Personality, politics and the price of justice: Ephraim Frisch, San Antonio's "radical" rabbi.
The police raid and the controversial response by San Antonio's Rabbi Ephraim Frisch provided a high-profile vignette of the larger issues of the day--unemployment, labor unrest, nativism, the emergence of religious fundamentalism and anti-Semitism, and the specter of Nazism in Germany, and similar movements in other parts of Europe and in the United States. The story of Ephraim Frisch, Reform rabbi at San Antonio's Temple Beth-El from 1923 to 1942, is particularly poignant. Frisch was a liberal social activist whose board of directors and some members of his congregation wrongly branded "radical." At a time of growing anti-Semitism and reaction to New Deal liberalism, conservatives and extremists used the term widely to discredit liberal critics.
American Jews were vulnerable to the charges of being radicals or Communists because popular perception often failed to distinguish between New Deal liberalism, democratic socialism, and repressive Soviet-style Communism. San Antonio's Reform Jews were no exception. Jews were sometimes drawn to conservatives, even those who were anti-Semitic, partly because of their desire to reassure non-Jews that they were not socialists, Communists, or otherwise un-American.(3)
Even Frisch was not immune from the fear of association with socialists. In December 1936 he replied to a request from socialist presidential candidate Norman Thomas to establish a Jewish Bureau for the Socialist Party. Frisch's response was an unequivocal no. "I do hope you will abandon this project in your activities," he wrote to Thomas. "We have so many troubles from anti-Semites and from ignorant people in general on the subject of our alleged political and economic associations, that we certainly would like to be spared being exposed to a new charge."(4) In fact, because some Jews came to believe that their own were purveyors of socialism or Communism, they viewed their liberal rabbis with suspicion.
Frisch's experience was a case in point. Rabbi Ephraim Frisch embraced with particular zeal the role of social activist. He supported labor interests, advocated for the poor, defended freedom of speech even for Communists, championed the teaching of Darwinism in public schools, eschewed the notion of a Christian America, reviled the profit motive, and played a particularly dramatic role in the standoff between conservatives and liberals at a time when religious and political ideologies were becoming polarized and unforgiving.(5)
How Frisch came to these views is unclear. Although the Reform movement and its training inculcated liberal thinking in its rabbinate, in many cases this only reinforced existing views. His early school years in Minnesota may have nurtured the young Frisch's incipient liberal tendencies. Certainly the Reform movement would not have attracted Frisch had he not already inclined to liberal thinking. Frisch's father was an Orthodox rabbi, yet for reasons unknown he encouraged his son to enter the Reform rabbinate.(6) Frisch received his ordination from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati in 1903.
Frisch's role as a supporter of liberal causes and social justice was an integral part of his self-perception as a rabbi. Early on, and throughout his career, Frisch spoke and wrote forcefully about philanthropy and social action. During the early part of the century, when liberal Protestant churches espoused the social gospel, Frisch urged the religious community to make practical application of its teachings. He had worked with Horace J. Wolf, a fellow Reform rabbi, to establish the Social justice Commission of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and from 1926 Frisch served as its second chairman.(7) Frisch lost no chance to express his views.
As a guest speaker in synagogues and in churches, in radio broadcasts, newspaper editorials, magazine articles, and public forums he advanced the cause for social justice with seemingly inexhaustible energy. In his support of immigration Frisch took a stand unpopular with American nativists and even some Jews, who looked down on their poorer and less sophisticated cousins fleeing the pogroms of eastern Europe.
An immigrant himself, Frisch was born in 1880 in the village of Subacius, just west of the city of Panevzys in north-central Lithuania. At that time Lithuania was under the control of imperial Russia, and Tsar Alexander III, his government, and the local populace promoted repressive measures against Jews. After 1895 Nicholas II continued his father's policies. Recurring pogroms and widespread discrimination forced Jewish refugees into western Europe and the United States.
It is unclear if Frisch as a child suffered from poverty and discrimination either in Europe or after his arrival in the United States at age seven or eight.(8) He was, however, exquisitely sensitive to these problems and strove to combat them. For example, years later, at confirmation services at Temple Beth-El Frisch prohibited his confirmands; from wearing jewelry or watches given to them as confirmation gifts. He disliked the message that wearing jewelry gave to those who were less fortunate.(9)
After receiving his ordination Frisch served as rabbi at Temple Anshe Emeth in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. In 1906 he became embroiled in a controversy with a local minister over whether the United States ought to be considered a Christian nation. According to Frisch the idea violated the constitutionally mandated separation of church and state.(10)
Frisch also found himself unwelcome among some members of Pine Bluff's white community because he had become an outspoken supporter of Isaac Fisher, a black educator and graduate from the Tuskegee Institute. As principal of Branch Normal College (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff), Fisher sought to introduce reforms in the face of stiff resistance from some members of the white community. One of Fisher's detractors was Arkansas Governor Jeff Davis, who railed against "nigger domination."(11)
From Pine Bluff Frisch moved in 1912 to Temple Israel in Far Rockaway, New York. Three years later he founded the New Synagogue at the request of summer members of Temple Israel who lived in Manhattan.(12) He remained there until departing for San Antonio and Temple Beth-El in 1923. By this time Frisch had married Ruth Cohen, daughter of Henry Cohen, a prominent and influential rabbi in Galveston with whom Frisch had developed an amiable working relationship. As part of the Galveston Movement Cohen cooperated with philanthropist Jacob Schiff around 1910 to encourage immigration of European Jews through the port of Galveston. Cohen and his coworkers found homes for them in hospitable Jewish communities. Frisch, still in Pine Bluff in 1910, had been a receptive host.(13)
Frisch's relationship with the Cohens remained cordial and enduring. judging from Frisch's correspondence with his father-in-law, both men shared liberal views characteristic of most Classical Reform rabbis, many of whom, like Frisch and Cohen (who had emigrated from England), did not come from the South or even the United States. At the time of the Balfour Declaration in 1917 Frisch and Cohen were opposed to a Jewish homeland. Their anti-Zionism derived from their perception that the United States rather than a prospective Jewish state should serve as the ultimate home for American Jews. That view prevailed in the Reform rabbinate, although there were important exceptions.(14) Beyond sharing social and religious views Frisch appears to have nurtured a high regard for his father-in-law. One may presume that Cohen felt the same about his son-in-law. Owing to a lack of information it is difficult to know what Rabbi Cohen thought of Frisch's sometimes irascible personality and how it affected his controversial tenure at San Antonio's Temple Beth-El. Even after his wife's death in August 1934 after a long illness Frisch maintained close ties to the Cohen family in Galveston.
In San Antonio Frisch's board of directors at Temple Beth-El felt leery when their rabbi promoted liberal political causes. The board and many members of San Antonio's Reform community were successful, assimilated businessmen who were also part of the social and civic establishment. A number of urban leaders, Jewish and non-Jewish, had emerged from German families who made important contributions to their city and state as they worked their way up the social ladder. These prominent men defended themselves vigorously against challenges to their conservative values.
Reform rabbis often emerged from a different social milieu and approached life from a different philosophical perspective than their communities' conservative business and civic leaders. And when race or ethnicity was at issue, as with Mexicans in Texas or with blacks in Texas and other parts of the South, tension often developed between liberal rabbis and their more constrained congregants. Even when in principle congregants may have agreed with their rabbis' position they were often reluctant to offer support out of fear of alienating others in their synagogues or in the non-Jewish community.
Some Jewish congregants engaged in what historian Albert Vorspan describes as a popular indoor sport--"baiting their rabbis and national Jewish organizations." Many did not wish to appear different from their Southern gentile neighbors and felt threatened by anybody who sought to identify the Jew with blacks. Although Vorspan was writing of the incipient Civil Rights movement, currying favor with non-Jews was also evident during the 1930s and earlier. When some Northern Jews embraced socialism or Communism during the Great Depression, their more socially conservative coreligionists, North and South, sought to distance themselves from any taint of radicalism. "Southern rabbis have borne the brunt of this kind of distorted fear."(15)
For example, Atlanta's oldest Reform synagogue, The Temple, gave only tentative support to their rabbi's promotion of black civil rights during the 1950s.(16) Temple members were right to feel insecure: one night in October 1958 a bomb exploded next to the synagogue and destroyed one of its outside walls. This was not the Temple's first brush with hatred. In 1915 an angry mob lynched Leo Frank, a Temple member wrongly convicted of having murdered his 14-year-old employee, Mary Phagan.(17) The reaction of some congregants; to the anti-Semitic threat was to assimilate even more.(18) Rabbi Max Heller encountered similar assimilationist and conformist trends with his congregation, Temple Sinai in New Orleans.
Like the Temple in Atlanta, San Antonio's Temple Beth-El was fairly typical of Reform communities not just in the South but throughout the United States. American Reform Jews during the first half of the twentieth century usually were from assimilated German families who had immigrated to the United States during the mid- to late-nineteenth century. Most were successful businessmen or professionals who, in conformity with Reform practice in Germany, eschewed observance of halakah and many of the rituals associated with traditional Judaism. Unlike Atlanta's Temple, however, San Antonio's Temple Beth-El never held Sabbath services on Sunday.
Nevertheless, Temple Beth-El did fine male congregants who wore a head covering in the building in observance of Jewish tradition. And as in other Reform synagogues across the country, Temple Beth-El exchanged prayer shawls, tefillin, and the traditional order of service for clerical vestments, confirmation services, organ music, and other accoutrements of Christian worship.
Reform Jews were enjoined to replace ritual with, or at least emphasize, the ethical strictures of Torah Judaism. Beginning with the Pittsburgh Platform in the 1880s, repairing the world became a mandate and accounted for the Reform rabbinate's strong emphasis on social justice. As they enjoined their congregants to bring to the world more justice, kindness, and charity, these rabbis commonly invoked the devotion of the Prophets to a higher moral order.(19) Also separating Reform Judaism from Orthodoxy was the former's willingness to engage the Christian community in dialogue and fellowship.
Thus, when Temple Beth-El dedicated its first building in 1874, Jews and Christians alike participated. The Jewish choir was augmented by local church choirs and German singing societies. When Temple Beth-Els second building was under construction in 1902 the congregation held services in a Baptist church across the street. Temple Beth-El reciprocated by allowing Christian congregations to hold services at the Reform synagogue over the years, even into the 1990s.(20)
When San Antonio's Empire Theatre opened its doors for the first time in December 1914, Samuel Marks, rabbi at Temple Beth-El from 1897 to 1920, was present with other civic leaders and delivered the benediction. In 1917 Rabbi Marks described himself as "a prominent--perhaps the most prominent--ecclesiastical figure in the sate."(21) Even after discounting the hyperbole, the statement remains a comment on the rabbi's perception of his role in the non-Jewish community.
Although more traditional Jews were not necessarily unsympathetic with the social activism of Reform Judaism, the willingness of the Reform movement to engage the larger, non-Jewish community and involve itself in sometimes controversial social issues made it the most likely of the three main Jewish movements (Conservative, Orthodox, and Reform) to attract attention from non-Jews. Frisch therefore found it natural to engage the Christian community, partly out of mutual interests and partly to counter widespread ignorance about Jews and Judaism.
Being a rabbi in San Antonio, however, presented Frisch with additional challenges. Unlike most Southern cities, San Antonio was home to a large and impoverished Mexican community that lived in a sprawling slum on the city's West Side. Some observers regarded this slum as the worst in the United States.(22)
Although Texas had been part of the Confederacy during the Civil War, San Antonio was Southern in more of a political than in a cultural sense. Although East Texas was home to a large black minority and heir to the once-thriving plantation culture along the Brazos River, the character of the state changed as one approached San Antonio and beyond to the open grasslands of West Texas.
San Antonio was a conservative city, a condition partly assured by the presence of five major military posts. And it was a city that embraced at least some of the values and institutions of the Old South. Like other Southerners, wealthy San Antonians owned slaves before the Civil War, and white supremacy infected almost all aspects of life. Most whites did not consider Mexicans Caucasians; they also treated blacks poorly and kept both minorities "in their place" and out of civic life. During the 1930s overt discrimination against blacks and Mexicans (unlike more covert discrimination in Northern states) was taken for granted and so entrenched that it went unchallenged even by the city's most progressive citizens.
This dismissive view of Mexicans made work difficult for Father Carmen Tranchese, spiritual leader to San Antonio's Mexican community. An Italian priest who had studied in Italy and the United Kingdom, Tranchese, already experienced with impoverished communities, shared Frisch's frustration with the city's apparent indifference to squalor. Tranchese's description of San Antonio's West Side barrio suggests a poverty that was obdurate and overwhelming.(23)
Some 11,000 persons crowded into a square mile of shacks; 1376 persons lived within six small blocks. In the Guadalupe Mission alone, according to one account, 349 Mexicans had died the previous year--228 adults and 121 infants--mainly from tuberculosis. Indeed, in June 1937 the Bureau of the Census released figures showing that San Antonio suffered from the nation's highest infant mortality rate.(24) After Eleanor Roosevelt visited San Antonio in 1939 she reported that the city was also burdened by the nation's highest rate of tuberculosis.(25)
Dr. Adolph Berchelmann, chairman of the municipal health board, complained early in 1939 that the San Antonio department of health "does not seem sufficiently interested in harnessing and controlling tuberculosis."(26) To help alleviate these conditions Frisch served on a health committee appointed by the Chamber of Commerce. His absorbing task revealed to him a city administration "corrupt & conscienceless."(27)
According to federal investigators who studied San Antonio's pecan industry in the 1930s, the city had paid scant attention to the needs of Mexican workers. One researcher described local opinion about Mexicans: "Oh, well--all they need are a few tortillas and frijoles and they're satisfied." A local civic leader, according to the same writer, said that if a Mexican earned more than a dollar a day he would just spend it on tequila and worthless trinkets at the dime store.(28)
In 1938, in nearby Austin, state capital and home to the University of Texas, a delegation of Mexican pecan shellers from San Antonio and their union representatives enjoyed coffee and cookies with Governor James V. Allred in his office. After they left, restaurants along Congress Avenue, a few blocks from the capitol, refused to serve them lunch.
"The Mexicans don't want much money," the owner of a San Antonio pecan shelling company remarked. "If they get hungry they can eat pecans.... The Mexicans have no business here anyway. They flock into San Antonio with their kind, and then they cause labor troubles or go on relief at the expense of the taxpayer."(29) Julius Seligmann, Sr., owner of the nation's largest pecan shelling company and former board member at Temple Beth-El, remarked at a state hearing in San Antonio on the pecan industry, "The Mexican Pecan Shelters eat a good many pecans, and five cents a day is enough to support them in addition to what they eat while they work." Federal agents from the Department of Labor and labor activists excoriated Seligmann for allowing the poor working conditions under which pecan workers labored and for paying them the lowest wages in the nation.(30)
Although Frisch was convalescing in New York In 1938 during the pecan strike, it is clear from earlier sermons and statements (not related to the strike) that the rabbi thought poorly of Seligmann's role. Latane Lambert, who worked with her husband as a union organizer for the pecan shellers during the 1930s, recalled many years later that Frisch was sympathetic to the strikers and tried to exert pressure on Seligmann but with uncertain results.(31) As a wealthy businessman, Seligmann played a prominent role in San Antonio's economic life and perhaps felt that he could ignore his rabbi's disapproval.(32)
Many of those who supported organized labor and promoted economic and social opportunity for the poor (which in San Antonio usually meant Mexicans and blacks) found themselves political outsiders. Their opponents on the right, represented largely by Jewish and non-Jewish business interests, regarded social activists as radicals who upset the status quo. Few in the business community would have had much sympathy for Frisch's declamatory sermon "Business Is Business," in which he applied the ethics and high moral standards of the Prophets to characterize the business community as predatory and soulless.(33) In another sermon, probably delivered early in his career, Frisch denounced the profit motive as too often at odds with justice.(34) Since many members of his congregation were successful businessmen, it is not surprising that they objected to their rabbi's point of view.
Many of Frisch's congregants also felt uncomfortable with his defense of strikers and organized labor. Particularly worrisome was the police raid. It climaxed a series of incidents involving the left-wing Worker's Alliance and the conservative leadership of San Antonio. During the Depression San Antonio had endured protracted labor disputes, with the Workers' Alliance squaring off against the conservative establishment to side with aggrieved, mostly Mexican workers, from San Antonio's West Side.
The chief speaker at many of the rallies was Emma Tenayuca, a 20-year-old native of San Antonio who spoke with pride of her Mexican and Native American lineage. She was also frank about her affiliation with the Communist Party. She would soon marry (and divorce) Homer Brooks, who as state secretary of the Communist Party in Texas had run for governor. Together Tenayuca and Brooks promoted labor interests in San Antonio and made themselves unwelcome with the city fathers and their conservative supporters.(35)
The episode that brought the Workers' Alliance to the attention of the police on 29 June was part of a larger labor controversy. Earlier in the year the federal government had announced that as a cost-cutting measure it would slash 700,000 workers from the national rolls of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The cutbacks would affect 115,000 workers in Texas, zoo of them in San Antonio. The Workers' Alliance protested this action with repeated demonstrations at the WPA's district office on the seventh floor of the Gunter Hotel in downtown San Antonio. On the morning of 29 June, zoo people jammed the hallways, singing and shouting that they wanted jobs. Although E. P. Arneson, regional director of the WPA, seemed willing in principle to meet with the demonstrators, he felt that this invasion of his offices amounted to a sit-down strike, a common labor practice that had received widespread censure even from moderates, including Texas Governor James V. Allred.(36)
When Emma Tenayuca and a colleague, Robert Williams, met with Arneson during the demonstration he wanted the demonstrators to leave. Although not violent they were noisy and disruptive. Arneson was "not impressed," he remarked later, and he refused to discuss anything with Tenayuca and Williams unless their cohorts left his offices. Tenayuca asked the demonstrators if they wanted to leave. They did not. By telling Arneson that the Alliance thought him undemocratic and un-American, Tenayuca presented Arneson with an impasse that he broke by inviting the police to eject the crowd. In the resulting melee the police arrested Tenayuca, Williams, and several others, alleging unlawful assembly, disturbing the peace, and resisting arrest.(37)
Holding a disinterested view about the police raid seemed impossible. Tenayuca and the Workers' Alliance provoked bitter recrimination between supporters and detractors. Even the judge denied Tenayuca's lawyer a petition for a writ of habeas corpus: "She belongs in jail. Let her stay there!" The judge announced that he did not care what the police did with her because she was nothing but a "damned Communist."(38) Then he raised bond, usually set at $200 for such cases, to $1200 each for Tenayuca and Williams.(39)
In the days following the arrests recriminations rebounded between increasingly polarized factions in the community. When Tenayuca and Williams entered the courtroom for arraignment a few days after their arrest, they were greeted by about 60 supporters. As he turned off the ceiling fans in the courtroom, an unsympathetic bailiff remarked, "If they want to stay, let `em sweat."(40)
What had made the events of 29 June particularly contentious, however, was the police raid on the Workers' Alliance headquarters. After police chief Owen Kilday examined the political literature seized in the raid, he said, "That just backs up my contention that the Tenayuca woman is nothing but a paid agitator sent here to stir up trouble among the ignorant Mexicans."(41) Phil Wright, San Antonio's fire and police commissioner, stated, "Miss Emma Tenayuca for the last several months has caused the police department any amount of unnecessary trouble." Commissioner Wright insisted that the police would not be punished for ejecting demonstrators from the WPA offices or for their raid on the Workers' Alliance headquarters later that day. "To make a long story short," asserted Wright, "there will be no sit-down strikes tolerated in San Antonio on private or public premises."(42) Homer Brooks protested the raid and, in a public statement characteristic of the inflated rhetoric, compared Mayor C. K. Quin to Adolf Hitler.(43)
By the middle of July news of the raid had spread to the nation's capital, where it was denounced by the outspoken liberal Democratic Congressman from San Antonio, Maury Maverick. Headlines in San Antonio newspapers announced that the Senate committee investigating labor spies and discrimination, chaired by Wisconsin's Progressive Senator, Robert M. La Follette, Jr., planned to investigate the Alliance police raid and misdeeds that police and fire commissioner Phil Wright had allegedly committed in connection with other labor disputes in the city.(44)
During the summer of 1937 the American Civil Liberties Union also investigated the police raid. In a report that reached the desk of Governor Allred the ACLU alleged, "San Antonio has established a new low in official lawlessness."(45) According to the report, the police acted without search or arrest warrants and without other legal sanction. Invading a lawful and peaceful meeting, they "beat those who did not move rapidly enough to suit them" and systematically destroyed the office. The report excoriated Ben Corrigan, a San Antonio justice of the peace, for having congratulated the "law violators" (as the ACLU described the police) and urging that they receive an increase in pay.(46) An article in the liberal Christian Century also decried the police violence.(47)
A belated protest came from Rabbi Ephraim Frisch in the form of a signed essay he sent to the editor of the city newspaper, the San Antonio Light. The article did not appear until 2.3 July. Frisch's protest was delayed partly because during the incident he had been traveling in Mexico--"4th of Julying," as he put it--and after returning to San Antonio he made immediate preparations to take classes with his college-age son at the University of Chicago as part of his normal summer leave. As Frisch later described his involvement, a local group of activists who recognized him as the only liberal clergyman occupying a position of some authority prevailed on him to launch a public protest. Although Frisch described himself as "a wreck" from dealing with the heavy workload of the previous year, he acceded to their wishes and delivered his protest from Chicago.(48)
The angry rabbi described the police raid as a "job that would have earned the designation of `swell' from the mouths of Mussolini, Hitler, or Stalin, if it had been performed by the lieutenants of these arch enemies of democracy."(49) The newspaper published an edited version of his essay in a corner on page six. Frisch felt that the editor had emasculated his statement even though the unedited version would have taken up a whole page in the newspaper.(50) Frisch therefore printed at his own expense 800 copies of the original version of his letter and distributed them to leading citizens, Jewish and non-Jewish.(51)
Jesse D. Oppenheimer, treasurer of Temple Beth-El and a prominent banker and civic leader in San Antonio, told the temple secretary, Nettie Hilb, to cease mailing the tract. He and his son, Herbert, who also worked at the bank, objected to Frisch's political role. They believed that the rabbi should confine himself to religious matters. Sylvan Lang, president of the congregation and a prominent San Antonio attorney, joined the Oppenheimers' protest. Hilb sent a letter special delivery to Frisch in Chicago detailing the Oppenheimers' and Lang's demands. Frisch reassured her that she should continue mailing the letters despite objections, adding, "I am willing to pay whatever price faithfulness to my ideals Will Cost."(52)
Another angry congregant was Nat Goldsmith, former president of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and a vice-president of Temple Beth-El's board of trustees. Goldsmith and a business partner, Jac [sic] Gugenheim, ran a successful wholesale fruit and produce business.(53)
Writing to Frisch in Chicago, Goldsmith complained that the rabbis article in the San Antonio Light "struck a very unresponsive chord in the hearts of many members of your congregation." Goldsmith was convinced "that the interests of the Jews in this country can best be served by our Rabbis refraining from voluntarily entering into public discussions concerning politics, economics, and social reform, where Judaism is not directly concerned."(54)
Sylvan Lang wrote a separate letter to Frisch. Lang endorsed the board's unanimous view that the rabbi's article in the San Antonio Light and his subsequent flier to the community "resulted in injury to the Jews of San Antonio."(55) Frisch had sent Julian Morgenstern, president of Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, a copy of his essay and his reply to Nat Goldsmith. Although Morgenstern applauded Frisch's courage and sense of justice, he wrote to Frisch that he thought the rabbi had antagonized his opposition by being "unnecessarily tactless."(56)
Frisch's exchange with Goldsmith and Lang was yet another skirmish in a protracted feud between rabbi and temple board. The numerous issues separating Frisch from his board and its supporters in the congregation accounted for mounting tensions. Probably the most important of these issues was the police raid on the Alliance headquarters. By the time Frisch's controversial article appeared in the San Antonio Light on 23 July, however, the legal issues associated with the raid had already been settled. The American Civil Liberties Union had taken Tenayuca's case and, at no cost, provided her with an attorney from Austin, Everett Looney, then serving as assistant district attorney in the Allred administration. In mid-July, after an hour and 20 minutes of deliberation, an all-male jury acquitted Tenayuca and Williams of the charges against them.
The verdict vindicated the protests of Frisch and others who saw in the police raid Gestapo-like excess. Such excesses were not restricted to San Antonio. Labor unrest during the 1930s had become endemic in the United States. Reports of violent strikes, sit-ins, and demonstrations sometimes evoking brutal repression by the police had become common on the front pages of America's newspapers.
For example, on Memorial Day, just a few weeks before the San Antonio raid, police in Chicago battled strikers from Republic Steel. By day's end were 61 injured and 10 dead. Films of the incident more than suggested that the police had shot at least seven of the fleeing demonstrators in the back.(57) Similar incidents occurred with varying intensity across the nation and contributed much to what so provoked Rabbi Frisch about the San Antonio police raid.
Meanwhile, in the 1920s and 30s the United States was experiencing an unprecedented surge of anti-Semitism fueled by the Depression and a longstanding Christian animus against Jews and Judaism. A hallmark of modern anti-Semitism was the notion that Jews were responsible for the spread of Communism, a belief that resonated among a growing number of Americans, including industrialist Henry Ford. During the 1920s he had published a series of anti-Semitic articles on "The International Jew: the World's Foremost Problem" in his newspaper, The Dearborn Independent.(58) This phenomenon of nationally known and widely respected public figures promoting anti-Semitism was especially troubling to Jews. Partly for this reason Goldsmith held no sympathy for the Workers' Union and its leftist supporters, whom he viewed as "radicals . . . who through their affiliations daily violate the constitutional rights of others."(59) For a rabbi to support these radicals, argued Goldsmith, gave a dangerous message to the non-Jewish community: "I believe protests from Jewish leaders against these radicals, rather than the championing of their cause, would tend to correct the impression that is rampant over our country that Jews are communists."(60)
Even before the police raid, Rabbi Frisch had found himself on the defensive because of his earlier support of allegedly Communist causes. Frisch regarded himself as a sharp critic of Communism, particularly after his visit to the Soviet Union as a tourist in August 1936. Others were less certain of his anti-Communism. Among them was Arthur J. Drossaerts, the ultraconservative archbishop of San Antonio. On 9 September 1936, nine months before the police raid, Drossaerts wrote Frisch a letter in which he scolded the rabbi for his support of the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War. The archbishop's letter would have confirmed Goldsmith's worst fears about widespread perceptions associating Jews with Communism. In his missive to Frisch, Drossaerts quoted from a book he had been reading about Communism: "While Communism has had, and still has a fatal attraction for Jews, it is neither Jewish nor Gentile in its inmost nature, but merely unmenschlich, inhuman."(61) But Drossaerts turned the quote against Frisch, citing the rabbi's "strange and warm support" for the Republicans in Spain and for the "unspeakable [Plutarco Elias] Calles," who as president of Mexico during 1914-28 had made himself notorious among conservatives in the United States by promoting leftist policies. Although Frisch emphatically denied it, Drossaerts believed that the rabbi had once expressed admiration for Calles.(62) The archbishop therefore wondered if "the fatal attraction has not turned the head and heart of our leader in Israel?"(63)
Frisch replied with a five-page rebuttal disavowing any sympathy for Communism or for Mexico's former President Calles. Support for the Spanish Loyalists, Frisch insisted, was not a vote for Communism. As for Jews, they, like others, acted as individuals. If anything Jews act less as a group than others and are "incurably individualistic and seldom agree on anything." Frisch then tried to debunk the myth of Jewish affinity for Communism. If Jews were responsible for Communist ideologists such as Karl Marx or Leon Trotsky then one could as easily blame Catholics for Hitler and Calles, both of whom grew up in Catholic homes.(64)
As in Pine Bluff the rabbi had early on attracted controversy in San Antonio. In 1925, just two years after arriving at Temple Beth-El, Frisch publicly clashed with a leading member of his congregation. In a Friday evening sermon entitled "The Rising Tide of Illiberalism" Frisch denounced America's foreign policy in the Philippines as imperialistic. As the rabbi concluded his benediction a former temple president (whom Frisch did not name when he recounted the story in 1942.) rushed to the pulpit and exclaimed, "That man is using the pulpit for political propaganda; what does the rabbi know about the Philippines?"(65)
Rabbi Frisch asked the congregation to remain while he delivered a rebuttal, then did something he had never done before. He slammed his fist down on the podium and declared that either his pulpit remained free or he would not serve as rabbi. He challenged the congregation for an immediate vote of confidence. The worshipers broke out in wild applause.(66)
One who remained particularly unsympathetic with Frisch was Morris Stem, an outspoken and prominent member of Temple Beth-El. Stern was chairman of the board of D. Ansley Company, Inc., a savings and loan. He had been president of the temple in the 1920s and had served as chairman of the building committee when the congregation organized to erect its third house of worship. Stem, Julius Seligmann, Sr., and a third congregant had signed a performance bond that guaranteed payment to the contractors who built the new synagogue. Stem was also among the most generous donors to the construction fund.(67)
Stern had immigrated to the United States from Germany. Stem counted non-Jewish Germans among his friends and had frequented the Germania club, a social group for German expatriates, when he lived in Galveston. Some of those who knew Stem, including Frisch, described him variously as conservative, smart, authoritarian, brusque, and "Germanic" in a sense that was not meant to be flattering. Stem is perhaps best remembered, however, for his role in orchestrating the building of the new synagogue and his foresight in urging that it be built large enough to accommodate a growing congregation.(68) Less known is his flirtation in 1936 with a now defunct far-right organization called the America Forward Movement for Religion and Americanism.
One of the chief financial supporters of America Forward was Maco Stewart, an influencial Galveston lawyer, businessman, and philanthropist who promoted anti-Communist causes. In a letter to Henry Cohen, Frisch's father-in-law, Stem described Stewart as "an old friend."(69) Cohen had met Stewart, doubtless at least occasionally at social and civic gatherings, for both men were prominent in Galveston. Unlike Stem, however, it is unlikely that Cohen would have described Stewart as "an old friend."
In their correspondence Cohen and Stewart exchanged sharply conflicting views. Stewart expounded on his views about Jews and Communism in a letter to Cohen in March 1936 and enjoined the rabbi to take a leading role in separating the Jewish "sheep from the goats," that is, to separate or eject Jewish "radicals" (which, in Stewart's political lexicon, included liberals) from the larger community of "good" Jews. Although Stewart said he realized that "most Jews are good citizens in every sense," he paradoxically also expressed tendentious and unflattering views about Jews. "It is more than probable," wrote Stewart in his typed, six-page letter to Rabbi Cohen,
that there is not a Christian in America ... that worships through and by
his nationality; but it would be difficult for the Jew to forget his
nationality in his worship. This essential difference permits the American
to hold no allegiance but to his country and his God; while the tendency of
the religious Jew is to be an internationalist.(70)
After misidentifying Jews as a racial group, Stewart quoted a passage from a circular entitled "Social justice Message--Judaism and the Social Crisis" printed by the Central Conference of American Rabbis in 1934. It was, exclaimed Stewart, "A PRETTY FAIR COMMUNIST OR SOCIALIST SPEECH." A few paragraphs later Stewart denounced James Ford, Communist Party candidate for vice-president in 1932, as a "nigger communist."(71)
In the remaining pages of his letter Stewart amplified his thesis that Communism and socialism (the latter but a "kindergarten for Communism") were Jewish movements. After denying that he necessarily believed that "the Russian experiment is a Jewish scheme to disorganize the Gentile world," Stewart argued that 56 Jews and three non-Jews who were married to Jews comprised the entire Central Committee of the Communist Party in Russia. He then listed men whom he believed were Jews in the Soviet government and diplomatic corps, concluding that "nearly every government department in Moscow is controlled by Jews." Further, "it is true that Jews have had preferential treatment in Russia, both religiously and financially." Despite a willingness to accept scurrilous and absurd views about Jews, Stewart avowed that he was not an anti-Semite. Indeed, as many bigots were to proclaim, some of his best friends were Jews, including Morris Stern.(72)
Rabbi Cohen sent copies of Stewart's letter to other leaders in the Jewish community and invited their comments with the aim of refuting Stewart. One of the recipients, Richard E. Gutstadt, director of the Anti-Defamation League, seemed willing to concede that since Stewart presented himself as a friend to Jews the letter did not fall into the usual category of hate mail that daily crossed his desk. Yet Stewart's professed friendship for Jews was problematic. His letter was full of errors and unflattering stereotypes about Jews as Communists and radicals. Gutstadt forwarded copies of Stewart's letter to colleagues in the Reform community, some of whom offered lengthy rebuttals.(73)
In earlier correspondence between Stem and Cohen that prompted this exchange of letters, Stem had discussed a book entitled The Roosevelt Red Record and Its Background. The author, Elizabeth Dilling, also wrote The Red Network: A "Whos Who" and Handbook of Radicalism for Patriots, publishing both books at her own expense. In her writings she characterized a wide range of individuals and organizations as Communist or socialist (she did not distinguish between the two). For example, without mentioning the anti-Semitic policies of Nazi Germany, Dilling asserted that Germany had exposed Albert Einstein as a Communist and had therefore seized his property. Echoing Nazi objections to "Jewish science," Dilling averred that the Nobel laureate in physics was a quack. She quoted other scientists who alleged that Einstein was a "confusionist" whose theories were a "crazy vagary, a disgrace to our age."(74)
Dilling also described groups as innocuous as the Young Men's Christian Association as Communist fronts. And, like Stewart, she devoted several pages purporting to show a preponderance of Jewish involvement in subversive, left-wing activities.(75) In 1947 the Anti-Defamation League, for whom Dilling also had scant regard, listed her and several others, including the fundamentalist and anti-Semitic minister, the Reverend Gerald B. Winrod, as having been indicted by the federal government for sedition.(76) writer for Time magazine in the 1930s dismissed Dilling's Red Network as "ludicrous."(77)
Yet after reading Dilling's material Stem seemed to think that she was on to something and urged Rabbi Cohen to read her Roosevelt Red Record. Stern wrote that Dilling's book was not anti-Semitic:
Its purpose is to show the President's connection with Radical groups. . . .
They [Dilling's comments about Jews] are advancing the same arguments and
showing the same figures upon which Maco Stewart who is not Anti-Semitic,
bases his allegation regarding Jewish participation in United States
Communism, and I fear very much they are nearly true.(78)
Meanwhile, Rabbi Frisch had become aware of Maco Stewart's influence on Stem and reacted with anger. Stem actually supported the America Forward movement, which Stewart had helped to finance. That Stern had encouraged other influential Jews to join inflamed Frisch even further. One such Jew was Professor H. J. Ettlinger of the University of Texas in Austin. Stern had persuaded him to address the America Forward convention in Dallas in October 1936.(79) Frisch had obtained a copy of The Christian American, a newsletter (or "screed," as Frisch called it) that promoted the America Forward movement and endorsed Dilling's Red Network. Frisch was dismayed that Ettlinger had lent his talents to this group and, doubtless to Stem's annoyance, talked him out of it.
Frisch characterized America Forward as a "movement of the worst repressionist type" and described its leaders, particularly its founder, the Reverend Ralph Nollner, and presumably Maco Stewart as well, as "fanatics and reactionaries with the avowed motive of saving the country from communism and atheism but with the under cover [sic] goal of strengthening the forces of bigotry and illiberalism." Besides Maco Stewart and Morris Stern the movement enjoyed the support of Archbishop Drossaerts and others who, according to Frisch, had records as anti-Semites and members of the Ku Klux Klan. Frisch evidently enjoyed the support of other rabbis, including his father-in-law (and Stem's friend) Rabbi David Lefkowitz of Dallas, and a number of local Christian clergymen, among them the Reverend H. Bascom Watts of the Laurel Heights Methodist Church, one of the leading churches in San Antonio. Together these men were able to frustrate the movement's fundraising efforts among Jews and prevent it from making further inroads into the Jewish community.(10)
Yet Frisch's involvement in liberal causes and his trenchant attack on the police raid and the conservative mentality that supported it undermined his standing with the temple board. Aside from the controversy over the police raid in the summer and fall of 1937, and the earlier episode with America Forward, Frisch opposed his board on the issue of conscientious objectors.
During the summer of 1936 the Central Conference of American Rabbis had urged Congress to exempt Jewish conscientious objectors from military service during wartime. In addition to Quakers and Jehovah's Witnesses, three other Christian groups enjoyed such status.(81) Frisch's board would have nothing of it and seemed to fear that exemption of even a few Jews as conscientious objectors would send a message to the non-Jewish community that Jews were shirkers. Board members Sylvan Lang, his brother Gilbert (who owned Frost Brothers' Department Store), Nat Goldsmith, and Joe Straus were all "fine fellows," wrote Frisch, but they were also "patriots of the old school & I believe have the jitters as Jews now."(82)
Like his father-in-law, Frisch also opposed his board on the issue of Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) on college campuses.(83) Frisch, however, dropped the matter because he had no hope of bringing the temple board to his point of view. His college-age son, David, wrote to his grandfather, Rabbi Cohen, as follows: "Dad said to me only last night that if he kicked up the row about the R.O.T.C. that you did he would be fired at once--you see, he has a group, in part, of scheming, uncharitable men who hate the poor and make their money from the presence of the Army in our city."(84)
But to Rabbi Frisch it was the police raid that was his "biggest and most hazardous fight." It was an episode that engaged every bit of his energy and emotional resources.(85) Moreover, the police raid appears to have been the issue that led most directly to Frisch's retirement from Temple Beth-El. As Frisch retold the story to a colleague in 1947, the controversy associated with the police raid contributed to his ill health and disillusionment as a rabbi. It seemed to Frisch that 14 years of promoting social justice at Temple Beth-El had come to nothing. His final two years at the synagogue were especially difficult. As a result of nervous exhaustion, arthritis, and what he later described as depression, he entered a New York sanitarium early in 1938 where he convalesced near his sister's family until late summer before returning to San Antonio in time for the High Holy Days.(86)
Meanwhile, Frisch's temple board engaged (with his permission) David Jacobson to fill in for a year as associate rabbi. Jacobson had recently returned to the United States with the first Ph.D. in Semitics awarded by Cambridge University.(87) Some two months after his arrival in San Antonio in July 1938 Jacobson married Helen Gugenheim, daughter of a prominent local German Jewish family who had generally good relations with members of the temple board. This union in some ways complicated Frisch's tenure at Beth-El. The quiet and unassuming Jacobson was well liked by his new congregation, and by marrying into the Gugenheim family he consummated an unwitting alliance with forces that would soon seek Frisch's removal.
Exactly when Jesse D. Oppenheimer, Nat Goldsmith, Morris Stern, Sylvan Lang, and other leaders at Beth-El first sought Frisch's removal remains unclear.(88) Temple members have put forth various reasons why Frisch encountered difficulties with his board and some members of his congregation. The usual explanation was that Frisch had not recovered from the illness that had incapacitated him for much of 1938. This perception of illness, however, seems largely confined to those who disliked Frisch and his brand of social activism.
Jacobson also considered himself a social activist, and his role in later years showed him to be hardly less liberal than Frisch. The difference between the two men, which must have become evident soon after Jacobson's arrival at Beth-El, was that Jacobson was easier to get along with judging from Frisch's correspondence, the elder rabbi could be unyieldingly combative and obstreperous. Jacobson's was a quieter style, and although he could at times be blunt, his usual manner was to seek compromise. Despite Jacobson's efforts to promote amity, Frisch was convinced that the younger man was scheming to replace him as rabbi of Temple Beth-El, a view that makes Jacobson implausibly Machiavellian. After months of protracted tension and animosity Frisch elected to retire in July 1942, at the age of 62, rather than serve another term with Jacobson, who enjoyed the continued support of the board.
When it became clear to Frisch that he would be leaving Temple Beth-El, he offered his services without charge to Ferdinand Isserman, rabbi of a congregation in St. Louis and chairman of the justice and Peace Commission of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. Isserman and Frisch agreed that the latter would serve in New York City as the Commission's executive director.
For reasons too complex to explain here, Frisch began to feel that Isserman was taking advantage of him. This new imbroglio commenced scarcely four months after Frisch had divorced himself from Temple Beth-El. As in his refusal to compromise with Jacobson, Frisch refused to see Isserman after the latter traveled to New York to make amends. Frisch vented his feelings of humiliation in a typed, single-spaced, 16-page letter to Rabbi Julius Mark, chaplain of the Great Lakes Naval Training Station in Chicago and vice-chairman of the Commission on justice and Peace." Rabbi Mark was unconvinced. He wrote to Isserman, "You may put me down as voting to accept Frisch's resignation. He seems to be an impossible fellow to work with."(90)
Whether Frisch's difficult personality and seemingly paranoiac tendencies were evidence of illness, as alleged by some of his detractors at Temple Beth-El, is now impossible to say. Clearly he had eccentricities. Some regarded Frisch's early morning walks, for relaxation and to treat his arthritis, when he would often drop in unannounced on his congregants as so inappropriate for a rabbi that they seemed to be evidence of illness. Almost sixty years later, a congregant recalled that Sylvan Lang had once alleged that Frisch was becoming senile because he collected toys. His irritability may well have been the result of clinical depression, but the evidence is inconclusive.
Frisch's correspondence shows that he regarded the death of his young wife to illness in 1934 as an overwhelming blow. He may have never fully recovered from this loss. Ruth Frisch was the rabbis confidante, coworker, friend, lover, and mother to their dear son. She was fully involved with her husband's work and enjoyed the warm support of their congregation. Even Frisch's detractors seemed to have held Ruth in high regard, which may have shielded the rabbi from censure or removal.
In any case, Frisch's personality, possible depression, and a strident ideological liberalism combined to undermine his credibility with the temple board and its supporters. David Jacobson, who replaced Frisch as permanent rabbi at Temple Beth-El, was less confrontational and chose his battles more carefully. Jacobson brought to his position as rabbi a polish and finesse that Frisch lacked. The younger rabbi's more subdued qualities went far to support his own agenda for social action, which continued into the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Some years after Frisch left Temple Beth-El the ever-forgiving Jacobson invited him to return to San Antonio to speak at the synagogue. Thereafter the two men enjoyed a cordial relationship.(91)
Frisch's departure from Temple Beth-El in 1942 was not simply a reflection of his personal shortcomings. The scenario that played itself out at the synagogue was symptomatic of widespread concern over the alleged affiliation of Jews with socialism and left-wing subversion. Because many on the right did not distinguish between socialism and union activity, the taint associated with the former attached itself to the latter, As the case of Emma Tenayuca and Homer Brooks illustrates, some labor activists were Communists. In any event, the combination of ideologies, personalities, and political perceptions at Temple Beth-El proved to be Frisch's undoing. Although Frisch's continued illness after his convalescence during the summer of 1938 may have been real, local and national politics also played an important role in his final departure from San Antonio. Frisch may have been his own worst enemy, but he was also a victim of fears and myths current throughout the United States and much of Europe during the 1930s that characterized Jews as disloyal.
As assimilated, well-established, and successful members of the larger community, the board of directors at Temple Beth-El was fearful of provoking anti-Semitism at a time when the epidemic loomed virulent and contagious. Frisch recognized his board's defensiveness when he characterized its members as Jews with the "jitters." Perhaps because many of Temple Beth-El's members were so self-consciously and defensively Jewish, and, paradoxically, because they had become so assimilated into the non-Jewish community, they had lost sight of the ethical precepts of social justice that undergirded the Reform Movement. Owing in part to the insecurities of the temple board and its supporters, Frisch was defeated by the forces he had so assiduously opposed.
Whether Frisch's experiences at Temple Beth-El and his eventual departure from San Antonio were, politically speaking, part of a uniquely Southern experience is an issue that remains problematic. Frisch probably would have been vulnerable regardless of his geographical location, although being in a nominally Southern city may have intensified his experiences there. One must keep in mind, for example, that soon after Frisch left San Antonio to establish himself in New York he became embroiled in other personal difficulties.
Frisch's attack on the Alliance police raid and his support of organized labor were hardly issues peculiar to the South. Most major cities experienced similar unrest during the Depression. The anti-Semitism and archconservatism, or even profascism, that made Jews feet so defensive during the 1930s enjoyed warm support in the Bible Belt. These views were, however, also articulated by vocal Northerners such as Henry Ford and Father Charles Coughlin, both from Michigan, by Gerald B. Winrod of Kansas and Gerald L. K. Smith, who got his start in Indiana.
Jews experienced restrictions in housing, employment, or hotel accommodations in the Northeast, particularly in New York State, where Jews congregated in the greatest numbers. Such restrictions were rare in the South, particularly in San Antonio. Although many Christians in the Bible Belt uncritically accepted the anti-Judaism of the New Testament, in the Alamo City these views seldom found practical expression. That is, judging from the role Jews played in community affairs and their business success, relations between Jews and Christians seemed cordial. For example, the role that Julius Seligmann, Sr., played as owner of the Southern Pecan Shelling Company would seem likely to have invited anti-Semitic comment. To some minds, Seligmann as entrepreneur evoked the worst stereotypes of the capitalist, Jewish exploiter. Yet Seligmann's Jewishness appears to have gone unnoticed among labor leaders (some of whom were themselves Jews) or among Mexican strikers. In August 1937 Emma Tenayuca sent Rabbi Frisch a thank-you note on behalf of the Workers' Alliance for his support against the police raid.(92) In labor matters, then, Jewishness was a nonissue. Seligmarm was doing nothing more than what his non-Jewish colleagues were doing, and Jews participated on both sides of any number of labor disputes.
Yet, while in the South Frisch provoked local sentiments. His defense of a black educator unpopular among the white community (and some in the black community) in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, may have been such an example, although one wonders how such a scenario might have played itself out in a Northern town. Similarly, Frisch's public defense of teaching Darwinism in public schools must have irked many in Texas, home to a large number of Southern Baptists who accepted literally the account of creation in Genesis. And Frisch publicly chafed about San Antonio as a city whose conspicuous disregard for the welfare of its minority citizens attracted national attention. Frisch's concern for these issues, however justifiable, could not have made his tenure in San Antonio an easy one.
Given the many variables that attended Frisch's tenure in San Antonio, and the city's uncertain place on the cultural spectrum of what is Southern or Western, it is difficult to assign a particularly Southern quality to Frisch's experiences. One might argue instead that Frisch's experiences were actually Southwestern. Anglo-Mexican tensions played a more prominent role in the Southwest than black-white relations, but "race" nonetheless remained a principal issue. Frisch's experiences were, in any event, largely representative of national issues that troubled other Reform rabbis during a time of social unrest. =
The author wishes to thank Helen and David Jacobson and Hilton Goldman, archivist at Temple Beth-El in San Antonio, for their assistance in the preparation of this essay.
(1.) "Downtown Melee Brings 6 Arrests," San Antonio Express, 30 June 1937.
(2.) "Use of Axes by Police Rapped,' San Antonio Light, 30 June 1937.
(3.) Citing an interview with Emory University professor Harvey Klehr, who with John Earl Haynes and Fridrikh Igorevich Firsov authored The Secret World of American Communism, Melissa Fay Greene wrote in The Temple Bombing, "`There were possibly a hundred thousand members of the American Communist Party at its height in 1939,' said Klehr, `and maybe 40 percent of them were Jewish. They were highly overrepresented (although the vast majority of American Jews were not Communists)'" (Reading, Mass., 1996), 48. For a more thorough discussion of Jewish defensiveness see Seymore Martin Lipset and Earl Raab, "The Riddle of the Defensive Jew," in Jews and the American Scene (Cambridge, Mass., 1995).
(4.) Ephraim Frisch to Norman Thomas, 30 December 1936, Ephraim Frisch Papers, Hebrew Union College, American Jewish Archives (AJA).
(5.) See Frisch's typed ms. on evolution and Darwinism in response to the Texas legislature's proposal to ban the teaching of Darwinism in public schools, no title, n.d., AJA.
(6.) "Notes on Ephraim Frisch," compiled by his son, David Frisch, October 1988, Temple Beth-El Archives, San Antonio.
(7.) Leonard Judah Mervis, "The Social justice Movement of the American Reform Rabbis, 1890-1940" (Ph.D. diss., University of Pittsburgh, 1951), 198-204; see also Ephraim Frisch, "Judaism and the Spirit of the Age," Proceedings of the Thirteenth Annual Summer Assembly of the Jewish Chautauqua Society (New York, 1909); Ephraim Frisch, An Historical Survey of Jewish Philanthropy (New York, 1924).
(8.) "Notes on Ephraim Frisch."
(9.) Herschel Bernard, interview with the author, 4 December 1995.
(10.) "Is the United States a Christian Nation? A Legal Study," paper delivered before Southern Rabbinical Association, Nashville, Tenn., December 1906, copy in Ephraim Frisch Papers, AJA, see also copy of Frisch letter to Sidney Wolf, Corpus Christi, Texas, [spring 1947], entitled "Letter by Dr. Ephraim Frisch in his contributions in the field of social justice," Frisch Papers, AJA.
(11.) Carolyn Gray LeMaster, "Civil and Social Rights Efforts of Arkansas Jewry," in The Quiet Voices: Southern Rabbis and Black Civil Rights, 1890s-1990s, ed. Mark K. Bauman and Berkley Kalin (Tuscaloosa, forthcoming).
(12.) "Notes on Ephraim Frisch."
(14.) Among the most conspicuous examples were rabbis Stephen M. Wise and Abba Hillel Silver.
(15.) Albert Vorspan, "The Dilemma of the Southern Jew," in Jews in the South, ed. Leonard Dinnerstein and Mary Dale Palsson (Baton Rouge, 1973), 335.
(16.) Melissa Fay Greene, The Temple Bombing (Reading, Mass., 1996), 7; see also 172: "The consensus at the [temple board] meeting . . . was that religion should not be mixed with politics."
(17.) Ibid., 68-76. For a deeper discussion of the Leo Frank episode see Leonard Dinnerstein and Mary Date Palsson, eds., Jews in the South (Baton Rouge, 1973); Albert S. Lindemann, The Jew Accused: Three Anti-Semitic Affairs (Dreyfus, Beilis, Frank), 1894-1925 (New York, 1991).
(18.) Greene, Temple Bombing, 75.
(19.) See Mervis, "Social Justice Movement."
(20.) San Antonio Daily Express, it September 1875, cited by Max Blumer, "The House of God," in Diamond Jubilee, 1974-1949 (Temple Beth-El, San Antonio, n.d.).
(21.) Samuel Marks, "History of the Jews of San Antonio," The Reform Advocate, 24 January 1914, 13.
(22.) Ralph Maitland, "San Antonio: the Shame of Texas," Forum, August 1939, 51-5
(23.) "Guadalupe Parish. An Account for His Excellency, Robert E. Lucey, D.D.[,] Archbishop of San Antonio," n.d., Catholic Archives of San Antonio (CASA).
(24.) "San Antonio Baby Deaths U.S. Highest," San Antonio Light, 27 June 1937.
(25.) Maitland, "San Antonio," 51.
(26.) San Antonio Light, 20 February 1939, cited in Selden C. Menefee and Orin C. Cassmore, The Pecan Shellers of San Antonio: The Problem of Underpaid and Underemployed Mexican Labor (Washington, 1940), 47. See Maitland, "San Antonio," 51; "Rabbi Frisch, going beyond mere moral crusade, demands cleanup of all sources of social misery," San Antonio Evening News, 30 May 1934.
(27.) Frisch to Henry Cohen, 6 November 1935, Henry Cohen Papers, Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin (CAH).
(28.) Menefee and Cassmore, The Pecan Shellers of San Antonio, 50.
(30.) "San Antonio: The Cradle of Texas Liberty and Its Coffin?" political pamphlet printed by Pecan Workers Local No. 172, ; U.S. Dept. of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, In the matter of Applications of the Southern Pecan Shelling Company et al., Findings and Determination of the Presiding Officer, 19 January 1939, CAH.
(31.) Latane Lambert, telephone interview with the author, 117 November 1995.
(32.) According to one source Seligmann earned about $500,000 from the pecan industry within three years during the Depression. See above note. For a larger discussion of Seligmann and his role in the pecan industry see Menefee and Cassmore, The Pecan Shellers of San Antonio; Kenneth P. Walker, "The Pecan Shellers of San Antonio and Mechanization," Southern Historical Quarterly 69 (1966): 44-58; Harold A. Shapiro, "The Pecan Shellers of San Antonio," The Southwestern Social Science Quarterly 31 (March 1952): 129-44.
(33.) "Business Is Business," undated sermon, Ephraim Frisch Papers, AJA.
(34.) "For Profit or for Right," undated sermon, Ephraim Frisch Papers, AJA.
(35.) Allan Turner, "A night that changed San Antonio: Woman recalls riot over communism in '39," Houston Chronicle, 14 December 1986; Geoffrey Rips, "Living History: Emma Tenayuca Tells Her Story," The Texas Observer, 28 October 1983.
(36.) "Memorandum to the Press," 3 April 1937, Box 365, James V. Allred Papers, Special Collections, University of Houston (UH).
(37.) Ibid.; "Alliance Girl Denies WPA Rioting," San Antonio Light, 14 July 1937.
(38.) "Use of Axes by Police Rapped," San Antonio Light, 30 June 1937.
(39.) "Alliance Aid [sic] Free on Bond, 2, Still Held," San Antonio Light, 4 July 1937.
(42.) "Wright Says Sit-Strikes Banned," San Antonio Light, 1 July 1937.
(43.) "Communists Demand Probe," San Antonio Light, 2 July 1937.
(44.) "US to Probe Arrest of Pickets in S.A.," San Antonio Light, 12 July 1937 [in connection with a local garment workers' strike]; "Senate Probe of Alliance Arrests Due," San Antonio Light, 18 July 1937.
(45.) "Report of the American Civil Liberties Union on Police Raid of Workers' Alliance Headquarters on June 39 [sic], 1937 at San Antonio, Texas," 15 September 1937, James V. Allred Papers, UH.
(47.) John C. Granbery, "Civil Liberties in Texas," Christian Century (27 October 1937), 1327-8.
(48.) Ephraim Frisch to Rabbi Sidney Wolf, [spring 1947], Ephraim Frisch Papers, AJA.
(49.) "Rabbi Frisch Hits S.A. Police in Labor Raid," San Antonio Light, 13 July 1937.
(50.) Ephraim Frisch to Rabbi Sidney Wolf [spring 1947], Ephraim Frisch Papers, AJA.
(51.) "The Police Raid a Blow at Civil Liberties," privately printed tract, 24 July 1937, Ephraim Frisch Papers, AJA.
(52.) Nettie Hilb to Ephraim Frisch, 3 August 1937, and Ephraim Frisch to Nettie Hilb, 4 August 1937, Ephraim Frisch Papers, AJA. In response to the Oppenheimers' and Lanes objections, Frisch arranged to have his pamphlets sent from outside the temple.
(53.) Ephraim Frisch to Rabbi Dr. Samuel H. Goldenson, 7 September 1937, Ephraim Frisch Papers, AJA.
(54.) Nat Goldsmith to Ephraim Frisch, 8 August 1937, Ephraim Frisch Papers, AJA. See also Morris Lazaron to Ephraim Frisch, 29 September 1937; Ephraim Frisch to Morris Lazaron, 9 November 1937, Morris S. Lazaron Papers, AJA.
(55.) Sylvan Lang to Ephraim Frisch, 25 August 1937, Ephraim Frisch Papers, AJA.
(56.) Julian Morgenstern wrote Frisch, "Coming down to the practical aspects of the matter, I had the feeling as I read your letter printed in the San Antonio Press that here and there you were unnecessarily tactless, and therefore probably stirred up some unnecessary opposition which through more tactful and restrained utterance might have been avoided, and might therefore have made your original theses more generally acceptable." Julian Morgenstern to Ephraim Frisch, 3 November 1937, Ephraim Frisch Papers, AJA.
(57.) "Strike Mob and Police Battle," San Antonio Express, 2 June 1937; "La Follette Ranges Pictures Against Police Riot Story," San Antonio Express, 1 July 1937.
(58.) See relevant chapters in Egal Feldman, Dual Destinies: The Jewish Encounter with Protestant America (Urbana, Ill., 1990); Leonard Dinnerstein, Antisemitism in America (New York, 1994); David A. Gerber, ed., Anti-Semitism in American History (Urbana, Ill., 1987); Naomi W. Cohen, Jews in Christian America: The Pursuit of Religious Equality (New York, 1992).
(59.) Goldsmith to Frisch, 8 August 1937, Ephraim Frisch Papers, AJA.
(61.) Archbishop Arthur J. Drossaerts to Rabbi Ephraim Frisch, 9 September 1936, Arthur J. Drossaerts Papers, CASA; emphasis in original.
(62.) Frisch to Archbishop Arthur J. Dorssaerts, 2 December 1936, Henry Cohen Papers, CAH.
(64.) Frisch to Drossaerts, 2 December 1937, Drossaerts Papers, CASA.
(65.) Cited in Albert Vorspan and Eugene J. Lipman, justice and Judaism: The Work of Social Action (New York, 1956), 17, quoting the Hebrew Union College Monthly, November 1942.
(66.) Vorspan and Lipman, justice and Judaism, 17-8.
(67.) Julius Seligmann, Jr., telephone interview with the author, 17 April 1996; Hilton Goldman, archivist, Temple Beth-El, to author, 8 May 1996. Stern contributed $5000 to the construction fund.
(68.) Helen Jacobson, informal conversations with the author 1995-6. Frisch wrote, "We [Morris Stern and Frisch] are just as friendly as ever, but I find him, as nearly everybody else here does, an impossible person, egotistical, domineering & by no means as competent as he gives the impression of being on superficial observation," Frisch to Henry Cohen, 4 May 1935, Henry Cohen Papers, CAR. As early as 1915 Frisch discussed Stem pejoratively and believed that others in his congregation shared his views. For example, see Frisch's earlier letter to his father-in-law, on to May 1925, in which he describes Stem as a "dominating and domineering figure (and not popular because of his methods)."
(69.) Morris Stern to Henry Cohen, Henry Cohen Papers, 29 September 1936, CAH.
(70.) Maco Stewart to Henry Cohen, 22 March 1936, Henry Cohen Papers, CAH.
(71.) Maco Stewart to Morris Stern, 22 March 1936, Henry Cohen Papers, CAH.
(72.) Maco Stewart to Henry Cohen, 22 March 1936, Henry Cohen Papers, CAH.
(73.) Form letter from Richard E. Gutstadt, 31 March 1936; Sidney Wallach to Henry Cohen 2. April 1936; Joseph [no last name] to Richard E. Gutstadt, 5 May 1936, Henry Cohen Papers, CAH.
(74.) Elizabeth Dilling, The Red Network: A Who's Who and Handbook of Radicalism for Patriots (n.p., 1934), 49, 279.
(75.) Ibid., 250-2.
(76.) The Facts, B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation League, November 1947, provided courtesy of Gerald Baumgarten, ADL Research Department. Others agreed with B'nai B'rith's assessment of Dilling et al. as anti-Semites. See Leo P. Ribuffo, The Old Christian Right: The Protestant Far Right from the Great Depression to the Cold War (Philadelphia, 1983), 196-7, 216-7.
(77.) "Judiciary," Time, 23 August 1937, 13.
(78.) Morris Stern to Henry Cohen, 29 September 1936, Henry Cohen Papers, CAH.
(79.) Ephraim Frisch to David Lefkowitz, 26 October 1936, Henry Cohen Papers, CAH.
(80.) Ephraim Frisch to Walter Wilson, American Civil Liberties Union, 29 October 1937, Henry Cohen Papers, CAH.
(81.) Ephraim Frisch to Henry Cohen, 11 November 1936, Henry Cohen Papers, CAH.
(83.) Frisch to Dr. H. Y. Benedict, President, University of Texas, 7 November 1935, Henry Cohen Papers, CAH.
(84.) David Frisch to Henry Cohen, 10 July 1935, Henry Cohen Papers, CAH.
(85.) Ephraim Frisch to Rabbi Dr. Samuel H. Goldenson, 11 September 1937, and Ephraim Frisch to Rabbi Sidney Wolf [spring 1947], Ephraim Frisch Papers, AJA.
(86.) Ephraim Frisch to Rabbi Sidney Wolf [spring 1947], Ephraim Frisch Papers, AJA.
(87.) David Jacobson to Julian Morgenstern, 3 March 1938, Hebrew Union College Collection, AJA.
(88.) Ephraim Frisch to Henry Cohen, 15 May 1942, Henry Cohen Papers, CAH.
(89.) Ephraim Frisch to Rabbi Julius Mark, 9 December 1942, Ferdinand M. Isserman Papers, AJA.
(90.) Rabbi Julius Mark to Rabbi Ferdinand M. Isserman, 3 February 1943, Ferdinand M. Isserman Papers, AJA.
(91.) Helen Jacobson, telephone conversation with the author, 30 May 1996.
(92.) Emma Tenayuca to Ephraim Frisch, 10 August 1937, Ephraim Frisch Papers, AJA.
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|Title Annotation:||Special Issue: Directions in Southern Jewish History, Part One|
|Publication:||American Jewish History|
|Date:||Sep 1, 1997|
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