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June 27, 1986 - Image 37

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-06-27

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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quarters in Chicago, was opened
in 1912. This office has completed
35 years of service to the cause of
Jewish farming, to Chicago and
Midwestern Jewry.
"During the past 35 years the
Chicago office has served the
Jewish people of Chicago as the
only Jewish Agency for agricul-
tural information. It is the center
of all Jewish agricultural activi-
ties in the Middle West.
"The back-to-the-land move-
ment among the Jews of Chicago
dates back to the founding of the
Jewish Agriculturists' Aid
Society by the leading pioneers of
Chicago, under the guidance and
leadership of the late Dr. Ab-
raham R. Levy, Rabbi of Cong.
Bnai Abraham. Soon after the

More Than $10
Million in Loans
Were Granted.

death of Dr. Levy the Chicago
office of The Jewish Agricul-
turists' Aid Society liquidated its
affairs and surrendered its inter-
ests to the Jewish Agricultural
Society, Inc., of New York City.
The Chicago office was estab-
lished in 1q12, with the late
George W. Simon in charge. It
served as headquarters for the
Midwest.
"The 47th Annual Report tells
of the growth and expansion of
American Jewish farming. The
report states that during 1946
veteran activities increased, ref-
ugee interest rose, more farm-
minded people of all classes came
to the Society, and more families
were settled during the war years.
The report deals with the
Society's work to strengthen and
enlarge the American Jewish
farm class.

"The report discloses the
Jewish Agricultural Society has
granted more than $10,000,000 in
loans to Jewish farmers in 40
states since the Society's founding
in 1900. It has secured farm em-
ployment for 20,055 Jewish young
men since the setting up of its
farm employment department in
1908. During the past 10 years
more than 10,000 persons sought
its settlement guidance. The
Society was directly instrumental
in establishing on farms 1,100
families, and indirectly many
more.
"The report says 105 families
out of 740 who sought settlement
advice were established on farms
in California, Connecticut,
Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New
Hampshire, New Jersey, New
York and Pennsylvania. Concern-
ing the type of men seeking farms,
Dr. Davidson said: 'Cautious as
the Society must always be in sift-
ing human material it must be
even more discriminating now.
The mechanized farm requires a
man who can do more than simply
walk behind a plow. Fortunately,
Jewish farm seekers of this day
have potential qualifications.
They are Americanized and
younger, better educated, more
rugged than those of an earlier
period.'

"Dr. Davidson presents this
summary of the Society's work
with refugees — now referred to
as new Americans. 'By the end of
1946 approximately 5,000 refu-
gees had come to the Society's
offices, 11,259 individual consul-
tations had been held and 505
families settled on farms in
California, Connecticut, Florida,
Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Mis-
souri, Massachusetts, , New
Hampshire, New Jersey, New
York, North Carolina, Maryland
and Virginia. Of these families
429 are, according to the report,
still on their farms, a showing
which speaks for itself. Loans in
the amount of $616,898 were
made directly by the Society;
$69,153 was lent by other agen-
cies, mainly by the Central Loan
Trust. Of the $686,042 aggregate
$485,800 has already been paid
back — much of it before matur-
ity.'
"During the past 35 years the
Chicago office of the Society re-
ceived 8,234 loan and farm set-
tlement applications, out of which
1,769 loans were granted for an
aggregate amount of $1,040,000.
During the same period this office
made about 13,300 miscellaneous
investigations and placed more
than 2,000 men at work on farms.
It held 17,740 consultations in
connection with its various activi-
ties.
"During recent years the
Mid-Western office held 476 lec-
tures and meetings among far-
mers in the Middle West, with an
aggregate attendance of 24,600.
"For the past nine years the
Chicago office has maintained an
agricultural night school, at the
Jewish Peoples' Institute, offering
a series of lectures and dis-
cussions on various phases of ag-
riculture with specific emphasis
given to the needs of the Jewish
prospective farm seekers and
Jews who are interested in back to
the land movement in this coun-
try. Successful Jewish farmers
from Michigan and' Wisconsin
were guest speakers.
"The report concludes: 'Surely
there is romance in the return of
American Jews to the primal cal-
ling of ancient Israel. We must
remember that for two thousand
years agriculture was a
prescribed occupation, that for the
two millennia Jews had become
habituated to city life . . . that the
majority came here without pos-
sessions, fugitives from persecu-
tion; that the transmutation of a
"luftmensch" from a confined pale
of settlement into a free farmer on
American soil entails a duel
orientation — a change from
Europe to America, a change from
an inept "Yeshiva Bahur" or petty
tradesman to a skilled craftsman.
And let us not forget that the pre-
sent Jewish farm movement is not
more than 50 years old, that it
grew during the very period in
American history when the trend
was in the opposite direction —
from farm to city.
"Keeping all these things in
mind, we shall agree that a
hundred thousand Jews on farms
deriving their sustenance from
this nation's fertile acres is the
real romance of Jewish farm life
in the United States."

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