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March 21, 1980     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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March 21, 1980
 

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Socletg of World-Wide Jewish Migration Agency Insight into Rescue Network By Boris Smolar predecessor of HIAS, was emedtus, J.T.A.) established in New York in a 980, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Inc,) basement on Lower East Broadway. A former lunatic shelter while assisting them to asylum on Ward's Island was can boast of an contact their relatives in converted into a reception years. The various parts of the country, center for the immigrants. to B'nai B'rith and later with their naturaliza- Jacob Schiff, the noted Jewish 137years tion papers, philanthropist contributed groupof There is practically no $10,000--considered a huge immi- Jewish family in the U.S. which sum in those years--toward the name did not benefit from the vari- theestablishmentofa medical later ous services of HIAS in the service for the immigrants. its Hebrew years of Jewish mass Records show that about immigration from Eastern 20,000 Jewish emigrants of American Europe. American-born Jews from Russia came here during celebrates its of the first and second gener- 1881-82. This was the begin- which is ations know of HIAS because ning of the Jewish mass with a seven- of the aid their parents and emigration from Russia to this that ends grandparents received from country. The immigration Several state the organization when seeking waves from Eastern Europe Florida's to start a new life in the assumed higher heights after have" pro- "Golden America." the founding of HIAS two Week in their The Birth of HIAS years later. By the year 1900, HIAS dates actually backto the number of Jewish of the most 1884; the cornerstone for a emigrants reached 60,000 a organizations. Jewish immigration aid year. in almost society was laid by small Itcontinuedtoriseyearafter home in the benevolent Jewish groups in year until the U.S. Congress-- because of its NewYorkin 1870afterthefirst under pressure from the achieve- ] 50 Jewish immigrants from American Federation of Labor field of Jewish Czarist Russia arrived in this which feared competition of During its country and were followed by cheap labor--passed a law in .brought more increasing numbers of other 1921 restricting immigration to the groups. It was in 1881, as a and introducing a quota of them from result of pogroms which flared system for immigrants. This where up in Russia and spread like brought free imm,gration to wildfire in many cities includ- an end. Sharp reductionsqn ing such as Kiev, Odessa and the admission of Jewish Itheminobtain. Warsaw, that the trek of immigrants started. the American pogrom victims to the U.S. The Hectic Years their native began. In Warsaw the anti- During the first 40 years of to the Jewish riots continued for its existence, HIAS assisted Inding in the three days. Some 160 towns more than 2,000,000 Jews to ere and hamlets suffered in the reach the American shores. 1881 pogroms, with more The outbreak of World War I immigration than 100,000 Jews rendered uprooted many thousands of :fore being homeless and destitute. Jews in Russia who were in giving It was then that the Hebrew evicted from their towns in the temporary Emigrant Aid Society, the war zones by the Czarist regime as "unreliable elements." At the end of the war, when Poland won its independence from Russia, HIAS opened an office in Warsaw, with Adolph Held, the noted Jewish labor leader, as its commissioner. The office efficiently assisted Jewish applicants in obtaining American visas which were issued liberally by the U.S. Consulate in Warsaw until the quota system went into effect. I witnessed in Warsaw the work of HIAS in those years. The new Poland started its independence with intensified anti-Semitism expressed in anti-Jewish terror, throwing Jews out of running trains and brutally cutting beards of religious Jews in the streets. The anti-Jewish terror reached a point where an American commission --the Morgan- thau Commission--was sent from the U.S. to Poland to . study Jewish conditions there. The Polish government, anxious to get rid of its Jews at any price, encouraged their emigration by issuing exit passports stipulating that emigrants are prohibited from returning to Poland. Those were hectic years for HIAS and JDC in Warsaw as well as for the U.S. Consulate there. Lines of thousands of Jews--many from provincial cities--were standing as long as 36 hours and longer in front of the building of the American Consulate at Yasna Street, waiting to receive their you '. but they must be signed. We will Please limit letters to 2.50 words. Due to space if necessary. FL 32730. of March You write with of your view- however, all wrong. was the meeting to membership are always %me was not the I was ctor by the At I also individual they were to member- of directors. that I was not due to member of a (board of Organization." nition that Soviet Jewry on the Was the indi- organizing nthe David now He is ber" of any but has Program your a "mail away" are invited to attend the Federation Annual Meeting. In fact it is their prerogative to attend any and all board meetings. We are the epitome of government in the sunshine as legislated by our state. At this annual meeting reports of agencies and committees are given and future programs outlined and new offices and directors are presented-to the community. The nominating committee slate is an- noJnced; further nominations are open to the floor and a vote of the entire assembly is then taken. The great majority of the board members are hard working dedicated Jews who work untold hours for the sur- vival and security of Jewish Communities in our area, the nation and Israel. Those who have attended board meetings can bear wit- ness that programs are not "rubber stamped." There are many hours spent in debate and discussion of all aspects of programs and very few decisions are taken by a unanimous vote. However when a decision is taken ranks are closed and we try our best to make that decision a work- ing reality. It !s easy to snipe from the sidelines. It is much harder to offer your service, involve- ment and dedication on one of the many committees of the Federation. Volunteer and you will be warmly welcomed. That is the way to become a board member. EVA RITT .......... Maitland HERITAGE. Florida Jewish News, March 21, 1981), Page 5 U.S. visas. The lines--with some Jews carrying with them folding chairs to sit on during the many hours they waited-- stretched out into the neigh- boring streets. At Ellis Island, in New York, where U.S. immigration officials controlled the landing of the passengers, some three or more overcrowded ships carrying thousands of emigrants from Poland arrived each day from the Polish- German port of Danzig. They were met by members of the HIAS staff, and taken to the HIAS building in the city where they were given shelter while seeking to establish contact with their relatives. With the introduction of the immigration quota system in 1924, the number of Jews from Poland, Rumania, Galicia and other East European countries receiving American visas was greatly reduced, while Jews from Russia were not able at all to emigrate after the country was taken over by a Communist regime. With the Nazis coming to power in Germany, Jewish immigration to the U.S. began again to rise. This time the immigrants were mostly from Germany. A new agency "The United Service for New Americans"--was established in the U.S. for these refugees. It helped to settle the newcomers here and took care of their needs as refugees. In ]954, this new agency, HIAS, and the migration department of the JDC, merged to form a single body known as United HIAS Service which HIAS is today. The merged agency has assisted more than 500,000 Jewish refugees from Germany, Austria, Czecho- slovakia, Poland and other countries to reach the U.S. and other Western lands. Soviet Jews arriving now in the U.S. as immigrants--with the aid of the JDC and HIAS-- are being resettled in more than 150 communities throughout the country. About 50 percent of them settle in New York with the assistance of NYANA, the agency helping newcomers to become self- supporting in this country and is being funded by the United Jewish Appeal and the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York. Federation Executives Disagree with Editor To the Editor: Although we are generally pleased with Heritage's report- ing of our Federation's activities, we must respond to the editorial of last week sug- gesting major changes in Fed- eration structure. One of the major goals that I have set for myself as Pres- ident, was to insure that our Federation run in a democratic and opetl man ner. As President, I have done everything that I can to insure that these goals are attained. Democracy means by the people, for the people--and our business is people. Democracy spells involve- ment of the people and I feel that as we've seen growth in our numbers, we've definitely reached out to more of our people to respond--to do-- and growth in the numbers of people sen,iced by more members of our community. .,,Your comments in reference to the Federation needing to be more demo- cratic and for us to do things that might allay the charges that the Board is a "closed Christian Thanks Jews Dear Editor: Recently I returned from my first visit to Israel. It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. Realiz- ing that the phenomenon I wit- nessed there represents the efforts of not only the Israeli citizens but also the Jewish Community throughout the world, I decided to write this open letter of thanks. My visit included stops at many of the traditional points of interest that dot the cou ntry- side. My desire, however, was to look beyond these monu- ments to past events in order to sense the spirit of the people of Israel today. I was im- pressed by what I saw. There was a rare and refreshing spirit of honesty, humility and uprightness manifested in the people. In addition, I sensed a determination to resist terror- ism and bondage however manifested and without regard for the apparent odds of success. As a result of this, I believe that modern Israel may very well emerge as the real leader of the free world. This may seem improbable as we con- sider her size, but her spirit is very strong and, in the final analysis, a great stockpile of resources is without consequence unless some- one is daring enough to use them. I was particularly impressed by the support that Israel is Free Lebanon under Major Haddad. Without the encour- agement received from Israel, these men would have already given up hope and their strug- gle. To my knowledge, they have not been assisted by any other, nor have they even received recognition by others of the free world. The highlight of my visit was my time at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. It was particularly moving to join those in prayer there. Again, let me express my sincere thanks to you, the Jewish Community, for your part in the present-day miracle of Israel. KEN GARRISON Cassclbcrry organization" are just not fair. The selection of the Feder- ation Board is based on a Jewish commitment, to pass on the tradition, an under- standing of" our needs and priorities and resources, and an intensive search for us to be representative of the community, embracing broad differences, careful not to select only one expression. The Nominating Commit- tee spends many hours reviewing the names of those people who have expressed an interest and concern about the quality of Jewish life both here and abroad, by serving in any capacity on a committee of the Federation, in one of our agencies, in an organization, or in a synagogue. This com- mittee report goes through process--to Executive Com- mittee, full Board: and Annual Meeting to which anyone who is a member (by pledging a minimum $18.00 to CJA) may and should attend to vote. At the Annual Meeting, accord- ing to our by-laws, "additional nominations may be made by the membership from the floor, if the nominee is present and signifies their willingness to accept," I feel it is unfair to label this process as "rubber stamped." As to the Board being "a closed organization" I believe this just not to be true. In my two years as President, I have never had the situation where one person has come to me with that complaint. The opposite, in fact, is true. We urge members of our com- munity to come forward and volunteer to work on our com- mittees, and to the best of my knowledge, no volunteer has ever been turned down. Our only as successful as it is because of the hundreds of people who have volunteered and who work on our com- mittees and our activities. As to your suggestion that members of the community attend Board meetings, we wholeheartedly agree, and in fact, have throughout the years, run ads and articles in Heritage, and sent our com- munity mailings, inviting members of our community to special Board meetings during which we will make significant decisions concern- ing Federation policy and philosophy. During the past year, I can remember two such instances where we urged the commun- ity to attend; when we allocated last year's local funds, and when we discussed the sponsorship of Soviet Jews hem in Orlando. The response from the community to the allocations meeting was nearly non-existent, although some people from the community did turn out to express their feelings concerning the Soviet Jewry issue. Our Board meetings have always been open anl we have always welcomed any members of our community, who are members of the Fed- eration, to participate. As Jews, we wholly endorse the democratic process of using our right to speak out. We look forward to Heritage's continual report- ing of our Federation's activi- ties because only through this type of exchange and educa- tion will we all become know- ledgeable and then earn the right to ask others to follow us. MARCIA KERSTEIN The Jewish Federation of community's Federation .is .......... Greater .O.rtaqdo