As we celebrate our 100th anniversary, our History Sub-Committee is taking a look back in our club’s rich history and is sharing highlights from the past century. This week’s message is shared by committee member Jerry Thain:
The January 20, 1942, issue of the Rotary News reported on the talk to the Club by Rabbi Raphael Levine (left), a native of Minnesota, who had, for several years, been the leader of “the largest Jewish congregation in England” describing his experiences in London before and after the onset of World War Two and the ensuing bombing of London. He gave great credit to Winston Churchill for the determination of the English in that time, describing him as “Heaven sent to England” to preserve freedom.
Although the war was fought to repel a particularly odious form of dictatorship, the victory by the Allies did not bring an end to racial and other discrimination in the United States. A rather poignant statement was reported by William Vance Russell of Waukesha in his address to the Club summarized in The Rotary News of October 2, 1948, on preserving American democracy. Pointing out that “we have not yet learned to live with one another,” he noted that the prize winning entry in a contest on what would have been the best punishment for Hitler was submitted by “a young Negro girl” who wrote that ‘Hitler should have been put in a black skin and placed in any American white school’.”