to the time when I may grasp the hand that penned those initials,
and say I have found one man who has avowedly done his
charity as the payment of an obligation, recognizing it as a duty.
I have been told by my learned friends of the cloth â€” and I
always get my religious and biblical learning at second hand
from them â€” that there is no Hebrew word for charity, but that
the word we use implies righteousness, signifying that whoever
130 LEO N. LEVI MEMORIAL VOLUME.
possesses more than a sufficiency for his own needs is in justice
bound to assist those who have not sufficient; that a man in
respect to his surplus has a trust, and he is not at Hberty to
dispose of that trust according to his Hking, but only as befits the
welfare of the beneficiaries of the trust.
And so I have said before, and I say now, that a charity ill-
bestowed is a sin, for the bestowal of alms upon one who is un-
worthy is the corresponding denial of charity to one who is not.
And it shall be no sufficient excuse for any man to say, "1 was
governed by a good intention." Your duty requires, not only
that your intention must be good, but that your intelligence must
be good ; and if it be not sufficient to solve the problem, turn over
your contribution to those who are wiser than you. If these
lessons be taught, and taught intelligently to the people, there
will come many good results, not only in that we shall minimize
the "help that hurts," but in that we shall magnify the help that
helps, and we will strengthen the organizations that are inaugu-
rated and conducted along scientific lines.
I purposely use the word scientific. It has been used here
to-night repeatedly in the interesting reports read, as if the work
that is being performed in the field of charity had already reached
a high scientific plane. I do not want to quarrel with anybody
who holds to that view, but for myself, I think it does better credit
to our intelligence to confess we are in the initial stages of that
science. I believe my statement will not be challenged when I
say that charity in this day is a branch of political economy, and,
I want to add, that, in my opinion, political economy is nothing
but common sense applied to big operations. How far have we
progressed in the development of that science? Be it understood
that it is not the creation of any one man's brain, but the birth of
experience ; that it has been extracted from the happenings that
come under our daily ken.
Scientific charity is of recent birth. Let us study our diffi-
culties rather than our triumphs to the end that the triumphs of
the future will surpass the triumphs of the past.
I referred to the fact that the list of regular contributors to
organized charity is a very short one. I am well advised of the
ORGANIZED CHARITIES. I3I
conditions elsewhere, and I have learned that the conditions here
are not dissimilar. If you take into consideration the fact that
but a small percentage of the population is in need of charity,
you must realize that a very large percentage is able to bestow
charity. And if you compare the number who are able to bestovy
charity with the number who bestow it, through an organization,
you will be amazed and shocked at the inevitable conclusion that
only a small percentage of our people do charity. Perhaps this
evil condition arises from the want of co-operation and sympathy
between those commonly known as the better class and those
commonly known as the lower class of our people, a distinction
which I do not think I am too critical when I say is largely de-
pendent upon that legend by which we indicate the unit of value.
The result of that want of co-operation and sympathy is that the
poor man â€” the man in modest circumstances â€” does not feel
obliged to give his mite to the alleviation of want in others, and a
greater burden is imposed upon the rich. And this is evil in
more ways than one. It is evil in that when the burden becomes
too great, recalcitrancy follows. It is evil in this that if our poor
or our people in modest circumstances are not actively engaged
in the administration of charities to which they contribute, they
are denied the uplifting influence of benefaction, to him who
bestows. And the whole community is denied the benefit of their
subscription, their practical assistance, their surveillance in the
very districts where we suffer most from imposition and chi-
My judgment is, that even though it entails trouble, untold
trouble, and I know it will, no effort should be spared to maks
the entire community, rich and poor â€” each according to his
meansâ€” contribute to the alleviation of suffering and want, so
that whatever our differences in religion, in politics, in social
standing, in wealth, in culture, or refinement, in the doing of
good, each according to the measure of his power, there should
be one level platform upon which every Jew can stand. And
there will flow from that union of effort the ultimate and finest
achievement of science in charity which has been well exemplified
in this great metropolis by the organization whose silver jubilee
132 LEO N. LEVI MEMORIAL VOLUME.
we are assembled to celebrate to-night. Because, when all the-
people are working to a common end, there will be one ideal in
charity work which has always been so far and yet so dear, and
that is a scientific administration of Jewish charities modeled
upon a high form of government.
The need for the United Hebrew Charities brought it into
existence, and that need was, the evils that preceded it.
The report that was read here to-night, like the report of
every organized charity I have ever been made familiar with,,
contained a plea for funds, a plea for moral support, a plea for
personal activity, and it should always be so â€” it indicates a
healthy condition. But let me call your attention to this: When
the list of subscribers to all these institutions is limited in num-
bers, and burdens come to a point when the back cannot stand an
additional pound of weight, it is wise to consider if we cannot do
that which is most required and most urgent first. And that can
only be done by having a parliament or clearing house. In a
well organized government, at the beginning of every fiscal
period a budget is made in which there must be wise distribution
of the revenues to the various departments thereof, so that the
most important shall not suffer by pampering the less important.
That is the highest expression of statesmanship. Shall we not
in the administration of our charities consider what revenues we
can expect to come from our people, and in what avenues these
revenues should be directed? Herein lies the highest essential
and highest strength of your organization; to demand the help
of every man, woman, and child in this community who has any-
thing to give in the way of money, sympathy or effort in the
cause of charity.
With the dissipation of effort and division of energies â€” and
traveling sometimes along parallel lines and thus wasting energies
that should have been directed otherwise â€” there come troubles
that only an intelligent clearing house such as this can avoid.
That idea can be extended still further and should be to the end
that we should not furnish niches of fame for ambitious men by
unnecessarily multiplying organizations. We should conserve
our energies and direct them straight at the target of want. And
how can that be done?
To bring that about let us not refuse to go into associations
that are distasteful to us. Let me assure you that no great good
is accomplished in anything unless sacrifice precedes its achieve-
ment. And if it becomes necessary to communicate with those
below you in the social scale to bring about their co-operation in
money, time, in sympathy, and in effort, I say you owe that
sacrifice to the poor and suffering as well as the money you un-
grudgingly give. There is nothing so becoming the lofty station
as humility, just as nothing so becomes the lowly station as pride.
If those who by the blessing of Providence have reached a high
plane will stoop in charity to those on a lower plane, those on the
lower plane will be ambitious to reach a higher plane themselves.
And in this we can make charity as noble and effective as when
we give a crust of bread to the hungry or clothe the naked.
I am admonished by the lateness of the hour that I must not
linger longer upon a subject so dear to me and upon which at a
more appropriate season I hope to deliver the message I have
in mind. The lesson to be learned, is in brief, that we should
all learn and teach, that we are not paying our debts, by in-
discriminately bestowing charity, that we should avail ourselves
of the opportunities that present themselves in a long established,
well conducted and absolutely needed institution, and especially
in one that exercises a wholesome supervisory influence over all
and accomplishes much against those evils the prevalence of
which brought this institution into being.
These are lessons to be learned from this occasion, more
valuable than the thrill of pleasure that follows a compliment,
more valuable because they will lead to something good to be
accomplished in the future, rather than to the ecstatic contempla-
tion of something done in the past. I do not appeal to you to
carry it to your homes and to your hearts. I demand it, not in
my name, not in the name of this organization. I demand it
in your name, as the duty that you owe to yourselves, the duty
that you inherited from your ancestors, the "noblesse oblige" of
LET WOMAN WITNESS.
History is replete with occasions when, because of unique
conditions a commonplace utterance has made an enduring im-
pression; when commonplace men became effective agents for
good. The studied words of the wise often fall like cinders in
a marsh, expiring as they fall ; while sometimes the rude ex-
pressions of a clown, though containing but a spark of truth,
start a conflagration. In olden times the birth of a male child
to a Jewish mother was dignified by the remote possibility that
he might prove to be the Messiah.
These observations are offered by way of apology for ventur-
ing, even in the most unpretentious way, to discuss a religious
theme in public. As a rule such discussion should be left to those
specially fitted therefor. In departing from that rule, I do so
with misgivings, yet hopeful that I may, in a small way, pro-
mote a great cause by making a plea for Religion. Not an
argument, not an apology, not a defense, but a plea. I do not
venture on the domain of either science or theology, for of these
it may be truly said ''fools rush in where angels fear to tread."
It however requires neither scientist or theologian to see how
pervasive are immorality and crime, and to measure these by
the decadence of religion. It was in former generations, if it
is not now, accepted as a current truth, that morality and right-
eousness followed always in the wake of education. It was as-
sumed that when the windows of the intellect were opened to
the light of knowledge, the warmth of virtue would enter the
soul. But there has come a disillusionment. Open windows
admit both light and warmth at times, but as often if not oftener,
sacrifice warmth for light. The world has grown in enlighten-
ment faster than in virtue; indeed one is almost driven at times
to the gloomy conviction that virtue abounds most where en-
lightenment sheds but feeble rays.
LET WOMAN WITNESS. I35
I should be unwilling to advance that as a deliberate con-
viction, but without misgivings I assert that enlightenment with-
out religion is a factitious and unstable support for morality.
It is safe to say that in the decalogue is to be found a com-
prehensive moral code ; certainly so, if it be supplemented with
the Mosaic command ''thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
The civilization that is not based on that code is not sound;
unless they draw therefrom their inspiration, manhood is not at
once stalwart. And gentle womanhood is not free and pure.
And what if anything can make that code the controlling
influence upon conduct?
The skeptic will answer that the fear of public opinion and
of public law alone controls the conduct of those who are not
governed by superstitious fears; or that the mind of man has
painfully and slowly spelled out the code, as the dictate of wis-
dom, supported by reason and sanctioned by almost universal
The religious person even though not pious will say that the
code ought, of right, and in fact does, truly enter into life be-
cause it is the Divine Law. To this last view I hold. Religion
occupies different planes, and to reach the highest one must
be devout and pious, as well as religious ; but the reUgious spirit
abides in the hearts and is reflected in the lives of many who,
if not pious and devout, esteem themselves, not more, but less,
on that account. For the purposes of this consideration it is
not important to draw fine distinctions between grades of loyalty
to religion. What I insist on is, that unless virtue is regarded
as the mandate of God, its practice cannot be widespread, per-
sistent or enduring. However well we fortify ourselves against
temptations, the enemy will break through at times, but when
Faith in Heaven is not among the defenders, then is resistance
weak indeed. A man cannot exist without air, food and water;
he cannot develop his physical powers without exercise. This
is true now and it always has been. Why? The answer of
science is that the law of man's being so decrees â€” ^but this is'
but another method of saying because it is the will of God.
Man does not reach his true moral development except by
136 LEO N. LEVI MEMORIAL VOLUME.
observing the code to which I have adverted. He never has.
Why? Again without circumlocution the answer is because it
is the Law of God. Man never has attained anything Hke even
an approximate observance of that code, save under the influence
of a rehgion which recognized a Supreme Power possessed of
Infinite attributes, making and revealing laws which as far as
understood were believed to be perfect, and whether understood
or not were accepted as authoritative.
If this statement be true, it furnishes an irresistible argument
that religion is a necessity of man's moral being and therefore
a Divine Law.
I assume that no one will question the validity of the moral
code contained in the ten commandments and the golden rule
of Moses. Men differ as to its origin, but not as to its merit.
Whence does it derive its sanction? Is it from common
consent? Or to express the same thought differently, from
public opinion ? If so, this public opinion makes the code moral,
and can also unmake it. It follows that it is not immoral to
be a polygamist in Turkey ; it was not immoral to steal in Sparta ;
it was not immoral to sacrifice human life to public sport in
Rome ; to burn Jews at the stake in the Middle Ages.
On the other hand, this code if always recognized and ac-
cepted by public opinion, is a remarkable exception, for all other
mere creations of the human mind are constantly being modified
or altered. If this code has escaped the thirst for change it is
because it has the same authority behind it which makes food,
air and water necessities of life. Men may quarrel about the
origin of the law, but when the law itself is assailed the assault
is led and followed only by mental or moral perverts.
The same argument applies to the suggestion that human
law requires observance of the salient features of this code, and
human government enforces it. This suggestion is not more
than fractionally true and even if it were wholly so, what be-
comes of the code if governmental law comes in opposition
thereto? If England, Germany, France and the United States
should unite in passing laws to legalize theft, perjury, adultery
and murder, would it be less wrong to commit these sins than
LET WOMAN WITNESS. 137
it is now? Nay! if all the world should unite in resolutions
and laws, that these things were virtues instead of wrongs,
would their moral nature change by reason of such resolutions
and laws? And if not, why not? Because the Right and the
Wrong are not measured by what Man says or does or thinks
about them. Men may weave webs of words and cloud the sub-
ject, but in the end the mind cannot escape the conclusion that
unless it be because God commands, there is no more inherent
wrong in theft, perjury, adultery or murder, than in smuggling
or carrying on a business without a license.
The virtue that has no higher inspiration than fear of the
law or public opinion, is not entitled to the name. The same
may be said of the virtue that is based only on considerations
of policy. Whenever subjected to a crucial test it fails and
proves itself a counterfeit.
It is difficult if not unfair to support this proposition by
comparison of one nation with another, or of men differently
situated. The superiority of one or the inferiority of another
may be attributable to other conditions. But if we find people
similarly situated, having the same environment, enjoying com-
mon joys, and suffering common sorrows, and discover marked
differences in their moral qualities, we may also discover evi-
dence for or against the influence of Religion or Morality. And
so I call Woman to witness.
Women are not inherently better or worse than men. The
savage woman is as cruel and ferocious as her mate and submits
to his rule, not upon principle, but in deference only to his
superior physical strength. The women of Greece compared
indifferently with the men. They were regarded and treated
as inferiors, esteemed chiefly for their physical charms. Aspasia
shines forth as perhaps the greatest of Greek women and her
claim to greatness must be confined to her beauty and intellect
and cannot be extended to her virtues. The women of Rome
devoted themselves to the pursuit of pleasure in its most odious
aspects. In the circus they looked on brutal and indecent sports
with unflinching eyes, and to the questioning glance of the
triumphant gladiator made answer with the thumb sign of death.
138 LEO N. LEVI MEMORIAL VOLUME. '
In the Saturnalia and Lupanarium the noblest dames of Rome
were chief actors, losing no caste by engaging in public de-
bauches, which would now be suppressed by law in even a semi-
civilized country. Patrician ladies whose husbands were heads
of government, commanders of armies, judges, painters, poets
and scholars â€” the very cream of society, paraded their own
iniquity and sneered at the eccentric univirae.
In Paris during the i8th century the upper classes set aside
the controlling influence of Religion, and in the decadence which
followed the women went to greater lengths than the men. In
intrigue, treachery, deception, openly scandalous conduct, and
even crime, the women w.ere willing partners or rivals of the
men. It is needless to multiply historical citations to prove that
when neither sex is restrained from wrong-doing by Religion,
the women become at least as wicked as the men.
I think it equally true that when men and women are alike
influenced by Religion, the virtues of men compare favorably
with those of the gentler sex. The truly religious man is as
well fortified against temptation as is his fair sister, and in
honor, fortitude, gentleness and mercy testifies to the uplifting
influence which makes him fearless of men and fearful of God.
But in this age the sexes are not equally influenced by Re-
ligion. The men are neither as pious or as religious as the
women. As a rule they do not attend divine services, they do
not pray or worship in public or private. So engrossed are they
by the cares of business that they devote no time or thought to
the relations between themselves and their Creator. If they
affiliate with churches it is too often in a perfunctory way and
because it is still regarded as good form. Not only is this all
true, but beyond this is the deplorable fact that men commonly
sneer at religion and deride it as a lot of superstitious humbug,
fit only for women and children. And strangely enough they
as a rule are quite content to subject their women and children
to the very humbug which they regard as noxious.
On the other hand if the women of this age are not as a
rule religious, they are not indiflferent to or contemptuous of it.
They do not decry it or speak of it save with respectful defer-
LET WOMAN WITNESS. 139
ence. They frequently if not regularly attend worship, and al-
most unfailingly bring themselves in touch with their Maker
If these premises be correct, the relative virtues of the sexes
will indicate if not measure the power of Religion. To that
power, working for the glorification of God and the betterment
of mankind, let Woman witness.
Recur to the commandments and compare our women with
our men. She, as a rule, is devout. She does not blaspheme.
She does not commit deeds of violence. She does not bear false
witness. She is honest. She is chaste. She is a good daughter,
a faithful wife, a self-sacrificing mother. She is compassionate
and merciful. She softens pain and solaces grief. She delights
in good deeds. With the graces of her heart she makes gentle
what is savage in man and leads her offspring from what is
debasing to what is pure. She is strong in her virtues and
trusted on account thereof.
And what of the men? Can it be said of them that in like
degree with women of the same social station, they are free of
the sins and shortcomings which denote unrighteousness? Are
they as clear in speech and thought, as truthful and honest
in deeds, as loyal, as brave in suffering, as resigned in sorrow,
as tender to the afflicted, as merciful to the downcast, as true to
their domestic obligations?
Who can doubt the answer to such questions?
From everv Judge on the Bench, from every officer of jus-
tice, from every minister of the gospel, from every observer and
student of our civilization there must come the same testimony,
that in morals, in the sweetness and light of human nature, our
women are on a higher plane than our men.
Our women are in a measure free ; our men are in a bondage
The exactions of a bizarre life, the pace that kills, the mad
rush for wealth, the cringing to greater power and the oppres-
sion of weakness, are links in the chains with which the modern
man has fettered himself. Manacled as he is, his nature shrivels
I40 LEO N. LEVI MEMORIAL VOLUME.
and hardens. He is becoming more and more mind and matter^
and less and less, heart and soul.
That women partake in a measure of his sordid appetites
and aspirations is not surprising. She could not escape alto-
gether the corrupting and corroding influence of such associa-
tion. That she has not become as bad as the men, is due only
to the fact that she has kept at least a low light burning on the
altar. From it she draws hope, courage and inspiration.
By it she learns that there is something in life besides,.
and better than power, riches or fame. It teaches her humility
instead of pride; deference instead of arrogance; resignation
instead of revolt. There is for her more wealth in her Bible
than in her bank book; more power in the love of friends than
in the fear of enemies; more glory in an approving conscience
than in the plaudits of the multitude.
It would be an exaggeration to claim all this for all or even
the majority of women. The ideal is seldom attained and even
those who strive hardest to attain it exhibit infirmities of char-
acter. But I do claim with confidence that the lofty ideals are
appreciated, studied, aspired to and striven for with fidelity,
persistency and success chiefly by those who are Religious. To
this let woman witness.
And now what shall we deduce from the argument. The
reciprocal influences exerted by the sexes on each other make
for good and for evil. Doubtless the religious tendency of
women exercises a salutary effect on men and conversely the
worldliness of men operates to lower the tone of woman's finer
nature. If men would but recognize the merits of Religion
and refrain from assailing it, it would be less difficult for women
to uphold it ; if women would more aggressively stand for Re-
ligion, men would not only cease their assaults but would more
generally come under its influence. If men wish to encourage
the highest and best qualities of the wife, the mother, the daugh-
ter and the son, they must encourage these to be religious. If