SPECIAL AID SOCIETY, AND WORK OF JEWISH WOMEN
National Special Aid Society---Trench Comforts Packet Committee---Artists' Committee of One Hundred---White Cross Guard movement---Southern Women's Patriotic Committee---Physicians, Surgeons and Dentists' Fund---Council of Jewish Women and some of its cooperating organizations---Joint Distribution Committee of Fund for Jewish War Sufferers---Zionist organizations---Authors' League fund.
One of the largest and most important of America's War Relief Organizations is the National Special Aid Society with headquarters at 259 Fifth Avenue, New York City. Mrs. William Alexander is president, Mrs. Charles Frederick Hoffman, vice president, and Mrs. Henry A. Wise Wood, secretary. The Society was formed in 1915. It has 2,000 members in New York and 30,000 in the Nation. It has achieved many remarkable things. When it was two years old it had presented six automobiles to the Navy and Marine Corps. With very marked success it has conducted patriotic lectures and it has assisted in recruiting and training aviators. One of its most active and efficient committees is that devoted to aviation. Through this committee a hospital for the Navy Militia has been built at Bay Shore, and a number of aviators have been sent abroad. An ambulance was presented to the Marine Corps and funds for its upkeep for one year. Three beds have been endowed in the hospital at Paris The Society acts as a clearing house for the National Union of Women Workers of England has given three motor trucks to the National Guard Regiment; provides free French lessons for nurses going to France, and also supplies surgical dressings and hospital supplies for the Red Cross, clothing for the French children and books and supplies for the Navy Militia and Aviation Schools. It is safe to say that among the many relief organizations formed by American women none have achieved more than has the National Special Aid Society through its various activities.
The Trench Comfort Packet Committee for the United States and her Allies, headquarters, Lord and Taylors, Fifth Ave., New York City, has approximately one hundred communities at work and is organizing in all of the states. Like the National Surgical Dressings Committee of America, of which Mrs. Mary Hatch Willard,also chairman, the formation of the Trench Comfort Packets for the United States and her Allies was the outcome of one of Mrs. Willard's visits to France, where she saw how greatly the men at the military depot en route for the trenches appreciated warm clothing and the small comforts and necessities which every soldier needs. The scope of the Committee's work originally was to supply comfort packets for the armies of the Entente Allies, but this has now been broadened to include packets for the American troops. Many thousand packets have been sent to England, France, Belgium, Italy and Russia
A beautiful story of real service and self-sacrificing fraternalism is told in the records of the American Artists' Committee of One Hundred of which Mr. William A. Coffin, N. A., is chairman. Among the prominent women members of the Committee are: Alice Worthington Ball, Cecilia Beaux, N.A., Mary Greene Blumenschein, A.N.A., Lucia Fairchild Fuller, A.N.A., Mary B. Hazleton, Adele Herter, Anna Vaughn Hyatt, A.N.A., Ella Condie Lamb, Evelyn Beatrice Longman, A.N.A., Mary Fairchild Low, A.N.A., Lilla Cabot Perry, Edith Mitchill Prellwitz, A.N.A., May Wilson Preston, Harriet Sartain, Janet Scudder, Sarah Choate Sears, Helen D. Sortwell, Anne Crane, Louise Cox, A.N.A., and Jane Peterson.
Of the accomplishments and future plans of the Committee, Mr. Coffin says:
"The first steps toward the formation of the American Artists' Committee of One Hundred were taken as early as August 20, 1914, three weeks after the beginning of the Great War. The Committee was organized September 25th, and our first remittance ($1,500.00) was cabled to M. Bonnat on the fourteenth of October. In the two years of the war we sent, in all, to Paris, for the relief of the families of French Soldier-Artists-mothers, wives, children, little brothers and sisters and other dependents-the sum of $21,675.00 or some 125,000 francs. This we consider a gratifying result of our efforts and it is fair to say that by far the greater part of the money has come from American artists, though we have had, also, numerous contributions from our friends. From October, 1914, to July 4, 1915, we remitted from our general fund $5,500.00, and from the proceeds of our Exhibition at the Knoedler Galleries, in February, $11,575.00, a total of $17,075,00. Since July, 1915, we have been able to send only $4,600.00, for the great multitude of appeals seemed to make it increasingly difficult to obtain contributions. We hope to continue in our own field our help, through the wide reaching organization of the Fraternité des Artistes, to the dependents of the artist-soldiers at the front and of those who have, alas, been killed in battle. Many fine young lives in the budding of their talent and others in its full flower have been laid on the altar of their country; other artist-soldiers have been blinded or maimed for life. Think of a painter or a sculptor whose arms are cut off or of one whose eyes are gone forever !
"The Committee of the Fraternité, headed by M. Leon Bonnat, whose indefatigable devotion in the present crisis is admired throughout all France, is a working, and in no sense an honorary committee. The Fraternité membership includes painters, sculptors, architects, engravers and other art workers belonging to the great French art societies, without regard to creed, whether academic or revolutionary. All are united for the common cause and they have done and are doing much, in spite of the standstill caused by the War, to help the destitute families of their confrères at the front. They have shown us by every means in their power and by many beautiful and heartfelt expressions of gratitude their appreciation of our work and of the support of our friends. Our sympathy and our material aid-perhaps, I may say, the way we have conveyed this aid to them, honoring ourselves in doing so-have comforted them and have drawn to us, in sympathetic relations, a far wider circle than the art world of Paris. Art may have no nationality, as has often been said, but the American artists and those of France, always closely interdependent before the War, have, since its outbreak, been united by a stronger bond, one of friendship and brotherhood, that I am sure will endure through coming generations. We seek to still further widen these relations and bring within the bond many more who recognize our debt and the debt of world civilization to the valiant country that is fighting for the cause of liberty and for the ideals that we cherish and believe will prevail.
"We conduct our work in the most economical way possible and our total expense account (including the exhibition in 1915) shows it to be but 4.60 of our gross receipts. Our account is kept with the Fifth Avenue Bank, New York, which acts as our remitting agency to the Crédit Lyonnais, and our credits in Paris are payable to M. Leon Bonnat, who cables acknowledgment as soon as money is paid over. I may close with a brief extract from one of his earliest letters, written in his own hand-and I translate-'How far away, my dear Coffin, seem now the quiet days when we were absorbed with other preoccupations when we were busy with other struggles-those of pure art! But those days, I am convinced will come back to us. It is not possible that the efforts our valiant sons are making will not be rewarded.' "
The White Cross Guard Movement was started by Miss Adella Potter, the Woman's Suffrage Party New York State in the spring of 1917 after the soldiers were first mobilized. This suffrage association had been very active in war work, assisting in taking the military census, organizing Red Cross groups, starting farming, gardening, etc. Realizing the need of work among the soldiers the organization began the White Cross Guard Movement. There are no officers and no dues, but in various localities a button has been worked out which bears a white Maltese cross on a Belgian-blue background. Women living near large encampments are asked to get in touch with the chaplains of all regiments stationed there and to work out with them and the Y.M.C.A. secretaries a plan for establishing reading rooms, rest rooms, etc. The Organization has also looked after isolated soldiers who are guarding bridges, trestles and tunnels, and who are not reached by the moral work of the encampment. Work has also been done among the girls, teaching them their duty in the national crisis, and an appeal is also made to the soldiers themselves, urging them that they honor at all times the uniforms they wear.
The New York Southern Women's Patriotic Committee was founded by Mrs. Algernon Sydney Sullivan, and cooperates with other war relief societies for the American Army and Navy. The president is Mrs. Richard Kingsman Cautley, and the vice presidents are Dr. Rosalie Slaughter Morton, Mrs. Isa Carrington Cabell, Mrs. Livingston Rowe Schuyler, and Mrs. Silas F. Catchings, Mrs. N. P. Gatling is recording secretary, Mrs. C. F. Houston, corresponding secretary, and Mrs. Francis E. Hill, treasurer. The New York Southern Women's Patriotic Committee tendered its services to the United States Government and received personal letters from the President of the United States and from the Secretary of War.
The Physicians, Surgeons and Dentists' Fund, 16 East 47th St., New York City, has for its purpose the raising of money for the purchase of instruments and supplies by the physicians, surgeons and dentists of the United States. In a short time more than $12,000 was received in subscriptions, of which amount $8,500 was forwarded to the American War Relief Clearing House in Paris for the purpose of purchasing medical, surgical and dental instruments and supplies. Supplies of the same character have been purchased in the United States and forwarded to Paris, costing nearly $4,000, in addition to which a large number of instruments and supplies have been donated here and forwarded to France.
The Jewish women through their national organization, the Council of Jewish Women, have been extremely active in various lines of war work. Mrs. Nathaniel E. Harris, of Bradford, Pennsylvania, is president, and the honorary vice presidents are Mrs. Jacob H. Schiff, New York City; Mrs. A. N. Cohen, New York City; Mrs. Hugo Rosenberg, Pittsburgh, Pa.; Mrs. Solomon Hirsch, Portland, Oregon; Mrs. M. C. Sloss, San Francisco, Calif.; Mrs. Ceasar Misch, Providence R. I. and Mrs. Isidor Newman, New Orleans, Louisiana. Other officers are Mrs. Eli Hertsberg, San Antonio, Texas; Miss Rose Brenner, Brooklyn, N. Y.; Mrs. Harry Glicksman, New Haven, Conn.; Mrs. Leo H. Herz, New Haven, Conn. and Mrs. Ernestine B. Dreyfus, Kansas City, Mo. The Council cooperates with the National League for Woman's Service and is a constituent member of the National
Council of Women. The Council has eighty-nine sections and is represented in the State Divisions of the Woman's Committee of the Council of National Defense in every state where these sections are organized. The membership is about 22,000. Perhaps the most interesting of the active war work undertaken by the Council is that of Immigrant Aid, which was readjusted to meet war conditions. A scheme was put into operation to meet shifting labor conditions as they effect Jewish girls and alien young women, particularly in emergency employments, with a view to securing proper housing for large groups who may be recruited for special government work, and of putting them into touch with educational influences through Citizenship Leagues and Classes. The Council's plans for Americanization and vocational guidance is unique and offers opportunity for important constructive work. The National Chairman of the Department of Immigrant Aid is Miss Helen Winkler, who has offices at 242 East Broadway, New York City.
The Council of Jewish Women was the first organization to lend their aid as a body to the League for Woman's Service. A resolution offered by Mrs. Kohut, to the effect that the Council members should do all in their power for the cause, but whatever work they undertake they should enter as "citizens" and not as "Jews" was unanimously adopted. Hundreds of the Council members are now working with the Woman's Service League.
The Emanuel Sisterhood, of which Mrs. Rebecca Kohut is president, was the first sisterhood to organize a neighborhood settlement. This Sisterhood, located on the East Side of New York, is composed of poor East Side women who are recipients of pensions from the Emanuel sisterhood. Every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, finds these women arduously working for the cause. They sew, knit, roll bandages and give whatever help they can. According to Mrs. Kohut, the regularity with which they come, the many hours they actually steal from household duties to lend a helping hand and the enthusiasm with which they work have been a great surprise to the organizers of the movement.
Miss Pauline Goldmark,is an active worker on the Committee of Labor. Dr. Jessica Pexiotta, is chairman of the Defense Committee of San Francisco. Annie Nathan Meyer, associated with the Food Preservation Committee of New York City. Mrs. Daniel Guggenheim raised over half a million dollars for the Liberty Loan Fund. Miss Sophie Berger, in Europe in charge of a unit of the Red Cross Committee, in charge of the woman's work. Mrs. Rebecca Kohut is chairman of the Woman's Committee of Employment on National Defense. This is sort of an employment clearing house whose purpose is the mobilization of women and employees and the proper shifting of women into men's places in the various industries. This organization places at the rate of about 2,000 women per week in various positions; about twenty-five per cent. of this number are taking the places of men.
Mrs. Edwin Vogel opened a Red Cross factory on the Jersey coast; this has now been transferred to New York City. Over 150 women were employed there during the summer and continue work during the winter. Up to date they have already made more than 100,000 garments for the soldiers.
Mrs. Sidney Borg, who is on the committee for the National League for Woman's Service, is taking an active part in the social welfare work among girls. She is specially fitted for this work, being president of the Jewish Big Sisters.
The Joint Distribution Committee of the Fund for Jewish War Sufferers, 20 Exchange Place, New York City, comprises the three Jewish committees collecting money for Jewish war relief-the American Jewish Relief Committee, the Central Committee for the Relief of Jews suffering through the war, and the People's Committee. This organization has disbursed in Europe and in Palestine more than $8,000,000 for the relief of Jewish war sufferers. A statement from this Committee is as follows: "The Jewish Relief Committees have raised and have disbursed through the Joint Distribution Committee a larger sum than any other individual relief agencies, having had the support o the entire American Jewry. "
The Jewish people of America have, through organizations, raised handsome sums for relief work among the Jewish war sufferers in Europe. A New York philanthropist proposed to the American Jewish Relief Committee to defray the entire cost to raise a fund of several million dollars on Yom Kippur in the Orthodox Synagogues in the country. Thus, all money collected as a result of this movement will be used for the relief of suffering. In order to forward the movement, a speakers' bureau was organized, headed by Mr. Nathan Straus, George Otto A. Rosalsky. Two thousand men known for their eloquence were organized into a speakers' staff.
The Woman's Proclamation Society, the National Woman's Organization for Jewish War Relief, has branches in all the leading cities of America and national headquarters at 203 Broadway, New York City. This committee is working in the interest of the ten million dollar fund which is being raised among the Jewish people of America for war relief. The committee has issued for the benefit of the fund in which it is interested the story of Lorena Cohen, of Memphis, Tenn., who was one of a few young women refugees who escaped from the war zone early in 1917, coming from Kovno, in Lithuania, after the German occupation. Miss Cohen's story is that of an eyewitness. She describes the frightful scenes of suffering, starvation and death to be encountered on every side among the Jews in the war zone; she depicts what it means for old men and women and children to be compelled to flee before invading armies without raiment sufficient to keep out the cold, without food or shelter-a condition which confronts hundreds of thousands of Jews in Lithuania and millions throughout the war zone. The officers of the Woman's Proclamation Committee are: chairman, Mrs. Samuel Elkeles, treasurer, Mrs. Alfred Blumenthal, executive secretary, Mrs. Albert Lucas.
Hadassah is the Women's Zionist organization affiliated with the Federation of American Zionists. Its work in war is chiefly in the interest of the establishment of a system of district visiting nursing in Palestine. It has chapters in Baltimore, Boston, Chattanooga, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver,
Detroit, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New Brunswick, New London, New Rochelle, New York, Newark, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Norwich, Perth Amboy, Philadelphia, Portland Maine, Providence, Reading, Rochester, St. Paul, Schenectady, Syracuse, Worcester, Youngstown. Collections for the American Zionist Medical Unit for Palestine, which had reached the sum of $30,219.99, were interrupted, as the military situation in Palestine was such that it was impossible to secure entry into the country. As soon as the road from Egypt to Gaza and thence from Jaffa to Jerusalem is opened, operations in equipping this unit will be resumed. Reports are several months old when they reach the American office, but during the last months of 1917 they indicated increased mortality, diminished resistance to disease on account of starvation, excessive cost of drugs and food when they are obtainable, and inadequate medical service. The American office is located at 441 East 23d Street, New York City. The chairman is Henrietta Szold, the treasurer is Sophia Berger.
The Authors' League Fund is designed to aid, in case of need, those engaged in literary, artistic or musical composition. No profession offers more poignant instances of suffering than that of arts and letters. All too frequently the creative man pays the penalty of his idealism. For the most part he is dependent on personal daily effort, and the immediate sale of his work, and any failure of his market, any change in economic conditions affects him instantly. He has no stocks and bonds to furnish an income when he is called to the colors, or when his health fails.
Thus far the fund has been able to care for most of the cases that have come to it, but there is vital need for a much larger fund in order that the many cases already resulting from war conditions may be investigated and relieved. All deserving case, whether within the membership or without it, are carefully and promptly considered. The organization attempts to enroll those whose sympathies are with a worthy craft, some of whose members now find themselves in need of a friendly hand to help them over this period. The officers are: president, Gertrude Atherton; first vice president, George Barr Baker, second vice president, Charles Dana Gibson, treasurer, Eric Schuler, directors, Gertrude Atherton, Irving Bacheller, George Barr Baker, Rex Beach, Ellis Parker Butler, Irvin S. Cobb, John Huston Finley, Hamlin Garland, Charles Dana Gibson, Rupert Hughes, Will Irwin, Cleveland Moffett, Harvey O'Higgins, Ignace Paderewski, Emily Price Post, Leroy ,Scott, Charles Scribner, Mrs. James Speyer, Julian Street, Roger B. Whitman, Jesse Lynch Williams, Mrs. Payne Whitney.
Chapter XXXII. Relief for Belgium
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