Ha-Kenesiyyah ha-Gedolah ha-Sheneyah, Vienna 1927 (47279)

הכנסיה הגדולה השניה

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Listing Details

Lot Number: 47279
Title (English): Ha-Kenesiyyah ha-Gedolah ha-Sheneyah
Title (Hebrew): הכנסיה הגדולה השניה
Note: Only Edition
Author: Kenesiyyah Gedolah of Agudat Israel
City: Vienna
Publisher: Agudat Israel in Vienna
Publication Date: 1927
Estimated Price: $200.00 USD - $500.00 USD
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Description

Physical Description

Only edition. 52 pp., 228:150 mm., wide margins, usual age staining, bound in the original paper title wrappers, chipped.

 

Detail Description

Booklet prepared for the second Kenesiyyah ha-Gedolah ("Great Assembly"), of representatives of the local branches of Agudat Israel held in Vienna in 1929. Agudat Israel - world Jewish movement and political party seeking to preserve Orthodoxy by adherence to halakhah as the principle governing Jewish life and society. The ideal on which Jewish life should be modeled, in the view of Agudat Israel, is embodied in the social and religious institutions, the way of life and mores, that obtained in the Diaspora centers in Eastern and Central Europe in the 19th century. Its geographical and linguistic orientation made it automatically a purely Ashkenazi movement. The formation of an organized movement and political party to achieve these aims was itself an innovation. It was deemed necessary to present a viable counterforce to the advances made by assimilation and Reform trends, and by Zionism, the Bund, and autonomism in Jewry. The establishment of a movement was discussed in 1909 by members of the German neo-Orthodox group, but internal dissension in the Orthodox camp delayed it for three years. The final impetus was given when the tenth Zionist Congress decided to include cultural activities in its program, thereby recognizing a secular Jewish culture coexistent with the religious. Some members of the Mizrachi party left the Zionist movement and joined the founders of Agudat Israel in an assembly held in May 1912 at Kattowitz in Upper Silesia.

Agudat Israel was constituted of three groups reflecting German neo-Orthodoxy, Hungarian Orthodoxy, and the Orthodox Jewries in Poland and Lithuania. These differed in political and social outlook, and in their opinions on cultural and organizational matters. A major divergence was the attitude to general European culture, society, and mores, which German Orthodoxy accepted. They also disagreed about whether to remain part of the main Jewish communal unit or to form separate Orthodox communities, and whether Jews should adopt the language of the state or adhere to Yiddish. Their attitude toward Zionism was also a moot point. Branches of Agudat Israel were established throughout the Ashkenazi world. Later it developed a youth movement (Ze'irei Agudat Israel) and a women's movement (Neshei Agudat Israel) in several countries. In Germany the "Ezra" youth movement was affiliated with it. The labor movement that formed within Agudat Israel separated from the parent body after disagreement on national, social, and religious issues.Within its ranks, Agudat Israel presented a spectrum of the attitudes which had influenced its creation. Particularly acute was the question of secular education. Some of the initiators of the Kattowitz conference tried to achieve a synthesis by formulating the principle: "The East shall give of its Torah learning to the West, and the West of its culture to the East," Western culture referring to the Western European, German-style, middle class type. This program was contested sharply by the Eastern European sector of Agudat Israel, who claimed that the only plausible basis for unity was maintenance of the status quo; each group should retain its way of life without change. This solution was contained in 18 clauses presented by Hayyim Soloveichik, rabbi of Brest-Litovsk, as a condition of the participation of Polish and Lithuanian rabbis in the movement.

In regard to Zionism, Agudat Israel was created partly by groups who consistently opposed any attempt to revive Jewish nationhood in Erez Israel through human agency. This they compared with a rebellious attempt by a disbanded regiment to resume its identity and hoist its banner without the express permission of its commander. The secularist elements in the nascent Hebrew culture added to Agudist resentment of Zionism. The zaddikim of Eastern Europe (Hasidism) regarded the influence of Zionism on the youth, and its negative revolutionary view of Diaspora existence (see Galut), as religiously and socially destructive. Agudat Israel, therefore, maintained an ambivalent attitude toward renewed settlement in Erez Israel, mainly because of its opposition to the Zionist movement. The Agudists resented the cooperation of religious with non-religious Jews within the Zionist movement on the basis of national unity, and unequivocally resisted the creation of a secular Jewish society in the Holy Land. Most Agudists considered that the way of life and culture gradually taking shape in the modern settlements in Erez Israel, and propagated by Zionist educational and cultural activities, were subverting and destroying the only true Jewish way of life, upheld by religious families and communities in the Diaspora. The revival of Hebrew as a secular language seemed a sacrilege. With regard to sponsoring independent settlement in Erez Israel, Agudists were already divided at the Kattowitz conference. Gradually, however, there emerged an opinion which after the Holocaust apparently became the ideological basis of the organization in Israel. Erez Israel should figure at the center of their program, which should, according to the Agudist leader Isaac Breuer, aim at "uniting all the people of Israel under the rule of the Torah, in all aspects of political, economic and spiritual life of the People of Israel in the Land of Israel."

The constituents of Agudat Israel were united in their aim to reestablish the authority of the prominent rabbis as the supreme institution of Jewry. This was a basic ideal, even if views were divided on the qualifications for leadership. German members considered secular academic qualifications acceptable, while Eastern European members demanded exclusively rabbinical qualifications. However, the agreement on the overall objective, to give expression to rabbinical authority on all matters, was reflected in the structure and central institutions of the new party, providing them with a unique pattern. The Agudat Israel central institutions as eventually established are, in order of formal importance:
(1) The Mo'ezet Gedolei ha-Torah ("Council of Torah Sages"), halakhic authorities, chosen on the basis of preeminence in talmudic learning. There are no defined criteria whereby its members are appointed. The number of members of the council is not predetermined. The council ensures, at least. in theory, that no activity will be undertaken by Agudat Israel without the consent of representatives of halakhic authority. The decisions of the Council of Torah Sages are accepted as legal verdicts, and the details of their consultations are secret.
(2) Kenesiyyah ha-Gedolah ("Great Assembly"), "the highest (political) authority of the association," is composed of representatives of the local branches of Agudat Israel. Each two hundred members may elect a representative to the Great Assembly. The first two Great Assemblies were held in Vienna in 1923 and 1929.
(3) Central World Council, or Presidium, is elected by the Great Assembly.
(4) The World Executive Committee.

Before World War II the strongest numerically and most active politically of the branches of Agudat Israel was in Poland. This was partly because of the support given to the movement by the hasidic zaddikim, in particular by the dynasty of Gur. Its local political aims and strength were reflected in the Jewish representation in the Polish Sejm (parliament) and the Agudist achievements in the elections. In 1919 Agudat Israel presented an independent slate, obtaining 92,293 votes, and returning two deputies to the Sejm. In 1922 it joined the "Minorities bloc" with the Zionists returning six deputies (to the Sejm) and two senators. In 1928 it formed jointly with the Folkspartei and the merchants' organization the list of the "general Jewish national bloc"; this list, affiliated to the government list, obtained 183,998 votes, but no seat; the sole Agudat Israel deputy was returned from the government list. In 1930, on the same affiliation, it obtained 155,403 votes and one seat; an additional deputy was returned from the government list and one senator. In 1935 one deputy was returned and one appointed by the president of the state; in 1938 two deputies were returned. From 1933 onward some leaders, in particular J. Rosenheim in Germany and Harry Goodman in England, spoke in the name of Agudat Israel on many political issues.

The educational activities of Agudat Israel, conducted in many countries, concerned Orthodox schools and educational institutions. In Eastern Europe and Erez Israel these were mainly talmud torah institutions and yeshivot. Later, it maintained the Bet Ya'akov network of elementary and high schools for girls.

After the rise to power of the Nazis in Germany the policy of Agudat Israel to Zionist settlement in Palestine changed fundamentally. The third Great Assembly, held at Marienbad in September 1937, was influenced by the pressure of political events in Palestine and the Diaspora. It discussed anew its attitude toward the eventual creation of a Jewish state and cooperation with the Zionists. Ideologically the strict stand prevailed: "A Jewish State can only be founded on the law of the Torah being recognized according to the Torah. A Jewish State not founded on and governed by Torah principles... cannot possibly call itself a Jewish state."

 

Hebrew Description

של אגדת ישראל ... בעריכת שבתי הלוי שיינפלד.

חוברת לקראת הכנסייה הגדולה השנייה של "אגודת ישראל", שנערכה בווינה בימים ה-יב אלול תרפ"ט (10-17 בספטמבר 1929).

 

References

EJ; CD-NL I 0107127