To the Editor of the Jewish Daily Bulletin.
I have read with a great deal of interest and have given much consideration to the report on conditions in Havana. Cuba, presented to you by Mr. Philip Rubin, copy of which you were kind enough to send me.
You will realize that Hias is quite some distance away from the scene of the activities in Cuba and therefore can not supervise so closely every detail. Hias has only one object in view and that is to render the greatest possible service to immigrants and refugees. With this purpose in view, Hias will work to the end that the work in Havana shall be in keeping with the policy and the traditions of the organization.
Mr. Rubin. while speaking in high praise of the Hias work says that he has heard of criticism and of discontent. It is quite natural that men and women far away from home,-refugees living under adverse conditions in strange lands should express themselves rather discontentedly. This is mostly a mental attitude. Refugees naturally expect much more than people living under normal conditions. Under the best of circumstances, criticism will be made by these. Of course, there may be at times some justification for complaint and Hias will make every effort to remedy any defect.
In regard to the matter of a communal kitchen-refugees in need of food are given tickets upon certain restaurants where they receive their meals free. It does not matter then in which way they are fed so long as they are taken care of in that respect.
With reference to the complaint of lack of medical relief, this matter has already received Hias’ attention and we can state most emphatically that the medical department gives immediate relief and does not ask the applicant to return the next day.
In regard to Mr. Monteser, I desire to state that that gentlemen was recommended to Hias very highly by members of the Joint Distribution Committee who had personal knowledge of the splendid work he did in Constantinople where he re-organized all of the activities among the Jewish refugees. It was essential that someone who speaks Spanish in addition to possessing experience in Jewish immigrant aid, should be placed in charge of the Cuban activities. Mr. Monteser understands and speaks Yiddish. though perhaps not so very fluently, but he speaks German and can readily make himself understood. Mr. Rubin is laboring under a misapprehension or has been misinformed when he says “there was also the usual criticism of extravagance-I was told, for instance, that the office had purchased furniture from the local Y.M.C.A. for $2,000. that this furniture was in bad decrepit condition when it was bought, and that there is hardly anything left of it.” It is true that the furniture was obtained from the Y.M.C.A., but the sum paid for it amounted to only $103.00.
Hias is doing all it can within the limits of its finances. It would very much like to spend $20,000 a month on the work in Cuba instead of the $2,000 a month now appropriated, but it cannot do so. Yet within the limitations of its funds. Hias has endeavored to be of every service to the unfortunate refugees who have had to go to Cuba.
However, a complete investigation of the situation will be made. Hias is extremely anxious to carry on its work under conditions nigh perfect. It welcomes criticism, it asks for constructive suggestions.
Very sincerely yours.
JOHN L. BERNSTEIN. President.
Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society.