The Jewish Chronicle
Friday, 22 March 1889.
The approaches to the Great Synagogue presented a scene on Sabbath afternoon last quite unparalleled in the history of the Jews in London. At the beginning of February, Messrs. Lewis Lyons and Phillip Kranz communicated with the Rev. Dr. H. Adler informing him that it was intended to organize a "synagogue parade" of Jewish sweaters' victims and the unemployed, and asking him to address them on the subject of their grievances. Dr. Adler replied by earnestly dissuading them from holding such procession, adding that the synagogue was open to them but that he could not permit a place of worship to be made the scene of any "demonstration." Dr. Adler informed them that he would preach in the Great Synagogue on the 16th February. Our readers are aware that a goodly number of the class on behalf of whom Messrs. Lyons and Phillip Kranz profess to speak, attended on that occasion when Dr. Adler gave them some wholesome advice with respect to their daily work and persuaded them not to be deluded by the false socialistic and revolutionary doctrines which a few noisy agitators were desirous of propogating. The discourse was reproduced in full in the organ of the Socialist Club. Last week Dr. Adler received a further communication from Messrs. Lyons and Krantz, stating that they had organized a procession with flags and a band of music, and asking him to deliver a sermon to the unemployed on the Sabbath. At the same time they sent a handbill containing an announcement that the Chief Rabbi would preach a sermon at the Great Synagogue. Dr. Adler replied at once, expressing his great regret that they did not follow his advice, and pointing out to them that this demonstration could not but injure their cause. He also explained how much better it would be to spend the money wasted in preparing the procession and hiring the music in purchasing bread for the families of the unemployed. He also stated that they were not justified in circulating the announcement that he would preach in the Great Synagogue for, in accordance with a long standing engagement, the Rev. I. S. Meisels had arranged to preach on that day. The comparatively small but persistent body of Jewish socialists in the East End, although baffled in their attempts to created a sensation at the service held a month ago, were determined not be outdone upon Sabbath last, and the proposed "Synagogue Parade" had been for some days extensively advertised throughout the district by handbills in the Judisch-Deutsch jargon. The handbills bore the following announcement: "Synagogue parade - A procession of Jewish unemployed and sweaters' victims will be held on Saturday, March 16, 1889, and will proceed to the Great Synagogue, where the Chief Rabbi will deliver a sermon to the unemployed and sweaters' victims. The procession will start at half-past twelve from 40, Berners [sic] Street, Commercial Road, E. We demand work to buy bread, and the hours of labour to be eight per day. Come in large numbers, and bring your friends with you". Considering the labour devoted in getting up the "demonstration," the effect could not be considered as very inspiring. The police arrangements at the synagogue and in the immediate neighbourhood were perfect, with the result that the service within the building passed off without any interruption whatever. The time for the processionists to start from the Socialist headquarters in Berners Street, Commercial Road, was fixed for half-past twelve o'clock, but the number of would-be "demonstrators" who had assembled was quite insignificant. The police were present in large numbers, and several collisions between them and the people occurred whilst the "procession" was being marshalled. After some time spent in waiting the numbers gradually increased, not a few of the crowd being made up of those who went to Berners Street out of idle curiosity and who followed the procession to see what kind of reception it would receive. The processionists numbering between three and four hundred, were headed by a German band, and proceeded through Commercial Road and Whitechapel. The reception accorded them was of a mixed character, and was made up, for the most part of the jeers of the onlookers, and the deep expressions of dissatisfaction and disgust of the Jewish residents in the neighbourhood at the flagrant desecration of the Sabbath. The procession was led by a black banner, on one side of which was in letters of white, "Jewish Unemployed and Sweaters' Victims," and on the other side in Hebrew characters, the following: [Hebrew script] which correctly translated is, "Everyone must work, no one may overwork," and this black flag received some not very flattering criticism. The "paraders" marched through the streets just at the time when thousands of the artizan class would be going home from their half-day's work, and these heartily hissed the processionists. The approaches to the Synagogue in Duke Street and St. James's Place were kept clear, but not without some difficulty, by a large body of police, who perambulated the streets, under the direction of Superintendent Foster and Chief Inspector Egan, whilst in the room used by the choristers for robing there was a reserve force of fifty men. When the procession reached the Synagogue, which at the time was more than half filled, they found the entrances well guarded by a strong cordon of police. A deputation of four demanded an interview with Dr. Hermann Adler, and when they, much to their disappointment, learned that the delegate Chief Rabbi was not in attendance, left the Synagogue. The procession was again marshalled into order, and made their way, headed by the band playing the "Marseillaise," to the "Waste" in Mile End Road, where an "indignation meeting" was held. The procession having reached its destination, a chairman was appointed, several addresses were delivered, and the following resolution, written both in Hebrew and English, was circulated: "That this meeting of unemployed and sweated London Jewish workers of both sexes, strongly condemns the Delegate Chief Rabbi, Dr. Hermann Adler, for refusing to comply with the courteous request of the Committee of the Jewish unemployed to preach a sermon at the Great Synagogue, having special reference to our position and prospects; further, we render our protest against the practice of labour sweating indulged in by certain members of the Jewish community. In consequence of the indifference of the rich Jews in not telling us, through the Chief Rabbi, how to improve our miserable condition, we clearly see that they are unwilling to assist us in ameliorating our position; we, therefore, call upon our fellow workmen not to depend upon the rich classes, but to organise in a strong body to strike for the abolition of the capitalistic ruling." When the resolution was put to the meeting there were not many hands held up for it, and some were held up against it, but it was declared carried. The meeting broke up quietly, but the leaders were followed to Berners Street by a large crowd, where a disturbance occurred in which it was said several persons were more or less injured, and that two or three arrests were made.
The synagogue gradually completely filled, and after the procession left the precincts of the Great Synagogue, the police were unremitting in their exertions to prevent any would-be disturbers from entering the building, and from the moment the service commenced, admittance was barred to all comers. A number of loiterers still hung about the neighbourhood, the crowd increasing in number as the time for the conclusion of the service approached.
Within the building the scene was a striking character. The Synagogue was crammed, both in the body and in the galleries, to its fullest extent. Probably at none of the previous services had a larger number been present, nor had the congregation comprised to such an extent the class whom it was desired to attract. With but few exceptions those in the synagogue were foreigners, a large proportion being clearly recent arrivals. It could be easily observed that the proceedings outside the building had some effect on those within, for the congregation appeared to be labouring under unusual nervous excitement, ready upon the least provocation, such as a person either entering or leaving the Synagogue, to rise in their seats, evidently believing that some attempt would be made to disturb the service. . .
. . .
During the day riotous proceedings occurred outside the Socialist Club in Berners Street. Three of the members were arrested and charged at the Thames Police Court with assault and with being disorderly persons. On Wednesday the prisoners were committed for trial, bail being allowed.
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