Menu JTA Search

Our Daily News Letter

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

(By Our Berlin Correspondent)

A review of the activities of the Jewish Colonization Association (Ica) was given here to the representative of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency by Dr. Louis Oungre, of Paris, manager of the Ica who is at present on a visit here. Dr. Oungre’s statement was made in an effort to defend the Ica against charges levelled at that organization by the Jewish press.

“The activity of the Ica,” Dr. Oungre declared, “comes in general under three headings: (1) improving conditions among the East European population on the spot; (2) their colonization in new countries; and (3) emigration work.

“To take the colonization activity first. It is well known that this is mainly carried out in the Argentine and Brazil, but also in Canada, Palestine, Turkey, Asia Minor, etc. The kernel of the colonization activity is in the Argentine. If the work of the Ica there is considered impartially, it will be pronounced extremely successful.

“It is an indirect result of the colonization work in the Argentine that Argentine Jewry has established itself firmly and has grown in numbers, developing intellectually, socially and materially. The Jews of the Argentine have among them intellectuals of the first rank–University professors, deputies, writers in both Spanish and Yiddish, artists, scholars, etc. This result may be indirectly ascribed to the activity of the Ica, since we have developed the hinterland for immigration and so created centres of attraction.

“Our colonists are working industriously; they are accomplishing their emancipation on the ground of their contracts with the Ica, more or less rapidly according to the circumstances. A large number of them have completed their repayments to the Ica and are now entirely emancipated and undisputed owners of their land. In general, things are going very well with our colonists. From the agricultural standpoint we believe that they have been well-trained for their new occupation, especially where the second generation is concerned. Our agriculturists are regarded in many cases as models and carry off attachment to the land is growing with every year.

“At the same time, we have always provided for their spiritual and religious needs. We have established schools in all our colonies and after being for a long time maintained and controlled by us they are now under the control of the Argentine Government. We have taken care for the safeguarding of Jewish tradition and the religious education of the children not only in the colonies but also in the towns and settlements in the Argentine. Wherever there are Jewish settlements we have undrtaken the establishment of religious educational institutions. There are today about 100 such religious schools under our direction, in which about 5,000 children are obtaining religious instruction.

“All the data on this point found in our annual report will show that our work in the Argentine has been established upon a firm basis, is developing normally and surely, and as an indirect result is also bringing with it the prosperity of Argentine Jewry in general.

“It is something similar to which the Ica is striving to do in Brazil. There are still prejudices against Brazil. It is forgotten that there are in Brazil provinces which are well adapted for the settlement of Jews on account of both the climatic and the economic conditions–for example, South Brazil. The Ica has big estates there which are being used for colonization. Here, too, we have in the last few years engaged in the galvanization of Jewish life. Rabbi Raffalovitch of Liverpool was sent out by us to Brazil in order to promote religious and social life there. He has succeeded in organizing the Jewish communities in the chief towns in Brazil and animating them so that the emigrants find a Jewish life there when they arrive.

“In the matter of colonization, whether in the Argentine, Brazil, Canada or Palestine, we naturally take into consideration only such persons who are suited to agriculture and are likely to succeed in this occupation.

“Another important part of the activity of the Ica is the improvement of the condition of our co-religionists in Eastern Europe. Treated in general, this activity may be considered under three heads: (1) improvement of the material position of our co-religionists by the creation of cooperatives; (2) their spiritual and especially their technical education and training; and (3) the promotion of Jewish agriculture on the spot.

“Before the war there has been about 650 loan banks established in Russia on the initiative and with considerable financial cooperation on the part of the Ica which were working with great success and has developed to a remarkable degree. The Ica had also created and maintained numerous professional schools in which the young were trained in all manner of occupations. With regard to agriculture, the Ica had given intensive moral, technical and material aid to the Jewish settlements in the districts of Cherson and Ekaterinoslav. The war and its aftermath naturally did great damage to these institutions; nevertheless, it could be stated with satisfaction that in many cases the threads had not been entirely snapped. Since the end of the war it has been our chief task to take up again all these threads. In Poland, Bessarabia, Lithuania and Latvia, the loan bank system is thanks to our efforts reviving and developing in spite of all the economic difficulties. In the past few years we are carrying on this special activity of cooperative credits in conjunction with the Joint Distribution Committee of America through the Joint Reconstruction Foundation, to which the Ica conttributes half the finances.

“The Ica has also taken up again its activity in the professional schools in Eastern Europe, especially in Poland, and the professional school in Bialystok, Czenstochau, Grodno, Kalisch, Lodz, Pinsk, Piotrokow, Warsaw, Vilna, Cracow, Lemberg, Przmysl, etc., which have for many years been subsided by us are again carrying on their activity. There are now eleven boys’ and eight girls’ schools.

“In regard to agriculture, too, we have again taken up our activity and have provided a large number of farmers with material, technical and other aid. The Ica has rebuilt about 1,000 houses which were destroyed during the war, especially in the Vilna district.

“There is a great deal spoken now about Russia. Here, too, the Ica resumed its activity after the war under the same three heads as in Poland. More than 100 cooperative loan banks have received our subventions. We are maintaining about 25 professional schools.

“With regard to agriculture in Russia we are not only restoring our old colonies but have in addition taken up a new activity for the colonization of new settlers on land for which we have been given concessions by the Government. Our agricultural activity extends now especially to the districts of Nikolaieff, Elizabetgrad, Krivoyrog, Saporoje, Mariupol, etc., and the favorable results which we have achieved have moved us to extend this agricultural work. We intend during this year to settle 300 new families in the province of Ekaterinoslav.

“We are engaged in similar activity in Bessarabia, where we are now giving considerable aid to the Jewish agricultural population, not only in the old Jewish colonies such as Dombroweni, Lublin, Capresti, Petrowka and Brzesini, but also to an increasingly larger extent in assisting would-be settlers in obtaining land. In the matter of the cooperatives, we are through the Joint Reconstruction Foundation supporting a big loan bank system in Old Roumania and Bessarabia comprising about 25,000 members.

“Finally, there is our emigration activity. The Ica maintains bureaus in the various emigration countries as well as in the countries of immigration. There are committees formed in the transit stations and port towns, partly subscribed by the Ica, as for example, the Ezra Society in Antwerp, and the committees in Liverpool, Rotterdam, etc. We have also contributed largely to the solution of the difficult problem of refugee avacuation between the years of 1920-22, and with our cooperation over 20,000 refugees were sent on from Roumania, Constantinople and Poland.”

A gift of $17,000 by Mrs. Herman Schur of Chicago to the Jewish People’s Institute for the establishment of a specialized library on Judaica, social sciences and general reference, was announced by Philip L. Seman, general director of the Institute. The library will be known as the Herman Schur Reference Library and will be located in the new Institute building now being constructed, to be known as the West Side branch of the Institute.

NEXT STORY