Charles Richmond Henderson.

Modern methods of charity; an account of the systems of relief, public and private, in the principal countries having modern methods online

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for Sunday and holiday entertainments.

The Russian government estimates that the total revenue
in 1904 from the liquor trade in the several provinces of the
Empire where the business is monopolized by the state will reach
nearly $385,500,000.^

Moscow has a private "Popular Entertainment Society" which
has opened parks and tea houses and provides amusements such
as dancing, theaters and both band and orchestral concerts for
a small price. The orchestra which plays classic Russian music
is most popular. The city committee has opened tea houses and
has a people's house for entertainment.

In 1898 the Guardians had 45 committees in provinces and 7
in cities, 1,713 restaurants and tea houses, 747 lecture halls and
libraries, 501 concert halls and 91 theaters. In 1900 they had an
income of 750,000 rubles and 23,600 cooperating members. Their
funds come from the state, from gifts and from the entertain-
ments. The provincial committees consist of the governor, the
bishop, representatives of the clergy, the marshal of nobility, the
procurator of the district, the director of schools, chief of police,
medical director, president of the Chamber of Commerce, the
Peasants' Bank and the Zemstvos — a typical Russian committee.

When the system was first introduced there seemed to be an
increase of street drinking and disorder, but greater vigilance on
the part of the police and above all a multiplication of diversions

^Consular Reports, April, 1904, p. 308.



is doing away with this and the general verdict is favorable to
the system. It is one of the hopeful social experiments of the

Savings Banks. — Reports on the business of government sav-
ings banks, April i, 1903, show: Total number of banks, with
departments, 6,288; of these, 4,087 are at post and telegraph
offices. The amount of savings, $412,524,785; amount of notes,

* Consular Reports.. April, 1904, p. 308.





In many quarters the belief is current that there are no Jewish
poor. "Rich as a Jew" has become a by-word of whose truth
the popular mind is convinced. As a matter of fact, however,
recent statistics show that many Jews are among- the poorest
men on earth. Scattered throughout every part of the globe there
are- a little over ten million Jews. Half of these live in Russia
alone ; and it has been calculated that the total wealth of the
Russian Jew is only five dollars per head. W'ith the exception
of a few countries like England and America, where a more toler-
ant spirit has allowed a few families to acquire wealth, the eco-
nomic status of the. Jew in Russia is fairly typical of his status
elsewhere. This poverty of the Jew is due in large measure to
causes quite dififerent from the general causes to which the pov-
erty in the world around him is attributed. The Jew is of course
subject to the same laws of economic fluctuation as all other men
are; but in his case, these natural laws are made heavier by
the artificial decrees of a hostile environment. Crime, inebriety,
and other flagrant moral deficiencies of the individual are not
to be reckoned with as conspicuous factors in the Jew's impov-
erishment, because under normal conditions these are everywhere
conceded to be rare. It is the burden, rather, of continued per-
secution, religious, political, and economic, which, certainly more
than any other external cause, has dragged fully 75 per cent,
of the world's ten million Jews into the depths of the direst pov-
erty and economic misery.



To attack this tremendous problem of poverty, which is by
no means of recent origin, the Jews throughout the world, and
especially the Jews of Europe, who number over three-fifths of
the world's Jewish population, have for many centuries had an
extensive and well-developed system of charity. The Old Testa-
ment, the Talmud, and the Shulchan Aruch formed the basis of
this charity. The Shulchan Aruch, a mediaeval compendium
of the legislation of the Bible and Talmud, contains an elaborate
code of charity called "Hilchoth Zedeqah" in according with
whose spirit and principle Jewish charity is largely administered.
The underlying principle emphasized in this code is that ex-
pressed in the Biblical passage : "Blessed is he that considereth
the poor." (Psalm 41 :i.) The rabbis took this passage and
made it one of the bases of a system of charity whose main pur-
pose was to help the poor to help themselves ; and Maimonides,
the great Jewish philosopher of the twelfth century, amplified
it into eight forms or grades, which have characterized the ad-
ministration of Jewish charity of all lands and all times. These
eight grades of charity he gives as follows :

1. Charity that aids the poor in supporting themselves by ad-
vancing money or by helping them to some lucrative occupation.

2. Charity that is administered under conditions in which the
beneficiary is unknown to the benefactor and vice versa.

3. Charity that is administered in secret; if almsgiving, by
leaving the money at the houses of the poor who remain ignorant
of the benefactor. This is especially enjoined whenever public
charity is not properly administered,

4. Charity that is given without knowing the recipient, and
the giver remains unknown to the recipient.

5. Charity that is given before being asked to give it.

6. Charity given after being asked to give it.

7. Charity given inadequately, but with good grace.

8. Charity given with bad grace.

While these grades refer more directly to almsgiving, their
spirit is characteristic of Jewish charity in all its phases and
serves to establish its ethical value. Its sanction, as has al-
ready been noted, is found in the fundamental meaning of Zeda-
qah as justice. The Talmud expressly enjoins that the poor of
the non-Jew be treated like the poor of the Jew. "The poor of



the stranger," it says (Gittin Gla), "are to be supported with the
poor of Israel : the sick of the stranger are to be nursed with the
sick of Israel ; the dead of the stranger are to be buried with the
dead of Israel; and the mourners of the stranger are to be com-
forted like the mourners of Israel, on account of the ways of
peace." The catholicity of Jewish charity is accentuated by its
chivalrous refinement. A woman's claim has precedence over
that of a man ; and a student of the law over an ignorant man,
even though he be of the highest rank. (Horayoth III, 7-8)
(Kethuboth 6, 7). Perhaps the best illustration of the ethical
spirit of Jewish charity is afforded by a method which has been
in vogue for almost two centuries in Berlin. Here, there is a
society called "Mishan Abelim" ("Support of Mourners"), whose
purpose is to aid needy families when bereaved by death of one
of its members. Each member of the society, rich and poor alike,
is given two locked and marked boxes. One of the boxes con-
tains money, whose amount, as will be seen, is unknown to any-
one. Every recipient of this box is given a key in a sealed pack-
age, and with it a note requesting that the box be opened by
all means whether the contents be used or not. According to
his need, he may keep the whole or part of the contents. If he
feels he does not need it, he is asked to turn the money into the
second box. In any case he is asked to add of his own means
to the contents of the second box, in order that the purpose of
the society may be accomplished. This second box, in the course
of its distribution through various families, remains unopened
for an indefinite period, so that no one, not even the society's
agent, can know who has given or who has received charity.

The ethical level attained by the Berlin society marks the
lofty standard attained by Jewish charity throughout the world.
The attainment of such a standard has been rendered possible by
the intimacy and domestic idealism of Jewish social life, which
found its center in the synagogue. The synagogue has been
for the Jew for many centuries, and to the great majority of Jews
to-day still is, the center, not only of religious, but of social and
philanthropic activity as well. Hence, wherever the Jew may
be located, if the place, however isolated or desolate, numbers
only ten male adults, which is the traditional number necessary
to form a synagogue or hold a religious service — he boasts of an


organized chanty based on the loftiest ethical principles. So it
happens that in the remotest parts of the earth, in Cochin State
on the Malabar Coast, for instance, the Jews, numbering about
2,000, a large number of whom are known as black Jews, have
ten synagogues, with all of which some form of educational or
charitable organization is associated. Most of these synagogues
were organized and built from the fourteenth to the seventeenth
centuries. The synagogue of Paroor in Travancore, dates from
the year 750; and the synagogue of Kadvoobagam in Cochin, was
built in 1 1 50. It supports the poor, and belongs, as does also the
synagogue of Paroor, to a community of black Jews, descended
from settlers who are said to have come to this territory after the
destruction of the Second Temple in 70 A. D. But these syna-
gogues with their organized charities can be traced all over Eu-
rope as early as the thirteenth century. The purpose of these so-
cieties was to support and clothe the poor, educate the children
of the poor, nurse and educate orphans, provide marriage dowries
for poor maidens, visit the sick and lying-in women among the
poor, provide shelter for the aged, provide free burials, and in
days of persecution, to ransom captives and prisoners. Each so-
ciety pledged itself to such comprehensive philanthropy ; though
in more recent times, the work has been divided among various
societies devoted to special purposes. Many of these societies,
known in general as friendly and benefit societies, while formally
separated from the synagogue, are still more or less connected,
with it.

Manchester, England, afifords a fairly ideal type of modern
synagogal charity. Its Jewish congregation has a Sustentation
Fund whose objects are: the assistance in an efficient manner of
members of the congregation, or of the widows and orphans, if
reduced in position through misfortune; and the granting of a
yearly allowance to enable members of small means to ap-
prentice their children to a profession, business, or trade. The
work of lodges or fraternal organizations, inaugurated during
the latter half of the nineteenth century and covering the more
advanced countries of the world where Jews are located, is car-
ried on entirely distinct from the synagogue. Of the friendly
and benefit societies, however, with purposes mentioned above,
there are no less than 170 in London alone, which numbers 104,-


ooo Jews in its population. In the provinces there are 96 socie-
ties, making a total of 266 societies in a population of 179,000 in
the British Isles. Australasia, with 17,000 Jews, has 27 societies.
Canada, numbering 16,000, has 18. South Africa, numbering
30,000, has 26. India, with 22,000, has 5. In India, Turkey and
elsewhere in the Orient, a large part of the philanthropic activity-
is in the hands of international organizations like the Alliance
Israelite and the Jewish Colonization Association. In Russia,
with its 5,000,000 Jews, the charitable work in general is done by
the synagogue and by international organizations. In Germany,
the public charity is administered by the synagogue.^

Until the middle of the last century, most of these societies
did their work independently of one another. In 1859 the Eng-
lish Board of Guardians for the Relief of Jewish Poor was organ-
ized in London ; and while there are quite a number of organi-
zations existing apart from this board, most of the public char-
ity in London is administered through its agency. Its work is
divided among sixteen subsidiary committees: Loan Committee,
Committee for the Conducting of Workrooms, Investigation
Committee, Visiting Committee, Emigration Committee, Indus-
trial Committee, Fixed Allowance Committee, Temporary Allow-
ance Committee, Conjoint Committee for Consideration of Leg-
islative and Parochial Questions concerning Jewish Poor, Russo-

^ Charities Register and Digest of London (1895) has in the Index the follow-
ing titles, alluding to Jewish philanthropic institutions. The enumeration of these
various institutions will enable one to obtain an approximate idea of the extent of
Jewish philanthropy in London alone: Jewish Aged Pension Society; Jewish
almshouses (there are several asylums for aged in London) ; Society for Appren-
ticing Jewish Children ; Anglo-Jewish Association (to protect Jewish civil and
political rights, to promote Jewish education) ; Jewish Asylum for Aged Trades-
men ; Jewish Blind Pension Institution ; Jewish Board of Guardians (object, relief of
Jewish poor — pecuniary, in kind, medical, by assistance to emigrate, to apprentice,
and loan of tools, etc.) ; Jewish Bread, Meat, and Coal Charity (object, to distribute
these things during the winter season) ; Jewish Charities (object, the distribution of
marriage gifts or dowries) ; City of London Jewish Benevolent Society (for assist-
ing Jewish widows in distress) ; Jewish Confined, Mourning and Burial Society;
Jewish Convalescent Homes (there are two such homes in London) ; East London
Jewish Benevolent Society (relief confined to persons living within a radius of i J^
miles of Stepney Green) ; Jewish Excelsior Relief Fund ; Jewish Food Charity
(object, to provide Jewish strangers with meals on Sabbaths and holy days) ; Jewish
Freemasons' Daughters (to maintain, clothe and educate daughters of Free-


Jewish Committee, Sanitary Committee, Ladies' Conjoint Visit-
ing Committee, Clothing Committee, Almshouse Committee, Dis-
trict Canvassing Committee. The Board of Guardians in Lon-
don is a model for similar organizations in twenty-three cities
and towns in the provinces, Germany has a similar organization
in Berlin, whose Armen-Commission der Juedischen Gemeinde
is directly associated with the Union of Jewish congregations.
Its administration is in the hands of three committees: (i) to
afford financial relief; (2) to give work and mazzoth, or unleav-
ened bread, on Passover; (3) to give food. France also has a'
central organization in its Comite de Bienfaisance de la Ville de
Paris. It consists of thirty-six members, divided into sub-com-
mittees to whose supervision the various communal charities are
entrusted. This organization grants necessary assistance to
worthy poor families ; gives tools and machines, or the means
to purchase them ; grants money to purchase goods ; makes loans ;
provides medical relief; conducts an employment bureau, and two
large soup-kitchens. Rome, ever since the seventeenth century,
has four central organizations comprising thirty societies devoted
to almost every phase of philanthropic activity. Gibraltar has
four societies devoted to specific charities, but regulated along
with other affairs of the Jews of Gibraltar, by the Managing
Board of the Hebrew community.

masons) ; Jewish Girls* Club ; Jewish Girls' Lodging Home (object, care of unpro-
tected, respectable working girls) ; Jewish Incurables' Home (for those suffering
from chronic disease, accident or deformity) ; Jewish Ladies' Benevolent Institu-
tion (provides clothing and other necessaries for lying-in married women) ; Jewish
Ladies' Loan Societies (granting to poor loans without interest) ; Jewish Ladies'
Association for Preventive Work (to reclaim the fallen Jewish girls and women) ;
Jewish Marriage Gift ; Jewish Marriage Portion Society (marriage portion is £40,
bestowed biennially, and wedding fees are defrayed) ; Jewish Maternity Institu-
tion (see Jewish Ladies' Benevolent Institution) ; Jewish Society on Circumcision
(object, provision of a godfather and an operator on occasion of circumcision) ; Jew-
ish High School for Girls, and Day Training College for Teachers (open to all
denominations) ; Jewish Free School ; Jewish Infant School ; other Jewish schools,
where religious education and partial clothing are provided ; Jewish Charities of
the United Synagogue (engaged in various phases of charitable endeavor) ; Jewish
Tailors' Benefit Soc. ; Jewish Training College ; Jewish Deaf and Dumb Home (to
educate for industrial employment indigent deaf and dumb children) ; Jewish Emi-
gration Society ; Jewish Orphan Asylum ; Jewish Tradesmen's Benevolent Society
(to assist deserving poor of all denominations during inclement season of the year).


Jewish indoor relief is administered generally through par-
ticular societies connected with the particular needs of various
institutions. In many cases, homes for the aged, orphanages,
hospitals, schools and other institutions have been endowed by
private beneficence and are maintained and managed by these
societies. The names of Montefiore in England, France, Aus-
tria, and Palestine, of the Sassoons in the Orient, of Baron Gins-
berg in Russia, of Baron and Baroness de Hirsch throughout
Europe and the world, are especially conspicuous in this regard.
But there are many others of lesser wealth in the various Jewish
communities scattered throughout the world whose philanthropy
has established institutions which their brethren of smaller means
have organized themselves to maintain.

Perhaps Germany leads all other countries in the number
of Homes for the Aged. In a Jewish population of less than
600,000, it has twenty-three institutions for the protection of
destitute old men and women. Three of these are in Breslau,
and two in Berlin. France, with a Jewish population of 86,000,
has a home for the aged in connection with the Jewish Hospital
in Paris, and three homes in Bordeaux, Nancy, and Luneville.
England has seven homes in London, known as almshouses, and
founded by private individuals, the earliest in 1730; and one in
Manchester, supported by voluntary contributions and donations.
Though the London homes are called almshouses, they are not
to be understood as possessing in any way the disagreeable fea-
tures ordinarily attributed to that term, particularly in the United
States. Nowhere in Jewish charity are the homes for the aged
burdened with such a stigma. On the contrary, they are in
general the favored recipients of public and private philanthropy,
which makes them inviting rather than repellent ; and no Jew,
however self-respecting or proud, ever feels humiliated or stig-
matized by entering them. This is readily explained by the
high regard that characterize grandparents and old men and
women generally in Jewish domestic life. Moreover, from, few,
if any, sources has the complaint arisen that such generous treat-
ment of Jewish homes for the aged has resulted in encouraging

London has, besides its almshouses, an Aged Needy Society,
founded in 1829, whose object is the pensioning of indigent mem-


bers of the Jewish community who shall have attained the age
of sixty years, by making them a permanent allowance of five
shillings weekly. Liverpool and Manchester have similar organ-
izations. In London there are two societies for the granting
of pensions to widows. The earlier of these was founded in
1867 and grants a pension of five shillings a week, for a term
of thirteen weeks, and one pound at the expiration of that time.
The West Indies has a home in Jamaica, at Kingston. Gibraltar
and Sidney, New South Wales, also have homes for the aged.
Temporary homes and shelters for destitute adults are coexistent
with Jewish communities everywhere. If the community is too
small to maintain a separate inn, or Hachnosas Orchim, for the
reception of poor strangers, some particular family is selected to
afford the lodging and meals, and the expense incurred is after-
wards repaid by the community. But this method of dealing
with transients has always been unsatisfactory in the history
of Jewish charity because of the peculiar type of itinerant beggar
it has produced. Because of the ease with which a stranger re-
ceives free accommodation, shelter and even money to proceed
farther on his journey, many a man has travelled around the
world in comparative luxury, and without the slightest return
in labor or money on his part. Indeed he considers himself the
benefactor rather than the beneficiary by the assistance rendered,
because, according to the Jewish conception of charity which
makes it the duty of every Jew to give, and the right of every
poor man to receive charity, he feels that he has been responsible
for his fellow Jew's performance of duty. He does not consider
himself a beggar, therefore, but a necessary agent in the fulfill-
ment of the law of charity. Europe and indeed the whole Jew-
ish world outside of the United States has still a serious problem
in its itinerant beggars. Germany, more than any other Eu-
ropean country, appears to be active in suppressing the evil
through its Societies for the Prevention of Itinerant and House-
to-House Begging. There are yj of these societies located in the
various cities and towns of Germany. But perhaps no method
has been more successful in combating the evil than that adopted
by the National Conference of Jewish Charities in the United
States, at Chicago in 1900, and since reported upon favorably for


adoption by the National Conference of Charities and Correc-
tion in its treatment of the same problem.

The larger cities of Europe, particularly London, have an-
other serious problem to contend with in the immigration of
persecuted Jews from the continental countries of Europe. So-
cieties for taking care of these refugees, and for sending them
to their destination, or finding employment for them at the place
of landing, have therefore been established. ]\Iany of these so-
cieties are composed of recent immigrants who have organized
themselves for the purpose of assisting those who come from
their own particular section of their native land. London has a
Location and Information Bureau, conducted by the Russo-
Jewish Committee in conjunction with the Jewish Board of
Guardians, to afford organized means whereby Russo-Jewish
refugees in London can obtain aid and information as to
how and where to get work and where to reside. There is also
a Poor Jews' Temporary Shelter, which was founded in 1885 to
prevent poor immigrants from falling into the hands of unscrupu-
lous countrymen on landing. The latter, it was discovered, often
took advantage of the newly-arrived immigrants by conducting
them to lodgings where they were robbed of their effects; while
young women were often decoyed into houses of ill-fame. The
Poor Jews' Temporary Shelter was founded in order to obviate
this evil. The immigrant on landing is met by accredited officials
and conducted to the Shelter, which is notified by the Board of
Trade and the Dock and Police officers of the Thames of the
arrival of every immigrant ship. On arriving at the shelter, the
immigrant is allowed to remain for a period not exceeding four-
teen days, at the end of which time, he proceeds to his destination
abroad (the United States, Canada, South Africa, or Australia)
or finds employment in England. The numl)er of inmates in
1902 was 2,350, of whom 1,334 immediately emigrated to different
parts of the world, and 1,016 left for destinations unknown. Li
the same year, 1885, the Jewish Association for the Protection
of Girls and Women was founded to care for female immigrants.
London, Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester have naturali-
zation societies, also general culture and English classes for Jew-
ish immigrants.

Relief in kind has prevailed in Jewish charity ever since


Talmudic times. In modern times it is handled by special funds
and societies. London has no less than six of the latter, besides
numerous Ladies' Guilds connected with the various synagogues,
to provide clothing, shoes, coal, bread, meat, groceries, medicines,
and other necessities. In general, the relief is obtained through
the distribution of tickets. In this connection, it may be men-
tioned that on religious holidays and occasions of domestic joy,
especially anniversaries, weddings, and births, it has been a long
and widely practiced custom for well-to-do Jews and even those
of moderate means to send gifts in the shape of goods or fuel to
the houses of the poor. Soup kitchens, first established in Eu-

Online LibraryCharles Richmond HendersonModern methods of charity; an account of the systems of relief, public and private, in the principal countries having modern methods → online text (page 67 of 73)