The organization of a credit society; to be known as the Ort Credit Corporation, with an initial capital stock of $250,000 to enable American Jews to purchase machinery and tools for the use of their relatives in Soviet Russia was announced Thursday at a luncheon conference at the Hotel Biltmore. This is the first step in the $5,000,000 program undertaken by the Ort for the purpose of placing 1,000,000 declassed Jews in Soviet Russia in a position where they can become producers. The acute need of this large group of town dwellers was described by a host of speakers, including Judge Edward Lazansky of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, who presided; Colonel Herbert H. Lehman, chairman of the Reconstruction Committee of the J. D. C., and a member of the Executive Committee of the Ort; James N. Rosenberg, David A. Brown, Dr. David Lvovitch, of the Central Committee of the European Ort; Judge Jacob Pankin, Dr. Henry Moskowitz and Louis B. Boudin.
The luncheon was attended by over one hundred representative business men and communal workers. Those present were asked to enroll themselves to secure subscriptions in the amount of $250,000 to the Corporation.
The Credit Society was devised, as explained by the speakers, to enable the Ort, Society for the Advancement of Jews in Trades and Agriculture, as one of the means for fulfilling its agreement with the Soviet Government to bring in machinery in the value of $5,000,000 within the next five years, duty free. Loans to purchase machinery and tools will be extended to American relatives, repayable within one year in monthly installments.
Of the 2,600,000 Jews in Soviet Russia today, there are still more than one million former business men who will have to remain in the towns and find productive occupation for themselves, declared Dr. Lvovitch.
Amplifying that statement, Mr. James N. Rosenberg, chairman of the American Jewish Joint Agricultural Corporation, declared: “The small trader today is the most miserable human being. If his child is sick, there is no room in the hospital, because the child of the artisan must be taken care of first. Likewise there is no room in the schools because the children of workers must be accommodated first. The same is true of homes, the need of which is so great. The artisan and the worker come first. But if the Jew becomes a producer, he gets into what is called the first category of citizenship in Russia.”
The Agro Joint, he declared, is unable to assume the responsibility of supplying machinery and tools, taxed as it is with the work of transforming two hundred thousand additional Jews into farmers.
“The ten million dollar fund to which Mr. Julius Rosenwald has contributed $5,000,000, will take care of a part of the Jewish population, but what about the remaining million and one half? It is absolutely necessary to save their lives and make them self supporting.” Mr. Rosenberg concluded.
“I know of no undertaking in which the opportunities are greater,” stated Colonel Lehman, pledging his support to the project. “The present undertaking of granting loans to relatives here who want to send equipment and machinery to those of their kin who need only a reasonable start in life again to become self supporting is a noble and useful one. No element of malliative relief enters into it, no fear of bringing about loss of self respect. It is a simple equation. It is an example of the finest kind of communal activity, because it will lead to the rebuilding of a sound, communal life among those who are only temporarily weakened and who themselves want not charity, but only a chance to get on their feet again. It is a movement that deserves the fullest encouragement and the widest financial help of America because it fits in with our own ideals of constructive effort. I am proud to have been associated with the organization and with its activities for so many years, and I pledge myself again to a full measure of cooperation.”
Pledging himself to do all he can to make this campaign a success, David A. Brown, National Chairman of the United Jewish Campaign, assured his hearers, that by raising $250,000, “you are not providing the declassed Jews with a maximum of what they need. They are not going to live a life of luxury. I have seen the machines and I know what the returns from them are. When you give them a machine they are going to have only the absolute minimum for a living.”
Greetings to the leaders of the new ten million dollar colonization fund in Soviet Russia, and thanks to members of the J. D. C. who have always aided the work of the Ort were extended by Dr. Lvovitch.
“The officers of the Ort,” stated Dr. Lvovitch, “have since September received seven hundrded orders for machines from American relatives. Remarkable as is this response, it is not commensurate with the demand made by Russian Jews.
“When the Jews of Russia heard that the Ort had signed an agreement with the Soviet Government, he said, “which permits us to import machines into Russia, duty free, they rushed to the offices to register. It is natural that the million of them should appeal to their relatives outside of Russia on whose help more than 50% are living anyhow. But I did not dream that American relatives would respond in such a manner. The registration was begun early in September and already arrangements have been made with relatives here to send more than 1,000 machines. The average cost of a machine is $300, so that we have already exceeded the minimum which we set for the first year, which was $300,000. I have no doubt that in the year we will send more than $1,000,000 worth of machines.”
“In making this appeal we ask you for opportunity to help East European Jews to help themselves,” stated Judge Panken, chairman of the American Ort. “It is not a question of reconstruction but of construction. It is not merely a merely a matter of bringing about a status similar to that which existed before the war. Conditions in Europe keep changing, and we must build so as to take care of the situations as they arise.”
“Interest yourselves in this undertaking,” urged Judge Lazansky. “It is something new for us to enable people to help themselves, to give them the chance and to give them that with which to sustain themselves.”
Announcement that $100,000 has already been raised was made by Dr. Henry Moskowitz. It is expected that the remainder will be raised within the next month.
Among the first contributers are Dr. Julius Goldman, $5,000; Coloniel Herbert Lehman, $2,500.
A cablegram was read from Dr. Joseph, who urged American Jews to support the project.
Dr. Rosen’s cable said in part: “Ort machinery plan deserves heartiest support. Plans afford real opportunity thousands of people helping their relatives in Russia to adjust themselves to present political economic conditions through becoming producers. We here are cooperating Ort this matter every way.”
Organization of the Credit Corp. is going forward under the direction of a committee consisting of the following: Judge Edward Lazansky, Chairman; Dr. Henry Moskowitz, Chairman Manhattan Division; Louis B. Boudin, Associate Chairman; Judge Algernon I. Nova, Chairman Brooklyn Division; Herman Bernstein, Honorary Secretary; Howard S. Cullman, Treasurer; Alexander Dolowitz, Associate Treasurer; Michael Freund, Secretary. Offices have been established at 331 Madison Avenue, New York City.