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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/320

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Israelites sit now in the parliaments and congresses. They are allowed to be teachers in most of the universities, and the number of Jewish young men who devote themselves to study increases with every year. Important offices are already intrusted to Jews. Their protective union, the judiciously managed "Israelitish Alliance," which has its seat in Paris, appears to be constantly winning greater influence. The facts of comparative statistical science are favorable to them. In most countries, theirs is, relatively speaking, the smallest number of judicial crimes, and they stand foremost among the population in general prosperity and wealth, even in length of life and rate of increase. The old virtues of temperance and continence, of well-ordered and affectionate family life, of filial piety to parents, which served so well in preserving this people from destruction in the troublous times of the middle ages, have not yet vanished from among them. Marriage unions with Christians and conversion are more common than formerly; in Berlin alone several years ago, there were estimated to be some two thousand proselytes.

It is true, however, that there are dark shadows to the picture; the better spokesmen of this people do not deny their serious faults; they must allow that there is abundant occasion for sharply reproving them: they only urge that the faults arrest attention more than the virtues. The strongest charge and the principal reason for the popular hatred of them is the economical injury they inflict, and the manner in which they take advantage of the peasantry in the Slavic and also in some German countries, in connection with small bartering and money-lending, which seem to be their favorite occupations. In the East, particularly in Galicia, this injury is called even by a stronger word—it is named devastation. The fault is undeniable; our Israelitish fellow-citizens lament it as much as we, but it would be unjust to make, on account of race connection, the whole responsible for the conduct of a fractional part, who are far removed and beyond control. The same is true of the founding of sham companies (Gründerunwesen) and the pernicious speculation in money, which is a fault common to Christians and Israelites. As it was formerly alchemists, astrologers, and searchers after hidden treasures, who took advantage of the blind and eager credulity of the higher classes, so now Jewish speculators do the same. In a similar way, the sins of the press of the day are to be charged upon its circle of Christian readers as well as upon the Jewish editors, who only follow the fashion in pandering to, rather than trying to mold, the opinions and passions of the people.

The great reform movement, that began with Mendelssohn in the bosom of Judaism, has given it a new form in Germany, France, and England. Those of the Jewish people who live in Slavic countries remain for the most part untouched by this movement, and are still bound to the Talmudic standards; but in Western Europe the Israel-