Thursday, March 22, 2007

Saturday Mar 22

Attended the Hadassah
Ball at the 71st Reg. Armory

It looked more like a
fashion show, because
of the attendance
being of the most prominent
Jews, displaying their
best in evening dress.

However it did not impress
me very much I felt
rather lonesome throughout
the evening although I met
numerous friends.


Matt's Notes

In 1924, Hadassah was well on its way to becoming the enormously successful Jewish womens' organization it is today, though it had technically become a subset of the Zionist Organization of America in 1918. Its growth outstripped ZOA's almost from the start, though, and it would only be a few more years until resulting organizational tensions effectively ended the relationship. Papa was an active, loyal member of the ZOA, so I'm sure he picked up on some of these tensions. This may be why he was so uncharacteristically quick to dismiss the guests at the Hadassah function as vain and self-important -- his ZOA compadres must have lit up the schvitzes with such talk.

I wonder, too, if his unforgiving reaction to the "prominent Jews" at the ball was related to the "20th Century Girl" (if you're just joining us, the "20th Century Girl" was the latest object of Papa's ardor). He pined for her constantly, but worried that her social aspirations -- her need to be "prominent" -- precluded a relationships with a lowly "wage earner" like him. As a result, he'd felt lousy and forlorn for days. Perhaps, deep down, he was angry at the 20th Century Girl, blamed her for his apprehension, and took it out a little on the highfalutin' Hadassah folk she aspired to be like.


The Sienese-inspired 71st Street Armory was a mighty fine building, but it's been gone since the 70's. Here's what it looked like while it still stood on 33rd and Park:

Papa, of course, would have worn his tuxedo there that night:


Additional notes:

For a better Hadassah history than on the Hadassah site itself, check out this excerpt from the American Jewish Desk Reference.

Image source: 71st Regiment Armory, Library of Congress call # LC-D4-19584



I've updated my March 19th post with early 20th Century Eastern European Purim images from the Yivo archive. Give them a look if you've got the time.

1 comment:

  1. Your Papa's impression of the Hadassah ladies only reenforces my own.

    My dad, the highly regarded sage and kitchen table comedian,
    Herb Ehrlich, taught me the true meaning of the word "hadassah"--apparently, it's the plural of the word "yente."

    Ba dum bum...