Menu JTA Search

By James N. Rosenberg

1. “A little more money has already been raised than anybody would suppose. Hardly a man who has been asked but has given generously. If half a dozen or a dozen men would drop their occupations for ten days and do some canvassing we’d have this campaign finished successfully within a month.

“All this talk of difficulty doesn’t frighten us a bit. Like General Grant, we’re going to fight it out on this line if it takes us all Summer, but it isn’t going to take all Summer. My mail this morning brought me a check of $25,000.

“The New York campaign will get started with a real bang with the meeting in Town Hall, May 27, which will have some features in the shape of a tribute to Felix M. Warburg.”

2. “Two points must be clearly understood with regard to the Russian aspect of the Allied Jewish Campaign. First, that it is not for purposes of Jewish agricultural work in Russia which is being provided for through the generosity of certain American Jews under the leadership of Julius Rosenwald, and secondly, that the tremendous need of the work in Russia is in regard to the ‘lishentze’.

“I would like to burn the word ‘lishentze’ into the hearts of every Jew in America. If that were possible I feel certain the campaign would be completed in a week. The word ‘lishentze’ meaning ‘outcast’ is applied to Jews and Christians alike. The ‘lishentze’ are those who do not produce, the tradesman, the banker, the middleman, the owner of a store. Anyone in these categories before the Revolution is classed as ‘lishentze’, outcast.

“The ‘lishentze’ are of particular concern to Jews because the law against them falls most heavily upon the Russian Jews since the vast majority of the non-Jews were and remain peasants and workers while there are 300,000 Jewish ‘lishentze,’ 300,000 outcasts without a vote, without bread and with no legal or civil rights, not even to enter a hospital when sick.

“The stigma of ‘lishentze’ falls hard on the children of the outcasts for they are denied admission to the schools.

“Despite the tremendous difficulties about $50 can transform a ‘lishentze’ family into producers by supplying it with a hand machine that makes stockings and other articles desperately needed in Russia. The obtaining of funds with which to buy these machines which will remove the stigma and overwhelming handicap of ‘lishentze’ from 300,000 Jews is one of the aims of the Allied Jewish Campaign.”

3. “Appropriately enough ‘Gemiloth Chessed’ are the words applied to the free loan societies in Poland which have so many good deeds to their credit and will have even more when the additional funds to be obtained from the Allied Jewish Campaign are available.

“In the last few months about 100,000 people have borrowed from these free loan societies loans averaging eleven dollars. With the aid of these small sums, in most cases hardly more than what we in the United States pay for a pair of theatre tickets from a speculator, entire families have been rescued. The most remarkable thing about these loans is that 94½ percent of them are being repaid.

“More than $3,700,000 in 354,000 small loans were loaned by these free loan kassas from 1926 to 1929.

“In order to allow these institutions that specialize in good deeds to work on a larger scale there is an immediate need for additional capital as a revolving fund. More of these free loan kassas are needed in Poland; they should be established in Lithuania, in Roumania and in other countries.

“This, however, is impossible without funds from the United States, funds to supplement what the Jews of Europe are doing to help themselves. And the funds for this widespread doing of good deeds through the ‘Gemiloth Chessed’ societies will come from the $6,000,000 to be raised by the Allied Jewish Campaign.”

4. “When we speak of the needs of Jews of Eastern Europe we are overwhelmed by the variety of situations confronting us. Take Bessarabia, which was formerly a part of Russia but is now Roumanian territory. It is only one of many cases. There are 40,000 Jews on farms in Bessarabia. In this same region, too, there are nearly 300,000 Jewish merchants and artisans and small merchants.

“These Jewish farmers are descended from people who have been on the soil for over a century. They have never been prosperous, but they have managed to make a decent, self-respecting living from their vineyards, cereals and tobacco. Then came, since 1923, seven summers of drought and winters of unprecedented severity. There is a Biblical precedent. Ruin stares them in the face. What shall we do? Let them fend for themselves?—Unthinkable.

“The commercial part of the Jewish population is also suffering from these same conditions of drought and winter severity which have, of course, injured all economic conditions terribly. The credit institutions built up in that territory through efforts led by Herbert H. Lehman cannot be deserted.”

NEXT STORY