Present Status and Future Possibilities of Land Settlement in Russia Outlined by Dr. Rosen

(Jewish Daily Bulletin)

The underlying principles of the J. D. C. work in Russia, with special reference to the Agrojoint’s Jewish land settlement activity and the possibility for this work in the future, were outlined before the Joint Distribution Committee Conference here by Dr. Joseph A. Rosen, director of the Agrojoint.

A number of questions relative to the Jewish land settlement work and the attitude of the peasants toward their Jewish neighbors were put to Dr. Rosen by delegates at the Conference. Asked whether there was an organized protest movement among the peasants against Jewish colonization, Dr. Rosen declared that there is no such organized peasant movement. As for anti-Semitic tendencies in Russia, he stated that the government is making an organized effort to combat the spread of anti-Jewish feeling through a systematic campaign of education among the people, pointing out that anti-Semitism is a remnant of Czarist days. The famous letter of Michael Kalenin, president of the Union of Soviet Republics, regarding Jewish colonization was a part of this campaign. Unfortunately, Dr. Rosen said, a few slips and typographical errors in Kalenin’s statement were taken advantage of and made much of.

In the course of his report dealing with the various phases of the Joint Distribution Committee’s relief work in Russia, Dr. Rosen emphasized especially the importance of Jewish colonization.

The Agrojoint, he pointed out, helped to settle in the new colonies, on land granted by the government in the Cherson, Krivoy-Rog and Crimea districts some seven thousand Jewish families, removed from the towns and cities of the dreadful former “pale.” It helped in substantial degree to bring about the settlement of another three thousand Jewish families by other organizations in White Russia, in the Odessa and other districts, and subventioned 24 to 28 trade schools giving instruction to about three thousand youths, to the extent of 12 to 15 per cent of their budget.

“As is evident from the budget, our main work has been the land settlement,” Dr. Rosen stated.

“We are covering approximately one-third of the actual cost of settling a family, the total cost averaging from 1,500 to 2,000 roubles (now $750-$1,000 per family). The balance is being derived partly from government appropriations and partly from the means invested by the settlers themselves.

“But the part played in this work by the Agro-Joint is perhaps the most important. It is not the fact that the settler can secure a loan from one source or another that really determines the success of the work, but the organization of the enterprise as a whole that makes the settlement at all possible.

“Without the land being selected and prepared, the water supply for a whole colony provided for, organization of standardized building operations, organization of tractor and implement repair shops, warehouses and yards for implements, seed and building materials, agricultural and other technical instruction, and a thousand and one other details arranged for in advance, the work on a large scale would be impossible. And here the Agro-Joint plays the dominating part.

“The real value of our work is not so much in the actual number of families settled by us as in the practical demonstration on a substantial scale of the possibilities in this direction under present conditions in Russia.

“It is evident to any unprejudiced observer that this work affects directly and indirectly not only the actual settlers themselves, but a much wider circle of our people. We never did and never do pretend to attempt to solve the Jewish problem of the world or even in Russia, but, looking at it from a broader point of view, I think we are justified in claiming that this work is one of the potent factors in helping our people to resist in the struggle for our survival that has been continuing for centuries in the history of the human race.”

At the conclusion of his report on the work already accomplished, Dr. Rosen proceeded to discuss the question: “Are There Any Further Possibilities of Jewish Land Settlement in Russia?” “The answer is a decided ‘Yes’,” he emphasized, explaining the possibilities as follows:

“At the first registration in 1924-25 about 25,000 Jewish families registered for settlement. Of these close to 10,000 have actually been settled. It was to be expected that a second registration would therefore give a smaller number. The fact, however, is that the 1925-26 registration brought close to 30,000 applications and this without taking in all of the former ‘pale.’ The conclusion is evident.

“Additional land for 1500 families has already been set aside for Jewish settlement this fall in the Ukraine adjourning the present colonies. Close to a million acres of land can still be secured in the Crimea, if action is taken promptly.

“There is a tract of about 500,000 acres of lowlands on the shore of the Asoff Sea which has to be drained and prepared for settlement.

“There are about 600,000 acres of the Dneiper River lowlands that also have to be meliorized.

“There are 300,000 to 400,000 acres of land in White Russia that have to be drained, and there are several other very desirable tracts of land in European Russia that can be secured for Jewish settlement if we have the money to undertake the work. Enough land can be secured to settle 100,000 families, but at present we are still unable to make use even of all the land available that requires no preparation, and while plans have been worked out for the amelioration of some of the tracts mentioned aabove, I do not think it worth while to discuss these plans for the present.

“As you see, gentlemen, the limiting factor is still the capital required, not the land nor the settlers. It is, therefore, up to us to push this ‘limiting factor’ as far out as possible to enable our people in Russia to make the most of the present possibilities,” he said.

FUNERAL OF SANDLER, JEWISH COMPOSER

The funeral of Peretz Sandler, Jewish composer, took place Monday. The funeral was arranged by the Jewish Artists Club.

Peretz Sandler died last Saturday, after an illness of two days, at the age of 45. He was the composer of many melodies adapted to plays at Yiddish theatres. He was a pupil of the Warsaw Conservatory.

The Ocean Parkway Jewish Centre, Brooklyn, N. Y., will be opened on Friday evening, October 22.

Mayor Walker, Louis Marshall and Judge Otto Rosalsky have promised to participate in the opening celebration.

The cost of construction, exclusive of the land equipment, has reached the sum of half a million dollars.

A drive for $100,000 to aid the Jewish Home for Convalescents at Grandview-on-the-Hudson was begun. The money will be used to build an annex to the hospital, which is non-sectarian. Supreme Court Justice Arthur S. Tompkins is Honorary Chairman of the drive. Judges Max S. Levine and Francis X. Mancuso and Daniel Direnzo are on the committee.

The Board of Directors of the Menorah Home for Aged and Infirm of Brooklyn, awarded a contract for the construction of an additional wing to its present building.

The cost of the addition will approximate $250,000. It is hoped to have the new building ready for occupancy early next Spring.

Steps have been taken to form a national order of Jewish service units, to be known as the National Probus Clubs, it was announced. The organization has started clubs in New Haven, New Britain, Hartford, and Worcester, Mass. National headquarters are at Hartford.

Officers are Samuel L. Galechman of New Haven, President: George Lewitt of New Britain, Vice President; Milton Bachrach of Hartford, Treasurer; I. Robert Broder of New Haven, Secretary.

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