Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Emigrant Preparation and American Ports of Entry

Castle Garden, NY - up to 1892

Until 1890, each state had jurisdiction over admitting immigrants.  Ports of entry were five main cities:

New York Castle Island served as the port for New York City 1830-1892; thereafter Ellis Island served port of entry (1892- 1954); Boston (customs passenger lists through 1899); Boston (customs passenger lists through 1899); Philadelphia (customs passenger lists through 1899); Baltimore (customs passenger lists through 1891); and New Orleans.  through 1902)

Ellis Island, NY

Approximately, 40 percent of all current U.S. citizens can trace at least one of their ancestors to Ellis Island.

There were also several minor ports, e.g. Mobile, Al., Bath, Me., and Galveston, TX.

Shortly after the U.S. Civil War, some states started to pass their own immigration laws, which prompted the U.S. Supreme Court to rule in 1875 that immigration was a federal responsibility. Chy Lung v. Freeman (92 U.S. 275, 1875)

Philadelphia Port

Baltimore Port

However, the states continued to pass legislation on immigration entry. The Immigration Act of 1891, however, stopped all state incursions into immigration matters. Legislation authorized the Office of the Superintendent of Immigration (Treasury Department), responsible for processing immigrants.

At the beginning of the 20th century the Hamburg Shipping Lines (Hapag) built an emigrant's "city" in Veddel, in the port area, as a refuge. It could accommodate 5,000 people awaiting departure of their ships. It included a kosher canteen and a synagogue.

In Russia’s larger Jewish communities, assistance agencies arose in response to the enormous emigration.

In 1891 in London by Baron M. Hirsch of London, has an idea that Jews should become agriculturalists, something denied 
in Europe. Accordingly he established a society to benefit of those who wished to take up work in agriculture. He and the 
Russian government agreed to relocate Jews up to 3,250,000 Jews emigrating over a 25-year time period.
Baron Hirsch also sponsored sixteen agricultural development in the United States, of which Woodbine, NJ was a successful.

             Israel Zangwell - Leader

In 1907, the Jewish Territorial Society established in Warsaw. This society was a break-off of the Zionist movement. It wanted to relocate European Jews wherever they would be accepted; not exclusively Palestine. However, it closed its doors the very next year, although the organization, itself, continued to exist.
Jewish Emigration Society - Russia

The Jewish Emigration Society, 1909 operated from Kiev, with numerous offices in other centers of the Russian Empire. Its mission was regulation of Jewish emigration to redirect Jews outside the overpopulated large cites, (New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Boston and Chicago) to the southern and southwestern states of North America, where there seemed to be more economic opportunity.
 It assisted the Jewish emigrant from departure from Russia to establishing his new location in another country to the extent that they no longer need assistance.
Supported by well-to-do Jews, one of their experiments was immigration to Galveston, Texas. A middling success, in 1909 (773); 1910 (2,500); 1911; (1,400). By 1913, the threatened competition to nativists and the ‘strange’ religious rituals Jews exacted political retribution from the Texan communities.

When the Jewish refugees arrived in America, The Hebrew

 Emigrant Aid Society (HEAS), heavily supported by Jacob 

Schiff, provided shelter on Ward Island in the New York 

harbor and Greenpoint, in Brooklyn. See Sacher, p. 128

Initially, the Jewish agencies in Hamburg, Berlin, Antwerp and London supplied immigrant needs. However, the flow developed into a torrent.

The constant flow of Jewish immigrants from Russia gave birth to the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) in 1881. An international organization, HIAS rescues, relocates, relocates families through resettlement.

HIAS officially started in 1881 as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society – HIAS. Operating out of New York, it provided shelter for immigrants disembarking from Castle Garden, up to the opening of Ellis Island in 1892.

The Society helped immigrants find employment in New York and New Jersey and established agricultural colonies in other states to provide land on which they could settle.

HIAS advocated for those Jews who were initially screened out of the immigration process, arguing before the Boards of Special Enquiry to prevent deportations. It lent needy Jews the $25 landing fee, and obtained bonds for others guaranteeing their employable status.

The Society also searched for relatives of detained immigrants in order to secure the necessary affidavits of support to guarantee that the new arrivals would not become public charges, the lack of which detained the immigrants.

Many of the Jews traveling in steerage refused the non-kosher food and came to the U.S. in weakened condition. To correct this, in 1911, the Society installed a kosher kitchen on Ellis Island.

In 1909, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society merged with the Hebrew Sheltering House Association and became universally known as HIAS. By 1914, HIAS had branches in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston, and an office in Washington, D.C.

Every community had a different story. In the case of Eishyshok in Belarus, near the Ukraine, an 1895 fire the dwellings and markets to which the Rothschild’s, both the Vienna and Parisian branches of the Rothschild family helped to restore the village. (James Mayer de Rothschild (1792–1868), in Paris and Salomon Mayer Rothschild (1774–1855) in Vienna. Seeing outside help, the town fathers asked for additional help when the larger portion of Jews wanted to escape the persecution that the Russian government imposed. See Yaffia Elliach

There were also local organizations such as Hebrew Sheltering Guardian Society, founded in 1879. In Trenton, there was the Hebrew Mutual Aid Society, the Jewish Sheltering Home and the Hebrew Free Loan Society, among others.

It is remarkable that only, while the total figure was that 26% of immigrants to U.S. retuned; for Jews, 7%. See James

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Eastern Europeans Arrive in Trenton

Arthur L. Finkle

The East European immigration began in the late 1870s, was composed mainly of Russian, Polish, and Hungarian Jews. They organized the synagogues Achenu Bnai Yisroel (1883); Anshei Emes (1891); Ahavath Israel (1909); and Poaley Emes (1920). For all Congregations, see Appendix III, page 259

Jacob Barker immigrated to the US in 1880 and arrived in Trenton in 1881. He and his wife raised seven children. Jacob was one of the founders on Congregation Brothers of Israel. One of his sons, Rufke owned a slaughterhouse and eventually opened a meat market. Monty, another son, was the ‘though’ guy. Meyer Stark arrived from Lithuania via Scotland in 1883. Another founder was Simcha Lavine, he arrived in Trenton in 1895. He raised five children: Sophie (Nathan Siegle); Toby (Popkin), Isaac (Lavine’s Department Store; and David (Grocery store. Eventually, all the boys opened Lavine’s Department Store at 187 S. Broad St.
Jewish education was conducted by private teachers until Brothers of Israel Synagogue founded a Hebrew school in 1893. Later, in 1945, it became part-time day school, under the leadership of Rabbi Issachar Levin, serving the Trenton community from 1927 to 1969. In 1969 it became the Trenton Hebrew Academy. Renamed in 1981 as the Abrams Hebrew Academy (named for a local foundation that made a significant endowment to the school), it moved from Trenton to Yardley, PA in the 1980’s.

The main reasons for the immigration to USA were to flee the harsh Russia anti-Semitism policy, the coercive and discriminatory 25-year military service, lack of economic opportunity and the pogroms.

By the May Laws poof 1882, Jews were restricted to live in the Pale of the Settlement in what is now Lithuania, Russia, Romania and the Ukraine. In addition, one on seven Jewish boys was conscripted into the Tsar’s Army (1 in 10 non-Jews). Length of swerve – 25 years!

General laws applicable to Jews included: (1) the family of a Jew who evaded military service was assessed a fine of 300 rubles; (2) capturing a Jew who evaded military service yielded cash reward of 50 rubles.
 Between the years 1874 and 1892 (excluding 1883 for which no reliable figures are available), a total of 173,434 Jewish recruits were drafted. See Dan Leeson, Military Conscription In Russia    
in the 19th Century

Moreover, if the child were less than 16, then the term of his military duty from age 12 to 18 was another six ‘tacked-on’ more years up to age 18. Insidiously, the Kahal, a semblance of the Jewish ruling committee in each community, was the agent of the government to present these new conscripts, under penalty of fine or increased conscription for the community.  Severe restrictions  were placed on the number of Jewish doctors and lawyers (The Legal Bar went from 22% to 9% in a year); cannot use machinery; cannot sell items made out of one’s own shtetl; quotas and Gymnasia’s Academic High Schools) and Universities.

Indeed, Simon Dubnow expounds on the effect of these oppressive May Laws of 1882:

The May Laws of 1882 also temporarily forbade the issuing of mortgages and other deeds to Jews, as well as the registration of Jews as lessees of real property situated outside of towns and boroughs; and also the issuing to Jews of powers of attorney to manage and dispose of such real property. Further, “Jews are forbidden to transact business on Sundays and on the principal Christian holy days; the existing regulations concerning the closing of places of business belonging to Christians on such days to apply to Jews also." See Paul Kriwaczek, Yiddish Civilization: The Rise and Fall of a Forgotten Nation, Vintage Books, NY, 2005.

Demographics of the Great Jewish Immigration (1881-1914)

Demographics of the Great Jewish Immigration (1881-1914) 

Arthur L. Finkle
From 1881 to 1890, Jewish immigration was geometrical progression. In the first wave (1881-1890),  193,021 Jewish immigrants entered this country. From 1891 to 1900,  393,516.

In the last 10-years (1904-1914), 976,263 Jews immigrated, which represented 62.5 per cent of the total Jewish immigration for this period.

The yearly variations of the total Jewish immigration correspond closely to the Russian Jewish emigration movement.  In 1899, the Romanian and the Austria-Hungary movements swelled the number.

The year 1906, marked the high-water mark of Jewish immigration: 153,748 immigrants, practically one-tenth of the total movement.

During the twelve years from 1899 to 1914, there entered the United States a total of 1,6 million Jewish immigrants, an annual yearly average of nearly ninety thousand. During this period only the Southern Italians exceeded this immigration total.

 The most effective of the Jewish philanthropic agencies was the Immigrant Removal Office. Of the Jewish immigrants, seventy present remained in New York City. They lived in unsanitary tenements; worded 14 hour days; and scraped by to eke out a living.

One important issue was to disperse these immigrants crowded on the East Side in New York. Indeed, the Fund created the Industrial Removal Office as Part of Jewish Agricultural and Industrial Aid Society (JAIAS) 1901-17 – 74,000

Extraction of Jews in the unsanitary slums of New York was for the most part mutually agreed upon by the established German Jews as well as the Russian Jews.

Admittedly, there was friction between the urbane, educated German Jews who had resided in the United States for 50 years and the obscurantist, non-secular educated, unmannerly Russian shtetl Jew.

Abraham Cahan, the famous author and longtime editor of the Jewish Daily,, after meeting with the receiving German Jewish reception party at Castle Gardens said:

I departed with a strong impression that he was a heartless bourgeois. And he probably suspected that I was a wild Russian. That is what they called us immigrants at that time, sometimes even to our faces.

The inability to understand each other affected the relationship between the Russian-Jewish immigrants and the American Yehudim or German Jews.... Later I realized that there were Yahudim who fervently wished to help us sand up of our own two feet in the new homeland.

The reports of the pogroms had stirred them deeply and accounted for their participation in the immigrant society. But agreement between us was practically impossible. If wasn’t only the differences in our daily language and manner of speaking that got in the way. That wouldn’t have been so bad. It was deeper differences in inherited concepts and customs that separated us. With the best intentions in the world and with gentle hearts they unknowingly insulted us. See Abraham Cahan
In fact, German Jews did feel a responsibility to help their fellow Jew, even if patronizing.

In New York, the German-Jewish led United Hebrew Charities and Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society helped to locate Jews; assisted them in securing shelter and getting them a job. Overwhelmed by this undertaking, Baron de Hirsch in 1891 donated $2.4 million ($57.5 million in 2010 money) for the material protection and assistance for persecuted Jews.

De Hirsch began with experimental Farming Communities, which largely were not successful. Then after the Romanian Jewish immigration crisis of 1900-1901, the Fund established the Immigrant Removal Office.

German-Jewish leader of the B’nai Brith and the American Jewish Committee encouraged a moral crusade to get the Jew to till the spoil as was not allowed to do for centuries in Europe. This 'back to the soil' movement would make honest and able yeomen. In addition, the crush of an overpopulated New York will be relieved somewhat. Moreover, the Jews who go out of the City will be more able to normalize themselves with the general population.

There was a severe backlash, however, against not only Jews but also the many Italians and Slav who immigrated during the same period. Nativist workers feared competition with the immigrants who would work for less than they would, Nativist entrepreneurs had a difficult time jettisoning the baggage of centuries of anti-Semitism. Accordingly, three Commissions sponsored by the Congress delivered an Immigrant restriction report in 1911 to measure the effect of these immigrants.

Indeed, over the veto of President Wilson, the nativists pressured Congress to pass the literacy test for immigrants (which really was a ruse to deny non-English speaking immigrants.)

The death knell occurred in 1921 with the 1921 National Quota Act that restricted immigration from each country according to the 1910 census. The coup de grace was the National Origins Act of 1924 that reestablished the concepts of the 1921 act with the proviso that the census figure would be the 1890 census (before the Great Migration).

Family Movement

Jewish immigration was a family movement. A great proportion were females and children. From 1899 to 1910 a total immigration Jews, 56.6 per cent were males; 43.6, females  compared to other immigrants in 1899 to 1910, the Jews are seen to have a higher proportion of females than any other people except the Irish (which sent a disproportionate amount of women seeking domestic jobs).
Permanent Settlement

The relative stability of immigration may be determined by contrasting the departure and the arrivals of immigrants. From 1908 to 1912 (when records were available), only 8% of Jews emigrated from the U.S. in comparison to the 32 % emigrated back to their land or origin.


The largest group is that classed as having "no occupation". This group comprises 45.1 per cent of the total. Most of this reason is the reflection of the great number of women and children among the Jewish immigrants.

Skilled laborers were the second largest group, 36.8 %. "Miscellaneous" represented 17.4 %. This group included common and farm laborers, servants, merchants and dealers, etc. Professional occupations, 7 %.
A much smaller group merchants, petty merchants, hucksters, and peddlers, were 5.3 per cent of the total. Of farm laborers, 1.9 per cent.
In the professional classes the teachers were the largest group, 29.4 %. Next were musicians, 21.8%. Together these two groups were more than half of the professionals.

By far the largest group of the skilled laborers were the tailors, 36.6 per cent. The dressmakers and seamstresses numbered 39,482, and comprised one-tenth of the total. Including the closely allied trades such as hat and cap makers, milliners, etc., the garment workers composed practically one-half of the entire body of skilled laborers. Jobs for Jews.  Somehow the garment industry missed Trenton. In fact, outside investment began the garment industry, although there was the Trenton Shirtwaist factory at the turn of the century. In New York City, in 8090, more than 90 percent of these facto­ries were owned by German Jews. By 1897 approximately 60 percent of the New York Jewish labor force was employed in the apparel field, and 75 percent of the workers in the industry were Jewish.

Carpenters, joiners, cabinet makers and woodworkers, 10%. Shoemakers, 5.9 %.

Clerks (accountants), and painters and glaziers contributed an almost equal number——representing 4.3 % and 4.1 %.

Butchers, 2.9 %; bakers, 2.8 %; locksmiths, 2.4 % and blacksmiths, 2.2 %. Together, these ten groups comprised 80.4 per cent of the Jews in skilled occupations.

Hayfetz Brothers Butchers

There were workers in the trades: tinners,  watch and clock makers, tobacco workers, hat and cap makers, barbers and hairdressers, weavers and spinners, tanners and curriers, furriers and fur workers, and bookbinders. More than a thousand skilled laborers were found in the following trades: photographers and upholsterers, mechanics (not specified), masons, printers, saddlers and harness makers, milliners, metal workers (other than iron, steel and tin), machinists, jewelers and millers. Less than a thousand laborers were found in two groups: iron and steel workers, and textile workers (not specified).

Jewish immigrants were therefore concentrated in the two groups of "no occupation" and "skilled laborers", to which belonged more than four-fifths of the total number. Of laborers (including farm laborers), the Jews, on the other hand, had the smallest proportion (except the Scots), 13.7 %.

To some, the rate of illiteracy has been generally used as a rough standard for estimating the mental equipment of the immigrants. However, Jewish rate of illiteracy dispels the popular impression that practically every Jew is able to read and write. Out of the 14 years old and up, 26 per cent, were unable to read and write. Compared with the general illiteracy among all the immigrants, from 1899 to 1910, was 26.7 per cent. See Samuel Joseph
American Attitudes of Increased Immigration

The floods of pauperized immigrants pouring into America were generally not pleasing to the majority of American Jewry. What really troubled the American Jewish community was the proverbial pauper class. These might conceivably remain permanent wards of the charitable societies, depleting resources, filling the char­itable institutions, bringing a black name to the record of American Jewry, and perhaps even inciting anti-Semitism. American Jewry was very sensitive on this score.
But the increased persecutions in Russia brought new thousands of refugees. During the years of greatest immigration in the eighties, from 1885 to 1890, the most important organization established on behalf of the Russian Jews was the "Jewish Protective Emigrant Aid Society."

The Immigrant Protective Society was a modern Traveler's Aid Society and an Anti-Defamation League rolled into one.

The prolific growth of synagogue activity brought about, in 1888, the election of a chief rabbi by the larger Russian and Polish congregations of New York. The coming of the chief rabbi, Jacob Joseph of Vilna, was viewed with tremendous enthusiasm by the Orthodox Russian Jews but with some apprehension by the German Jews. See Mandel.