Achievements Exceed Expectations, He Says; Congregations Have Right to Publish Religious Books; Brings Text of Russian Government’s Dcree on Colonization Allottments
A review of the situation of the Jewish colonization work in Soviet Russia was issued to the press by the headquarters of the United Jewish Campaign on the occasion of the arrival in the United States of Dr. Joseph A. Rosen, director of the Agrojoint in Russia.
The review is contained in a preliminary statement prepared by Dr. Rosen for the officers of the Joint Distribution Committee. Dr. Rosen’s statement declared:
“Notwithstanding the fact that out of 25,000 Russian Jewish families registered for land settlement in 1925 only about 10,000 actually were settled, the second registration which did not cover the entire Jewish population numbered over 30,000 families as applicants.
“The land settlement work has developed to a much greater extent than I or anyone else anticipated, and its possibilities are only now being grasped by the people and the government.
“Additional lands are being set aside for Jewish settlement in the Ukraine and the Crimea. It is true that some of the land in the Ukraine and the Crimea is difficult for settlement by individual peasant families for the reason that deep wells have to be drilled and the soil is too heavy to be ploughed by a single horse. However, with the aid of our well-drilling equipment and tractors these difficulties are insignificant and in many cases even turn out to be an advantage.
“No land settled by the Agro-Joint has to be irrigated. A water supply has to be provided, but for the people and cattle only one well for a colony of fifty families is more than sufficient, and the actual cost of drilling and complete equipment of artisian well for a colony of about fifty families amounts to about two or three thousand rubles (from $1,000 to $1,500)-depending on the difficulties of the drilling.
“There are lands in the Crimea that have to be irrigated, but I am sorry to say that none of these lands have as yet been set aside for Jewish settlements. I wish they would be, for this land, if irrigated (at an approximate cost of from $100 to $150 per acre) would require only from five to six acres to enable a family to make a better living than our settlers can be expected to make on the 75 acres they are getting in the prairie districts.
“I am very anxious to make it clear that the Jewish settlers who are taking up land in Russia are not happy peasants living a carefree and easy life. Life in the Jewish colonies, especially for the new Jewish settlers, is a struggle for existence. The people have to work very hard in order to make a living, but they are much better off than in the small towns, where they have nothing to do and no future before them. Here they can establish a home for themselves and their families; they have hope and a future to look forward to.”
Dr. Rosen’s attention was called to a recent cable that large importations of Jewish books, Bibles, prayer books and the like are being brought into Russia from Poland.
“I am glad to hear that because it means business for the Jewish publishers in Poland who need new business very sorely because of the economic conditions in their own country,” he said. “But it should be known, at the same time, that there is a very large production of Jewish books of a religious character right in Russia. Synagogues and congregations or groups of them have the right to print and publish such books as are essential to them, and availing themselves of this right a number of congregations have organized a collective which is publishing siddurim for misnagdim and chassidim. I have brought with me a page from a Hebrew Bible which is being published by this collective.”
Dr. Posen has brought with him the text of a statute adopted on August 23 last by the All-Russian Executive Committee (WZIK) and the Council of People’s Commissars, setting aside large additional tracts of land for Jewish settlement in the Crimea and Black Sea District. The document is an interesting demonstration, Dr. Rosen says, of the earnest cooperation of the Russian government with the Jewish “back-to-the-soil” movement.
A translation of the text of the decree reads:
“DECREE OF THE PRESIDIUM ON HTE ALL-RUSSIAN CENTRAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE (WZIK) AND THE COUNCIL OF PEOPLE’S COMMISSARS (SNK) ABOUT LAND SETTLEMENT OF TOIL. ING JEWS
I. “On the land settlement in the Eupatoria and the Jankoy districts of the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialistic Republic.
1. “All lands in the Eupatoria and Jankoy districts of the Crimean Republic not occupied by the local peasants under a toiling usage title except those referred to in paragraph 3 are to be placed at the disposal of the Comzet of the VZIK for the purpose of settling Jews who are taking up farming on a toilers’ usage basis.
2. “The lands referred to above include:
a. “All lands in the Eupatoria and Jankoy districts originally reserved for settlement but not yet deeded to anybody up to August 1, 1926 (Class I); or if so deeded but not actually occupied before May 1, 1927 (Class 2). Lands of Class I are to be transferred to the Comzet on or before November 15, 1926; lands of Class 2 on or before May 1, 1927.
b. “All Government pasture-lands in the Eupatoria and Jankoy districts. with the exception of lands actually occupied on August 1, 1926 by sneep-breeding farms on a lease basis. These pasture-lands are to be transferred to the Comzet after the expiration of the leases of on cancellation of same if such be the case.
c. “All Government estates that will be liquidated after August 1, 1926. These estates are to be transferred to the Comzet at the same time of liquidation, due consideration being given to the needs of the neighboring farming population.
d. “All lands remaining vacant after the contemplated general land survey will be completed.
3. “The surplus tracts of land after the above survey (paragraph ‘d’) are to be assigned, in the first place, to the local farming population whose land allotment is below the norms set for these sections, should there be such cases; the balances only are to be transferred to the Comzet.
4. “The transfer of the above mentioned lands (under ‘a’ and ‘c’ in paragraph 2) is to be executed by a Commission organized by the Federal Land Office (Fedcomzem) and consisting of one representative of said office, as Chairman, one representative of the Crimean Agricultural Commissariat. Dissensions are to be settled by the Special Superior Land Control Collegium of the People’s Agricultural Commissariat of the RSFSR whose decisions are final.
II. “On the allotment of the Lowlands of the Azoff-Sea District.
1. “To place at the disposal of the Comzet of the WZIK for the purpose of settling of Jews taking up farming on a toilers’ basis, all the lowlands in the Azoff Sea District between the town of Termruk and the 46th parallel not occupied by the local population before August 1, 1926. (These lands are not to include the town of Termruk and the lands assigned to it.)
2. “The eastern border line of this tract is to be designated by a Commission appointed by the People’s Agricultural Commissariat of the RSFSR, consisting of one representative of said commissariat as Chairman, one representative of the Comzet and one representative of the Northern Caucasus Executive Committee. The work of this Commission is to be finished not later than August 1, 1927. All dissensions are to be referred to the Commissariat of Agriculture whose decisions are final.
3. “The Commission is to be guided by the herewith attached outlined map prepared by the Department of Agriculture of the RSFSR which shows free government lands estimated to contain 160,000 desiatins, including on this tract the strip of land extending twenty versts from the seashore and separating the northern and southern sections of the sea.
4. “The Comzet has the right to submit in the usual manner for confirmation agreements with foreign organization providing for the amelioration and utilization of the allotted land.
5. “The Council of the People’s Commissars of RSFSR is requested to include in the 1926. 27 budget of the Narcomzen of the RSFSR an allocation of not more than 150,000 roubles for preliminary work in connection with the drainage of the above Azoff-Sea lowlands.
III. “On the Allotment of lands in the Black Sea District.
1. “The Commissariat of Agriculture of the RSFSR is requested to turn over to the Comzet of the WZIK out of the 10,000 desiatins already reserved for Jewish settlement in the Black Sea Shore district in Northern Caucasus 5,000 desiatins not later than August 1, 1927, and the other 5,000 not later than February 1, 1928, selecting tracts located as compactly as possible.
2. “The Commissariat of Agriculture of the RSFSR is hereby requested to investigate together with the Comzet and the Executive Committee of Northern Caucasus the possibility of alloting additional tracts of land in the Black Sea Shore district for Jewish settlement, taking into consideration also the interests of the Caucasion Mountain Jews, and reporting to the Presidium not later than August 1, 1927.
“Passed at the meeting of the Presidium of the WZIK on August 23, 1926.”
The total amount of cash received from pledges in New York City in the United Jewish campaign last Spring amounted to $2,370,000, it was announced by Paul Baerwald, Treasurer.