congress, revealed both its good taste and its true love of Zion and its adherents; and, aside from the honor it will gain by being the only organization in America that will have its name mentioned among the participants in the Zionist Congress, it will also enjoy the honor bestowed upon it for choosing such a distinguished delegate, as our Sages said: “A man’s agent is a reflection of himself.”

Of all the nationalist [i.e. Zionist] organizations in our country – at least in name – only the Baltimore Zion Association has sent a special delegate as its representative to the Zionist Congress in Basel. Instead of bombarding the world with loud proclamations and fliers, only this group quietly discharged its responsibility and duty, while New York’s Hovevei Zion created a tempest in a teapot and blew its horn about the Zionist Congress, but, when the time came to send even one delegate, they were overwhelmed with the pangs of childbirth like those of a woman in labor who wasn’t strong enough to give birth, unable to collect $100 to send the delegate on his way and acting as if they hoped to be rewarded for talking and not doing.

Isn’t it a laugh and an amazement to all who hear it, that the Hovevei Zion in New York – the city with the largest Jewish population in the world – let such a small amount as $100 prevent their sending a representative to show their love and commitment to the national goal. Indeed, it is a heartbreaking joke, but the surprise quickly dissipates with the realization that in reality this organization barely exists. The truth is that it is almost extinct, fading from the world with only its name still inscribed on its charter, while a few individuals who lack the spirit of the real Hovevei Zion have appropriated its name to crown and adorn themselves.

We say “genuine Hovevei Zion” because it is our strong belief there are many true lovers of Zion in our city, particularly those who founded this organization, those who supported it when it was doing well, and those who were devoted with all their being to the national goal: however, they don’t want to be affiliated with this current organization, which they left and which has turned away from its purpose. Why don’t the nationalists [Zionists] in New York City create a new society of select members that is managed in better order?

Is it because Hovevei Zion did not turn out well and they saw its disintegration, making them fearful about launching a new society that is true to the cause? Even G-d created and destroyed many worlds until he built this world, which He saw was good. Experience from past failures will show them how to be more cautious in the future. Arise and unite all you in New York who are true and honest lovers of Zion, because the time of redemption is now!

~The End~

Notes:

[1] Klausner, “Adam Rosenberg,” 25 lff. Sarasohn also carried on a lengthy feud with Wolf Schur, the publisher and editor of Ha-Pisgah. See Kabakoff, “The Role of Wolf Schur,” 431.

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Tangents

Posted on February 16th, 2017 by

A difficulty of working in such a large and varied collection as ours is that it’s very easy to find yourself on a research tangent, leading off into ever-branching questions that take you further and further from your original point… or, occasionally, lead you right back to it.  When looking through my list of “this might make a nice blog post” catalog records, I hit upon this photo of the Washburn Club, about which we know very little other than that, according to the donors, it had one Jewish member: Hiram Herman of Baltimore.

The Washburn Club, circa 1900.  Each member is holding an instrument, primarily strings; their logo, featured in the cardboard cut-out in the center front, consists of a mandolin, guitar, and banjo within a lyre.  Bonus: spot the disembodied hand holding on to the backdrop in the upper left.  Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Morton K. Sugar. JMM 1987.193.2

The Washburn Club, circa 1900.  Each member is holding an instrument, primarily strings; their logo, featured in the cardboard cut-out in the center front, consists of a mandolin, guitar, and banjo within a lyre.  Bonus: spot the disembodied hand holding on to the backdrop in the upper left.  Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Morton K. Sugar. JMM 1987.193.2

This seemed like a pleasant, and quick, research tangent for today’s blog… but, as can be expected, it wasn’t quite that simple. After spending some time on it, I must report that the club itself – not to mention which musician pictured is Mr. Herman – is, alas, still a mystery. However, a little research into the Herman family revealed the bones of an interesting wedding story. And, conveniently, weddings are what much of my non-tangential time has been spent on, thanks to this summer’s “Just Married!” exhibit.  Newspaper wedding descriptions are a favorite of mine, and this photo led me to some nice ones.

Hiram himself was fairly easy to track, but – tangent alert! I wanted a bit more. The photo was donated to us by Mr. and Mrs. Morton K. Sugar; a few other Herman family books were donated by Judith Senker Wise.  Curious as to how these donors – and the Senker family material donated at the same time – were related to the childless Mr. Herman, I poked around a bit in newspaper archives, state marriage records, and ancestry.com.  If this were a clever modern PBS mystery show, you would now see census listings and web links and gravestones floating about my head while I frowningly piece together the various bits of evidence (who am I kidding; I am absolutely a Watson, not a Holmes) but in the absence of those graphic representations of deductive reasoning, suffice it to say that I eventually came up with this story:

In 1905 Hiram Katz Herman, age 27, and Sarah Whitehill, age 23, were married by Rabbi Guttmacher in Baltimore. After the marriage, Hiram worked as a grocer, and eventually went into real estate. Unfortunately, he died in late 1921, leaving Sarah a childless widow.

“HERMAN-WHITEHILL. Miss Sara [sic] Whitehill, daughter of Mr. Albert Whitehill, 431 North Broadway, was married to Mr. Hiram K. Herman Sunday night at the Lyceum Parlors [1109 N. Charles Street] by Rev. Dr. Adolph Guttmacher, of Madison Avenue Temple [Baltimore Hebrew Congregation]. The bride was attired in a white lace robe over taffeta and carried a shower bouquet of Bride roses. Mr. Solomon Whitehill, brother of the bride, was best man. The ushers were Messrs. Jerome Meyer, Justin Rosenthal, Samuel Fernheimer and Lester Marx, of Washington. A reception followed, after which Mr. and Mrs. Herman left for Philadelphia, Atlantic City and New York. They will reside at 431 North Broadway.” From the Baltimore Sun, August 22, 1905.

“HERMAN-WHITEHILL. Miss Sara [sic] Whitehill, daughter of Mr. Albert Whitehill, 431 North Broadway, was married to Mr. Hiram K. Herman Sunday night at the Lyceum Parlors [1109 N. Charles Street] by Rev. Dr. Adolph Guttmacher, of Madison Avenue Temple [Baltimore Hebrew Congregation]. The bride was attired in a white lace robe over taffeta and carried a shower bouquet of Bride roses. Mr. Solomon Whitehill, brother of the bride, was best man. The ushers were Messrs. Jerome Meyer, Justin Rosenthal, Samuel Fernheimer and Lester Marx, of Washington. A reception followed, after which Mr. and Mrs. Herman left for Philadelphia, Atlantic City and New York. They will reside at 431 North Broadway.” From the Baltimore Sun, August 22, 1905.

Meanwhile, Hiram’s sister Beulah Herman married Solomon Senker in 1910. (The Herman and Senker families were probably neighbors or friends; for example, a list of the attendees of the Majestic Assembly’s first monthly dance of the 1903 season includes Hiram, Beulah, and Solomon’s sister Maud.) Solomon worked for Strauss Bros. clothing as a bookkeeper and office manager; he and Beulah had four children, and lived on Menlo Drive in Park Heights. Beulah died, age 45, in 1932.

“Senker-Herman. Miss Beulah Herman, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jonas Herman, was married to Mr. Solomon Senker at her home, 616 East Baltimore street, at 6 o'clock last evening. The ceremony was performed by Rev. Dr. S. Schaffer [of Shearith Israel], assisted by Rev. Dr. E. Jaffe. The couple stood under a canopy of smilax [link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smilax]. The bride wore a hand-embroidered marquisette gown over white satin with a yoke and sleeves of lace. She wore a tulle veil draped with orange blossoms, and carried sweetpeas. A reception followed the ceremony, after which Mr. and Mrs. Senker left for a trip to Atlantic City and the North. They will live at 1717 West North avenue and will be at home to their friends after August 1.” From the Baltimore Sun, July 8, 1910.

“Senker-Herman. Miss Beulah Herman, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jonas Herman, was married to Mr. Solomon Senker at her home, 616 East Baltimore street, at 6 o’clock last evening. The ceremony was performed by Rev. Dr. S. Schaffer [of Shearith Israel], assisted by Rev. Dr. E. Jaffe. The couple stood under a canopy of smilax. The bride wore a hand-embroidered marquisette gown over white satin with a yoke and sleeves of lace. She wore a tulle veil draped with orange blossoms, and carried sweetpeas. A reception followed the ceremony, after which Mr. and Mrs. Senker left for a trip to Atlantic City and the North. They will live at 1717 West North avenue and will be at home to their friends after August 1.” From the Baltimore Sun, July 8, 1910.

Ancestry.com is a helpful creature, and it kept linking the various records for Sarah and Beulah as if they were the same person, despite the fact that each has her own gravesite in Baltimore Hebrew Cemetery; the connection seemed to be Solomon, I checked the obituary of Solomon Senker and discovered that when he died in 1948, his surviving wife was named Sarah Whitehill.  Thus, sometime between Beulah’s death in 1932 and the recording of the 1940 census, Hiram’s widow and Beulah’s widower had married each other.  (Unfortunately, unlike the original marriages, this one was not described in the Sun.)

Thanks to Solomon Senker’s obituary, we know that Hiram Herman’s photograph and books were donated by his sister Beulah’s children, Harriet Senker Sugar and Judith Senker Wise. From the Baltimore Jewish Times, October 22, 1948.

Thanks to Solomon Senker’s obituary, we know that Hiram Herman’s photograph and books were donated by his sister Beulah’s children, Harriet Senker Sugar and Judith Senker Wise. From the Baltimore Jewish Times, October 22, 1948.

Without more information, we can only guess at the specific circumstances that would flesh out their history; though useful, wedding notices and census records and obituaries can only tell us so much. Nonetheless, the story of Hiram and Sarah and Beulah and Solomon is a lovely addition to my wedding research, and one that’s a little out of the ordinary.  On the other hand, I’m still left with the unsolved problem of the mysterious Washburn Club….

JoannaA blog post by Collections Manager Joanna Church. To read more posts by Joanna click HERE.

 

 

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