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A Multitude of Immigrants
AMERICAN NEWSPAPERS AND HOW THEY ADDRESSED THE IMMIGRATION ISSUE

 

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From an article in the New York Tribune, dated December 17, 1905:
 

BIG WAVE OF JEWS COMING


American Fund for the Relief of Those So Bitterly Oppressed In Russia
Will Be Used to Bring Thousands Here.


New York City is just beginning to feel the crest of another great wave of Jewish immigration. The Russian massacres have caused more Hebrews to look hither for a refuge than have ever before turned their faces toward this land of freedom and wealth. The "plagues of the sword and torch" that have smitten their race in Russia in the last few weeks exceed any catastrophe known to their history since their dispersal. As was said the other day in the appeal by the National Hebrew Relief Fund Committee of the United States to the Jews of this country:

"Apparently no calamity of such magnitude has befallen Israel since the fall of Jerusalem. All the horrors of the Inquisition, all the persecutions of the Middle Ages, seem incomparable with this stupendous and unspeakable crime, both in its malignity and in the number of people affected and endangered."

And yet in spite of all these horrors it is said by Jews as prominent as Oscar S. Straus that the worst is still likely to come.

The tide of Jewish emigration from Russia is also being increased as it never was before by the help of their co-religionists in other lands. Unknown to the public, Jewish families throughout the United States are quietly sending money abroad to bring to America not only relatives, but also friends and acquaintances till not almost forgotten. So much money has been withdrawn from East Side banks in this city that many of these institutions have had to take the same precautions as when threatened with a run.

RELIEF FOR IMMIGRANTS.

Although it is generally understood that the vast public funds which have been raised so heroically by the Jews in this country and abroad are intended only to meet the immediate needs of the starving and the shelterless, yet it is said to be a fact that as much of this money as is available will be used to bring the afflicted to America.

 

Russian Rioters Selling the Plunder of Jewish Houses at Rostoff on the Don.

RUSSIAN RIOTERS SELLING THE PLUNDER OF JEWISH HOUSES AT ROSTOFF ON THE DON.

During the recent attacks upon the Russian Jews it was not uncommon for the rioters to turn their plunder to profit. In some cases, of course, they merely destroyed, but there were cases when they seemed to catch the commercial spirit of their victims, and put the booty up to auction.    

--The Illustrated London News.

More than $1,000,000 has been raised in the United States, of which about $200,000 was given by Christians. The contribution of this city alone has been $430,000, or nearly half. Efforts are now being made to raise another million. Europe has given just as liberally.

The statement which was made yesterday to a Tribune reporter by Robert Watchorn, Commissioner of Immigration at this port, that much of this relief money will be used to assist immigration, will come as a surprise to the general public. "I have no doubt whatever," said Mr. Watchorn, "that the relief funds which have been raised for the Jews in Russia will be used as far as possible to assist them to leave that country. The bulk will seek America, and those who most need assistance will come by the way of London. The headquarters of the organizations to help Jewish immigration are in the British capital. In Leman-st., London, for example, is a building which is known as the Jewish Temporary Shelter, and in Middlesex-st. are the offices of the Jewish Board of Guardians. In the Leman-st. house immigrants are cared for until they are in shape to ship to American ports. Those who measure up to the standards imposed at Ellis Island come to New-York, and the majority make their homes in the metropolis. The rest, for fear they will be deported, go to Canada, where a premium is now put on immigration, or to the Argentine Republic.

ALL WHO DARE RISK IT COME.

"All who dare risk it, however, come to New-York. For this reason steamship companies with lines running from or touching at English ports are getting into the habit of refusing to take Jews in the steerage to New-York if they have lived in England less than six months. They are afraid of the $100 fine which they have to pay for each passenger deported.

"Of course, these massacres will be followed by a heavy wave of Jewish immigration, but Americans need not be alarmed, for all that. Rigid examinations will not permit any but those who are fit to enter. Jewish immigrants, as a rule, make good citizens. Their only fault, as Bismarck says, is that they take advantage of everything," the commissioner added with a laugh. "The children in the schools even take such advantage of their studies that they get ahead of the rest."

Mt. Watchorn is especially well fitted to speak on this subject, as in the year of the Jewish riots in Rumania he was a special commissioner appointed by the United States government to investigate Jewish immigration to this country. At that time he found that immigrants were being helped by relief funds and that they were coming to America by way of London shelters.

Although the English alien act goes into effect the first of next year, nevertheless it is not feared by those agencies who are assisting immigrants to the United States. The act was passed under the Balfour ministry, and it will be enforced by the government for the control of those who opposed it. As the new law is discretionary, rather than mandatory, and has "may" almost everywhere instead of "must," it is believed that it will not act so much as a dam as a sieve.

NEW YORK MUST SOLVE PROBLEM.

To New-Yorkers more than any other inhabitants of the United States the Jewish immigration problem comes nearest home. The greater part of the vast tide of humanity which is coming from Russia to these shores will pour into this city. Two-thirds of all the Hebrews who come to the United States settle in this community. Last year 130,000 came, and 80,000 took up their abode in the metropolis. Of these 80,000, 60,000 came from Russia.

So greatly does New-York attract the Hebrew that at the present time it contains 750,000 of this people, or about one-half the total Hebrew population of the whole United States. Thee are more Hebrews in this community than have ever before lived in one place. Jerusalem to-day has a population of about 50,000, of whom only one-half are Jews. Accordingly, it would take thirty Jerusalems, all crowded together, to become the home of as many Hebrews as have found an abode here. If, as some estimate, a quarter of a million Hebrews settle in the metropolis in the next twelve months, the Hebrew community here will touch the million mark. This would equal the total number of this race to be found at the present time in Great Britain, Germany and France.

There are 6,000,000 Hebrews in Russia to-day. It is, of course, impossible for them all to emigrate as did the Jews from Spain. They are too closely interwoven in Russian life. Some of them are so bound to their native land by sentiment, by the love of the soil where their forefathers for centuries have been buried, or by commercial ties, knowing that to move would mean to start life anew, that they prefer to stay even though they must risk their lives. Many believe that in the end Russia will have as much freedom as America and that it would be folly to run away to strange lands. The majority, however, it is said, would flee to America if they could.

The Hebrews who now inhabit New-York, therefore, have a double burden to bear. Not only are they making heroic sacrifices to aid the suffering and afflicted members of their race in Russia, but they will be called upon later to care for thousands who will seek shelter among them. Yet, tremendous as it is this task, they welcome it.

"The turmoil in Russia," said Jacob H. Schiff, treasurer of the relief fund committee, and known throughout the Jewish world for his far reaching philanthropies, "must have some serious consequences in the United States. It will mean an immense immigration, and this country must keep its doors wide open to allow those who flee from that country to enter. There is room for all of them, even though thousands more make their homes in this city. It will depend upon us to a great extent to Americanize them."

Few outside the Jewish world appreciate the vast difficulties involved in the Americanization of the Russian Hebrew. Though more intellectual, more industrious, more persevering than the majority of European immigrants, yet he has a proneness to endanger his health by crowding into the most congested centres of population. Having lived, as a usual thing, in a ghetto of the Old World, he would live in a ghetto here. Although there are 3,600,000 square miles in the United States, with an average population of twenty-five persons to the square mile, he usually prefers to wedge himself into the teeming East Side, where a square mile on an average contains 400,000 persons. Many times the Hebrew is so weakened by ghetto life when he reaches the United States that he is not permitted to land at all, or should he pass the requirements of the immigrant station he does not seek some outdoor, healthful region where he may build up a stronger body, but he crowds into some sunless, mephitic East Side tenement house.

SICKLY HEBREW IMMIGRANTS.

More Hebrews were deported from Ellis Island last year because of bodily unfitness than any other class of immigrants. Yet fewer Hebrews came to these shores than Italians. The physical standard of Hebrews arriving here as contrasted with that of other races may be seen in the following table, which places the number admitted and the hospital cases deported last year in parallel columns:

Race.

           Hospital
              cases
          deported.

 

            Sound    immigrants admitted.

Hebrews ............................................................................................. 1,534   129,910
Italians (South)  ................................................................................ 1,290   186,390
Poles  .................................................................................................. 991   102,137
Germans  ........................................................................................... 747   82,360
Slovaks  ............................................................................................. 491   52,368
Magyars  ............................................................................................ 363   46,030
Lithuanians  ...................................................................................... 269   18,604
Scandinavians  .................................................................................. 253   62,284
Irish .................................................................................................... 243   54,266
Syrians .............................................................................................. 200   4.822
Italians (North)  ................................................................................ 158   39.930
Croatians and Slovenians ............................................................... 128   35,104
Ruthenians ........................................................................................ 115   14,473
All others .......................................................................................... 1,004   197,721
Totals ................................................................................................. 7,786   1,026,499

Of the 129,910 Hebrews who were admitted, 92,388 came from Russia, 17,352 from Austria-Hungary, 13,693 from England and 3,854 from Rumania.

The body weakness of the Jewish immigrant is also the cause of the most anxiety to his co-religionists in this city after he settles among them. More applications are made to the United Hebrew Charities of New-York City for help because of sickness than for any other cause. Very few appeals are made because of intemperance or shiftlessness, as may be seen in the following figures for last year:

APPLICATIONS FOR HELP FOR 1904.

Illness  ................................................................................................... 2,807
Lack of work  .......................................................................................... 1,828
Insufficient earnings  ............................................................................... 825
No male support  ...................................................................................... 1,921
Insanity of wage earner  ............................................................................ 83
Imprisonment of wage earner  .................................................................... 51
Intemperance of wage earner  ..................................................................... 24
Physical defects  ...................................................................................... 126
Lack of tools  ........................................................................................... 61
Old age  .................................................................................................. 301
Transportation desired  ............................................................................. 793
Commitment of children desired  ................................................................ 287
Legal aid  ................................................................................................ 20
Release of baggage  .................................................................................. 6
Shiftlessness  .......................................................................................... 96
No cause  ................................................................................................ 218
All others ............................................................................................... 887
Total  ..................................................................................................... 10,334

The nationalities represented among the applicants were as follows: Russians, 4,775; Austrians, 2,922; Rumanians, 620; natives, 256.

PROBLEM OF SIMPLE POVERTY.

"The problem which confronts us," said Leo K. Frankel, manager of the United Hebrew Charities, " is as it has been for the last twenty-five years the problem of the arriving immigrant. The native born Jewish poor continues to be about 2 per cent of the total number of families assisted. Generally speaking, it may be said that the society does not confront the problem of pauperization. To-day, as for many years, we are meeting a problem of simple poverty, due to the conditions under which our co-religionists are compelled to emigrate to the United States."

Another stumbling block in the way of the Americanization of Hebrew immigrants is the evil of desertion among them. In the list of appeals for charity printed above it may be seen that 1,921 were cases where husbands had abandoned wives.

"Of all the causes for distress among these people," said Mr. Frankel, "desertion is the one which is distinctly evil, and one which it should be public policy to eradicate at the earliest opportunity. It cannot be gainsaid that the majority of abandonments of wives and children are due to the lack of moral stamina on the part of deserting husbands and to the unwillingness to shoulder marital and parental responsibility."

Yet, despite the shortcomings of the Hebrew immigrant from Russia, his co-religionists in this city implicitly believe that his coming will benefit not only himself, but the whole community. Powerful organizations have been founded to care for all who would seek these shores, to correct both their moral and their physical weaknesses. A crusade has been begun, for example, to eradicate so far as possible the evil of desertion. As Mr. Frankel says in quoting the last report of the United Hebrew Charities:

"In the belief that through concerted action the enormity of desertion can be brought home to recalcitrant fathers, we co-operated with a special committee on desertions, which drafted a bill presented at the last session of the legislature making desertion a felony. This bill has since become a law, and went into effect on September 1 of this year.

"Since then we have instituted an active campaign in the hope of bringing deserters to justice. A special committee on desertions, made up or representative professional and business men of the city, has been organized, a special desertion agent has been engaged, and the co-operation of the Jewish press has been secured to give as wide publicity as possible to this movement. The committee has already been successful in bringing several offenders to justice, and the publicity that has been given t the movement will eventually work as a deterrent to others who may contemplate desertion in the future. It is the belief of the board of directors that, through the active propaganda which will be made, it will be possible for us, during the coming year, to materially reduce the amounts which we spend in the care of deserted women and their children."

To counteract the hiving tendency of the Russian Jewish immigrant, to build up his body by transferring him from the East Side to more healthful regions, a society has been established called the Industrial Removal Office, with headquarters at No. 174 2d-ave. Since it first began work in 1901 the society has sent away from New-York 25,000 Jews, and recently it so enlarged its work that it is now able to send out a thousand Hebrews a month. Transportation and board until work is secured are furnished free. The society never loans money. The work is practically a charity, as few repay what is expended on them. As about one-half of those removed from this city are heads of families, they send for other Jews as soon as they get rooted. The society, accordingly, has been the means of distributing, it is estimated, nearly 100,000 persons. The reunions of 483 families have been reported to the New-York office.

Missouri at the present time is getting more Jews from New-York through the society than any other State. In the last year 980 Hebrews were sent thither, most of them settling in St. Louis. Other States received the following numbers: Ohio, 622; Illinois, 528; New-York State (outside of New-York City), 479; California, 429; Wisconsin, 364; Pennsylvania, 225; Minnesota, 211; Colorado, 189; Indiana, 188; Michigan, 187; Nebraska, 184; Iowa, 157; New-Jersey, 121; Texas, 110. Most of those sent are skilled workmen, sent to cities which make a specialty of their respective trades. Weavers are sent to Fall River; tanners to Decatur, Ala., or Milwaukee, Wis.; hatters to Danbury, Conn., and iron workers to Pittsburg. Almost every occupation is represented among the Jews helped by the office. Lat year, for example, among those sent from New-York were 339 tailors, 282 carpenters, 224 shoemakers, 145 blacksmiths, 114 farmers, 109 tinsmiths, 106 butchers and 56 bakers. About two-thirds of the cases cared for were those of Russian Jews.

FINDING WORK FOR JEWS.

In addition to the removal office there are many charitable agencies to find employment for Jews in this city. Until recently there have been few Hebrews out of work. In spite of the fact that 80.000 more of them settled here last year practically all obtained something to do. Inquiry at the East Side Free Employment Bureau, at No. 80 2d-ave. found that there are about 350 applicants for work on an average each month, of whom 220 get positions. Nearly one-half are Russians who have recently landed. Recently, however, the number of appeals for work has increased, due, I. Irving Lipsitch, manager of the bureau, says to the coming of the vanguard of the army of refugees fleeing from Russia. "New-York will, no doubt, have a tremendous immigration from Russia," he added, "which will for the time tax the resources of the Jews of New-York to the utmost, but I believe we can take care of all of them."

RUSSIAN JEWS BRAINY.

That the Russian Jew, under the proper conditions, has the stuff in him to make not only a good citizen but often a brilliant member of society is the testimony rendered by all prominent educators who have watched his growth in this country. In the common schools, the City College, Columbia University and the National Academy of Design, a greater number of prizes each year are carried off by Russian Jew[ish] pupils. In the trades they uplift rather than pull down wage standards. According to figures prepared by Cyrus L. Sulzberger, chairman of the Removal Office and secretary of the relief fund committee, the average wage in the clothing industry in 1880 before the first wave of Russian Jew[ish] immigration, when the industry was in the hands of natives, was $285 a year. At the present time, when the Jews practically control the clothing trades, the average wage is $416 a year.

IMMIGRATION A BLESSING.

"The immigration of Russian Jews is a blessing, not a menace, to America," said Oscar S. Straus, ex-Minister to Turkey. "Colonization and immigration have been for conquest, for commerce and for causes of conscience. The experience of America, and indeed the experience of all history, is that the immigration for causes of conscience is the best, because thee people affected have been willing to sacrifice every material consideration for ideas or spiritual ideals. This was true of the Pilgrim, and it is true of the Russian Jewish immigrant at the present time. This also accounts for the fact that there are so many noble and refined men and women among Russian Jews."

Among the 130,000 Jewish immigrants who landed last year there were 1,163 who had a profession, 60,135 who had trades, and only 8,169 laborers; 342 were musicians and 322 were teachers. Nearly all the important trades were well represented, among them being 22,334 tailors, 5,070 carpenters, 3,824 shoemakers, 2,849 painters and glaziers, 2,036 butchers and 2,068 saddlers. This was a far better showing than was made by most of the other races of immigrants now entering the United States.

WHY JEWS COME HERE.

Every wave of Hebrew immigration to this cit has been caused by persecution or political upheaval. The first were Spanish and Portuguese Hebrews, who came here in 1654 as a result of persecutions in Brazil. The Thirty Year War in Europe sent the first German Jews to America in the middle of the eighteenth century. The first partition of Poland in 1772 sent the first Polish Jews. Yet tit was not until 1848 that the Jewish immigration to New-York City became at all noticeable. Then the revolutionary movement in Germany sent hither the founders of most of the rich German Jew[ish] families of this city. A lull followed, until in 1882 the restrictive May laws in Russia started a heavy stream of Jewish immigration from that country. In the twenty-four years following 1882, it has [been] estimated that a half million Russian Jews have come to this city.

 

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