ASKS FOR REPEAL OF LITERACY TEST
Report to Union of Hebrew Congregations Urges Change in Immigration Laws.
WANT BETTER SCHOOLS HERE
Delegates Told of Serious Lack of Religous Educational Facilities for Jewish Children.
Special to The New York Times.
BUFFALO, N.Y., May 25.-Rescinding of the literacy test for immigrants
was urged in a report submitted today to the Union of American Hebrew
Congregations, in session here, made by Simon Wolf of Washington,
Chairman of the Board of Delegates on Civil Rights of the union.
Following short business sessions, the delegates to the union
convention and to that of the Federation of Temple Sisterhoods went
to Niagara Falls for a sight-seeing trip. Dinner was served at the
Falls tonight. The convention will end tomorrow with the election of
officers and final business sessions.
In his report on immigration Mr. Wolf declared that, if restriction
was necessary, laws should be enacted to prevent the revolutionary
element from landing.
"When normal conditions revive in Europe, when racial, civil and
religious liberty shall be maintained by the will of the people, then
immigration will become normal and a gradual flow outward will be a
welcome solution," said the report.
"It is brain and brawn that is needed, and that is never dangerous.
The dangerous immigration comes in the shape of anarchists,
Socialists, revolutionists and Bolsheviki who are capable of
speaking, reading and writing several languages and are patriotic in
none. The immigrant capable of working brings a valuable asset to
the wealth of the nation without endangering its future."
Work for Revival of Judaism.
Another report submitted told of the work of 100 Jewish laymen in an
effort to lead a revival of Judaism among the Jews of the nation.
These laymen traveled 112,000 miles in the interest of the revival.
As a result $3,500,000 was obtained to carry on a ten-year program of
synagogue and school extension work.
The annual report of the Hebrew Union College at Cincinnati showed
that of seventy-three students now enrolled, twenty-four were from
Ohio, New York second with thirteen, and Pennsylvania and Illinois
had six, each.
Mrs. Abraham Simon of Washington, D.C., urged Jewish women to study
for the ministry.
"Are there not Jewish young women in our land whose intensity of
religious feeling is such, and whose mental outlook is broad enough,
to urge them to enter the Jewish ministry?" asked Mrs. Simon. "Have
we not women who are willing to consecrate their talents to the
profession which is to the Jew the most exalted in the world? It is
not enough that she contribute her husband and sons. Why may we not
stimulate our daughters to preach the Jewish religion?
"Of course we will have a hundred and one objections where
traditional Jew and sex distinctions register against this
proposition, and you will hear argument and ridicule of all kinds
against it, but the practical value of stimulating leadership will
outweigh anything that can be offered to the contrary."
Statistics showing a serious condition of neglect of religious
education of Jewish youths in New York City were given in the report
of the Greater New York Committee on a survey of religious schools in
Harlem, whee the population is 50 per cent. Jewish. It was found
that of 47,987 Jewish children only 9,603, or 20 per cent., attended
any kind of Jewish religious school.
"The Talmud Torah has assumed the leadership in the Jewish
educational field in this city, and justly so," the report says.
"Jewish religious education was originally considered a private
concern, to be provided by the parents for their children in any way
they saw fit. Poor children due to the inability of their parents to
pay for their instruction, were thus unprovided for until the
philanthropic elements in the community undertook to provide for the
same, not as a social need of the group, but as a deed of charity to
"The community has been aroused to a realization of its
responsibility. It recognized that not only its poor children, but
all its children, were in need of a good religious education. The
Talmud Torahs, being the largest schools, were used as a nucleus.
Their curriculum was improved and modernized. Their old-fashioned
and inefficient teachers were dismissed and able, trained men engaged
in their places. All classes of children now go to the Talmud
Torah. It no longer is a social disgrace to be a pupil of one of the
Girls in the Schools.
"The Talmud Torahs were originally only for boys. Girls did not seem
to require a Jewish education. Little by little, however, our
educators are realizing their responsibility to the girls. Today the
girls constitute 13 per cent. of the registration of the schools, and
more are being admitted day by day. There are many children who find
it impossible to attend a daily religious school, and to satisfy their
needs the one-session-per-week school, or Sunday school, has come
"The type of religious school which should be first eliminated is
modeled after the European Cheder and has absorbed all of its faults
but none of its virtues. It is an entirely un-American institution
and a menace to the future of Judaism in this country. The physical
conditions existing in these schools are deplorable. The language of
instruction is Yiddish, for this is usually the only language that
the teacher can use.
"The teacher is usually a recent immigrant and has, in most
instances, never taught before. He has taken to teaching because it
is the only means open to him for earning a livelihood. The returns
are very meagre and therefore attract only the most inefficient. The
average melamed hates his work and hates his pupils more for the
pranks they play on him. The pupils, for their part, reciprocate
this feeling most cordially.
"The duty of the Hebrew school is not only to teach Jewish learning,
but also to implant and foster a Jewish spirit. Many Jewish boys and
girls, brought up under the influence of the cheder and judging
Judaism by this abnormal outgrowth of American Jewish life, have
grown up with a contempt and hatred for things Jewish.
"We find that the girls constitute only 29.6 per cent. of the Jewish
religious registration in Harlem. This is a decided improvement upon
the conditions of ten years ago. People have begun to realize that
the religious education of the girls is just as important as that of
the boy. Schools which formerly were closed to girls are now
beginning to open their doors to them.
"On the average, four out of every five Jewish children are reared
without a Jewish education. Our duty is clear. We must create new
schools and good schools. We must improve those already in existence
and do away with those which are not subject to improvement. We must
not rest until every Jewish child has been provided with the
possibility of obtaining a good, modern and thorough training in the
religion of our fathers."
Discuss Uplift of Judaism.
That there are many Jews who permit the women, children and rabbis to
do the worshipping for them was declared by Marcus Aaron of
Pittsburgh today in a discussion between the delegates of the two
organizations on the betterment and uplift of Judaism and the
teaching of the Hebrew faith. Mr. Aaron also criticized strongly the
practice of charging a rental for sittings in the temples.
"The Jewish temples are financed by methods hardly justified in a
social club," he said. "On the outside of the temple appears the
inscription, 'My house shall be a house of prayer for all people.'
Inside is the reservation, 'For such as can afford to pay.'
"There is nothing finer in this world than the spirit of America,"
Mr. Aaron said. "It is often hard to catch a glimpse of this spirit
because it is lost in the rush for fame and fortune, but it is here.
The Jew has never been granted the freedom in any country that he has
enjoyed in America. This reason, if no other reason, should impose
upon the Jew the personal obligation to repay America what America
has been to him and his.
"America asks but little. She asks that he live for her and give her
the best he has. She does not ask for all he has, nor does she ask
him to serve any one master or mistress."
It is expected that no action will be taken by the convention on the
anti-Jewish propaganda which has been spread broadcast by Henry
Ford. Some of the delegates who favor action, however, may bring up
the subject at the final sessions tomorrow.
Speakers at today's session of the temple sisterhoods were Mr. Caesar
Misch of Providence, R.I.; Miss Alsa Welhl of New York and Mrs.
Morris Lazaron of Baltimore. They discussed the influences affecting
the religious development of the child.