Menu JTA Search

Nearly $4,000,000 Raised at Three Dinners Launching New York’s $6,000,000 Drive in United Jewish Cam

Nearly $4,000,000, the largest sum ever raised by Jews in a single evening, was pledged at three dinners held simultaneously Sunday night at the Biltmore and Astor Hotels as the inauguration of the United Jewish Campaign of New York City, which, under the leadership of William Fox, is seeking to raise $6,000,000 in New York City for paliative and reconstructive relief of millions of Jews in Eastern Europe. The New York campaign will continue until May 9th.

At the meeting of the Men’s Division of New York, held at the Biltmore Hotel, the sum of $3,000,000 was pledged. An additional $450,000 was raised at the dinner of the Brooklyn Division held in the Astor Hotel. The Women’s Division of New York raised $250,000, just half of its quota.

LEADING DONORS

Felix M. Warburg, Honorary Chairman of the campaign was the largest single donor, giving $400,000. William Fox, Active Chairman of the New York drive, was the second largest donor of $250,000. Frederick Brown, prominent New York realtor, contributed $100,000. Among the $50,000 donors were Joseph Le Blang, Col. Herbert H. Lehman, Louis Marshall, and Benjamin Winter. These contributions were announced at the Men’s Division banquet.

Among the large donors at the Brooklyn dinner were Morris Salzman, $25,000; Jacob and Nathan Levy, $20,000, Isaac and Moses Parshelsky, $20,000; Abraham Bricken, $15,000; Mr. and Mrs. Max Blumberg, $15,000; Louis Gold, $15,000; and Hugh Grant Straus, $10,000.

WOMEN’S DIVISION RAISES $250,000

The largest donors at the Women’s Division dinner were Mrs. Jacob H. Schiff, $30,000; Mrs. Felix M. Warburg, $100,000; Mrs. Paul M. Warburg, $10,000; Mrs. Harry Fischel, $10,000; Mrs. S. W. Strauss, $3,000; Mrs. Abram I. Elkus, $3,000; The Women’s Town Club, $7,000; Temple Israel Sisterhood, $6,000; and Mrs. H. Mandelbaum, $5,000.

The Men’s Division dinner at the Biltmore Hotel, at which approximately 600 persons were present, was opened with a benediction by Rabbi Israel Goldstein of Congregation B’nai Jeshurun. Felix M. Warburg was toastmaster.

Louis Marshall, the first speaker, described the plight of millions of Jews in Poland, and other Eastern European countries.

“We have gathered together for the purpose of salvaging one-half of the Jews of the world,” began Mr. Marshall. “For the past twelve years our minds and our hearts have been upon the Jews of Eastern Europe and Palestine. We have heard of their sufferings during the war. We believed that their sufferings would be merely temporary. We felt that it would be impossible that any human beings could long endue such conditions in which they found themselves.

“Had we been prophets we could not have foretold what followed the beginning of that great conflict, how it would especially effect the Jews, how we would be called upon from time to time to come to the rescue, how the burden, so-called that was to be imposed upon the prosperous Jews of America could be borne, even by them. And more than all, how human flesh and blood could endure all that the Jews of Poland, of Galicia, of Bessarabia, of Roumania, Lithuania, Latvia, Esthonia and Russia have been called upon to endure during these terrible years.

REALITY OF SUFFERING BEYOND WORDS, MARSHALL SAYS

“We are the descendants of a people that has known the meaning of persecution and oppression. We know what it has meant to wander from land to land and to seek a refuge from the storm that was always brewing. We know what it means to live within the ghetto walls of the medieval days. We knew what it meant to the Jew when the crusaders have strewn the communities in which they lived.

“We knew what it meant to be poor, to be helpless, to be unprotected, to endure physical suffering, to endure what men alone can endure, obliquy, hatred, suspicion, jealousy, envy, and all that follows in the wake of those passions; but compared with what the Jews of Eastern Europe have been obliged to undergo, all this history of blood and of hatred, all that experience of the centuries is as naught. No poet has even been able to image what realities the Jews of these centuries have been obliged to confront and to endure during these last twelve years,” Mr. Marshall stated.

Other speakers at the Men’s Division banquet were, David M. Bressler, Fannie Hurst, Felix M. Warburg, and David Brown.

David A. Brown spoke first at the Brooklyn dinner. He then spoke at the men’s dinner. Fannie Hurst addressed the women on the main floor of the Hotel Biltmore, and then addressed the men’s division. Miss Irma May also spoke before both meetings at the Biltmore.

The women’s division raised $250,000, the largest sum ever raised at a women’s meeting in New York City and is one-half of the quota of the half-million dollars which the Women’s Division has assumed. Mrs. Abram I. Elkus was chairman of the meeting which was attended by 800 women. Mrs. Alexander Kohur acted as the toastmaster. The other speakers were Fannie Hurst, Irma May, Felix M. Warburg, and Mrs. Henry Moscowitz, chairman of the Special Gifts Committee of the women’s division.

MRS. ELKUS APPEALS TO WOMEN

The addresses at the two meetings were broadcast through Station WRNY.

Mrs. Elkus told of her experiences in Europe where she saw sufferings and starvation. She stressed the special responsibility of women in relieving the suffering of the hundreds of thousands of women and children waiting for succor from America.

“The cry of a child,” Mrs. Elkus said, “opens the door to every woman’s heart. That cry is coming to us from countless children. We women of America are being asked to give of our plenty to our suffering sisters across the ocean. As women, we should be doubly quick to respond.”

Mrs. Kohut took as her text the legend of the campaign poster, with its grief-worn face of a mother broken with want and misery, giving its own answer to the query: “Tired of giving? You don’t know what it means to be tired!”

“The message we should like to send up to the men tonight.” she said, “is that there is no woman here who is tired of giving, or tired of getting.”

FANNIE HURST DEPICTS HUNGER

Miss Hurst pointed the paradox of the sumptuous gathering in what she termed a Roman scene of affluence trying to visualize the opposite picture of want and menacing hunger presented to them as the fact of the Jewish situation throughout Eastern Europe. She testified to the truth of this latter picture on the basis of her impressions on a recent journey through Russia.

Miss Irma May repeated briefly the facts that she had gathered during her tour through Poland and ended with this statement.

“Of all these thousands whom I met, to whom I talked, none asked for charity. All they want is credits, a chance to get on their feet. Death is not the greatest danger before them. The danger is degradation. All they want of us is to help them remain human beings.”

Felix M. Warburg, called from the Men’s gathering to address the women workers, reviewed the reasons which had led to the $15,000,000 overseas chest project, at the point at which it had seemed possible to withdraw from Europe.

Mrs. Moskowitz outlined the working plan for the women’s division, and began the mustering of the evening’s subscriptions with the announcement of the initial gifts to the women. The list of women’s donors is headed by Mrs. Jacob H. Schiff, with a contribution of $30,000. Credit for a $100,000 share of the $400,000 contribution of Mr. and Mrs. Warburg also goes to the Women’s Division.

Among the larger contributions pledged by women were: $10,000 each, Mrs. Paul M. Warburg, Mrs. Harry Fishel; $7,000, Women’s Town Club; $6,000 Women’s Organization of Temple Israel; $5,000, Mrs. H. Mandelbaum, Mrs. Charles Hirshhorn; $3,000, Mrs. S. W. Straus, Mrs. Abram I. Elkus, Mrs. Morris Gold; $2,000 Mrs. Fannie Lurie; $1,500 Mrs. Jonah J. Goldstein; $1,200. Rodeph Sholom Sisterhood; $1,000 Ethel S. Weill, Mrs. S. G. Koch, Miriam Gottlieb Aid Society, West End Synagogue, Mrs. Samuel C. Lamport, Mrs. Paul Baerwald.

MR. MARSHALL’S ADDRESS

“The story has been told you frequently in its different stages as it has unfolded itself before the eyes of the world, and yet we have been unable to put before the minds of the prosperous Jews of America a tithe of the truth, to give them an adequate conception of what has actually taken place and what is today taking place,” Mr. Marshall declared in his address.

“I have had occasion recently to say that one who is seated at a banquet table does not appreciate what hunger and famine mean, that one who is swimming in prosperity does not know the meaning of poverty in its worst forms, that one who is enjoying health does not know what pestilence means and what physical suffering means.

“And therefore with all of our efforts to enable the Jews of America to visualize what is actually occurring we are utterly helpless; and it is perhaps fortunate for you, my friends, that we are thus disqualified from bringing to your attention all of the facts because it would deprive you of sleep, it would make you suffer as we have suffered–those of us who, during these years have devoted ourselves to this work for the salvation and betterment of our poor suffering brethren.

“If you could only hear the stories that are told by the eye witness, men and women who are enured to the observation of suffering, such a man, for instance, as David Brown, who has gone through the shambles of eastern Europe, has devoted a year of his life in visting these various scenes of suffering, the scenes that he has seen with his own eyes, and strong man as he is it is impossible for him to speak of them without choking and without having tears run down his cheeks.

“If you could only hear the story told in simple terms by Irma May of what she has, in the past few months, seen in Poland and Bessarabia, it would, in the language of the poet, make iron tears flow down Pluto’s cheek. What she has said is corroborated by such authorities as Dr. Bernard Kahn, who has been connected with the joint distribution committee for nearly ten years, who is doubtless the most expert observer in the world today of what is going on in eastern Europe, who appreciates it in all of its aspects, who has been devoting every moment of his time, every thought that goes through his brain, to this work.

“Just think of this one fact, in the City of New York we feel that if the rate of infant mortality reaches the point of fifty deaths out of one thousand births, it is a very serious situation, but today in Poland, on an average among the Jews, the death rate among children is 465 out of one thousand.

“And in certain parts of Bessarabia and of Poland the death rate has reached one hundred per cent. Just think of that fact. There is nothing more horrible that has ever come to the attention of a human being than that. It means that if this is to continue we shall live to see the Jews of those countries succumb and disappear from the face of God’s earth. What Chmelnitzky and his hordes could not do in 1648, what the Czar could not do during his reign, what disease and poverty could not do during the centuries, is now taking place before our very eyes and we who have survived the shock of armies and persecution in every form in every corner of the globe and have remained living witnesses to God’s goodness and greatness,–we are on the eve of witnessing the destruction of an entire people.

ONE MILLION IN POLAND STARVING

“Today in Poland there are not less than one million of our brethren and sisters and their children who are on the verge of starvation and death from lack of food. Can we visualize that? –We here seated at the banquet board! Why if we miss one meal, if we should for one day be without food we would complain of our suffering. And here are people who day after day have nothing to eat. They look into the faces of their innocent children and are unable to meet their needs and to answer their cries for bread.

“In Bessarabia a small portion of corn meal is all that the people have to eat, and here we are in the midst of plenty, here nobody needs to fear starvation. The poorest of our poor are as princes compared with the men and women of these countries, who in their days were princes, were as important in their communities as you here are in this community.

“There they are suffering, dying, and from the consequences of starvation and famine come the diseases which generally follow, typhus, tuberculosis, everything that spells horror, death; and that is not all. Worse remains behind. Poor as they are, hopeless as they are in large measure, desperate as they are, people who were once wealthy can no longer endure the suspense and the horror, and they are committing suicide by the hundreds so that the Rabbis of Poland have issued a proclamation that nobody who dies by his own hand is to be interred upon sacred soil, and yet they continue to commit suicide because they feel that all hope has deserted. And that is not all. Poor as they are, I say, of such a condition that nobody could have envy of them, or be jealous of them, yet in some of these countries, following the old ideas that have prevailed there, as they saw their superstition, the Jews are sought to be made the scapegoat of the misfortune that has befallen them, the various peoples of these countries, due to their evil financial condition and to the economic downfall of their currency; and so the Jews are not able to receive aid from the government which has been given to others who are not Jews. They are subjected to hateful discrimination in the enforcement of the law and its administration. They are on the verge of losing the small, slender opportunity they had of earning a livelihood because they are unable to pay the tax upon the licenses which they must hold in order to carry on, not only trading, but any kind of a craft, and if they do not pay for those licenses, they are declassed. They lose their position in the community and they no longer have the opportunity of earning a livelihood, however slender it may be,” Mr. Marshall declared.

“MALAACH HA’MOVES” DOES NOT WAIT

“All this has come after the war is over, after they have passed through families, after they have been refugees, after the have lost frequently the head of the household as a result of the war, after in some of these countries there have been pogroms, and people have been murdered in cold blood, after all that they possessed is gone, their wealth taken from them, and these things have not been enough, but those that I have just described are continuing, are occurring at this hour, at this minute, while I am speaking, there are millions of eastern Jews in Poland and an equal number in other countries who are passing away and all of them will disappear unless we rise to the emergency, forget everything else, and come to the rescue.

“We need large funds. These people cannot wait. The malaach Ha’moves does not wait. When death is at the door there is no getting of an extension of time to answer. We must reply at once, and reply with such generosity as we ourselves have never known before generous though we may have been.

“Now, this money, I wish you to understand, is not required merely to meet all starvation and sanitation and the provision of medicines and of clothing, those primary needs; we have got to bridge over a present condition, but we have always planned for reconstruction work, that being our great object, so that the people will be able to support themselves and help themselves. The present conditions in Poland and these other countries will improve in time, must improve in time, or else everything will be gone, but we have got to help now if we want to have people left whom we can reconstruct.

“And so we have to plan to supply the cooperatives with the necessary funds to give credit to enable people to carry on their businesses, in a small way, of course, and to enable the artisan to earn a livelihood, to get the tools and materials with which to work. We require money for the purpose of helping the people in the various countries which are concerned to using their wits, and they have wits.

MARSHALL QUOTES WEIZMANN IN SUPPORT OF APPEAL FOR RUSSIAN JEWS

“But there is another ray of hope, gentlemen, which I want to present to your minds in order to modify the gloom in which I know your souls are now enshrouded, and that is an opportunity afforded to the Jews of Russia, such as has never been afforded to the Jews anywhere, of becoming independent and self-supporting. I refer to what is now going on with respect to the Jew seeking a home upon the land. I wish you to understand that it is not the Joint Distribution Committee, or any other committee, that has put that idea into the minds of the Russian Jews. It has come from within. It is their own idea, and if you only knew the eagerness of the Russian Jew to settle upon the land, you would, in the language of Dr. Weizmann say that ‘It seems to be a miracle from heaven.’

“In Russia, as you know, the government is taking over all commerce. The Jews were merchants. They have no opportunities. For a time they modified the law by creating a new economic policy, and then they began to tax the Jews out of existence. Then followed the new Nep, which once more gave an opportunity for some ending, but it cannot be relied upon, and so as to industries, the government is taking over the industries.

“But there is one thing that the government cannot take over, and that is agriculture. The only independent person in Russia today, and tomorrow, and in the future is and will be the tiller of the soil. We, in this country, for years had the idea that if we could only send the people back to the land it would be a solution of all of the difficulties which we encountered in days of business depression, and that is the idea that the Jews of Russia themselves now entertain: “Let us go to the land.”

“Why do I say that that is the only opportunity for independence that they have? It is because the peasants are the backbone of Russia; because the government of Russia has learned a lesson which cost twenty million lives to learn, but they have learned it, that they cannot trifle with the farmer, with the tiller of the soil; he will not stand for it and they have shaped their policy and all their laws on the theory that the farmer must be permitted to be an independent person, free from government exactions, free from government tyranny.

SEES RUSSIAN JEWS’ SALVATION IN FARMING

“What is the result? The laws now permit anybody to occupy the land which belongs to the state, but he has a tenure which cannot be interfered with even by the government so long as the person to whom the land is assigned himself and by his family, and even with the aid of hired men, cultivates the soil. That is all he has to do; to cultivate the soil, and the land cannot be taken from him. And whatever the mutations of government may be, if the Soviets are succeeded by a republic of our kind, if the republic is succeeded by a monarchy, if the monarchy is succeeded by a new czarism, the only people who will be safe and sure of their position will be the tillers of the soil.

“I have studied the laws on the subject personally. I have had the opinion of leading Russian lawyers on the subject. I have conferred with Russians of the highest position in the country who are now over in Paris, and who understand the situation better than any American possibly understands it, and they have all united in saying what I have told you tonight with regard to this subject.

“The Russian Government, whatever we may think of it–you will understand, of course, that I am not a bolshevik or communist, the Russian Russian Government, you may say, truly treats all people alike. There is no difference on the subject of religion, race or nationality.

“The Jew has the same rights, the same opportunities, the same privileges and stands before the law just as anybody else would. The Soviet Government has stated, and it has said it repeatedly, and to no less a man than Dr. Joseph Rosen, who if there ever was a saint, who if there ever was a Moses, is one to whom those appelations may apply.–They have set aside for the use of the Jews in the Ukraine and the Crimea three and a half millions acres of land, the most fertile land in Russia, the black soil which is the most productive of all of the lands in that great Empire–three and a half million acres, which in the State of New York, or in Pennsylvania, or in the Far West would cost a minimum of one hundred dollars an acre–and I am sorry to say that it would cost as much as that even in Palestine, that is a sad fact which we must take into consideration. That would mean three hundred fifty million dollars and that land will not cost one red cent and can be used as long as the people desire to use it.

SAYS 200,000 JEWS CAN BE SETTLED IN FEW YEARS

“So anxious is the Russian Government that the land shall be occupied that for a term of years there will be no taxation; the people who go to the land are given transportation for themselves and their property, such as they have, at a very low rate, below the regular rates. There have been placed upon the land up to the present time, through the Joint Distribution Committee, under the supervision of Dr. Rosen, under the tutelage of that wonderful man and the experts whom he has working with him, who are Russians, who know what Russian farming is, whose ancestors lived on the land, and whose descendants lived upon the land since the days of Nicholas I, six thousand families amounting to thirty thousand souls and last year they had under actual cultivation five hundred thousand acres of land.

“We will be able if you furnish the funds within the next few years to place on the land two hundred thousand more people to cultivate all of that land.

“I feel as I said at the beginning my utter inadequacy to put this before your minds as I would like to do. I trust however to appeal to your Jewish hearts in the noble traditions of our people in those ideals which have been a source of strength to us in all days and in all hours at all times, I ask you in the name of that watch-word of Israel which has gone down through all the ages and has strengthened us at all times, ‘Help–Help and Save your brethren’,” Mr. Marshall concluded.

“We have no right to ask you to do anything, and still I feel that your presence here tells us that you are ready to do whatever you can. Some of us have had ten years of very painful instructions in the geography of misery and in fortitude countries,” Mr. Warburg declared before the Women’s Division.

“Starting with the first hurried call of misery in Palestine, where we helped Christian, Mohammedan, Jew, alike, in the misery of disease and starvation, by shipping medicine and foodstuffs, we have gone through the globe, so to say, from one end to the other.

“Three years ago we hoped that after feeding Russia, together with Mr. Hoover, and having established loan establishments and business organizations and schools in Russia, Poland, and Austria, that we might rest, and leave these proud people abroad to manage their own affairs.

MR. WARBURG TRACES CAUSES FOR RENEWAL OF RELIEF WORK

“Our hopes were not misplaced. In Poland, in Austria, and elsewhere where the war did tremendous damage, they all put their heads up, put out their chests, and tried honestly to look after their own affairs.

“The first year it looked hopeful, but the second year it began to look doubtful. Upon our last trip to Europe, we knew that we had stopped too early. Not that the people over there were not willing. The people over there knew exactly that they were situated in the same positions as before. If every one of you would be on the other side, you would be miserable.

“You could not see your boy through college. You could not see your children through hospitals. You could not meet in friendly intercourse. Your only conversation would be. “How can we feed our children? How can we keep body and soul together?” When we came over after the war we were astonished that people talked so much about food and about clothing and prices, and we were amazed that people who used to be the leaders in thought and in genius had come down to that level; that when you lived with them for a short while you see what has dictated it. It is a mere accident that you are on this side of the water. It is a mere accident that we are not over there. I have seen people who lived better than we do come down to nothing in Russia, chased out of their homes, deprived of everything that they had.

“I know some people, quite well known to me, who could not bring up their children as they did, and I saw the mother die with tears in her eyes that things have not changed for the better.

“I don’t want to harrow you. You have heard from Miss May what she has seen. You have heard from Mrs. Kohut, with her big heart and with her everlasting helpfulness, what she has done abroad. There is no use depicting horrors to you. We don’t want you to be miserable. We want you to be helpful. We want you to be cheerful and grateful that you are here, and all that we ask you is, cheer up, cheer other people up, and–make them do what? Sign a check.

“We have asked some people to do some work for us abroad. If some of the people who criticize our organization say, ‘Why is it necessary, and how much money is spent to distribute it?’ tell them that today on the payroll of the Joint Distribution Committee there are two Americans abroad. One is Dr. Rosen. The other American is not an American. He is a German, Dr. Kahn. We have no others. The people locally have furnished us the ranks of workers and they do their best. So we try to make every dollar go as far as it can.

PRAISES DR. ROSEN

“The most encouraging thing has been just this readiness of some of the people to do extraordinary things. I knew Dr. Rosen. He lived near Poughkeepsie, on his little income, very happy on his farm, being the leader of an agricultural school. There was no reason why he should do anything after having done social work to such a degree. He is not young. He is even older than I am. He came to me to send some money to his parents in Russia at a time when Russia could not receive any letters and communications. Through our organization he hoped we might get to his parents the few dollars that he wished to send. We promised we would try, but I noticed that he knew all about Russia and that he was very able.

“When he left me I ask him, ‘May I call on you later on if we need some information for Russia?’ He came again. He went to Russia. He has been there now for four years. He went through the whole famine horror. He got typhus, not typhoid. He was at death’s door in Berlin and he came back more or less a skeleton. When I asked him, “Dr. Rosen, what things must we pick up that you could not finish?” He said, “I have a number of things that I want to finish there.” I said, “You? I would not dream of sending you again.” But the said, “I am going,” and there he is. He is working there. He has been planting corn that saved our Russia a second famine and that is the sort of encouragement that we get

“What Miss May has gone through I don’t like to mention in her presence. Dr. Kantor and Professor Friedlander both went to Russia in our service and they did not return. The rest of the story you know. Those are some of the beautiful sidelights that give us the courage to go on. From you we ask nothing but that you talk to two or three friends, that you go and gather what we need, what your sisters need, what your friends over there need, because they hang on the cable and are waiting. Must we close the schools? Can we keep on? Must we go on the breadline? Must we become beggars, or can we stand up and fight for an honest, noble living? I leave it to you and I know you will do your bit,” Mr. Warburg concluded.

David A. Brown delivered a stirring address in which he termed the United Jewish Campaign a “life-saving campaign.”

“We are not raising fifteen million dollars. We are on a mission to save lives. That is what we are doing. So when you give, forget the dollar element; think in terms of lives, human lives, little children like your little children; boys and girls like your sons and daughters, mothers just like your mothers, if you are blessed to have one; fathers just like your fathers; men, women and children just exactly as the men, women and children are in this country.

“It is for those that Mr. Marshall has pleaded, Mr. Warburg has pleaded, and those other that have spoken have pleaded, and for whom I am pleading–those unfortunate brethren of ours who are like rats in a trap, cannot get out, have not the necessary wherewithal to buy the necessary elements and try to keep them alive and are pleading with us to do it. It is up to you and it is up to me and it is up to all of us to carry our share of the burden in proportion to our wealth.

“Giving is a relative thing. A man may give much in actual dollars and it may be nothing and a man may give little in actual dollars and it may be much. It is a relative term. So give in proportion to your wealth. That is the manner in which we ask you tonight to give, to give with a liberality such as New York has never known before,” Mr. Brown declared.

Mr. Bressler stated that in case New York’s goal of $6,000,000 is reached, Mr. Marshall will give another $50,000.

BREVITIES

Bishop John I., Nuelson of the Methodist Episcopal Church, passing through Berlin from Moscow, reported the conclusion of an agreement between the conclusion of an agreement between the American Bible Society, represented by him, and the Soviet Government, whereby bibles will be printed in Soviet workshops from stereotypes furnished from London. All religious bodies, including those of the Russo-Greek Orthodox Church, will be permitted to use the stereotypes of these Russian Bibles, the text of which is that authorized by the Holy Synod in 1907.

The completion of the first large hotel on the lower East Side was celebrated Sunday when a crowd of stockholders and their friends, estimated at more than 15,000, inspected Libby’s Hotel, at Delancey and Chrystle Streets, New York.

Lady Surma de Bait Mar Shimun, princess regent of modern Assyria, has arrived in America for a tour of the country in behalf of her people. The Princess is here to ask for money for a movement which will purchase from the Kurds, whose lands impinge on the north, a homeland for her Christian countrymen.

In spite of the reduction of their population to less than 50,000 persons the Assyrians still dream of once again having a land of their own, Lady Surma stated.

NEXT STORY