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Situation of Jews Abroad Worse Than at Any Time Since War, Says Hyman

February 2, 1933
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The chief problem in the relief and rehabilitation work of the Joint Distribution Committee among the Jews of Eastern and Central Europe today is in maintaining the courage and morale of the people in order to keep their activities in their own behalf at the highest pitch of intensity, Joseph C. Hyman, Secretary of the Joint Distribution Committee, told the Jewish Social Service Federation here. Mr. Hyman was the guest speaker at the annual meeting of the Federation, held in the Jewish Community Center.

Mr. Hyman reviewing conditions overseas at the present time, described them as worse than at any time since the World War. In Poland, he declared, over half the Jewish population is impoverished and in need of relief. Similar conditions, he reported, exist in the surrounding countries. The Committee, he said, has had to undertake child feeding measures and other activities of a general emergency nature in order to furnish the Jewish population with the means of subsistence.

The local Jewish population, he declared, is working desperately in its own behalf and is utilizing every resource it possesses to meet the overwhelming needs of the destitute.

The increasing misery of the Jewish population is accentuated by sporadic disorders such as student riots but much more fundamental are conditions arising out of widespread economic boycott, the taking over of businesses in which Jews had been active, by State monopolies, administrative measures harshly affecting Jewish artisans, inability of Jews to receive any but negligible credit aid except through their own channels, the crushing burden of taxation which falls with special hardship on Jews as city dwellers, restrictions at schools and universities and all those hateful consequences of special disability and disadvantage in which the Jews, as a minority in these lands abroad perforce find themselves over and above the difficulties of all their neighbors.

All this has created a situation that threatens to engulf the Jewish self-help agencies and cause their collapse, Mr. Hyman asserted. “Such an outcome to eighteen years of endeavor in building up these agencies for the rehabilitation of the people would be nothing less than tragic and would result in horrible disaster,” he warned.

The efforts of the Joint Distribution Committee at this time, Mr. Hyman said, are being directed to strengthening and supporting these self-help organizations so that they may be tided over the present crisis and may continue their emergency relief activities as long as these may be necessary.

The Jewish farm settlement work in Russia, Mr. Hyman reported, is being carried on. The general administrative policies governing agricultural work in that country apply to these colonies as to all others.

Mr. Hyman also conferred with several leaders of the Akron Jewish community on the work of the Joint Distribution Committee and its immediate plans.

Two Jewish residents of Brookline, Mass., who are active in Jewish affairs, were appointed by Judge Philip S. Parker, moderator of the Town meeting, as members of the Advisory Finance Committee, that will report on the appropriations asked and for recommendations in balancing the budget. The Jewish members are: Henry Penn, who for the past few years acted as chairman of the annual campaign of the Associated Jewish Philanthropies of Boston, and Alexander Brin, editor and publisher of the “Jewish Advocate.” The entire committee is composed of 30 leading citizens.

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