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The Origins of the Jewish Orphanage

Edward S. Conway

<plain_text><page sequence="1">The Origins of the Jewish Orphanage* EDWARD S. CONWAY, M.A., Ph.D. In 1656, Jews were granted legal rights to enter into England and live there. It has been estimated that in 1669 there were between 60 and 80 Jewish families, constituting a total of about 400 people, of whom one-quarter were well-to-do, one-quarter who possessed only moderate means, while the remainder were employees or paupers.1 By 1750, the numbers had increased to 8,000, the majority of whom came from Central Europe via Holland.1 In 1795, Patrick Colquhoun estimated that there were about 20,000.2 The majority of the immigrants lived in London and were unable to enter into pro? ductive employment, because restrictions in the countries of their origin had denied them the opportunity of learning a useful trade, while conditions in England prevented their absorp? tion in the normal economic life of the nation. Under several charters, the City was able to keep Jews perpetually out of the freedom, and, without this, they were debarred from retail trading, from plying the handicrafts, from transactions on the Exchange, and from other privileges.3 Consequently, many who found refuge in England could not support themselves and became dependent on charitable sources or else followed illegal occupations. The descendants of the original settlers of 1656, the Sephardim, throughout the many decades of their residence, had evolved a fairly comprehensive system of social welfare which catered for every need among the aged, sick, poor, and homeless children. They were a highly disciplined body, which included some very wealthy Jews who were held in high esteem by the general community as well as by their coreligionists. These charitable organisations, however, were confined to members of the Sephardi denomination and not until 1779 was there a comparable social agency to cater for Jews who belonged to the rapidly increasing Ashkenazi section of Jews (the newer immigrants who came from Central Europe). In that year, there was much distress among the poor which accounted for riots, so the Meshebat Nephash was formed to distribute bread, meat and coal among the needy Jews. During the latter half of the eighteenth century, each episode of persecution in Central and Eastern Europe brought a fresh wave of immigration into England. The number of impoverished Jews reached such large pro? portions that the Jewish community found itself unable to cope with the problem of caring for the needy. In an attempt to stem the tide of immigrants, the lay leaders of the Great Syna? gogue in London decided to refuse relief to foreign Jews who had left their country of origin without good cause. But restrictions of this kind only helped to aggravate difficulties and these poor people were driven to illegal practices to stave off destitution. The mounting crimes caused in? creasing public concern and there was an ugly outburst of popular feeling following a brutal murder at Chelsea by a band of Jewish crimi? nals. The Jewish community did all in its power to demonstrate its horror and excom? municated the criminals. At the time, however, the Jewish communal leaders could think of only one effective method of checking delinquency and that was to restrict immigration. The Wardens of the synagogue, while offering their services in whatever capacity the Government might care to say, protested that the ultimate re? sponsibility for the growth of lawlessness must belong to the authorities who permitted un? restricted immigration of impoverished Jews, who lacked the skill, training, or opportunity to follow any lawful employment in England. As a result of these representations instruc? tions were issued to the Postmaster General withdrawing permission for Jews to enter * Paper delivered to the Society on 3 April 1968. 1 History of the Jews in England, A. H. Hyamson (Methuen, 1928), pp. 189-195. 2 Ibid., p. 243. 3 Ibid., p. 208. 53</page><page sequence="2">54 Edward S. Conway England on His Majesty's packet-boats ex? cepting those who had paid in full for their passage and had been granted a passport by one of the Ministers abroad, although the industrial poor of all other nations could be transported to England gratis.4 The Lord Mayor of London offered free passage to those poor Jews who wished to return to their native land. But the pressure of events on the Continent and the comparative freedom within England accounted for a never-ending flow of immi? grants; and the absence of favourable con? ditions for the absorption of these poor Jews within the productive economy of the country resulted in an ever-worsening situation. Eventually, the leading members of the Jewish community were roused to take some constructive action by the publication of a forceful indictment of Anglo-Jewry by Patrick Colquhoun, a well-known London magistrate.5 He claimed that of the 20,000 Jews in London in 1795, some 2,000 were engaged in nefarious practices because they were not trained for useful employment. He declared that if the 'leading and respectable characters' of the Jewish community did not take steps to train their children 'in useful and productive labour' and save them from careers of crime, special legislation would be necessary to deal with them.6 Dr. Joshua Van Oven, the Honorary Medical Officer to the Poor of the Great Synagogue, was perturbed by this publication. He contacted Colquhoun and, in collaboration with him, drew up a comprehensive scheme to deal with all the social evils of the day. It was proposed to purchase land not to exceed 100 acres in extent upon which the following buildings would be constructed: their instruction in mechanical and other useful arts; 4. A workhouse or institution of industry for vagrant poor and such as were able but not willing to work for their living. The finances to support this scheme were to be provided out of a Jewish Poor Fund to be established by Act of Parliament and with two main sources of income: first, a compulsory levy on the synagogue and all Jewish house? holders ; and secondly an appropriation of one half of the poor rate paid by Jewish parishioners but never utilised for the benefit of their coreligionists, who would be kept from being a burden on public funds. The fund was to be administered by a Board on which would serve twelve representatives of the German Jews (Ashkenazim), four repre? sentatives of the Portuguese Jews (Sephardim), two aldermen of the City of London, two magistrates for Middlesex, Kent, Essex, and Surrey, and the four presidents of the four City Synagogues, all of whom were to be appointed by Act of Parliament. If the assessment levied on each synagogue was found to be insufficient, the Board was to be empowered to levy an individual assessment on the congregants. In addition, it could borrow up to ?10,000 and it was to receive from the several synagogues all the income devoted to succouring the poor. The Great Synagogue approved of the scheme but the Portuguese Congregation refused to participate. It already had a hospital, an asylum, and a school; furthermore, it had a smaller proportion of poor people and there? fore stood to lose from the proposed amalga? mation of all the social services. It claimed that its charitable funds were to be used exclusively for the relief of distress among the brethren of their own denomination who had fled from Spain and Portugal, or for those reduced to poverty. The Sephardim objected to the use of their funds for encouraging the immigration of German, Dutch, or Polish Jews. They asked Mr. Hobhouse, the Member who was in charge of the proposed Bill in the House of Commons, to introduce a clause expressly excluding the Sephardi community. The parishes, too, objected to the Bill, 1. An asylum for the aged and infirm; 2. A hospital for the sick, maimed, and diseased; 3. A school for the education of children and 4 History of the Jews in England, Cecil Roth, 1949, p. 334. 5 Treatise on the Police of the Metropolis, explaining the various crimes and misdemeanours, Patrick Colqu? houn (Fry, 1795). * Ibid., pp. 43, 174.</page><page sequence="3">The Origins of the Jewish Orphanage 55 especially to the clause stipulating that half the amount paid by the Jews towards the poor rate should be handed back. The wealthy and influential Jews objected to the proposal to grant the Board authority to tax the Jewish public. As a result of the opposition from so many quarters the proposed Bill was withdrawn and the grandiose scheme dropped, despite the fact that it had won the tacit approval of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was, however, an interesting attempt, 150 years after the resettlement of the Jews in England, to make English Jewry a separate fiscal entity for the purpose of establishing a comprehensive social service. Among the most influential figures of Anglo Jewry at that time was Abraham Goldsmid, whose brother, a friend of Pitt, had founded the Royal Naval Asylum. He felt the urgent need for establishing a similar institution for Jewish children and circulated an appeal for funds among his coreligionists and Christian friends. He was impressed with the scheme of Dr. Van Oven and was instrumental in having the Bill accepted for presentation to Parliament. When, however, it became apparent that this scheme would not come into operation, he consulted with his friends about the best way to utilise the ?20,000 which had been raised by his appeal in 1795. There were divergences of opinion, but the knowledge that conversionists in the East End of London proposed to establish Homes of Industry for poor Jews helped to resolve differences among subscribers, and in 1806 it was decided to found the Jews' Hospital for the reception and support of the aged poor and for the education and industrial employment of the youth of both sexes.7 On 28 June 1807 the Hospital was opened. It provided for the reception of five aged men and five aged women, 10 boys and 8 girls. In 1810 the building was enlarged to house 12 aged people, 24 boys, and 18 girls, and in 1821 there were in addition to 12 old people, 47 boys and 29 girls. The institution contained 'a boys' bedroom, a men's bedroom, a dining room, a "counting room", a matron's bedroom, a master's bed? room, two store rooms, a male sick room, an Aged Persons' room, a shoe-maker's room, a basket-maker's shop, a shoe workshop, a basket workshop, a mahogany chair manufac? tory, a kitchen, a female sick room, a girls' bed chamber, a women's bed chamber, a school room, a mistress's bed chamber, a girls' work room and a matron's parlour'.8 Several extensions were made in order to accommodate more children. In 1841 there were 50 boys and 17 girls on the roll and in 1860 100 boys and 40 girls. It was then decided to move the institurion to West Norwood and in 1861 Sir Anthony de Rothschild laid the foundation-stone of the new building, which was able to accommodate 220 children. The Jews' Hospital was entirely dependent on voluntary subscriptions and its control was vested in the hands of subscribers. The more liberal the subscriber, the more votes he con? trolled. The General Committee met quarterly and it declared the number and kind of vacancies and recommended the increase or otherwise of inmates, examining the petitions of applicants for admission. All applicants were expected to appear in person before the Committee. Boys were admitted between the ages of 10 and 12 years. Their parents had to have been residents at least 10 years in the United King? dom and two years in London. Orphans had to have been resident nine years in the United Kingdom, two of which had to be in London. This condition of residence was imposed for the specific purpose of discouraging immi? gration. Had the criterion of need not been associated with the condition of long residence, it was felt that many of the Jews who entered England en route for America would have remained. It is noteworthy that this concern to discourage the immigration of poor Jews applied to all the major Jewish charities. When the Jewish Board of Guardians was formed in 1859, it contained in its original constitution a specific condition of relief that the recipient 8 Essays in Jewish History, Lucien Wolf (The Jewish Historical Society, 1934), p. 201. 7 See Book of Rules and Regulations of the Jews' Hospital, 1821. E</page><page sequence="4">56 Edward S. Conway had to be resident at least six months in this country.9 No boy was eligible for election to the Jews' Hospital unless he could read English and Hebrew. When children were admitted they received an education which included the requisite branches of Judaism, English reading, writing, and arithmetic, and on reaching an appropriate age they were apprenticed. Girls were admitted between the ages of 7 and 10, and remained until they were 15; if it were thought desirable, until they were 16. Conditions of residence applied to them as to the boys. In addition to religious instruction and English reading, writing, and arithmetic, they were taught needlework, knitting, washing, ironing, cooking, and all household work necessary to qualify for domestic service. A month prior to the appointed date for receiving applications for admission, notices in Hebrew and English were placed in each of the German synagogues. An application form had to be signed by the applicant. It contained details of age and residence. A certificate had to be obtained from an officer of the synagogue to which the applicant belonged and from the physician of the institute declaring him to be in good health. There had also to be references of two respect? able persons who could vouch for good character. The Hospital, at this stage, dealt only with deserving cases of children from respectable families and did not cater for homeless or destitute children. By 1830, the House Committee had become gravely concerned with the decrease in sub? scriptions and the general apathy among subscribers. It was afraid that unless there were some drastic changes, the future of the institution was in jeopardy. A report was drawn up in August of that year which pro? posed some drastic alterations in the selection of children and in the aim of the institution. At the time when this Hospital was originally founded, there were no public schools among the Jews and the ignorant state of the lower class of children among them was most deplorable and such as to render it absolutely necessary that it should be formed on its present principles, and that elementary education should form part of the system:?although the desideration of the founders of this Institution was to qualify the male branch of its youthful inmates as mechanics and enable them to gain a livelihood by following a respectable trade. But it must be manifest to all that the first twenty years have made a material alteration in the character and condition of the Anglo-Jewish poor, from a state almost bordering on barbarism, which troubles, poverty and neglect have engendered, they have been raised by the laudable, and well directed efforts of Jewish philanthropy . . . by the instituting of various schools among them; but more particularly by the Free School, which has hitherto been most success? ful and fairly promises to continue so . . . comparatively to a state of respectability, comfort and importance.10 It was proposed to reduce the period of apprenticeship from 11 years (i.e., from 10 to 21 years of age) to seven so that more youths could have the advantage of the training, since the population was increasing, and it was suggested that the age of admission should be raised to 13 or 14 years, from 10. Under these conditions it would be necessary that applicants should be taught at the Jews' Free School and be capable of passing a strict entrance exami? nation. An additional reason for raising the age of admission was the concern felt over the prob? lems of behaviour at the Hospital. . . . the older boys, continually having leave of absence, and very frequently mixing among the lowest classes of society, they imbibe the very worst notions and habits, and, naturally, though perhaps innocently, con? vey them to the younger; thus defeating, imperceptibly, those wise and salutory regulations for the improvement of the morals of the inmates of the Hospital. A sub-committee considered the report of the House Committee and made the necessary io Report of House Committee, August 1830. 9 Law 20 of Jewish Board of Guardians.</page><page sequence="5">The Origins of the Jewish Orphanage 57 recommendations, adding that these steps would mean more frequent elections, thus en? couraging more interest among the subscribers. The levelling up of ages, it was argued, would also lead to better discipline, preventing 'one of the principal causes of the uninterrupted insubordination of the youths'.11 But the recommendations were not accepted and the method of selection and the aims re? mained unchanged. It is necessary to point out that no preference in selection was given to orphans, but the committee was eager to give preference to children with good background, educational potentialities, and good character. THE JEWS' ORPHAN ASYLUM In the year 1830, when the Jews' Hospital was endeavouring to raise its tone by rejecting children of the lowest class and by suggesting the imposition of a strict entrance examination, there was a severe cholera epidemic which created destitute orphans. It was estimated that 5,000 people died of this plague in London alone. While there was an orphanage which catered for destitute children of the Sephardi section, there was no institution for children of the other Jewish denomination. One had to be at least 10 years of age (if a boy) to enter the Jews' Hospital and one had to know influential people who would be pre? pared to sponsor the application. Young orphans and those absolutely destitute had little chance of being admitted. Dr. Cecil Roth thus described the founding of the orphanage which was established to deal with the new set of conditions: In 1818, the less exalted members of the Great Synagogue established a body called Honen le 'Yetonim . . . "for educating and relieving the distressed fatherless." At first there was little need for it but in 1830 there was a great cholera epidemic. A poor couple, Assenheim, died within a short time of each other and left 3 children. At that time there was no provision for such cases. A poor cucumber-seller, Abraham Green, whose sense of pity was aroused, left his stall and went round the streets and private houses and shops in the Jewish quarter to find help. Carrying two of the children in his arms and leading the third by the hand, he appealed for money until he had collected the nucleus of a maintenance fund. This was the origin of the Jews' Orphan Asylum, which attained permanent form largely through the enthusiasm of Green's brother in-law, Isaac Vallentine (founder of the Jewish Chronicle in 1841). Another account states that a certain Nathan Barnett had anticipated Abraham Green's action some years before the cholera epidemic. . . .12 Whatever may be the precise nature of the origin of the Orphan Asylum, the fact was that in 1831 it was formally established and a house was taken in Leman Street in which seven children were cared for. By 1841, the number of children had increased to 28 and, in 1846, as a result of the benefaction of Abraham Lyons Moses, a house was built in St. Mark's Street to house 40 orphans, preference being given to double orphans. Children were admitted between the ages of 2 and 11. They were educated, taught a trade, and, unlike the Jews' Hospital, they were all apprenticed outside the institution. In 1850, it was agreed to amalgamate with the Charity for the Support and Education of Fatherless Children on condition that single orphans were to be admitted only if there were vacancies and because there was an insufficient number of applicants who were double orphans.13 Despite its humble origins, the Orphan Asylum soon obtained distinguished patronage, which included the Queen Dowager, the Duke of Cambridge, and the Duchess of Kent. The number of inmates rose steadily and by 1871 there were 61 children on the roll. But there was considerable difficulty in obtaining a suitably qualified Jewish staff. In 1865, Mr. Barnett Meyers, a Vice-President of the Jews' Hospital and the donor of the site upon which n Minutes of Sub-Committee, Jews' Hospital, 1 Dec. 1830. 12 History of the Great Synagogue, C. Roth (E. Goldston, 1950), p. 222. "Jewish Chronicle, 20 Oct. 1850.</page><page sequence="6">58 Edward S. Conway the new building stood, wrote to the Jewish Chronicle advocating the amalgamation of that institution with the Orphan Asylum. The Hospital at the time was in need of funds and was half empty, while the Orphan Asylum was restricted and was contemplating building a new structure to cope with applicants. In 1876, after protracted negotiations, a joint committee under the chairmanship of Sir Benjamin S. Phillips agreed to the proposed amalgamation and there came into existence the Jews' Hospital and Orphan Asylum (as described later in this paper). The changing attitudes of the Jewish com? munity towards the problems of child care can be observed in the changes in the methods of selection of children for admission to the Jews' Hospital. It has been noted that this institution was founded to cater for poor children of respectable parents who had been resident in England for some years. It had been regarded as desirable that the parents should have acquired firm roots in this country. At the same time the children were expected to have acquired a sufficiently high standard of proficiency in English and Hebrew as would enable one to predict that they would benefit from the edu? cation and training given in the institution. During the first half of the nineteenth century, the Jews were struggling for political emanci? pation and one of the arguments used in the House of Commons against their enfranchise? ment was that they had no roots in the country and were not participating in the skilled trades and crafts. It was the proud hope of many aspirants to political honours that the Jews' Hospital would be able to train large numbers of craftsmen and help to refute these allegations. In order that the training should be effective, it was deemed important that there should be a strict educational test for admission, for only by a selection process of this kind could a sound education and industrial training be provided. This approach can be contrasted with the attitudes adopted by many Unions towards the education of the children in workhouses and illustrated by the following quotation from a letter written by the Clerk to the Bedford Union on 7 February 1836: The Guardians of the Bedford Union have directed me to write to inform the Poor Law Commissioners they are desirous of obtaining their sanction to have writing omitted as part of the schoolmaster's instruction in the workhouse and that he teach reading only. The board do not recommend this on the score of economy, but on that of principle, as they are desirous of avoiding greater advantages to the inmates of the workhouse than to the poor children out of it. 14 Because of the facilities offered by the Jews' Hospital, there was keen competition for admission, and consequently the criterion of poverty seemed to occupy second place to that of educational ability and the social standing of the family. The following extract from an article by an 'Old Boy' illustrates the attitude of many towards admission to the Hospital: Then (1857) as nowis (I hope), there was popularly no charity taint attached to scholarships at the Jews' Hospital, and, in addition to this, there were children there related to some of the best Jewish families in London, the Marks, the Lazaruses, the Isaacs, and others. I was at the Jews' Free School ere I had 'to try' for the Jews' Hospital. Small boy as I was, I had got well up in the Bell Lane establishment [the Free School] . . . My difficulty at the time was insufficiency of Hebrew knowledge. I was accordingly coached in this . . . I went up for examination at the school then in Mile End Road, and I passed, I believe, with honours like a 'number three schoolroom boy' of the Jews' Free School aged ten ought to have done. I was now what was then known in the metropolitan and provincial Jewry as a 'Nvei Tzadek' boy, the equivalent of the Blue Coat Schoolboy in the Christian Com? munity.^ 14 Second Annual Report of the Poor Law Commissioners, 1836. App. C. No. 8, p. 529. is 1923. 16 'Jews' Hospital and Orphan Asylum?An Old Boy's Reminiscences', Jewish Guardian, 28 Dec. 1923.</page><page sequence="7">The Origins of the Jewish Orphanage 59 But eventually the need became apparent to cater for a different kind of needy child?the destitute and deserted child who had 'no social standing'. The Jewish population was growing so rapidly that, despite the falling percentage of poor among them, the actual number of needy cases increased and the existing charities were unable or unwilling to look after all of them. As this community expanded, social problems emerged which were similar to those ex? perienced by the wider community. Children were born out of wedlock and were abandoned. Wives and children were deserted, as the fathers went abroad to seek their fortune in the New World. And because there was no Jewish institution to cater for them, such children as these were cared for in the various Parish Unions. It was not until the Jewish Board of Guard? ians was founded in 185917 that the Jewish com? munity appeared to become aware of the exist? ence of these deserted children. This new social agency came into existence to cater specifically for the poor who could obtain no relief from any other source. A relieving officer was appointed in the same year, and it was not long before he learned of the existence of desti? tute children. The Honorary Officers of the Board even? tually entered into negotiations with those of the Jews' Hospital with a view to securing admission into that institution of children who were in the Parish Union institutions. These early negotiations resulted in the first major change of policy. On 31 May 1868, Lionel L. Cohen, the Hon. Secretary to the Board, wrote to Dr. H. Behrend, the chief Hon. Officer of the Hospital, pleading for the admission of children who resided in workhouses. He urged Dr. Behrend, as an essential preliminary, to apply for a Certificate of Recognition as an approved school. 'The Board', he wrote, 'trusts that in the interests of the community such an appli? cation may not be delayed.i8 Dr. Behrend replied that before making such an application, the Hospital desired assurances that if it so desired that a child should be re? moved, the Unions would remove it. Cohen replied that the Hospital need have no anxieties on that score, for if it included such a condition in its by-laws, the Unions would be bound to withdraw a child on request. He pleaded that the Board had fought for the concession granted in the Pauper Removal Act which fixed upon the Union the obligation to meet the cost of maintaining children whose religion prevented them from being admitted to workhouse schools. Now that this concession had been granted, he wished to avoid fresh difficulties which might prevent the immediate implemen? tation of the Act. To make it easier for the Hospital to accept such children, the Board, while unable to give a guarantee of withdrawal in every case, was prepared to give guarantees as cases arose, providing the Unions were unable to deal satisfactorily with them. On 12 July 1868, the Jews' Hospital agreed to make application to the Poor Law Com? missioners for certification under the Pauper Removal Act. On 9 March 1869, the Jews' Hospital was asked by the Board to receive the first children under the Act. The Board had received information that the above named children [Wagner] were fast lapsing into Christianity and would, if not removed, be soon lost to the community. Mr. Franklin was good enough to verify this and to represent to the Whitechapel Board how grievous a wrong was being done to the children and to the Jews in general by the non-removal of the children to a Jewish school. The Board considers that any cost which a Jewish school might incur by receiving children in these conditions would be more than compensated by the enhanced claims for communal support, which would be substantial. In the case of these children, the Board promised to indemnify the Jews' Hospital against any loss and urged im? mediate acceptance.19 " See The Jewish Board of Guardians, L. Magnus. (J.B.G., 1908), p. 6. 18 Correspondence Records, Archives of the Jewish Orphanage. i9 Ibid.</page><page sequence="8">60 Edward S. Conway Dr. Behrend replied on 11 March . . . 'The Whitechapel Union is prepared to pay 6/- a week for a child. The Jews' Hospital consider the cost of maintaining a child to be 12/-20 . . .' and he proceeded to ask for a further assurance that the Board would (a) pay the difference, and (b) agree to guarantee the immediate withdrawal of the children if so required. Lionel Cohen replied on the same day renewing for the third time the assurance already given on these points.21 As a result of this further assurance, the Jews' Hospital applied for the admission of the Wagner children, who entered Norwood on 24 March 1869 as the first to be admitted under the Pauper Removal Act. Both the Jews' Hospital and the Orphan Asylum were passing through a critical finan? cial period. The former had moved out of the confined built-up areas of the East End to the spacious site and the 'palatial' building at West Norwood. It was capable of admitting 200 children, yet the total number on its roll in 1868 was 90, of whom only 30 were orphans.22 Funds were low. It was without a President. It was inevitable that because of the inadequacy of its funds and lack of public support, it was unable to accommodate more children. On the other hand, the Orphan Asylum was over-subscribed with children and there was considerable pressure to extend the building for the many deserving cases which were being turned down solely on account of lack of accommodation. Despite the disinclination of the Committee of the Hospital to admit children who might 'lower the tone' of the institution, it was diffi? cult for them to resist their claim, at least, in principle, since there was adequate accom? modation and the Board of Guardians had given its financial guarantee. The Board, in April 1869, had followed up its initial success in the negotiations with the Hospital by asking for a clarification of the position with regard to further admissions.23 But the Jews' Hospital was reluctant to commit itself. Dr. Behrend replied to Mr. Cohen that it was possible to admit children from Union schools only if there were no financial obligations. He thought that the welfare of such children fell most readily on the Board of Guardians, 'to whose function their care strictly appertains'.24 Two months later, however, the Hospital agreed to admit children under the P.R.A. at the rate of 8s. 6d. a week subject to the guarantee of removal. After further and protracted correspondence, the Board, in September 1869, agreed to the con? ditions of the Hospital.25 Some sections of the community were alarmed at this change of policy. They appeared to be unaware that there were Jewish children in Union schools and they thought that this was an attempt to introduce Christian children into the Hospital. The Jewish Chronicle printed a report that: The unwarranted anxiety of our Jewish communal institutions to thrust themselves under the aegis of the inconsiderate, perhaps insidious, clauses of the recent 'Charity Laws' has received a check. The introduction by Government order of Christian orphans into the Orphan Asylum, which has suc? ceeded in placing itself under that adminis? trative mistake, quite exceeds the arrange? ments of the Committee. 'Single Christian Orphans', i.e. Christian orphans who have lost only one parent, are forcibly intruded into the Asylum. This the Committee did not contemplate . . . when will our institutions learn that Judaism requires to be maintained as a separate fact ?26 The next issue of this journal contained a complete rebuttal of these statements. But they nevertheless reflected the uneasiness of public opinion, and for many decades there was considerable concern about the wisdom of introducing such children into the Hospital and the numbers accepted were very few at any one time. 20 Correspondence Records, Archives of Jewish Orphanage. 21 Ibid. 22 Jewish Chronicle, 16 April 1869. 23 Correspondence Records, Archives of Jewish Orphanage. 24 Ibid. 25 Ibid. Also see Minutes of the General Com? mittee of the Jewish Orphanage, 7 October 1869. 26 Jewish Chronicle, 14 Jan. 1870.</page><page sequence="9">The Origins of the Jewish Orphanage 61 Meanwhile, however, the principle of ad? mission had been accepted and consultations proceeded between the Board, the Hospital, and the Orphan Asylum. With the principle accepted and a start made in admitting children under the Pauper Removal Act, the Jews' Hospital increased the number of admissions. According to data in the annual reports of the Jews' Hospital and Orphan Asylum, there were 27 children in residence in 1882 who had been admitted under the P.R.A., eight of whom were admitted in that year out of a total of 52 admissions. In 1910 the total number of P.R.A. children in residence was 69, 14 of them admitted that year out of 63 admissions altogether. How little impression this could make on the whole problem is shown by the fact that in, for example, 1895 five children were admitted under the P.R.A., but the number of deserted children on the books of the Jewish Board of Guardians that year was 932.27 Despite acceptance of the principle, the prejudices against admitting such children persisted although the institution was short of both funds and children. An article in the Jewish Chronicle appealing for funds to enable the establishment to admit more needy cases stated: We London Jews have our Norwood palace . . . well built, well placed, well tended, well managed, this institution has all the elements of success. It has one trifling drawback . . . want of sufficient inmates. . . . Designed for the maintenance, education and industrial training of the respectable poor . . . the claims on the institution must be ample . . . the number of cases suitable to it must be enormous. . . .28 Dealing with the question of admitting children under the P.R.A., the Annual Reports of the Hospital for 1870 said: ... it is hoped, in the interests of the com? munity, that this class may at no time bear a large proportion to the other inmates. This reluctance to admit such cases was due in part to a belief that a readiness to receive them would encourage weak parents to desert their children. There was considerable pressure by sup? porters of unsuccessful candidates, so many of whom came from respectable families, and there was the inevitable inference that they were being penalised by the admission of children who came from 'worthless* stock. The follow? ing figures, from annual reports, give an indi? cation of the pressure for places among applicants who applied for admission in the normal manner. Applications for Admission Date of election Number of Number of meeting candidates vacancies Daniel Marks, a Treasurer of the institution and himself an 'old boy', said at a meeting of the General Court that no more than 50 children should be admitted from the Unions. 'Any extension of that system would lead to the desertion of the children by their parents.,29 An 'Old Boy', writing to the Jewish Chronicle, echoed this: they [the Committee] committed a grievous wrong when they brought deserted children into the Institution. ... It was originally intended for the children of poor but respectable and struggling parents. . . . But the Committee snatched at the bait of a few shillings a week paid by the Workhouse Authorities. What is the consequence? They put a premium on desertion. . . . There are no less than the incredible number of 50 in the Institution to the exclusion of the class I have referred.29 This reluctance also led to many compli? cations, for it meant that the Unions were July 1898 Feb. 1899 July 1899 Feb. 1900 July 1900 Feb. 1901 64 77 70 93 77 83 18 18 21 21 21 12 "Jewish Chronicle, 13 May 1892. 28 Ibid., 12 Nov. 1869. ?Ibid., 10 Feb. 1893.</page><page sequence="10">62 Edward S. Conwqy obliged to care for many Jewish children. The Jewish Board of Guardians held a watching brief for them and requested, for instance, the Whitechapel Board of Guardians to bring up Jewish children in accordance with the practice of their faith. But this request was not viewed favourably because it was felt that too sympa? thetic an attitude would encourage immi gration.30 The majority of Jews classified as paupers were less than seven years resident in England, and it was estimated that 75% of all Jewish inmates were the offspring of foreign? ers^ JEWS' HOSPITAL AND ORPHAN ASYLUM AMALGAMATE It has been noted that, when selecting child? ren, the Jews' Hospital had always paid regard to social criteria other than destitution, and these assumed greater importance when the number of admissions became more restricted because of the lack of either accommodation or adequate funds. Thus, in the Annual Report of 1870, it was stated that out of 20 boys who presented themselves for election, seven were rejected because they did not possess the amount of preliminary knowledge required. The standard of admission to the insti? tution is by no means elevated. A very ordinary education will qualify children. . . . It is regretted that more attention is not paid to the preparation of the candidates before they are allowed to present themselves to the committee. And with regard to financial difficulties, the same Report said: . . . only a few can be admitted out of a large number of applicants because Nor? wood cannot afford to admit all needy cases. The community became concerned with the distressing situation wherein needy cases were rejected solely on financial grounds. At the Annual Court in March 1872, a suggestion was made to change the aims of the institution to prevent the admission of children whose parents could afford to send them to boarding school, and it was urged that admission should be restricted to 'necessitous* cases.32 Objections were raised to this proposal on the grounds that such a change was contrary to the wishes of the founders and that it was right that a struggling man with a large family should be permitted to send children to Norwood. It was eventually decided not to amend the preamble but to add a new law giving the committee the power to reject an applicant from the list if they deemed him unfit to be a recipient of the charity. In April 1868, Barnett Meyers, the Vice President who had donated the Hospital's existing site, put forward a scheme for intro? ducing paying pupils. In a letter to the Jewish Chronicle, he claimed that the building com? mittee of the Jews' Hospital had anticipated amalgamation with the Orphan Asylum when it constructed the new building, which at the beginning of 1868 housed only 80 children when it could hold 220. I propose [he wrote] that only 60 children should be admitted free and that 60 children should be admitted on the payment of ?15 per annum, they finding their own clothes and linen, and their parents taking them home on vacations and also apprenticing them?at any rate, the Hospital not under? taking to do so. I have suggested this in com? mittee but have not met with any support. I feel certain that parents would send children on payment, as in Great Britain there are many classes between the very rich and the very poor.33 A parent later wrote in support of this sug? gestion to admit paid boarders. There are many small tradesmen and persons of moderate income who cannot afford to pay 40 guineas a year for each child in a boarding school, but would con? sider it a boon to pay 16 guineas for the almost equal advantages they would receive at these lower terms. I have no hesitation 30 Jewish Chronicle, 6 March 1891. ?M, 29 July 1892. 32 Ibid., 8 March 1872. 33 Ibid., 24 Jan. 1868.</page><page sequence="11">The Origins of the Jewish Orphanage 63 in promising that I would at once send at least two of my children.34 Mr. Meyers again put forward this scheme in a further letter to the Jewish Chronicle. He claimed that he had brought up this proposal at two General Court meetings because he believed that Norwood was confronted with an insuperable financial burden which was borne by only 300 subscribers. Some controversy was aroused and a corres? pondent quoted the example of the Royal Medical Benevolent College at Epsom in support of the claim that there need be no serious problems arising out of the coexistence of paying and non-paying children.35 Eventually, a special committee was appoin? ted to examine Mr. Meyers's proposal. Opinions differed between those who thought the scheme would be a boon to respectable parents and those who felt that the public would cease to support such an institution, although it would support adequately the existing Home if it was properly approached. The Committee then suggested examining the proposal of amal? gamation with the Jews' Orphan Asylum.36 The original proposal for amalgamation was turned down by the Orphan Asylum in 1856, first, because at that time the Jews' Hospital admitted children only between the ages of 8 and 12; and, secondly, because it was felt that the accommodation was inadequate to ensure the admission of all orphans as well as those who could seek admission under the terms of the Trust of the Hospital. The latter obstacle was now removed by the removal of the Hospi? tal to its new spacious building, and negotia? tions were opened afresh. Apart from the major difficulties affecting policy, there were the minor ones affecting pride. For example, much time was spent on debating which insti? tution should have the privilege of having its name at the beginning of the title of the pro? posed amalgamation. At first, Sir Benjamin L. Cohen, its President, was the only one of the Board of Governors of the Orphan Asylum in favour of amalgamation.37 The major problem, however, was the con cern of the Orphan Asylum that the interests of orphans should not be prejudiced. That institution admitted only children who had been deprived of one or both parents and it was not prepared to jeopardise the welfare of such children in order to make provision for the care of any other class of needy child. Although both institutions admitted as of right and without recourse to election all double orphans, and single orphans were admitted on election, the Jews' Hospital alone admitted children who had both parents. To satisfy the Orphan Asylum, it was proposed that there should always be available a suffi? cient number of beds to admit as an emergency, and without election, all double orphans. Eventually, a scheme for amalgamation was agreed, with several clauses governing the types of children to be admitted, very much in line with the current rules regarding domicile, status as orphans, or under the P.R.A. One clause permitted a child's admission by the Committee if a payment of not less than 100 guineas was made on its behalf.38 As a result of the amalgamation, the atten? tion of the Jewish community on placing children in need of care was directed exclusively towards the institution at West Norwood. And with the increase in the Jewish population? the estimated number of Jews in London in 1891 was 67,523,39 as against 36,295 in 187340 ?the pressure for admission was intensified. In 1894 the Jews' Hospital and Orphan Asylum decided to extend its premises to admit more children.41 The proposal was strongly resisted and, for the first time, boarding-out was advocated as a wiser and cheaper method of caring for deserted and abandoned children. The Jewish Board of Guardians had always used this method, but only as a second-best alternative, i.e., when the Jews' Hospital or Jews' Orphan Asylum had been unable to accept children who it was thought should not reside in a Union establishment. 34 Ibid., 18 May 1868. 35 Ibid., 1 May 1868. 36 Ibid., 15 June 1868. 37 ibid., 17 May 1907. 38 The Jews' Hospital and Orphan Asylum Amalgamation Scheme, paragraphs 60-69, Archives of Jewish Orphanage. 39 Jewish Chronicle 28 April 1898. ?&gt;Ibid., 13 May 1892. 4i Annual Report of the Jews' Hospital and Orphan Asylum, 1895.</page><page sequence="12">64 Edward S. Conway The Rev. John Chapman, a previous Head? master of the Jews' Hospital, referring to the new proposal, wrote: Could not their object be effected more efficiently and mercifully by entirely dis? carding the idea of building new accom? modation, and thus converting the Asylum into a species of barracks filled with little automata ? In a word, instead of providing bricks and mortar, whether from their own Asylum funds, or from the pockets of the community, should they not seize the opportunity to give an honest trial to the system of boarding-out the Orphans in private families, and thus obtaining what will really be new fathers and mothers for their helpless proteges? He further suggested that the foster-parents should be paid a sum of money equivalent to the cost of maintaining them at the Asylum, and he advocated that the existing institution should be used only for children with parents.42 This scheme met with both support and adverse criticism. A correspondent, among several, in the Jewish Chronicle wrote: Before the Jews' Hospital joined the Orphan Asylum, it used to receive a great proportion of non-orphan children of respect? able families, of decayed tradesmen, and of reduced families too proud to beg or receive charity. I am not ashamed to own that two of my own sons were trained there under Mr. Chapman himself. He turned them out scholars and gentlemen. One has made a fortune in South Africa and another holds a most important position there. . . . But, nowadays, this is quite impossible. No child except an orphan can ever hope to get in and none can even apply. The Committee of the Jews' Hospital have evidently given up every right and duty to the Orphan Asylum. Mr. Chapman's plan [for boarding out] will alter this; the orphans will be boarded out and the struggling poor will have once more a chance to get their children in the school.4^ Mr. Sol Cohen, the Chairman of the Board ing-Out Committee of the Hull Jewish Board of Guardians, while agreeing with the advan? tages of a sound boarding-out scheme, pointed out the following disadvantages: (a) The Jews' Hospital and Orphan Asylum provided a better education than could be obtained elsewhere. (b) Jewish working-class homes were not suitable for accepting foster-children. (c) Most Jewish families were so large that they would be unable to cope with any 'artificial' conditions.44 The problem of finding room for deprived children was aggravated by pressure from the provincial Jewish communities. The Annual Report of the Jews' Hospital and Orphan Asylum for 1908, referring to the large number of applicants?viz., 103 for 22 vacan? cies, stated: 'The visits paid to the homes of the candidates by members of the Committee and others, and enquiries made from the Board of Guardians, disclosed depths of poverty and misery which are quite appalling.' A further suggestion was made with a view to relieving the pressure on the Orphanage, 'since only a small percentage of orphans found their way to Norwood,45 an Orphanage should be established in the North of England'.4^ But a counter-suggestion was made by Annie Q. Henriques, a well-known Mancunian Jewish social worker. She wrote that on the books of the Manchester Jewish Board of Guardians were the names of 100 children of widowed mothers who needed assistance, and she advocated subsidising the mothers or fostering the children rather than building an? other Home.47 Felix Davies, the Hon. Secretary of the Jews' Hospital, supported the suggestion of building an additional Home up North but he was opposed to having a school attached. Institutional life, he wrote, 'has a depressing and narrowing influence'.4? Lewis Levy, the Chairman of the East London Orphan Aid Society, approved of the idea of an additional 42 Jewish Chronicle, 13 Jan. 1893. "Ibid., 20Jan. 1893. 44 Ibid. 45 The Jews' Hospital and Orphan Asylum became known to the Jewish public briefly as Norwood. " Jewish Chronicle, 1 Nov. 1907. "Ibid., 8 Nov. 1907. ? Ibid.</page><page sequence="13">The Origins of the Jewish Orphanage 65 Home up North because Norwood was full and there were so many children in London who could not be admitted.4^ Others claimed that boarding-out was wrong, for it merely trans? ferred poor children 'from one poverty stricken home to another'.50 Following further correspondence, the Jewish Chronicle in a leading article commended the plan for a separate Home up North on the grounds that Norwood was full.5i But the Orphanage proceeded with its plan for enlarging the premises and the general situation was further eased through the generos? ity of people who gave a large donation for the construction of a small Home in the grounds of Norwood to cater for 50 children between the ages of 5 and 8. The position of children resident in work? houses continued to occupy the minds of the public for some time. As late as 1923 a Coun? cillor S. Segal wrote in the Jewish Chronicle: I am told that there is the Jews' Orphan Asylum, Norwood, but although the Guard? ians maintain a few children there, the authorities of that institution will not accept any more Poor Law boys and girls, as they say that by so doing they will prevent the building from being put to its legitimate use, and also on grounds of lack of accommo? dation. The need for a Jewish Poor Law School was forcibly brought home to me a little while back. The St. George's Guardians had adopted a family of four Jewish children who refused to eat meat and when Kosher meat was supplied, still refused to eat because the pans were trefer.52 In a letter in the next issue of the same paper, the Rev. W. Easterman claimed he had advo? cated a similar measure in 1906 and added that he thought there were about 50 Jewish children resident in the various Union Homes. With the general improvement in social conditions and the gradual development of the social services, the pressure on Norwood eased. Pauper children were admitted more readily and without raising undue controversy. The Annual Report for 1913 indicated that double orphans were admitted without delay, al? though cases of desertion were subject to most searching inquiries. The First World War increased the number of widowed mothers and the Annual Report for 1923 referred to a suggestion which, however, was not accepted, that an allowance should be given to these mothers in place of admitting the children to Norwood, so as to avoid the break up of the family. Poverty in association with size of family appeared to be the major cause for seeking admission, but it was finally agreed in 1925 not to accept applications solely on grounds of poverty. A decision of a special sub-committee set up to deal with this question in that year decided that cases . . . where the home is decent and of which the accommodation is sufficient, or admits of being rendered sufficient, should not be entertained where the only basis of appli? cation is poverty which can be relieved elsewhere.53 Further changes in the social situation were referred to in the Annual Report for 1925: Recent legislation may compel us to re? cast our ideas as to the meaning of the word 'deserving' . . . hitherto it meant orphan? hood, poverty, destitution, and non-existence or unsuitability of the home . . . With the introduction of widows' pensions, the ques? tion arises should not the child be allowed to stay with the remaining parent? . . . Parents could be subsidised by charitable funds to permit the children to remain with them. . . . The Committee of Norwood are the Trustees of the Community and their funds must be used to the best possible advantage of orphans as a whole ... It may be necessary to modify the scheme for admission. But of one thing the Community must rest assured . . . the home from which they refuse to remove a child will give it the necessary opportunities of educational and character development. There is need for a still greater bond between Norwood and the Board of Guardians. 49 Ibid. so ibid., 15 Nov. 1907. 5i Ibid., 25 Dec. 1908. 52 ibid., 1 June 1923. 53 Minutes of Special Sub-Committee, 1925.</page><page sequence="14">66 Edward S. Conway As the complexion of society changed, other needs became apparent. After the First World War, a fresh controversy arose over the question of admitting illegitimate children, but in 1926 this was resolved following the receipt of a letter from two influential supporters of the Orphanage and the 'General Committee decided that the fact of children not being born in wedlock in no way constituted a bar to applicants seeking admission to the Orphan age'.54 The Second World War broke out before any drastic changes were made. But on the return of the children from evacuation in 1945, when it was found that there were many Jewish children in local authority children's homes, application was made for their immediate admission to Norwood. It became a working principle that any Jewish child who was taken in care by a local authority would be admitted forthwith to Norwood subject only to passing a formal medical examination, and in 1952 approximately one-quarter of the children on the roll were of this category. In this period a further problem arose over the application for admission of a coloured child who was born out of wedlock. He was admitted but the main doubt expressed about the wisdom of this admission was that the boy might not be happy, being the only coloured child at the Orphanage. Since then each such application has been favourably received. This brief outline of the origin, growth, and development of the Jewish Orphanage has indicated the many changes in the aims and purposes of the institution and in the concept of child care. The administrators were con? cerned with the charitable aims of child care, making provision for children who could not be adequately cared for in a normal home by parents or relations?and at the same time they were anxious to provide the best educa? tional facilities, so that the products of the institution could become worthy representa? tives of the Jewish community. Thus, on the one hand, there was the pressure to admit children because of their destitution, and 'child-care' criteria dominated the minds of selectors; on the other hand, there was the pressure to create a good type of boarding school for intelligent children of the respectable poor. Because it appeared unlikely that children of disreputable, irreligious, or ignor? ant parents would develop into socially accept? able citizens, there was strong pressure against the admission of such children. The Jews are not a missionary people and have rarely made efforts to reclaim those who have gone astray. Consequently, there has never been a vigorous social movement for reforming recalcitrants, nor an evangelical movement for bringing people back to the religious fold. Conversely, those who are religious or who display an aptitude or zeal for study are regarded with respect, regardless of their social status. Thus the caring for the poor and destitute of socially acceptable families was ever a characteristic of the pattern of Jewish life. But the caring for destitute children who sprang from socially unacceptable families was an acquired res? ponsibility resulting from assimilation with their gentile environment. This conflict of approach to social problems accounted for the conflict in the approach to the problems of child care, and it was only after the Second World War that the criteria for accepting children changed so considerably, that the 'child-care' needs alone of a Jewish child were accepted as the test for suitability for admission, providing the child was physically and mentally capable of benefiting by residence at the Orphanage. This change of attitude is reflected in the change of name to the Norwood Home for Jewish Children. 54 Extract from Minutes of General Committee, 22 April 1926.</page></plain_text>

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