Morris Simons is a wholly practical man. Since 1922 he has been manufacturing diamond and metal diesâ€”exceedingly hard and concrete products. His seven factories in the United States, Canada and France, which began with one employee, are filled with grinding instruments, rotating lathes and machineryâ€”things you can put your finger on.
Mr. Simons likes to think in terms of things you can put your finger on, even in the subject in which he has become intensely interested â€” Jewish education. He feels that the system of Jewish education in New York can stand a great deal of improvement on the side of practicality.
A Talmud Torah education leaves a Jewish boy or girl with little of value, he told a reporter who called on him the other day. The pupil gets his Hebrew school certificate and soon forgets what he has learned.
At the same time, Mr. Simons has given his attention to the problem of Jewish unemployment. College graduates, highly trained attorneys, have come to him asking for menial jobs. Meanwhile, the mechanical trades, Mr. Simons has found, contain less than one per cent Jews.
It is not that Jews do not make good mechanical workers. Mr. Simons took the reporter around his plant and showed him about fifty Jewish employees, working side by side with employees of other nationalities. “They’re all fine, hardworking people,” he shouted above the din of machines and power-belts.
OUTLINES HIS PLAN
Upon returning to his office, Mr. Simons outlined the plan he intends to present to a group of executives of the Jewish Education Association whom he is inviting to his home in the near future. The plan involves creation of a mechanical trades school for Jewish boys. The school would be run by the J. E. A. and could become self-supporting in the following manner:
The students would spend about half the day in general theoretical and Jewish studies. The latter part of the day would be devoted to learning mechanical trades, at the same time actually working. A regular machine shop could be erected and the products sold for a profit. Mr. Simons estimated that while attending school, a boy could make from six to twelve dollars a week, in addition to his tuition fee.
A 3-YEAR COURSE
The course, Mr. Simons said, would last from three to four years. Upon graduation, the student would be competent to fill a mechanical position in a machine shop. “In this way,” he said, “instead of having a theoretical education and being obliged to look for any sort of job, the boy could be an expert in a definite line with a future ahead of him.”
Mr. Simon, who is a member of the J. E. A.’s Committee of One Hundred, declared that the association must adopt some plan as this. “Otherwise,” he asserted, “it can exist only as long as donations pour in. At present, it has no future or potential value.”
The Baron de Hirsch school, which at present fives preliminary training in mechanics, cannot supply the needs of industry, Mr. Simons pointed out.
ENGINEERS OFFER AID
A number of Jewish mechanical engineers, Mr. Simon said, have expressed their willingness to teach in the proposed school without charge.
“This, I believe, is a practical plan,” Mr. Simons said. “I know that there is a field for Jewish boys in mechanical trades. At present they are crowding the needle trades. Here there is an opportunity for Jewish boys without financial resources to fit themselves for the mechanical trades where there are very few Jews and where there is a great future for them.”
This plan would not only, in Mr. Simons’ estimation, aid the individual Jews, but would aid the Jewish people as a whole. At present, he said, there is a great deal of propaganda being spread to the effect that the Jew cannot do manual work. This would serve as an effective answer.
Mr. Simons told of recently finding a Nazi cell in his shop. A German worker was distributing Nazi literature and telling the other employees that Jews are poor and unwilling workers. There is a widespread attitude, Mr. Simons declared, that Jews are not good workers or that they are disturbers and Communists. Highly trained Jewish mechanical workers could serve as an example of Jewish industry and the willingness of the Jews to work when he is given the chance.