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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cation of girls. Its policy has been to lift them from the low posi-
tion occupied by women in the Orient by affording them edu-
cational and other privileges equal to those of men. One impor-
tant result of this policy, even in the short period of the schools'
activity, has been the almost complete disappearance among Jews
of the common Oriental practice of early marriages. The agri-
cultural schools of the Alliance began their extensive existence
in 1870 with the founding of the school at Jaffa, in Palestine.
The cultivation chiefly of olives, oranges, grapes and fruit is
carried on ; also fruit culture, kitchen gardening, cattle raising,
and silk-worm cultivation. The school at Jaffa has at present
over 200 resident pupils, and is one of the important sources
whence the other schools and colonies of the Alliance draw their
instructors and managers. The total expenditure of the Alliance
on all its schools in 1903 was over 1,280,000 francs.

The executive management of the Alliance is in the hands of
a Central Committee limited in number to sixty members, about
half of whom reside in Paris, and the rest in different countries
of Europe and America. These are elected by a majority vote
of the members of the Alliance for a period of nine years. Three
retire every three years. The membership fee, from which the
Alliance derives its main income, is 6 francs. Donations and be-
quests, however, are frequent. It receives a subvention likewise


from the Jewish Colonization Association. The active work of
the Central Committee is done by the members resident in Paris.
The non-resident members receive monthly notice of questions to
be discussed; while at the more important meetings, they are
either present in person or send in their written opinions to the
committee. A general meeting of the Central Committee is
held at least once a year. The committee keeps in touch
with its members through local or territorial committees who
form the propagating and executive agents of the association
everywhere. The Alliance publishes, besides its annual re-
port, monthly bulletins containing generally an account of
work accomplished in that period. The representatives of
the Alliance are officially recognized by most, if not all of
the governments within whose territory they are located.
The work of the Alliance is aided by smaller organizations of a
similar character established in several countries of Europe.
These organizations are the Anglo-Jewish Association in Eng-
land (established in 1871), the Hilfsverein der Deutschen Juden
in Germany (1901), and the "Israelitische Allianz zu Wien"
(1873). While concerned chiefly with conditions in their respec-
tive countries, they are all more or less connected with the Al-
liance Israeite Universelle and with the Jewish Colonization
Association, and their assistance to the latter takes the form
chiefly in granting subventions to their schools and in handling
the persecuted immigrants from Russia, Roumania, and Galicia.

References : I. Abrahams, Jewish Life in the Middle Ages ; M. Lazarus, Ethik
des Judenthums ; Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. I, Article, Alliance Israelite Univer-
selle, Vol. Ill, Art. on Charity, by K. Kohler and L. K. Frankel ; English Jewish
Year-Book, 1902-1903; statistics, reports, and statutes of various organizations
referred to.

It is gratefully acknowledged that Dr. Lee K. Frankel of New York and Mr,
Jacob Billikopf have given valuable assistance on several points in the articles on
Jewish charities, but they are not responsible for any possible errors. — Editor.



The Jew has always had a fair name for thoughtfulness and
kindness to the poor and unfortunate of his own people. His

THE JEWS (i'j'j

love and affection for the needy, his quiet, gentle method of alle-
viating suffering and uplifting the fallen have been a cause of
admiration by the world. From biblical times to the present
day he has felt it not only a privilege but also a solemn duty' to
still every cry and answer every plea for help. Never has there
been an importunate knock at his door which has gone unheeded,
because, for him, charity has been one of the pillars upon which
the world rests.^

It is not surprising, therefore, to find in every Jewish com-
munity in this country and Canada, various institutions and
agencies, especially designed to meet the pressing wants of the
unfortunate, destitute, sick or worthy poor. The work which is
now done by these charitable organizations was formerly consid-
ered to be the duty of each individual. In the Bible, every chari-
table act worthy of being done is called "tsedakah," a term
whose literal meaning is righteousness.^ In later days a dis-
tinction was made between the charity which implied a gift of
money, food or property and that which involved a gift of one's
own self. "Tsedakah" was therefore given the distinct mean-
ing of "alms" bestowed upon the poor and it became a duty
chiefly incumbent upon the wealthy.* The term "gemilluth-
chesed" was then introduced to denote all those personal acts
of kindness which ought to be practiced by poor and rich alike.^

^ The Books of Exodus, Deuteronomy, Isaiah, Psalms, Proverbs and Job abound
in beautiful passages which emphasize the sacred obligations of charity. Cf. Deut. "Thou shalt surely open thine hand unto thy brother, to thy poor and to
thy needy in thy land." See also Prov. iii.27, 28 ; Job. xxix.12-16, etc.

^Pirke Aboth, i, 2 (Sayings of the Fathers): "There are three things upon
which the world rests, the study of the law, divine service and charity."

* It may therefore be inferred that, for the Jew of those times, charity was an
act of righteousness incumbent on every one.

* In the sense of "tsedakah," charity, according to rabbinical literature, in-
cludes such branches of philanthropic work as (a) alms-giving to the poor for the
purpose of alleviating temporary suffering ; (fe) providing food for the hungry,
drink for the thirsty and clothing for the naked ; (c) sheltering the aged and
infirm, the widow and the orphan ; (rf) giving aid to the stranger; (^) assuring the
religious and secular education of the children of the poor ; (/) teaching the needy
a trade and assisting them to obtain a livelihood ; {g) helping those who have gone
astray to regain their self-respect and return to the path of industry and honor ;
(/O providing poor maidens with wedding dowries.

^ Under "gemilluth-chesed" are included such acts as (a) visiting the sick and


With such a broad and noble meaning, charity became a sacred
virtue gracing every Jewish home and heart.

With the growth of population, however, and the increased
complexity of the social life, the demands for assistance became
so great and varied that individuals found they could no longer
cope successfully with the difficulties. Communal organizations
were thereupon formed to meet the demands of the situation.^
Each century witnessed the formation of new societies and insti-
tutions for the care of all worthy subjects of charity. To such
an extent did this movement develop that, in the thirteenth cent-
ury A. D., no Jewish community could be found in all Europe
which did not have some philanthropic association or institu-

Since then the growth of Jewish charity societies has been a
steady and progressive one. In this country, the first institution
to open its doors was the Jewish Orphan Asylum of New York,
founded by Mr. Jacob S. Solis in the year 1829. Thirty years
later the first Hebrew benevolent society was established. Now,
there are over 590 philanthropic organizations, the fundamental
purpose of which is the care and assistance of the needy poor.^

cheering the suffering; (b) burying the dead; (c) comforting the mourners; (d)
promoting peace and good-will among men ; (e) judging charitably the words and
deeds of our fellows ; (/) raising the moral, spiritual and social condition of the
lowly by personal service and encouraging sympathy. Cf. M. Friedlander, "The
Jewish Religion," pages 302-303.

^ About the third century B. C, Simon the Just propounded the principle that
charity, in all its phases, should be a matter of public concern and administration.
It seems that it was in accord with this maxim that, in the first century of the
Christian era, according to historical data, a body of men was appointed by the
community to take entire charge of its relief work. See Josephus, "Antiquities,"
chapter 20, 25. We also know that in the second century. Rabbi Akiba held the
position of charity overseer. (Tal. Kid., 28, a.)

* Each community had a charity-box in which were deposited funds for the
support of indigent townsmen and transients : there was also a charity-bowl, in
which were kept victuals needed for immediate use. There was also a clothing
and a burial fund. Some communities had public inns, where food and shelter
were given to poor and homeless travelers. These communities also contributed
to the support of the non-Jewish poor and they were actuated by the loftiest of
motives in the dispensation of their charity.

* In this number are not included the numerous benevolent organizations, fuel
societies, invalid aid societies, burial associations, sheltering homes and benefit
societies which have been organized by Russian, Galician and Roumanian Jews for


There are, besides these, 16 asylums for dependent children, 12
hospitals for the sick, i national hospital for consumptives and
13 homes for the aged.^ All these institutions are conducted
along the sanest lines of modern charity administration.^

In recent years the various charitable organizations have, in
a few large cities, been combined under one centralized system.
To the federation is assigned the duty of collecting the funds,
and of apportioning these to the different constituent societies.
The affairs of each society are administered by a board of direc-
tory, chosen from among the members. The object of the federa-
tion is : (0) to bring about a closer and more intimate union be-
tween the various beneficial societies ; (b) to eliminate as far as
possible unnecessary duplication of work and to abolish the per-
nicious system of collecting funds by means of charity balls and
entertainments. In each case the federation has met with consid-
erable success, and has fully justified its existence.^

their countrymen. These organizations generally act independently of each other.
In New York City, where there are many such unaffiliated societies, the United
Hebrew Charities, the largest Jewish relief organization in New York, is trying to
bring about a closer cooperation between them. Since the latter part of the
eighteenth century the Jewish congregations have carried on benevolent work
similar to that done by congregations in Europe. For example, the Rodeph
Sholem Congregation of Philadelphia, organized in 1800, originally began work as
a society for the burial of the dead, and this is characteristic of a number of other
large societies.

^ There are also several foster homes, lying-in hospitals, homes for the friend-
less, manual training schools and numerous other similar institutions. All the
large cities maintain dispensaries.

^In former days only the immediate want was relieved. Imposition and pau-
perization were frequent results of the indiscriminate and injudicious charity
which then prevailed. Now, not only the temporary distress but the future wel-
fare of the needy ones is carefully considered. Great care is exercised that their
self-respect, their manhood and womanhood is preserved. Charity is now admin-
istered on the principle that the best way to aid the poor is to help them to help
themselves. The chronic "Schnorrer," a parasite whose growth was encouraged
by the old methods, has thereby been almost eliminated.

' Cincinnati, Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Kansas City and Cleve-
land have their charities at present federated, while such a movement is now on
foot in Milwaukee, Louisville and Baltimore. The time is not far off when all the
large cities will federate their charities, while those of moderate size will undoubt-
edly combine them also. Of course, there is no need for this in the small cities,
where one society can dispense the charity of the community.

In Chicago last year, $135,000 were collected and distributed among the United


In the gradual evolution of relief giving, and relief administra-
tion, very important changes have been brought abovit ; such as
the substitution of more intelligent cooperative effort for crude
forms of almsgiving and the amalgamation of many small relief
societies into one large organization, under the special charge
of persons trained in the social sciences. Scientific methods pre-
vail in the conduct of relief organizations, as a result of which
pauperism has been considerably lessened. Relief is given in
the shape of money, clothing, coal, medicine, food, etc. Employ-
ment bureaus, work rooms for unskilled women and in some
cases day nurseries are conducted under the direct supervision
of the relief organizations. In offering relief their aim is both to
make it adequate for the applicant's needs and to consider the
future welfare of the recipients. The relief societies have been
greatly aided in their work by various societies of women, known
as sisterhoods. These are generally affiliated with synagogues,
and their chief work consists in acting as friendly visitors and in-
vestigators ; in conducting kindergartens and religious classes.
There are 13 such sisterhoods in New York city, and the good
they have accomplished can not be overestimated. The moral
tone of the communities in which they are situated has been
raised considerably.

A few of the large relief societies in this country maintain
loan departments, but these have not met with much success. It
is found that only a small per cent, of the money loaned is re-
turned. The smaller loan societies which are connected with the
synagogues, and of which there are 14 in this city alone, have
met with greater success. This may be due in part to the fact
that loans are made only to members. But in some of the large
cities there are highly systematized loan organizations, which
are conducted along scientific lines. A loan, without interest,
and which is to be repaid in regular installments, is extended
to anyone upon the securit}^ offered by the borrower's personal
note, endorsed by one or two responsible persons. The chief aim
of such societies is to make the loan serve as a substitute for

Hebrew Charities, the Home for Aged Jews, the Orphan Home, the Michael Reese
Hospital, the Manual Training School, the Seventh Ward Bureau, the Dispensary,
the Lying-in Hospital and the Maxwell Street Settlement. Money was also sent to
national institutions at Denver and Cleveland.


alms. Many a family has thus been kept away from the relief
societies and made self-sustaining by the intervention of the loan
organizations. Conducted as the larger ones are on a business
basis, they have sustained very little loss.^

Prior to 1900 a few abortive attempts had been made to form
a National Conference of Jewish Charities, but not till that year
was the association formed. It was found necessary to introduce a
national organization which should deal with the ever increasing
problems of the Jewish poor in this country. "The objects of this
association," to quote the constitution, "are to discuss the prob-
lems of charities and to promote reforms in their administration ;
to provide uniformity of action and cooperation in all matters
pertaining to the relief and betterment of the Jewish poor of the
United States, without, however, interfering in any manner with
the local work of any constituent society." Any Jewish philan-
thropic society may become a member of the association on pay-
ment of dues varying from $5 to $50, according to the size of the
society. And each society may be represented by one or more
delegates at the biennial meetings of the conference. It is grow-
ing constantly, having had in 1900 a membership of 40; in
1902 of 54 organizations. Several reforms have already been
effected by it. The abuse of free transportation has been
greatly mitigated by the adoption at the conference of cer-
tain rules and regulations by which the constituent societies are
guided.^ The provision of free scholarships at our universities
for young men and women who may equip themselves for phil-
anthropic work, will tend to raise the efficiency of the work in
behalf of the poor. But it is by educating the public to the ne-
cessity of substituting more scientific methods in the administra-
tion of relief, that so many wholesome results have already been
accomplished. Hence, many societies have adopted a system

^ For a fuller discussion of this subject see Proceedings of 2d National Confer-
ence of Jewish Charities, 1902, p. 50.

' According to its rules, no city can send a transient to any other city without
the consent of the city to which transportation is desired. Impostors now find it
a very difficult task to secure free transportation. Since the formation of this
conference, the work of the different societies has been greatly facilitated and the
professional beggar and itinerant now shun their relief officer, for they know that
no assistance is given, except in extraordinarily exceptional cases, and only after
a thorough investigation has been made.


of uniform records, so that statistics are now being kept and
the duphcation of charity has been minimized.

Since biblical days, the hoary head has been an object of Jew-
ish reverence and respect.^ It is quite natural, therefore, that we
should find numerous "homes" scattered over this land, provid-
ing for the comfort and contentment of those who, in the decline
of their lives, have no home of their own. The thirteen institu-
tions for the aged in this country have been models of their kind
and, to their inmates, have been veritable homes of shelter and
protection against the wintry storms of life.^

The Jewish sick have always received the best of care and
attention. To-day, the many excellent hospitals^ and dispen-
saries* testify most eloquently to this fact. Every large city
has a hospital, while even the smallest community provides
medical aid for the needy. The consumptive Jew has recently
awakened the deepest sympathies of his co-religionists and just
now the question of his suffering and its proper alleviation is
prominently occupying their minds. While the hospital at Den-
ver and the Bedford Sanitarium have done admirable work, yet
their resources are not adequate to the demands of this ravag-
ing disease. The problem is, in reality, too large for private
treatment alone.

There is no Jewish institution in the United States for the
care of defectives such as blind, feeble-minded, insane and epilep-
tic persons. Knowing as we do that the sight of affliction has
always deeply touched the well-springs of the Jewish heart, this

'^ Leviticus xix.32 : "Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head and honor the
face of the old man, and thou shalt fear thy God."

* Of this number, one of the two institutions in Chicago provides "Kosher" food
for its inmates in accordance with the requirements of orthodox Judaism.

'The hospitals have introduced every improvement known to modern medical
science. No expense is spared in improving the efficiency of their work. Training-
schools for nurses are also maintained in conjunction with some of these hospitals
and their success has been eminently satisfactory.

* The free dispensaries, usually located in the heart of the poor district, do a
world of good. Here the city's best physicians are at the service of the poor. A
diet kitchen prepares and distributes to the babies of the neighborhood modified
milk, beef juice, etc. In Chicago, last year, 24,000 poor patients were given treat-
ment, while 22,000 prescriptions were furnished them at a nominal cost. As many
as 3,000 bottles of certified milk have been distributed in a month during the
heated term.


fact might appear strange were not the further fact taken in
consideration that the number of these has been so small that
the necessity of such an institution has never been felt.^

The Jew had been an ardent advocate of the institutional plan
of charity administration.- This is not at all surprising when we
consider the fact that Jewish institutions have always possessed
to a very large extent those qualities which characterize the race,
namely, intimate family relationship and domesticity. At present
there are 16 orphan asylums in this country, and from statistics
gathered in 1902 it was found that 19,569 children have been in-
mates of the different institutions since their reception, and that
of the above number 3,572 children were cared for that year. Of
the children then in asylums, 309 were full orphans, 2,362 were
half orphans, and both parents of 630 children were living. No sta-
tistics were procurable from the institutions in New York, New
Jersey, and Atlanta, Ga. The age of admission varies in the insti-
tutions from 3 to 5 years, and the discharge from 14 to 18 years.
Up to within a few years, the above was the only method for the
care of dependent children which appealed to the Jewish heart. A
change of sentiment has recently been experienced, however,
which has crystallized into a strong movement for the boarding
out and placing ovit of such children to responsible families and
under careful guardianship.^ In the exhaustive report quoted
below, Dr. L. K. Frankel mentions a number of societies which
have attempted to place out children in free homes, and to have
them adopted and indentured, as well as some which have at-
tempted to board out children. The result has been that in the

^ In one or two communities, notably in Baltimore, crippled children's guilds
exist. The object of the work which the guild undertakes is to teach poor
crippled children in their homes. Each member is assigned a child, whom she
teaches once or twice a week. At their monthly meetings each case is discussed,
and they are generally assisted by some one who is a special authority on ortho-
pedic disease. (See Proceedings of Nat. Council of Jewish Women, 1900, Report
on Crippled Children's Guild of Baltimore.)

^ See a complete and admirable report of the committee on dependent children,
presented by Dr. L. K. Frankel at 2d N. C. J. C. ('02) ; also a paper on Jewish child
saving in U. S. before N. C. C. C. ('97) by Michel Heyman.

^In New York, the United Hebrew Charities annually disburses $30,000 in an
effort to preserve the family life and prevent the sending of children to orphan
asylums. Private charity in Chicago aims at the same result.


former case Chicago, Dallas and Cleveland have been success-
ful; New Orleans and San Antonio have been very successful;
St. Paul, Tacoma, Baltimore and Montgomery, Ala., have been
unsuccessful. In New York the recently introduced movement
of placing a number of children in free and boarding homes has
met with considerable success. In Boston and Philadelphia the
boarding out of children has been going on for years, and the
results achieved in these two cities justify the hopes that the
movement will spread and that institutionalism may eventually
become a thing of the past.

The day nurseries and foster homes provide for those children
who are only temporarily deprived of parental attention.

At present there are no special institutions for delinquent
children, though there is a very well defined movement now in
New York City to establish a Jewish Protectory. Chicago was
the first place in this country to establish a Bureau of Personal
Service, which has had charge of all the Juvenile Court work
for the Jews as well as the rendering of free legal aid. At pres-
ent there are other communities (New York, Philadelphia, Cin-
cinnati) in which there are Jewish Juvenile Officers and to whom
incorrigible children are paroled. So salutary have been the
effects of this system, that in Chicago alone there has taken place
a marked decrease in the number of Jewish ofifenders. Of the
forty new delinquents brought before the Juvenile Court in the
year ending on May i, 1903, only thirty were boys, as compared
to over one hundred a year previous to that one.^

The Manual Training Schools act as a most healthy restrain-

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 69 of 73)