A census of American Jews in Palestine would show people who came unobtrusively and remained inconspicuous but have contributed more than their mite. If the total contribution nowise measures up to the numerical and money power of American Jewry in the pre-crash days it is not to be reckoned up against those who are here.
“Palestine is still the only land where Jews are safe with body, soul and property,” Dr. Weizmann was heard to say recently, notwithstanding the White Paper debacle. On the face of it though paradoxical, the statement is nevertheless true. Even the disaster of August, 1929, has not blotted out the light for most Jews who have come here from America.
Tel Aviv is the home of the majority of American Jews, including the many who own plots in the Sharon Plain where the golden orange is cultivated. Veritable commuters between Jaffa and New York, a great many have become, but probably the best known, both here and in America, is Samuel S. Bloom. An old Philadclphian Zionist, he has made between 1909 and 1930 as many return trips as the War, his age, strength and his numerous interests permitted.
LARGEST INDIVIDUAL LANDOWNER
Today Mr. Bloom is perhaps the largest individual Jewish landowner in Palestine. Like a patriarch of old, his family has been divided by accident or design into two parts, three in Tel Aviv. The children in the States follow a flourishing artificial tooth business which the father successfully conducted for years until he withdrew from it in 1914. The younger children, whom he brought here in 1926, he set up in the same business in Tel Aviv after making it a going concern-“The American Porcelain Tooth Company, Successors to S. S. Bloom.”
He himself found better use for his liquid capital that even producing what was for Palestine an unheard of article, and employing scores of Jewish workmen. He has put his hands to as much land as his capital could reach.
How the man of more than sixty-five, who arrived in America a penniless “yeshiva-bochur” nearly half a century ago, has managed to do this is an epic of America Zionism.
FIRST ARRIVED IN 1909
In 1909 he first came to spy out the land, and five years later sold his tooth factory to a trust, receiving a quarter of a million dollars for a business for which another concern, which held out longer, eventually received twelve million. With his late wife and two of the children he re-visited Palestine in the spring of 1914, a contract in hand from the tooth trust to take all he could manufacture at ten percent over factory cost, up to thirty million teeth a year. If not for the war, Palestine, the biggest factory in the world, employing perhaps a thousand people.
Fleeing war-threatened Palestine, he left in the Jerusalem bank what money he had brought for investigations, true to the good old Jewish tradition that whatever happens the Holy Land must not be made poorer by anyone leaving it. He thought, like many, the war would be an international unpleasantness of short duration, waited on an unsettled footing in America five years for it to be over, came back as soon as possible after the Armistice with the intention of manufacturing teeth.
NEARLY QUIT PALESTINE
Conditions were still unsettled, it looked as if labor would be too high, and after reconnoitering, Mr. Bloom returned to the United States, leaving orders for three large houses to be built in a new and sandy section of Tel Aviv with the money left on deposit in the bank when the war broke out. The houses, it is true, cost three times the original figure, and in 1922 he came back to see how they were getting on. Contracting typhoid, he returned on recovery to America, and “almost swore” he was through with Palestine.
But he was not. Life in America failed to suit or soothe the Lithuanian yeshiva-bochur, turned tooth and real-estate magnate. He could not mix with the crowd. Two years later he was in Palestine, for good, with his late wife and the three younger children. Disappointed in the house-building adventure in Tel Aviv he followed an atavistic call. He set about preparing moulds, scraped around for material and built furnaces for a tooth factory. Workmen had to be trained in the mysteries of an intricate business and for a while the manufacturer paid his labor for teeth he had to throw out. The factory’s output is now growing, a son and son-in-law operate it without their father’s help, and with more capital, many more workers could be employed than the hundred who now work in the factory.
BOUGHT FIRST LAND IN 1928
But Mr. Bloom would put no more money in teeth. He wanted land. With a well-known Sephardic Jew from Jerusalem, he bought in May, 1928, the first 2,000 dunams for something like $100,000. The area had belonged to a Sheikh, one of the poor landless Arabs who still owns an orange grove of 600 dunams which he can make blossom like the rose by judicially applying Mr. Bloom’s money. He next bought 4,000 dunams near Tulkarem, also from a family of land-poor effendis, and then turned to Karkour, where he bought 4,500 dunams of which a third is suitable for orange growing. Excluding 750 dunams near Gaza, which he bought as an investment for his children, his latest and most promising purchase is an orange grove acquired from an Arab near the Chassidic col-
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.