5,000 Sunday School Children Attend Charity Pageant at Roxy
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5,000 Sunday School Children Attend Charity Pageant at Roxy

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The Cathedral of the Movies yesterday morning became a huge synagogue housing the Sunday schools of forty-three New York religious groups.

Approximately 5,000 children attended the mass religious school lesson in philanthropy at the Roxy Theatre conducted by the young men’s and women’s division of the Federation for the Support of Jewish Philanthropic Societies of New York City in conjunction with the Jewish Education Association.

Former Justice Joseph M. Proskauer, president of Federation, in a short address at the conclusion of the exercises stated that the significance of the demonstration was that it “started our children off on the right foot.” The lesson, designed to impress the children with the importance of organized philanthropy, was presented in tableau form.

At its conclusion, representatives of each participating Sunday school presented contributions of eleven cents or more in token of the $11-per-minute cost of operating Federation’s ninety-one charities. The presentation speech was made by Nanette Stein, a pupil of the religious school of the Central Synagogue.

The tableaux, enacted on the stage by students of the Central Jewish Institute, The Institutional Synagogue, Mt. Neboh Temple, the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue of Shearith Israel, the Free Synagogue, Rodeph Sholom, the Concourse Center of Israel, the Hebrew School of the Bronx Y. M. H. A., and Temple Emanuel-El—portrayed a brief but comprehensive history of the Jews of New York City.


Starting with the arrival of a small group of Spanish and Portuguese Jews, the story is once again told of how they were allowed to settle in New Amsterdam on the promise that “the poor among them should not become a burden to the company or the community but shall be supported by their own nation.” Peter Stuyvesant, then the governor of the Dutch East Indies colony of New Amsterdam, was antagonistic to the Jews. He asked permission of the company’s Holland office to exclude them but this was denied him as long as the Jews would care for their own poor.

The migration of the German Jews, which began in 1848, and the great migration of more than 5,000,000 East European Jews between the years of 1888 and 1910 was also portrayed.


How the spirit of “Zdakah” brotherhood and social justice developed in America was the theme of the pageant. The development of Jewish charitable methods was illustrated. The Sephardic Jews centered their charities in the synagogue. With the coming of the German Jews came the establishment of orphanages, homes for the aged and other such institutions for the under-privileged.

With the coming of the great East European migration in later years came the problem of assimilation. The already established American Jews founded agencies such as the Jewish Alliance to help their new brethren in America. The new immigrants themselves founded Talmud Torahs and mutual aid groups.


And then, out of this welter of individualistic philanthropy, came Federation. Today Federation is the fund-raising and administrative department of ninety-one affiliated charities, and hailed as a model for Jewish community chests throughout the United States.

Such was the lesson presented to the Sunday school children of New York City. It was an attempt to impress the importance of Jewish solidarity and unity upon the future generation while their minds were still in a formative state of being.

The pageant was prepared under the direction of Israel S. Chipkin, educational director of the Jewish Education Association. Miss Mollie Buchsbaum was dramatic director, Ira Silberstein technical director, the Misses Cecilia Erdes and Rosalyn Haine in charge of costuming and John Karpeles in charge of the make-up box.


Rabbi David de Sola Pool of the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue was the narrator and Miss Deborah Pessin the author of the tableaux. The band of the Hebrew Orphan Asylum was in the orchestral pit, the choral effects were contributed by the combined choirs of the Uptown and Downtown Talmud Torahs under the direction of Abraham I. Kalb, musical director. David J. Putterman, cantor of the Park Avenue Synagogue led the mass singing.

Irving Berkelhammer, president of the young men’s and women’s division of Federation, made some introductory remarks preceding the performance. And Miss Edna L. Bernstein was chairman of the mass lesson committee, of which Benjamin Beckerman. Jack M. Horden and Leon Kellman were vice-chairmen.

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