Moscow (Feb. 27)
The effort toward the constructive rehabilitation of the Jewish town population has opened up a possibility for the individual, who contributes his hard-earned funds toward the relief of his less fortunate brethren, to decide how these relief funds should be spent. Hitherto, the custom has been for the public to give and the leaders or social service experts to decide how the money should be apportioned. It has been the rule for the professional social worker and the philanthropist to dispense public funds. Now we have an instance of the giver deciding to what uses his money shall be put.
How this came about, leading to the cooperation between the Ort, society for the promotion of crafts and agriculture, and American Landsmanschaften, was described to the correspondent by Mr. Zegelnitsky, director of the Ort in Russia. Several months ago, Mr. Zegelnitsky related, Mr. Benekvit, representative of the Belatzerkver Landsmanschaft of New York, came to the offices of the Ort to discuss how best his organization could help the Jews of Belatzerkver. Sent abroad to study the needs of his “landsleit” and to work out a program of aid, Mr. Benekvit was insistent that this relief should not be in the form of charity or of a temporary palliative nature. It was his thought that this aid should be of a reconstructive nature and calculated to place the Jews of Belatzerkver on their feet and the road to economic independence. He declared that if, after his study of conditions from first hand observations, a plan at once practical and constructive could be worked out, the Belatzerkver Landsmanschaft in New York was prepared to raise a substantial sum to carry it out.
As a result of the interview the Ort sent one of its representatives to Belatzerkver with Benekvit. After investigating the situation there it was decided as a first step to open a furniture factory which would provide employment for one hundred and sixty people. Not only will it solve their immediate economic problem, but it is bound to have a beneficial influence on the economic position of the entire Jewish community in the town, Mr. Zegelnitsky declared.
The establishment of the factory will cost $7,500. The Belatzerkver Landsmanschaft is prepared to supply one-half of the sum, from $3,500 to $4,000, while the remainder will be contributed by the Ort. The Soviet Government as well, has pledged itself to extend aid to the project. The town Soviet has pledged itself to provid the site and the building for the factory, Mr. Zegelnitsky explained.
The lead of the Belatzerkver Landsmanschaft has been followed by other Landsmanschaften.
These Landsmanschaften, with the (Continued on Page 4)
Upon the request of the New York Letitschiver Landsmanschaft, the Ort investigated the situation in Letitschiva and discovered outside the town three hundred desiatin of unoccupied land, that could be used to settle some twenty-five families. The Soviet Government has made the land available. The Ort will supply the capital to settle the colonists, while the Landsmanschaft will contribute $250 for each family settled.
In addition it is proposed to erect a wood carving cooperative where fifty boys will be employed. These boys will be recruited from a Jewish orphanage colony in Letitchiva. This colony consists of 175 full orphans, whose parents were killed during the Petlurist reign of terror in the Ukraine.
In Niezhin, Ukraine, the Ort is surveying the land. The New York Landsmanschaft is prepared to supply from $5,000 to $6,000 to establish a wood cooperative or factory.
The investigation carried on in Tornavke at the behest of the Landsmanschaft disclosed that there is a considerable area outside the town which can be utilized for growing hops. The land provides excellent soil for hops and the prospects for applying Jews to this task, particularly in the Podolier and Vohliner regions are excellent according to Mr. Zegelnitsky. The New York Bobruisk Landsmanschaft has telegraphed $2000 with instructions to establish, as speedily as possible, a co-operative for declassed Jews in Bobruisk. The Lubov Landsmanschaft has charged the Ort with preparing a constructive program for which it will provide the funds.
A plan has been worked out in Minsk to establish a school to provide instruction in house building. One hundred and sixty-five students will be accepted. The curriculum will include every subject that has to do with house building from carpentry to plumbing and electrification. It is expected that the buildings for the school will be provided by the Minsk Soviet which is evincing interest in the project; the Ort will supply some of the funds, while the bulk of the money will come from the Minsk Landsmanschaft in America which has pledged itself to contribute from $15,000 to $20,000.
Of considerable interest is the fact that in a number of regions the declassed Jews themselves have prepared the plans required to put them on their feet again and have sent them to their “Landsleit” in America with the plea that they be carried through by them. In Shtedrin a plan was proposed and offered to the Shetedrin Landsmanschaft in New York. It proposed that the Landsmanschaft establish a starch factory in view of the fact that a large number of Jews in the town are engaged in potato growing (120,000 pud potatoes are gathered every season). This would create a larger income for the potato growers and provide an opportunity for many Jews to work in the factory.