Bucharest Jews Help Children in Scientific Choice of Vocation

Before the war, finding a decently paid calling for our young people was not a difficult matter.

Since the war, this has been completely changed. The countries have isolated themselves from each other. The United States of America, land of liberty, was one of the first to issue rigid, incisive immigration regulations. The world economic crisis did the rest.

As a result the post war generation finds itself before locked portals. In their own country young people find prospects of earning a livelihood slight, while abroad the only country which seems able to absorb Jewish youth is Palestine. It is therefore easy to understand the terrible disappointment which England’s immigration policy is to these youths. To meet this situation labor and professional bureaus have been created everywhere to regulate the stream of those seeking work.

Five years ago, the Union of Rumanian Jews, recognizing the difficult circumstances of the younger generation, created a bureau for vocational consultation in Bucharest, calling it the “Institute for Professional Orientation.” The bureau serves the Jewish population primarily, but is open to all. To the Jewish masses this bureau here in Rumania fills a definite need, for the Jewish population lacks that asylum open to the Christian population: the land.

FEW JEWISH FARMERS

Except for Bessarabia, where the ORT has founded successful Jewish settlements, Jews are not active in agriculture anywhere in Rumania; they are not permitted to be active and should not be. Because agriculture did not absorb any Jews there was the unwholesome rush for higher education, after the war. But after intensive warning and explanation this rush seems now to be subsiding slowly.

What callings are left? Artisans, traders, manufacturers, employes of stores, technical workers—the choice is restricted, so that what the Institute most deplores is the case: its work is largely a matter of making decisions in the negative. It is much more likely to decide what fields are not open than it is actually to suggest a vocation to an applicant.

The Institute serves the children of the schools maintained by the Jewish community first of all and systematically. In accordance with an understanding with the community, 350 children are examined annually by vocational physicians who test the general physical state of the youngsters and their special physical aptitudes. Intelligence tests are also given the boys and girls by trained experimental psychologists and give a very telling picture of the individual tendencies of each child.

A comparison of the occupations of parents and those of their children, based on data obtained from 700 children, is very enlightening. It shows a definite trend towards the free professions, which are socially of higher value. Whereas, for example, forty-two per cent of the parents are artisans, eleven per cent of the boys and nine per cent of the girls go into the same field; and whereas but two per cent of the parents are in the free professions, twenty-one per cent of the boys and twelve per cent of the girls choose callings in that category.

Of the 700 children tested thirty-five per cent grew up in a single room housing parents and children; forty-five per cent slept two in a bed; about fifteen per cent, three in a bed; and about five per cent, four in a bed. About twenty-six per cent of the children already had contracted three serious contagious diseases, such as measles, scarlet fever and diphtheria.

How backward Rumania is in some respects is revealed by the fact that the vocational guidance bureau of the Union of Rumanian Jews is the only one of its kind in Rumania. (Not counting the special institutes maintained by the state railroads and municipal street railways.)

In one thing the bureau has been almost consistently successful and that is, in placing of children in the proper educational institutions. Even though the children are thus not set to earning anything at once, they are at least off the streets.

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