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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/441

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437
IMMIGRATION.

What do these figures [here omitted] mean? The answer is easily given, and is but a repetition of the statements made to you in these annual reports for the past few years. They mean, if they mean anything, that a condition of chronic poverty is developing in the Jewish community of New York that is appalling in its immensity. Forty-five per cent, of our applicants, representing between 20,000 and 25,000 human beings, have been in the United States over five years; have been given the opportunities for economic and industrial improvement which this country affords, yet notwithstanding all this, have not managed to reach a position of economic independence. Two thousand five hundred and eighty-five of the new applicants, representing seven per cent, of the Jewish immigration to the United States during the year, found it necessary to apply at the office of the United Hebrew Charities within a short time after arrival. It must be remembered, furthermore, that the United Hebrew Charities does not represent the entire Jewish poverty and dependence that exists in New York City. Frequently our relief bureau is the place to which the applicant comes only after exhausting every other possible means of procuring assistance. When the numerous small relief societies, chevras, lodges, benefit societies, synagogues, individuals and others can no longer contribute, then and then only in many cases is the cooperation of the United Hebrew Charities sought.

If, besides the 50,000 people who applied at the United Hebrew Charities, we were to include in the dependent classes all who needed service of dispensaries, hospitals, asylums and institutions of all kinds or who were assisted by charitable effort other than that given by us, the statement can safely be made, that during the year from 75,000 to 100,000 members of the New York Jewish community are unable to supply themselves with the immediate necessaries of life.

The Hebrew has succeeded in America whenever he has separated himself from the Ghetto, and once away from all its influences Americanizes much more readily than is generally supposed. Other obstacles are in the way of transferring the Jews from the Ghetto to the country. The natural desire to be with their own people—to hear their own language, to be able to observe all their religious and social customs without fear of ridicule or interference, which the Jews possess in common with other alien races—make it difficult to get them away from the Ghetto. Then, too, the remuneration from agricultural pursuits is not enticing, and the opportunities for education and advancement to be found in the cities attract the Jew as well as the thousands of our native rural population, who flock to the great cities every year.

The hope for future betterment of conditions in the Jewish quarter of New York will lie in temporarily checking the Jewish immigration to this country, and in thus giving the Hebrew charitable organizations time to adjust conditions in the congested area. At present the good work performed in one year by finding places for poor Hebrews in other parts of the country is nullified the next year by the influx of thousands of new arrivals of the same character. If the stream of Hebrew immigration could be diverted for a time, those already here with the ample assistance of their charitable co-religionists might be distributed and made independent of charity. The realization of the dream of Zionism would tend to this result. Zion would hardly attract many Jews from