Thursday, November 1, 2007

Sunday Nov 2

Morning rather dull.
Called up a few friends.


Balfour Declaration Day
(7th) celebration at Down
Town Zionist district.


Matt's Notes

The Balfour Declaration was, as even those with a passing interest in the modern Middle East know, a statement offered by the British government on November 2, 1917 stating that "His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people..." I can only imagine how Papa, who had left his own country due to anti-Semitism and whose attachment to the Zionist cause was both spiritual and visceral -- he saw it, I think, as an almost literal matter of survival -- reacted to this development when it happened. I'm sure his elation and surprise and astonishment remained fresh even after seven years, though I expect the "celebration" he describes above was more solemn than raucous.

Meanwhile, I'm starting to think I might have the wrong idea about what Papa calls the "Down Town Zionist district." I've assumed for a while this means a chapter of the Zionist Organization of America; he has frequently referred to Z.O.A. chapters as "districts," especially when discussing his efforts to attract more members to the troubled First District. Still, a big event like a Balfour Declaration celebration couldn't have happened "at" a chapter of an organization, especially a troubled one that probably didn't have central offices or headquarters.

I'm going to have to look into this a little more. The Internets have thus far given me only a tiny New York Times mention of a "Downtown Zionist Centre" on St. Marks Place and a reference to a 1927 "Ticket to Grand Ball of the Downtown Zionist District, New York" on the U.C. Santa Cruz library Web site, while my usual go-to research libraries don't seem to have anything. These things take time to unfold, though. As always, please e-mail or drop a comment if you know where to find out more.

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