New York (Jun. 16)
The American Ort Society (the society for the spreading of technical trades and agriculture among the Jews) was reorganized as an independent body, at the conference which–was held on June 15th at the Hotel Shelburne, Brighton Beach, New York, 164 delegates representing sixteen national organizations and a large number of local organizations constituted the body of the conference. Among the organizations represented were the Independent Order Brith Abraham, the Independent Order Brith Sholam: the Workmen’s Circle, the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, the Federation of Polish Jews and the Federation of Ukrainian Jews.
The conference was opened by Judge Jacob Panken, as Chairman of the Provisional Committee, who emphasized the need for the spreading of technical trades among the Jews. After the centuries of Ghetto life during which the Jews could neither move about freely nor engage in productive work, the time is now ripe for a decided change in the economic structure of Jewish life, declared Judge Panken. He stated that the Ort was attempting to bring about this change by its work in directing the Jewish masses towards technical trades and agriculture.
Judge Panken was also elected Chairman of the first session of the conference and Mr. John E. Bernstein was elected Vice Chairman.
The principal speeches of the convention were made by Doctor L. Bramson and Dr. A. Singalovsky, the delegates of the Eurppean Ort. According to the statistics given by both speakers, 53% of the Jews in Russia, during the decade preceding the War were earning their livelihoods by skilled labor. This movement towards the trades was broken up, however, by the war, and now a very large part of the Jewish population in the countries which constituted the Russian Empire, find themselves forced into unproductive occupations such as petty trading and speculation. This has produced a great movement on the part of the Jewish masses towards agricultural and technical work, which can be the only basis for a sound economic life.
Both speakers pleaded for the support of this movement, which for a long time to come, will need much assistance in the form of credit. “It is not alms,” declared Dr. Singalovsky, “that the Ort is asking for, but co-operation in a historic process which will entirely rebuild Jewish life.
Dr. Henry Moskowitz presided at the second session of the conference, and Mr. Max Wolf was Vice President. Resolutions favoring the calling of local conferences throughout the country and of a national conference were adopted. Another resolution that was adopted urged American Jewry to assist in the disposal of the $10, shares of the Jewish Reconstruction Fund. A national council of 80 and an executive of 25 were elected.