Cleveland (Dec. 2)
Cleveland has just now concluded its annual Community Chest drive for four million dollars and, just as has always been the case before, when the various sums allotted to each charitable and philanthropic organization of the city were announced our orthodox element found that they were not given their fair share. The are now complaining again that their institutions have been ignored and were not given anything even remotely approaching what is due them in proportion to the substantial sums contributed to the Community Chest each year by the orthodox Jews.
Every organization of the Reform Jews in Cleveland receives a sufficient sum from the funds of the Community Chest to cover nearly all its expenses for the year. And in making the allottment the word of the reform institutions is considered sufficient as to how much they are entitled to. But it seems the orthodox Jews are considered step-children and are regarded with disfavor and suspicion.
The orthodox Jews are once more discussing the idea of establishing their own community chest. Of course all their talk in this respect is illogical and will have no results because orthodox Jewry is, unfortunately, in a disorganized state and lacks proper leadership. It is necessary but to follow the course of the activities of the orthodox Jews of Cleveland during a drive to become convinced of the fact that they do not possess that sense for organization and, I would even say, social responsibility without which there can be no hope of creating or conducting a community chest.
To cite an example. Orthodox Jewry in Cleveland has a Talmud Torah which is truly a splendid educational institution. The annual budget of this Talmud Torah is one hundred thousand dollars, but there is a yearly deficit of close to half that sum. The situation became so precarious recently that the directors of this Talmud Torah approached the Reform leaders of the city for help to keep the school from absolute failure. Of course nothing was said about Hebrew, national culture, Jewish rennaisance, etc. These were substituted by “religious education”, “religious schools”, “Bible study” and other mild, modest terms meant not to shock the Reform Jews.
Naturally, if the orthodox Jews refuse to support their own school, their idea about a separate community chest is absurd and impossible.
The truth of the matter is that whereas the Reformers are in constant touch with the office and leadership of the Community Chest, our Jews, the orthodox, become awake and show signs of interest only when the drive is in full swing or nearly over. Under such circumstances it is no wonder that they are not given the necessary consideration.
In the past the Joint Distribution Committee received annually several tens of thousands of dollars. Lately an attempt was made to have this money turned over to the Ort Reconstruction Fund, in view of the cessation of activities on the part of the J. D. C. But this request was not granted, and even the efforts of the Reform Jews were of no avail. No doubt this was due to the fact that those in charge had heard that the “lower class” of Jews are interested and participate in the Ort Fund.
It must be admitted that so far as system and organization are concerned the orthodox Jews of Cleveland have a great deal to learn. The much smaller Reform community is far ahead of them in this respect.