Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Tribute Paid to Jewish Social Work in Report of Research Commission

January 12, 1933
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The report of the President’s Research Committee published a few days ago, two bulky volumes comprising more than 1,500 pages, contains a fair number of references to Jewish affairs and developments.

Although considerable space and a special chapter is devoted to the statistics of racial and ethnic groups, it is explained in a foot-note that “no treatment of the Jews is included in this chapter for the reason that separate statistics of this group are not available, and for the further reason that the group is not homogeneous, including a number who are descended from many generations of native parents, and others who are aliens of several nationalities.” Nevertheless, Jewish matters and references to Jewish activities appear again and again in the report. In many cases these references are gratifying acknowledgments of the satisfactory organization of Jewish life, a certain field such as the wide-spread net-work of welfare committees and social agencies.

The chapter headed, “Changes in Religious Organizations,” written by C. Luther Fry, with the assistance of Mary Frost Jessup, discusses the material expansion of the organized religious agencies of the United States. It registers the fact already recognized by Jews in this country that during the last 20 years religious bodies have made far more impressive gains in wealth than in membership. On this subject, the report says, in wealth … “Catholics, Protestants and Jews alike have made great gains.”

Dealing with the Synagogue membership of the Jewish congregations, it says that “strictly comparable figures for Jewish congregations are not available because this denomination recently extended its definition of a ‘member’ until its membership figures are now virtually population estimates.”

In a comparison of the various Church expenditures as an index of the financial strength of the different denominations, it says that the general increase in such expenditure has been fifty percent more rapid than that of the national income. Furthermore, it records that “Jewish congregations have increased both their expenditures and property holdings more rapidly than either Protestant or Roman Catholic Churches … between 1916 and 1926 their expenditures increased 338 percent compared with 183 for Roman Catholics and 135 for Protestants. From 1916 to 1926 the reported value of Jewish Church edifices rose 320 percent contrasted with 207 for Protestant and 186 for Roman Catholic churches.” The report does not, however, give any indication of the extent to which the edifices in question are paid for or are in mortgage.

The section dealing with academic training of religious ministers is in obvious error in its statement that there are only two Jewish schools of theology.

Considerable space is devoted to a study of “Agencies for Youth.” Under this heading numerous references are made to the Jewish Welfare Board and its activities, and the Y.M.H.A.’s, Y.W.H.A.’s and comparative figures are cited showing the vast sums now lavished by all denominations on this branch of their work.

It is in its evaluation of Jewish social work that the Report pays what may be regarded as a generous tribute to the Jewish work in this field. It says, “There are differences among agencies in standards of relief-giving. Jewish social work owes much of its individuality to standards which are notably high as compared with Protestant, Catholic and with sectarian agencies. Jewish agencies appear to be more adequately financed; more generous assistance to families and aid over longer periods of time, a more stable clientele, higher salaries, and a lower case load per worker are characteristic. A study made in 1930 of eight Jewish and forty-five non-Jewish agencies upon which there were comprehensive data for a number of years, established definitely that higher standards of relief were obtained in the Jewish agencies.”

Throughout the Report there are subjects touched upon which, though not dealing specifically with Jews are, nevertheless of considerable Jewish interest. This applies particularly to the discussion on the assimilation of foreign immigrants, the decline of the foreign language press, prevalence of crime among foreigners. Thus, with regard to the latter, it is once more confirmed that “relatively fewer foreign born males are either charged with felonies or misdemeanors.”

A most interesting passage is that which appreciatively refers to the cultural value to the Jewish immigrant population, of lecturers from abroad, which is a feature of Zionist work in the United States.

Recommended from JTA