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A General Assembly of German Israelites (1893)

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However, in addition to the rights of citizenship, whose diminishment is the purpose of the efforts of various parties, we Israelites also have other interests that concern us merely as members of a sharply articulated religious community. We ourselves must stand up to assert those rights. Here, no one else can – or should – act on our behalf. Here, we must stand up for ourselves and step openly before the German people and tell them who we are in the midst of the German national community and what meaning we should have, and what we are willing and entitled to demand. In public assemblies, into which we Israelites send our deputies, we should declare the nature of the conditions within the Israelite religious community of Germany. Such accounts presented by knowledgeable and unbiased men will invariably give rise to all kinds of reform proposals, whose implementation must then be left to further general assemblies.

It is our opinion that the leading men among the Israelites of Germany should not hesitate to undertake the preliminary work necessary for such a general assembly. It is high time that the indifference or resignation that has already taken hold of many circles within our religious community be replaced by a refreshing desire for action, a liberating work for the threatened totality. The way things are with us, even members who have fallen away from our religious community are involved in our struggles, and it is vain self-delusion to wish to deny this.

May our words find a loud resonance in all the hearts of our German Israelites! May it be granted us to hear, this very year, of the deliberations of the first general assembly of German Israelites. Truly we do not lack for suitable men to speak important words at such an assembly. Can there be any doubt that serious words worthy of being taken to heart, proclaimed from such an eminent place, will not also be willingly received into the hearts and minds of our fellow Israelites? Such a meeting, however, will undoubtedly exert a positive influence not only on the German Israelites, but also on the entire German people. That is why we once again call upon our men in Israel: gather together and proclaim to the entire people what we are in Germany, and what we wish to be and continue to be.

Source: Dr. J. Kastan, “Eine Generalversammlung deutscher Israeliten” [“A General Assembly of German Israelites”], Allgemeine Zeitung des Judenthums (March 31, 1893), pp. 148-49.

Translation: Thomas Dunlap

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