- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 6 Feb 1925, p. 59-63
- Kornfeld, Rabbi Joseph S., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- The rather disappointing after-effects of the World War. The productive result of the contact into which the nations were brought through it. The speaker's hopefulness of the blessings that will result from the contact between Americans and Britishers. No escape from service. The greatest service to the world of keeping the peace. The speaker's belief that in time of peace we must prepare the mind how to act and react in time of war. The need to exalt Righteousness; to create enthusiasm for it, and to let the world know that, comrades in Conscience, we are resolved not to look on in dumb resignation while Righteousness is violated and the peace of the world threatened. The voice of America and England.
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- 6 Feb 1925
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- Full Text
GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA IN THE SERVICE OF THE WORLD
AN ADDRESS BY RABBI JOSEPH S. KORNFELD.
Before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto,
February 6, 1925.
PRESIDENT BURNS introduced the Speaker.
Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Empire Club,--The linking of Great Britain and America, in a high emprise is always welcome to a British or an American audience. The approaching anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln makes my theme peculiarly appropriate. In his splendid book, "Lincoln, the Emancipator," John Drinkwater points to Lincoln as "the central figure in the intellectual and spiritual alliance between England and America for the immeasurable good of the world." While I cannot boast of Anglo-Saxon descent, and unfortunately there are many more Americans like me, I stand second to none in my recognition of the ties that bind our two nations to each other, and I am very grateful to Mr. Drinkwater for having made Lincoln, the being dearest to the American heart, the sacred symbol of that union.
The World War has been rather disappointing in its aftereffects. According to H. G. Wells, it was to
Educated at the University of Cincinnati, the University of Chicago and McGill University, Montreal, Rabbi Kornfeld became Rabbi of B' Nai, Israel Temple Columbus, Ohio, in 1907. He has taken an active interest in public affairs, serving as a delegate to a municipal charter convention in 1913; elected a member and president of the Columbus Board of Education; occupied the responsible post of United States Minister to Russia, taking a vital part in the dramatic situation arising out of the murder of Robert Imbrie, American Vice-Consul, by a Russian mob.
have been "the war to end war." Yet, it had hardly been brought to a close when we had some more war. Nevertheless, it has been productive of at least one result, which may yet impart to the words of Mr. Wells a prophetic significance. I have in mind the contact into which the nations were brought through it. It was inevitable that the nations brought together, as friends or even as foes, should have learned to know one another better, and, at the conclusion of the war, found themselves hating some a little less and loving others a little more. You will recall the story of the ambassador who, asked whether he had met a recently arrived colleague, said emphatically, "No." The suggestion that he might wish to know him brought forth an even more emphatic "No." Urged to give the reason for his stubborn refusal, the ambassador replied, "I hate him, and I am afraid lest, knowing him, I could not hate him quite so much."
I have always felt that God loves us all only because He knows us all. Not in a world contact, lies the hope of the world.
Much as I expect from the world contact that will survive the recent world conflict, I am especially hopeful of the blessings that will result from the contact between Americans and Britishers. Comrades in arms, our boys must have read with the same pride as yours those noble lines of Alfred Noyes
"I am England; I am she Who crowned with law my liberty; And taught my free-born sons to heed What I taught kings at Runnymede; Who, when my tyrants rose again, Broke every link of every chain; Flung my may-flower to the seas, And sailed to the Atlantides. There was England, in that hour, The Pilgrim-soul of all my power; Which rose like a triumphant flame And made New England in my name."
Recognizing our kinship, we receive added strength, and with added strength comes added responsibility. Great Britain and America! Noblesse oblige! If, however, our nobility is not sufficiently impelling, then in the words of Maximilian Harden, "Richesse oblige!" Our material wealth is compelling. For us there is no escape from service. Arid, surely, the greatest service to the world is to keep the peace of the world.
Admiral Fiske, a conspicuous figure in America, has recently given expression to his apprehension of the sinister influence of the American woman in shaping the military policy of the nation. He said in substance, "Woman instinctively abhors war and everything associated with it, and on that account she is opposed to military preparedness, even though at present it is the only means to prevent war." In view of the vast amount of money that we have spent for "preparedness," and its utter futility to prevent war, might not woman's opposition to further expenditure of money for that purpose arise from her horror of a vacuum rather than her horror of war. Probably she feels as Zangwill, "Para bellum, forsooth; Para cerebellum!" Yes, prepare the mind. The world's mind must be prepared for the reception of the formula of the great statesman, the Prophet Isaiah, "The work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect thereof quietness and assurance forever." The only assurance of peace lies in righteousness. The best illustration of the efficiency of righteousness as a peace-maker you will find in Palestine. While visiting recently that country, I was greatly impressed by the achievements of the Zionists. They are literally making an Eden out of a desert. But what impressed me even more was the success of the British Administration. If anyone doubts that the work of righteousness is peace, let him visit Palestine. Well, if righteousness will keep the peace in Palestine, with its various groups and varied interests, then it will keep it anywhere.
"Righteousness First!" should take the place of "Safety First!" which has been and still appears to be the dominant consideration in our national and international relations. I believe that, when Righteousness is violated, no great nation should remain neutral until its own property is endangered or its own citizens are jeopardized. Of course, the period of neutrality should be long enough to permit careful examination of the causes underlying the given conflict. But when once responsibility is fixed, then Righteousness should have a defender whose protest against the offending nation or nations should be so unequivocal and emphatic as to be heard and heeded.
I am quite sure that what I have said will commend itself to all right-thinking people. But, unfortunately, what can be safely proclaimed in time of peace, may not even be piped in time of war. Such an utterance at a time when one's nation is actually at war or officially neutral, will bring upon the person venturing it, an ostracism from which he may never recover. I believe in time of peace we must prepare the mind how to act and react in time of war.
Herein then lies our service to the world. We must exalt Righteousness. Secondly, we must create enthusiasm for it, and lastly, we must let the world know that, comrades in Conscience, we axe resolved not to look on in dumb resignation while Righteousness is violated and, as a result, the peace of the world is threatened.
"Thy will, it bids the weak be strong;
It bids the strong be just; No lips to fawn, no hand to beg, No brow to seek the dust. Wherever man oppresses man Beneath Thy liberal sun, O God, be there, Thine arm made bare, Thy righteous will be done."
Let this be the voice of America. Let this be the voice of England. Law and Liberty have made us one. Righteousness and peace will keep us one.