“The mission of Israel” buzzed through her brain. Oh, the irony of history! Here was another life going to be wasted on an illusory dream. The figures of Raphael and her father suddenly came into grotesque juxtaposition. A bitter smile passed across her face.
The Christmas bells rang on, proclaiming Peace in the name of Him who came to bring a sword into the world.
“Surely,” she thought, “the people of Christ has been the Christ of peoples.”
And then she sobbed meaninglessly in the darkness
“THE FLAG OF JUDAH.”
The call to edit the new Jewish paper seemed to Raphael the voice of Providence. It came just when he was hesitating about his future, divided between the attractions of the ministry, pure Hebrew scholarship and philanthropy. The idea of a paper destroyed these conflicting claims by comprehending them all. A paper would be at once a pulpit, a medium for organizing effective human service, and an incentive to serious study in the preparation of scholarly articles.
The paper was to be the property of the Co-operative Kosher Society, an association originally founded to supply unimpeachable Passover cakes. It was suspected by the pious that there was a taint of heresy in the flour used by the ordinary bakers, and it was remarked that the Rabbinate itself imported its Matzoth from abroad. Successful in its first object, the Co-operative Kosher Society extended its operations to more perennial commodities, and sought to save Judaism from dubious cheese and butter, as well as to provide public baths for women in accordance with the precepts of Leviticus. But these ideals were not so easy to achieve, and so gradually the idea of a paper to preach them to a godless age formed itself. The members of the Society met in Aaron Schlesinger’s back office to consider them. Schlesinger was a cigar merchant, and the discussions of the Society were invariably obscured by gratuitous smoke Schlesinger’s junior partner, Lewis De Haan, who also had a separate business as a surveyor, was the soul of the Society, and talked a great deal. He was a stalwart old man, with a fine imagination and figure, boundless optimism, a big biceps, a long venerable white beard, a keen sense of humor, and a versatility which enabled him to turn from the price of real estate to the elucidation of a Talmudical difficulty, and from the consignment of cigars to the organization of apostolic movements. Among the leading spirits were our old friends, Karlkammer the red-haired zealot, Sugarman the Shadchan, and Guedalyah the greengrocer, together with Gradkoski the scholar, fancy goods merchant and man of the world. A furniture-dealer, who was always failing, was also an important personage, while Ebenezer Sugarman, a young man who had once translated a romance from the Dutch, acted as secretary. Melchitsedek Pinchas invariably turned up at the meetings and smoked Schlesinger’s cigars. He was not a member; he had not qualified himself by taking ten pound shares (far from fully paid up), but nobody liked to eject him, and no hint less strong than a physical would have moved the poet.