Jews Ask Public to Aid War Victims

  • Non-Sectarian Appeal For $7,500,000 Starts Today With Sermons In All Churches
  • Poland’s Woe Appalling
  • Campaign to be pressed by 10,000 active workers in the five boroughs

A famished child upon the auction block, a mother in the foreground pleading for aid, death with outstretched arms lurking near and the legend “Shall Death Be the Highest Bidder?”

Such is the pictorial representation of the needs of stricken peoples in the war-devastated zones of Central and Eastern Europe which will confront New Yorkers everywhere today. Back of that representation stands an organization designed to take advatage of every channel to press home to the people of this city the need for contributing toward the $7,500,000 to be raised here this week by the Greater New York Appeal for Jewish War Sufferers.

This fund is but a tithe of that which must be subscribed in the entire country if disaster to whole peoples is to be averted. The world nature of the calamity, which has overtaken men, women and children, deprived not only of life’s bare necessities but of all means of rehabilitating themselves without aid from the outside, has led leading Jews of New York and the nation to turn to the public, irrespective of creed, for help.

Heretofore the Jews themselves have contributed many many millions which have been expended by the Joint Distribution Committee through relief agencies of all countries and without regard to the religious beliefs of those in need. This time the burden is too gigantic to be borne by Jews alone.

Millions Racked by War

A pen picture of actual conditions, typical of those in several countries, has been sent to the Campaign Committee by Dr. Boris H. Bogen of this city, now in Warsaw as head of the First Relief Unit, sent abroad by the Joint Distribution Committee. Dr. Bogen writes:

“Hunger, cold rags, desolation, disease, death — Six million human beings without food, shelter, clothing or medical treatment in what now are but the wastes of once fair lands ravaged by long years of war or blighted by its consequences.

“That, in a few words is the actual situation in all those countries that constituted what was known during the conflict as the Eastern theatre of the war.

‘Words cannot adequately convey nor can any picture be drawn which can bring home to comfortable, affluent, happy New Yorkers surrounded by their family and friends, riding in their automobiles, enjoying every luxury, the utter, abject, hopeless misery confronting the population of these lands, a population almost equal to that of New York City itself. If you would try to visualize, to realize the situation, place yourself at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Forty-second Street.

“The once teeming avenue is all but deserted. Gone are the gay equipages, their bejeweled occupants and liveried attendants. No longer are the sidewalks filled with a surging crowd of gayly dressed men and women. The street is all but still. Laughter and lively chatter are heard no more.

“Instead old men lean for support against the buildings. Mothers, with dying babes tugging vainly at their breasts sit along the curbs. The flower of what was once the young manhood and womanhood of the city is not in the picture, for they, by the thousands and tens of thousands, lie stricken in the overcroded hospitals, laid low by the breath of a pestilence.

Too Weak to Cry for Bread

“Little children with wasted frames and swollen bodies, cling to their mothers’ rags, too weak to even cry for the bread that is not to be had.

“A bitter wind sweeps through the avenue from the north. A man — his tatters cannot be called clothes — his face blue and pinched, looks at you with unseeing eyes. You do not at first recognize him. It then dawns on you that you have seen that face before. It is the face of a friend, a man who but a few short months before was well-to-do, a banker, as prosperous, well fed and well dressed as you are now. He reaches out his arms toward you and falls at your feet. You stoop down to lift him up. He is dead!-Hunger did it.

“The scene is not exaggerated. Not overdrawn. It has its exact counter part in hundreds of cities, towns, and villages throughout Central and Eastern Europe at this very moment. The call comes from one human being to another, from those who have less than nothing to those who have much. It is the call of humanity.

“At no time during the war, in any land, not either in Belgium or Northern France, was their a situation more critical, a need more great, a demand for sacrifice and help more insistent than now comes from Eastern and Central Europe. Both the present and future existence of an entire people are at stake.”

The campaign is receiving the active cooperation and support of archbishop Patrick J. Hayes of the Roman Catholic Diocese, Bishop Charles S. Burch of Episcopal diocese, Bishop Luther B. Wilson, President of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Miss Evangeline Booth, Commander of the Salvation Army.

Members of the executive committee include Cleveland H. Dodge, Treasurer of the Committee for the Relief in the Near East: President Nicholas Murray Butler of Columbia University. George Gordon Battla, Otto T. Bannard, John C. Agar, the Rev. Dr. David J. Hurrell, Robert Grier Cooke, Paul G. Cravath, Francis D. Gallatin, Charles H. Sabin, President of the Guaranty Trust Company: former Attorney General George W. Wickersham, Judge Joseph F. Mulqueen, Judge William H. Wadhams and Alfred E. Marling.

The appeal is to be brought home forcibly to the people of New York in many ways. Today is Church Sunday, and there will be special sermons in churches of all denominations. The Rev. Dr. S. Parkes Cadman has prepared a model sermon for Protestant churches. Vicar General Joseph F. Mooney has written a message to the Roman Catholic churches, and Dr. Nathan Stern, rabbi of the West End Synagogue, prepared an appeal to be read to the Jewish congregations.

Children in the public schools, through the cooperation of the Board of Education, are to hear the story of the sufferings of the children in other lands. In theaters, moving-picture houses, clubs, hotels and restaurants. In short, wherever people are gathered together, the conditions they are asked to alleviate will be made clear to them.

It is estimated that not fewer than 10,000 active workers have been enlisted in the cause in the five boroughs. The organization for the campaign has been divided into these parts: The organization of the trades and industries, so that not a single business or profession in the city has been overlooked: the women’s division, embracing 3,000 women workers under the leadership of Mrs. I. Unterberg. Mrs. Samuel C. Lamport and Mrs. S.S. Prince, which has divided the city into districts: the women organized the schools and churches and will make a direct appeal to the homes and to the neighborhood store-keepers; the third organization is is that of the boroughs, each borough, Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Richmond, having a borough organization.


New York Times
May 2, 1920