meeting of the downtown Z.
district. It certainly did
not turn out, the way I wanted
I feel a little apathetic
toward the membership work
My pep in this direction of
former years is gone.
The "downtown Z. district" likely refers to "the First District," or Lower East Side chapter, of the Zionist Organization of America.1 We learned back in January of the First District's attendance woes when Papa, under the supervision of a mysterious figure named "Blitz," spent several weeks organizing a membership meeting and pitching the Z.O.A. to various other groups and clubs around town. The results were disappointing, and we've heard so little about the First since then that I figured it had given up the ghost. Looks like it's still limping along, though, and Papa is still involved with its care and feeding.
Despite the First's discouraging difficulties, I find Papa's harsh assessment of his own dedication to Zionism to be rather incongruous. He has spent countless hours attending lectures, receptions, talks and dances and running fundraising drives and meetings, and he would in fact remain an enthusiastic activist for the rest of his life. How could he say his enthusiasm of former years "is gone" when only nine months he could be found on the street giving out membership flyers when the weather was too brutal for even his closest associates?
I think, perhaps, the overall sense of loss Papa has struggled with in the wake of his father's death -- attenuated, at this time of year, by the intense mourning associated with the Jewish holidays -- colors just about everything else in his life. It must be especially difficult when he deals with "dying" things like the Z.O.A.'s first district; why else would he speak with such exaggerated finality when, as we know, he was by nature such an optimistic dreamer?
1 - The Z.O.A., formerly known as the Federation of American Zionist, had about 40,000 members at the time and counted among its affiliates Haddasah, the Jewish women's organization, Keren Hayesod, the Zionist fundraising group, and B'nai Zion, the fraternal order and mutual support society to which Papa belonged.