Saturday, November 10, 2007

Tuesday Nov 11

Rabbi Cook Farewell
reception at Pennsylvania


Papa's handwriting has been spidery and blotchy for a while, but, exasperated at last by his deteriorating fountain pen, he has cast it off and switched to pencil. This is an important but lower-profile departure than the impending one Papa discusses in today's entry: That of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook (not "Cook," as Papa spells it) the first Chief Rabbi of the British Mandate for Palestine who was wrapping up a 7-month visit to the United States.

Papa had seen plenty of influential Zionists speak at various functions and events throughout the year, but Kook was in the top tier. A legendary Torah scholar even before he went to Palestine, he was known for his unusual inclusiveness and openness, his belief in the importance of Zionism to Judaism (this "religious Zionism" or "religious nationalism" put him at odds with the Orthodox Rabbinical establishment of his day), and his support for the combination of secular and religious education.

Kook's March arrival in America had been important enough to warrant an announcement in Time Magazine, and his name appeared in the papers throughout his stay, especially in the last few days. In fact, the farewell reception Papa attended at the Hotel Pennsylvania was a lower-profile follow-up to the previous day's farewell reception at the Hotel Astor1, in which Kook and several other Rabbis announced that they had raised $320,000 for Yeshivas in Palestine and Eastern Europe. The Pennsylvania event was a true send-off, though. Kook sailed on the Mauretania the next day.

(Thanks to our loyal reader and friend Aviva, who first pointed out what Papa meant by "Rabbi Cook" on our Cry for Help page.)

References for this post:

  • 1 - Papa went to Zionist meetings at both the Hotels Pennsylvania and Astor, but the Astor seemed to be the venue of choice for the big-time shindigs. Among those Papa attended were: a banquet for Chaim Weizmann; a pivotal speech in which Rabbi Joseph Silverman, an influential leader of Reform Judaism, finally endorsed Zionism after years of ambivalence; and an appearance by David Yellin, one of the thinkers responsible for the creation of modern Hebrew.
  • "Somehow Colonel." Time Magazine, March 31st, 1924. (The article's headline refers to Rabbi Kook's honorary title of "Colonel." The anonymous author seemed quite amused by the "funny-looking little man with a beard" from Palestine. Subsequent reporting in Time focused on Kook's role in what were neither the first nor the last Jewish-Muslim clashes over the use of Jerusalem's holy sites. )
  • JEWS OPEN DRIVE TO HELP ORT FUND; Nathan Straus Gives $20,000 Toward New York's Quota in Campaign for $1,000,000. The New York Times, November 10, 1924. (This archived record contains several articles, including an account of Kook's farewell reception at the Hotel Astor.)
  • TOURISTS SAILING FOR EUROPE TODAY; Three Liners Will Depart With Good Lists for This Season of the Year. The New York Times, November 12, 1924.
  • DISTINGUISHED RABBIS GREETED AT CITY HALL; Dr. A.I. Kook of Palestine and Dr. A.D. Shapiro of Lithuania Come to Zionist Conference. The New York Times, March 20, 1924.
  • Rabbi Kook's biography at Wikipedia
  • Religious Zionism at Wikipedia

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