Jacob Cohen, a composite personality receiving aid from the Brooklyn Federation of Jewish Charities, is an American citizen. He has lived in this country more than ten years. He is forty years old, is a skilled worker with a trade and has a family of three children. Cohen is a respected citizen of his community, he is not a ne’er-do-well but an anxious job seeker and six or seven years ago contributed to the very funds that are now supporting him.
Such is the picture of the Jewish families now being cared for by the Brooklyn Federation as revealed in statistics gathered by the United Jewish Aid Societies one of the twenty-five constituent agencies of Federation. It is the result of a survey of relief made during the four depression years, 1930 through 1933.
The figures are interesting, said Samuel Rabinovitch, executive director of the organization making the survey, “because it gives a definite picture of the family on private relief.”
“While the knowledge is general that the people on relief are now persons of substantial character,” he continued, “a statistical breakdown of this kind proves the point beyond dispute. Of course, the study is limited to the statistics of our own organization. Nevertheless, it might be accepted as a cross-section of the general experience of most agencies at this time.
“The families on our relief rolls is headed by potential breadwinners in their best years, between the ages of thirty and forty-nine They are fit, able and willing to work. They are not ne’er-do-wells, but citizens who in many instances contributed funds themselves to the very agencies which must serve them now.”
Year by year, during the period studied, the number of citizens, native-born or naturalized, on the case load of the United Jewish Aid Societies, increased, according to the figures. In 1930, the first full year of depression, 45.5 per cent of male heads of families under care were citizens. That percentage increased to 57.1 in 1931, grew to 59.7 in 1932, and reached 62.4 in 1933. For the four-year period under scrutiny, the male citizens heading families under care by this agency of the Federation averaged 56.17 per cent of the total.
The women heads of the families under care were slightly behind their men in the matter of citizenship, the figures reveal. That is due, Federation heads explained, to the fact that under the 1922 revision of the naturalization laws, a foreign-born woman marrying a citizen could not acquire her husband’s American citizenship through marriage, but must apply for her own citizenship papers. In every one of the four years studied, the number of women citizens heading under-care families was smaller than the corresponding number of men. For the four-year period, the women citizens averaged 46.47 of the total, about ten per cent less than the percentage of male citizens.
Among the heads of families under care during the four years, those who lived in this country ten years or longer increased from 82.7 in 1930, to 90.8 in 1933. with the figures for 1931 being 86.2 and their percentage for 1932 being 91.8.
The average number of children in these families was three per family in 1933 and 1930, and 2.8 per family in 1931 and 1932.
A significant figure in making up the composite picture, officials of the United Jewish Aid Societies said, was that showing the age ranges of the heads of under-care families. The great majority of the heads of these families, male and female, were between the ages of thirty and forty-nine. For the four-year period, the men heads of these families in the thirty forty-nine age range averaged 70.47 per cent.