February ’40 in the Exponent: Hearty Welcome Awaits Dr. Weizmann


Mr. Smith, Meet Mr. Cohen

Word that Zionist leader and future first President of Israel Chaim Weizmann was visiting Philadelphia was cause for celebration in 1940.

The Feb. 23 issue of the Jewish Exponent featured a rare three-tier headline announcing Weizmann’s visit and the reception/dinner in his honor at the Hotel Bellevue-Stratford.

Weizmann, the president of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, had been touring the United States to “meet and exchange views with the leadership of American Jewry” and discuss the future development of Jewish Palestine.

“The Jews of America are extremely fond of Dr. Weizmann. This admiration and affection is being abundantly manifested in all the communities he has visited,” the Exponent wrote. “Wherever he has made an appearance, he was greeted by thousands upon thousands of men and women who hung on his every word.”

More than 1,200 people were expected for the Bellevue-Stratford reception.

Weizmann left behind an extensive legacy before his death in 1952 at the age of 77. A biochemist by training, he was a seminal figure in Israel’s earliest days and convinced the U.S. government to recognize Israel. He also founded the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot and helped establish Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The bottom of the front page featured a chapter from the book Mr. Smith, Meet Mr. Cohen.

A blurb about the book found on Google describes it as “an attempt to interpret U.S. Jews factually to average Americans. Indicates why they came here, what they are most interested in, what they do best, what organizations they join, what they teach their children, etc.”

Author James Waterman Wise was described as a “New York public relations man,” while co-author Lee Joseph Levinger was a Cleveland-based author and rabbi.


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