Monday, July 27, 2009

The Ninth Zionist Congress: A Valuable Resource


Posted By Ann Rabinowitz

The early Zionist Congresses presented a crazy quilt of Jewish thought, both political and social. For instance, the Ninth Zionist Congress, held in Hamburg, Germany, December 26-30, 1909, can be easily researched in an article in the German language “Die Welt”, the weekly Zionist publication founded in Vienna in 1897 by Theodore Herzl. The article contains a listing of all of the delegates who attended the Congress in alphabetical order with the name of the town where they were living. The article is located in the No. 52, December 24, 1909, issue and can be accessed by clicking here.

Considered special, this Congress was the first one to be held in Germany. There were major difficulties in coming to terms with a cohesive agenda and limitations were placed on the Jewish Colonial Trust which had come into being in 1902. In fact, efforts were made to replace its first President, David Wolfsohn, a strong Zionist who was born in Darbenai, Lithuania.


The Congress had some other distinctive aspects in that representatives of the workers in Palestine participated for the first time. These novice delegates were:
(no first name) ABNER, Jerusalem; Josua EISENSTADT, Jerusalem; Rachel GOLDIN, Jerusalem; Jakob GUTMANN, Jaffa; Dr. J. KOHAN-BERNSTEIN, Jaffa; A. KOMARNOW, Jaffa; Dr. Benzion MOSSINSOHN, Jaffa; Elias MUNZIK, Jaffa; Moses SMILIANSKY, Rechoboth; and M.M. SCHEINKIN, Jaffa.
Despite their first time appearance at a Congress and their small numbers, they were able to give strong support to Zionist leaders Nahum Sokolow (Koln), Menachim Ussischkin (Odessa), and Chaim Weizmann (Manchester) as opposed to leaders such as David Wolfsohn (Koln) and Max Nordau (Paris).

The delegates were from all over the Jewish world such as Altona, Baku, Belfast, Kapstadt (Cape Town), Ferrara, Eperjes, Rzeszow, Troppau, and Kolomea, just to name a few. Many were religious leaders, politicians, merchants, academics, journalists, doctors, and other prominent professions including a delegate who was a “Sir”, Sir Francis Montefiore, from London.

There were twenty delegates from America too and these included some of the following, a number of which only had the designation “Amerika” with no town: 
  • ARONSON, A., Brooklyn HURWITZ, Albert, Boston
  • ABERSON, Dabc, Brooklyn JASIN, Dr. Joseph, New York
  • ALBUS, Isaac, Amerika KAROLINSKY, Dr. B., Rochester, NY
  • AWRUNIM (Avrunim), Gerson, Detroit NORWALK, A.W., Amerika
  • BARONDESS, Joseph, New York REINHERZ, George, Boston
  • BELOVE, Benjamin, Kansas City, MO SCHLOESSINGER, Dr. M., Philadelphia
  • BLUESTONE, Dr. J.D., New York SCHREIBER, Meyer S., Jersey City, NJ
  • BRODSKY, H., Newark SYRKIN, Dr. N., New York
  • BRODSKY, M. Brooklyn WAIS, H., Chicago
  • FRIEDENWALD, Dr. Edgar, Baltimore ZOLOTKOFF, Leon, Chicago
One of the most well-known of the American delegates was Joseph Barondess (1867-1928), born in Bar, near Kamenetz Podolsk, Poland. He was a noted pioneer American labor leader and founder of the Cloak Maker’s Union as well as Zionist propagandist and founder of the American Jewish Congress. 

Another delegate was the Baltimore physician and philanthropist, Dr. Edgar Friedenwald, the scion of a Baltimore Jewish dynasty. He was the son of eminent physician Dr. Aaron Friedenwald and grandson of Jonas Friedenwald, 1802-1893, who was born in Altenbusek, Hesse-Darmstadt, and came to America where he struck it rich. 

A prominent Chicago delegate was Leon Zolotkoff, editor of the Yiddish language Chicago “Courier”. He was also the founder of the Knights of Zion, one of the earliest Zionist groups in America which raised funds to purchase land for settlement in Palestine.

Each one of these delegates has a story to tell and their rise to prominence in the Zionist hierarchy and participation in the Zionist Congress is of great relevance to those who have an interest in not only their family history, but that of the foundation of the State of Israel. The entire listing of delegates to the Ninth Zionist Congress will shortly be put into an on-line database which will include a description of the delegates and their accomplishments and other information pertinent to them. So, watch for further announcements about this on the Blog.  

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