Barrow Belisha and a Meeting in 1906  

In one of his attempts to retain a degree of authority among Zionists, the communal leader Barrow Belisha chaired a public meeting in 1906 to consider his idea of a World Jewish Congress. He was supported by Dr Isaiah Wassilevsky, who thought that such a institution might be able to help the settlement of Jewish immigrants in Palestine.

Following an address by Chaim Weizmann, Belisha asked Rabbi Yuddelovitch (New Synagogue) to speak. Yuddelovitch said "This young man says that a Jew must be a Zionist. Ask him if he has ever prayed in the Tephillin [phylactery]", which produced an uproar, with the audience moving angrily forward to forcibly remove him from the stage. Belisha restored order only by inviting Weizmann to take the floor again. Weizmann was able to use the opportunity to describe how in Switzerland he had helped some Jewish students who were in danger of assimilation back to Judaism. Undoubtedly, this meeting ended more to Weizmann’s satisfaction than to Belisha’s.


Robert Epstein (J80, Oral History Tapes, Manchester Jewish Museum)


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