Sunday, July 22, 2007

Tuesday July 22

Attended the farewell
dinner for Judge Strahl
who is leaving for Palestine
to install in Jerusalem the
Judea Insurance Co, given
by the Order sons of Zion,

Only in the midst of
idealists I find myself at home.


Matt's Notes

Judge Strahl was one of the most prominent leaders of Order Sons of Zion (B'nai Zion) the Zionist fraternal order and mutual support society Papa belonged to. Here's what the 1917-1918 Jewish Communal register had to say about him:

Jacob S. Strahl was born in the New York in 1876, was educated in the New York Public and Hish Schools and received his degree of Bachelor of Laws from the New York Law School in 1897. He was elected Justice of the Municipal Court of the City of New York in 1909. Prior thereto, for nine years, he was associated with former New York Supreme Court Justice James A. Blanchard.

Judge Strahl has shown a great interest in Jewish work. He is the president of the Young Men's Hebrew Association of Williamsburg, and the Nasi of the Order B'nai Zion.
Archived New York Times articles about Strahl attest to his reputation as a liberal judge, as does this 1920 reelection campaign postcard depicting him protecting two hapless tenants from an eviction-minded "rent profiteer." It looks like his campaign methods got him in trouble with the Brooklyn Bar Association, though their campaign to discipline him for "conduct unbecoming an attorney" eventually came to naught. Strahl was no longer the Nasi of B'nai Zion in 1924 ("nasi" roughly translates from the Hebrew as "prince," so I suppose B'nai Zion was no different from other fraternal organizations in its use of grand, archaic titles for its leaders) but he was on its executive committee and obviously one of its most active ambassadors.

Interestingly, the Judea Insurance Company he helped install in Palestine would, five years later, list as its Vice President none other than Vladimir Jabotinsky, one of Israel's founding fathers. This was part of a larger development in which B'nai Zion threw its support behind Jabotinsky's Revisionist Zionism Movement, an aggressive strain of Zionism that put Jabotinsky at odds with the Chaim Weizmann's more moderate, centrist movement. This brings up some interesting questions about which brand of idealism Papa preferred -- as of 1924 he seemed enamored of Weizmann, and as a pacifist he may not have liked Jabotinsky's militarism. I'd love to know where he stood when B'nai Zion aligned with Jabotinsky, but we can only speculate.



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