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An Interesting Man on an Interesting Job: A Biographical Sketch of the Jewish Philosopher
by Lillian Slater. from The Jewish Philosopher, November 1937.

To each man his troubles are the worst in the world—his problems are the most difficult—his pains are the hardest to bear. In each man there is the inherent need for a comforter, an adviser, someone to whom he can turn in that hour of pain, anguish and despair. But, there are many who have no one to go to; there are many who cannot turn to a mother, a brother or a friend, perhaps because those very persons are a part of the problem.

In six years, fifty thousand Jews faced with such situations have found precious understanding, careful advice and honest guidance form a man who, as "The Jewish Philosopher," has become one of the most outstanding features and one of the most beloved figures in the Yiddishe radio field.

He has been compared with "The Voice of Experience" for his consideration of deeply personal problems—to Father Coughlin for his prophetic dissertations—to Walter Winchell for daring, and yet, "The Jewish Philosopher" is none of these singly.

Began to Broadcast 6 Years Ago

In New York four years ago, the Jewish Philosopher, who is C. Israel Lutsky privately, proposed a fifteen minute program of philosophic discussion and advice. His sponsor said no one would listen to an entire speaking program for that length of time—but he was, nevertheless, permitted to put on his program once a week. The first broadcast brought a response of three letters. Within a few weeks it was necessary to install a separate telephone in the studio to receive the calls requesting personal interviews with him. Today totalling six weekly broadcasts over WFAB in New York and WDAS in Philadelphia, The Jewish Philosopher receives an average of 400 letters a week. Not fan letters, mark you, but letters from distracted men and women, letters from troubled boys and girls barely out of childhood, asking for advice and consolation.

"I know that many believe only stupid people turn to an ‘advice-giver,’" said Mr. Lutsky, "but that, I have learned is a popular conception—and like most popular conceptions, it is far from accurate.

"Rabbis, doctors, teachers, business men, housewives, students, carpenters, musicians—men and women of every occupation, representing every strata of wealth and social position, have written to me and have had personal interviews. Tragedy knows no barriers of money or intellectual capacity. A person in need of comfort is being only human when he goes where he can get it.

Well-Fitted for Role

A life crowded with experiences which have held him in the depths of despair and disappointment or sent him soaring with enthusiasm and success, have well-fitted The Jewish Philosopher to the role of advice-giver. Coming to this country from southern Russia at the age of five, he attended New York public schools, simultaneously studying at Hebrew school. Between the ages of 11 and 16 he travelled about the eastern part of the country as a boy cantor. Those were days of glorious adventure for young Lutsky!

Even while a student in high school he began to display academic and journalistic tendencies, for at that time he was editor of a Jewish weekly. In the following years he was associated in both business and editorial capacities with the "Forward" and the "Day" in New York; the "Jewish World" in Philadelphia, and of the English publications, the Philadelphia "Daily News" and the Atlantic City "News." He was engaged many years as a social worker and was executive secretary of the Federation of Ukranian Jews, an organization which sent him as its representative to carry on relief activities after the war. He was also field secretary for the American-Jewish Congress and travelled all over this country uniting various Jewish groups.

Mr. Lutsky’s first radio experience was in Atlantic City with Station WPG. That was eight years ago. With the program called "Yisrolikel and His Musical Companions," he was the first to present a Jewish program in English and was one of the first to dramatize the commercial "patter" of a broadcast. After several years he went to New York to continue his radio work in the wider field presented there.

At the early end of middle age, short in stature, simple in manner, undistinguished in appearance—quick witted, possessing vast knowledge, a living refutation of the argument that it is impossible to obtain a good Jewish education in this country, Mr. Lutsky makes no pretense of being a paragon of virtue. Associates and friends of earlier days find him unchanged from the prankish, fun-loving reporter who enjoyed (and still enjoys) a harmless game of pinochle, or smoked (and still smokes) one cigar after another. Quite unashamedly he recalls a day, not many years ago, when a few of his fellow newspapermen raised $20 to keep him from virtual starvation.

"Human Problems" Manual

After receiving repeated requests for copies of his talks, Mr. Lutsky is compiling a manual in Yiddish and English with discussions under 20 different classifications. The book, which is called "Human Problems," will read from right to left and will be published within the next few months.

Of the varied problems which have come to his attention, he has made five wide divisions. First: domestic relations; second: inter-marriage; third: suicide threats (he has received scores of them and in all but two cases, has been successful in averting consummation); fourth: mental cases, including hallucinations; fifth: members of families separated from each other by accident, war, etc.

A believer in traditional Judaism and a wholehearted nationalist, he, at the same time, liberalizes his views. At present, The Jewish Philosopher is carrying on a fight for the equalization of women’s rights in Jewish divorce law. He has all tradition against him, but he sees here an injustice and so he will persist and carry his battle to a conclusion.

A believer in youth, he declared that to win its attention there must be a strongly personal appeal—an appeal that will make youth realize that in being truly Jewish there will be betterment not only of the individual, but of the broader aspects of Jewishness as well.

As a monumental tribute to the untiring efforts in behalf of the perplexed and the lonely, there stands today the Jewish Philosophers League, Inc., an organization of thousands of his ardent followers, duly chartered under the laws of New York State, aiming to spread throughout the length and breadth of the United States, the philosophy and teachings and writings of this colorful and radiant personality.

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