Digest of Public Opinion on Jewish Matters
Menu JTA Search

Digest of Public Opinion on Jewish Matters

Download PDF for this date

[The purpose of the Digest is informative. Preference is given to papers not generally accessible to our readers. Quotation does not indicate approval.–Editor.] The Professional Future of Jewish Social Work

Jewish social work in the future will have to be turned over to the trained worker, we read in the “Jewish Social Service Quarterly” for December, 1926, in an article by Louis Kirstein who, in the course of his observations urges higher salaries for professional social workers.

“One feature,” we are told, “stands out very prominently, namely, that the future belongs to the trained worker, I am reliably informed that it is difficult to secure even a probationary position unless one has a college degree. I am confident that shortly it will be impossible to secure a connection unless one has a diploma from a recognized school, such as the Training School. The demand is for trained men and trained women. We are no longer content, and I speak as a business man, to entrust even the lives and futures of the dependent to unskilled hands. We have learned to recognize that there is an art in helping people out of trouble. One cantrust only the trained and experienced man for guidance in such affairs. And the growing complexity of communal life to which I alluded above indicates that this reliance will become stronger rather than weaker.”

Mr. Kirstein believes that “professional social work will in the future play an important part in the discovery of real leaders. I believe that the really great waste of civilization is human personality which frequently does not emerge because of clogged channels. This applies to the rich and to poor alike. Very little attention has been given to the possibilities that lie in the development of a field of service which will have as a direct aim the selection and training of future community leaders. I suggest that the discovery of Jewish leaders, for service to the Jewish community or for the wider community, is a real job, and an important job.”

In conclusion Mr. Kirstein dwells on the importance of higher salaries for social workers. He writes: “I have advocated the principle that minimum standards of living are not necessary to effective social work. It should be possible to be an effective social servant and enjoy some of the real comforts of life; and to accumulate enough to prevent dependency in old age. Higher salaries are necessary to compete with business which already is absorbing a large number of social service experts as social workers. Large salaries will not create workers: but they will make a wider selection of men possible. Real sympathy–the German word “Mitleid” expresses it better–the ability to put yourself in the other fellow’s boots will always remain the lure of social work; but decent salaries, sufficiently high to unable the worker to maintain the status which the community expects him to adopt, must be paid. A pronounced development along these lines has already occurred. I believe it will go further. And I cherish the hope that shortly it may be possible to stimulate social service organizations to grant sabbatical leave to their executives and sub-executives. Colleges have found it to their interests to do so; and colleges frequently are in the same impecunious position as social service organizations. Why should not communal agencies?”


The “Chicago Sentinel” observes:

“The fact that Palestine has in this country hitherto been the concern of only official Zionists has been a result of petty bickerings and misunderstandings. The new agreement opens up a new era in Palestine endeavor and it creates finally peace between two great and opposing factions in American Israel.”

The American Jewish World” of Minneapolis declares that “now there can be, there must be, there will be union in Jewish endeavor. It means not only that all forces in Jewish life will henceforth be united to work for the up-building of Palestine, but that, friction and disagreement over Palestine being obviated from Jewish life, there can now be whole-hearted cooperation in all other Jewish undertakings, whether over-seas relief, Jewish education, communal betterment and all constructive Jewish planning.”

The “Jewish Criterion” of Pittsburgh puts it thus: “We are the greatest organizers in the world when it comes to raising money. And there isn’t the slightest doubt that if the Zionist group can get David Brown to go on a money raising tour for them that the sky is the limit when it comes to the amount to be raised. But seriously speaking something far more valuable than the prospect of getting more money for Palestine has been achieved through the Marshall-Weizmann Peace Treaty and that is good will, good feeling and unity in America.”

The “Reform Advocate” of Chicago, in an editorial by Dr. Emil G. Hirsch, while expressing satisfaction with the fact that “seemingly the slate is now clean and Zionists and non-Zionists are now in a condition to discuss the creation of the Jewish Agency,” objects to the “continued insistence” on the part of the Zionists in calling Palestine “the Jewish National Homeland.” In the opinion of the paper that is “begging the question before the discussions begin and does not speak well for the chances of success in the further discussions when once the Jewish Agency shall have been established. Perhaps,” we read further, “it is that slowly and very slowly the Zionist leaders are proceeding in the reconstruction of the whole idea of Zion to make it conform to the real situation that they have to face, a situation that includes settlement in a small country, that cannot possibly take up more than just a recognizable minority, that cannot any longer be anything else than a part of the British Empire and that cannot for a moment evade the responsibilities of meeting the presence of others beside the Jewish population. The leaders, as we say, may know all of this and yet they have not been able to take out of the minds of the masses in Zionism what the leaders themselves put in by their propaganda in the epoch of inspirational speeches, and Sechmaryahu Levinic passion. That will take a long time. In the meanwhile the New Palestine prints its headlines ‘Palestine Unites American Jewry.’ We could have found many headlines that might have stated the real situation very much better. That such a headline was not found and used is sign enough that even some of the leaders are not trying to say to the Zionistic readers that Zinism is facing a changed situation. If that continues. Weizmann will have to explain away many more things in the coming days.”

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund