Punishment Without Crime, subtitled What You Can Do About Prejudice, is intended to be a handbook in the struggle against intolerance. Dr. Fineberg does not waste time in denouncing bias and discrimination, but assumes that the reader is a person of good will who knows they are evil and wants to do something about them. What the reader can do, both by himself and in cooperation with others, is the book’s theme. One section discusses discrimination in employment, education, public accommodation, and housing. Another, called Guises and Disguises of the Enemy, is concerned with hate organizations, rabble-rousers, hate writers, ruffians, tricksters, etc. A third, Allies and How You Can Help Them, lists specific ways in which clergymen, teachers, parents, writers, police, researchers, and others can work for tolerance.
Solomon Andhil Fineberg was born November 29, 1896, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He studied at the University of Cincinnati, graduating in 1917 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. After a stint in the U.S. Marine Corps (from 1917-1919) during World War I (later he was designated as the National Chaplain for the Jewish War Veterans), Fineberg returned to Cincinnati to study at Hebrew Union College. He was ordained Rabbi in 1920 and received a Doctor of Divinity degree in 1958 from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. In 1932 he was awarded a Ph.D. from Columbia University.
After ordination, Fineberg accepted the pulpit at Temple Beth El in Niagara Falls, New York, remaining there from 1920 to 1924. In 1925 he was assistant rabbi of Rodef Shalom in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. From 1926-1929 he served the Jewish Community Center at White Plains, New York. From 1929-1937 he was rabbi at Sinai Temple in Mt. Vernon, New York. Rabbi Fineberg also served Temple Judea, Manhasset, New York, and Temple Emanu El of Westchester in Harrison, New York, in their earliest years.
In 1939 Fineberg joined the staff of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) as national community relations director. He was a pioneer in Jewish community relations and at developing techniques for combating anti-Semitism and was known among professional colleagues as “The Dean of Jewish Community Relations.” From 1950-1954 Fineberg served as president of the national Association of Jewish Community Relations Workers. After retiring from the AJC in 1964, Fineberg continued to further human relations efforts as a consultant to the president and director of the Commitment to Brotherhood program of the National Conference on Christians and Jews until 1981.
Fineberg was also the author of five books and many articles and a prolific lecturer. The majority of his writings dealt with conquering anti-Semitism and prejudice. One of his books, Overcoming Anti-Semitism (1943) was considered a standard work on that subject and won him the Anisfield-Wolf Literary Award in 1945. His other books included Punishment Without Crime (1949), describing techniques for preventing prejudice and strengthening positive human relations; Checkmate for Rabble-Rousers and Deflating the Professional Bigot, in which he promotes the “Quarantine Treatment” to deal with mass protesters such as Gerald L.K. Smith and George Lincoln Rockwell; and The Rosenberg Case, discussing the evidence against the spies.