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United Jewish Campaign Came in Nick of Time to Save European Jews

September 26, 1926
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Dr. Bernhard Kahn, European Director of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, arrived in New York on the steamer Homeric. He was met at the pier by representatives of the Joint Distribution Committee.

Dr. Kahn, who came to the United States to report on the work of the Joint Distribution Committee in Europe, when interviewed on his arrival stated that had it not been for the United Jewish Campaign, the Jews of Poland, Russia, Eastern and Central Europe would have suffered a catastrophe from which they could not have recovered in this generation. The $25,000,000 campaign, said Dr. Kahn, came in the nick of time to prevent loss of all the millions raised by American Jewry during and since the war.

Dr. Kahn, who is paying his first visit to America in three years, stated that all of the twenty-five million dollars now being raised, and more, will be needed to meet the acute conditions of suffering there which will continue for many years, and American Jewry must prepare to extend assistance to their coreligionists abroad for several years to come, until European economic conditions are permanently stabilized.

“The situation today.” Dr. Kahn said, “is most acute in Poland where, however, political and economic conditions have somewhat improved in the past few weeks. The work of the Joint Distribution Committee today is quite different from that during and immediately after the war. Our work today is almost entirely reconstructive, that is, helping people to help themselves through the loan organizations we are forming, through stimulating the resumption of industry and in other ways helping the Jews to restore their economic footing. At the same time, however, we are still feeding 18,000 school children, 15,000 orphans, and 20,000 unemployed workers in Europe.

“In Poland, we are furthermore confronted at the same time with a severe epidemic of scarlatine, to combat which the Joint Distribution Committee has appropriated a special fund. It is admitted that through the funds raised in the $25,000,000 campaign now being carried on in America hundreds of suicides have been averted, and a large number of individuals have been enabled through our help once more to earn a livelihood. It will take years to overcome the present crisis and to adjust the Jewish population to new economic conditions, and it will take two or three years to relieve even the acute distress prevailing throughout Central and Eastern Europe. But, this is not all. Some way must be found to make permanent the work of the Joint Distribution Committee, as while it may be necessary to continue holding drives in America, a large measure of assistance from American Jewry will be required for many years to come.

“On October 14, there will arrive in the United States, an exhibit of industrial work done by 20,000 orphans whom we have taught various vocations and through which 4,000 of this number have been rendered self-supporting.

“The Joint Distribution Committee in Poland has not only aided the cooperative loan societies, but has created a large number of new loan organizations which lend money informally and easily, without interest to thousands of artisans and others whom a few dollars assist to resume their trades or to enter in business.

“The $25,000,000 campaign came just in time to save our old work from breaking down and to prevent the population not only from falling deeper than they had been into the abyss of abject misery, but it has strengthened all the means of reconstruction and has given new hope to Eastern European Jewry.

“We have made splendid progress in Russia. I have been in that country twice within the last twelve months and visited almost all of the colonies the Joint Distribution Committee has established, viewing them in all stages of development. I could hardly believe my eyes when on my second visit, twelve months after the first, I saw neat villages with hard-working Jewish peasants, Jewish children playing and the atmosphere of a well-conducted and fairly prosperous peasant village, where twelve months earlier I had seen only dug-outs, barracks and a few adult Jews tilling the soil. It seemed a miracle.

“The agricultural work stimulated by the Joint Distribution Committee has aroused the admiration of everybody, and will live in history as one of the most admirable constructive works the Jews have ever performed. The settlement on the land has taught the Jews and the non-Jews of Russia that the Russian Jews are able to work in all lines of human endeavor and to adjust themselves to the most extraordinary changes in their economic life. But there still remain many thousands of Jews in the towns and villages of Russia whose life is one of starkest tragedy and for whom relief measures must be continually strengthened.”

Dr. Kahn went directly from the ship to the Hotel Chatam where he will remain until his departure for Chicago.

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