City on the northwestern shore of the Black Sea, forming with the adjoining region a separate district. It has been an important factor in the cultural life of the Jews of Russia. It is believed that when the Russians took possession in 1789 of the Turkish fortress of Khadzhi-Bei—named Odessa in 1794—Jews were already living in the place. From a certain gravestone, there is reason to suppose that Jews lived there in the middle of the eighteenth century; but no authentic information on this point occurs earlier than 1793, the date of the founding of the old Jewish cemetery according to the inscription on its oldest tombstone. According to official data, five Jews established themselves in Odessa soon after the Russians took possession of it; and in 1795 the Jewish population had increased to 240 persons of both sexes. Most of them came from Volhynia, Podolia, and Lithuania. Later on Jews arrived from Galicia and Germany. These Jews, who in their native countries had adopted the European culture of the Mendelssohnian era, soon organized charitable and other useful institutions. The Pinḳes, which is still preserved and which dates back to 1795, contains the by-laws of the Society of True Philanthropy, whose object was the care of the sick and the burial of the dead. The Talmud Torah was probably founded in the same year. A Ḳahal was formed in 1798; and two years later a Jewish hospital with six beds was established.
The Galician and German Jews were styled "Broder" Jews, after the city of Brody. They established important commercial houses and took a prominent part in the trade in breadstuffs. As early as 1826 the Brody Jews built in Odessa the first Russo-Jewish school—a departure so radical at that time as to arouse almost the entire Orthodox Russian Jewry. The broad curriculum of the school was of a character hitherto unknown in the Jewish schools; and this new feature produced favorable results for Jewish education throughout Russia. The name Odessa became synonymous with religious freedom, which term the Orthodox Jews regarded as having the same import as "dissipation." The school, which brought culture to the pioneers in southern Russia, was especially prosperous under the directorship of B. Stern. It always received the support of the local authorities, and even gained the favorable notice of Emperor Nicholas I.
In 1835 the first Jewish school for girls was established. In 1852 there existed 59 Jewish schools, 11 private boarding - schools, and 4 day - schools. Furthermore, the Jews of Odessa showed a strong tendency to enter the general educational institutions, contributing a greater proportion of students than did the communities of other creeds. Thus in 1835 there were 8 Jews in the Richelieu Lyceum, and in 1853 there were 52 Jews in the second gymnasium. In the gymnasia of other towns there were about the same time considerably smaller numbers of Jews; even in the gymnasium of the cultured city of Mitau there were only 24. In 1863 the number of Jews in the Odessa gymnasium was 128. Odessa acquired a particular educational importance for all the Jews of Russia with the publication there of the earliest Jewish journals in Russian, "Razsvyet" (1860-61), "Zion" (1861-62), and "Den" (1869-71), and the first Hebrew paper, "Ha-Meliẓ" (1860).
In 1840 the first Russian synagogue with a choir was established in Odessa. It was called "Broder Shool"; and N. Blumenthal, noted for his musical ability, was appointed cantor. Though this innovation was regarded with marked hostility by the Orthodox Jewish population, the number of worshipers continued to increase to such an extent that in 1847 the congregation removed to a larger building. This occasion was utilized by the well-known Jewish writer Osip Rabinovich to defend synagogal choirs; and he published an article on thesubject in "Odesski Vyestnik." In 1860 Dr. Schwabacher, noted for his eloquence, was invited from Germany to occupy the rabbinate. He, however, was suited to a more cultured society. A stranger to the life of the Russo-Jewish masses, he did not understand the people, and therefore could not be their real leader. Schwabacher delivered his sermons in German. That language was for years, and still is in certain strata of society, the predominating conversational language of the Jews of Odessa; but in the sixties, when the reforms introduced by Emperor Alexander II. had awakened the hope of a bright future in the hearts of his Jewish subjects, those of Odessa were the first to introduce the Russian language into their homes, cooperating in this manner in the Russification of the city, which at that time, owing to the predominance of foreigners disinclined to assimilate themselves with the native population, was known as an "un-Russian" city.
In the course of time the Jewish charitable and educational institutions of Odessa increased. Prominent among them was the Trud Society (founded in 1864), whose purpose was to diffuse technical knowledge among the Jews. It has become a model for similar institutions. An orphan asylum was founded in 1868, largely with means contributed by the philanthropist Abraham Brodski. In 1867 an independent branch of the Society for the Promotion of Culture Among the Jews of Russia was organized in Odessa.
The community did not escape the horrors of the pogrom. Indeed, the very first pogrom in Russia occurred in Odessa in the year 1859. This was in reality not a Russian but a Greek pogrom; for the leaders and almost all of the participants were Greek sailors from ships in the harbor, and local Greeks who joined them. The pogrom occurred on a Christian Easter; and the local press, in no wise unfriendly to the Jews, attempted to transform it into an accidental fight, the Greek colony at that time being dominant in the administration as well as in the commerce of Odessa. Further pogroms occurred in 1871, 1881, and 1886.Favorable Attitude of Local Authorities.
The gravitation to Odessa of a considerable number of educated Jews is largely ascribed to the fact that the higher local authorities have been favorably disposed toward the Jewish population. Especially was this the case with the governors-general Prince Vorontzov (1823-44) and Count Stroganov (1855-63); and there is no doubt that the Jewish community of Odessa enjoyed on the whole a better civic position than the Jews of other places, having, for instance, always taken an active part in the municipal administration, and its members being elected to commercial courts, etc. When in 1861 a commission was formed to frame a new city charter for Odessa, Osip Rabinovich, the author, was appointed a member of it. This attitude of the city toward the Jews of Odessa was reflected not only in the career of the latter, but also in the fortunes of the Russian Jews generally; for local authorities elsewhere repeatedly appealed to the government to augment the rights of the Jews and to improve their civic conditions.
At the present time the influence of the Jewish element in Odessa is quite significant. Two of the three leading political dailies are owned by Jews. The contributors and reporters, also, with insignificant exceptions, are Jews. Among Jewish journalistsare to be found many who enjoy a wide popularity in southern Russia, e.g., Sack, Shabotinski (the expert on economic conditions in southern Russia), Lazarovich, Lando, and Kheifetz. In science, also, Jewish names are frequently encountered. It is interesting to note that, in spite of the severe prohibitions of the Russian government, three Jews have been appointed to chairs in the University of Odessa: namely, Hochman, author of mathematical works; Bardach, the bacteriologist, a pupil of Pasteur; and Kahan, the mathematician. All the medical men of any renown in the city are Jews; and it may be said generally that in the medical profession the Jews take first rank quantitatively as well as qualitatively. Pharmacists and their assistants, who in Russia are entitled to a degree only on graduation after a special course at the university, are in the great majority of cases Jews. Notwithstanding the severe restrictions, there are many Jews in the legal profession, among them M. G. Morgulis and Blumenfeld. It was at Odessa that Passover, the luminary of the Russian bar, began his activity. He was recently retained by the British government to represent its interests in the controversy between it and Russia regarding the Red Sea captures in the course of the Russo-Japanese war.In Literature, Science, and Art.
The Jews of Odessa have been extremely active in literature. Aside from the literary names of the past enumerated above, mention should be made of those of Ilya Orshanski, the analyst of the legal status of the Jews in Russia; of the Pinskers, father and son, the former the historian of the Karaites, and the latter the author of the epoch-making pamphlet "Auto-Emancipation," which laid the foundation of Zionism in Russia; and of A. Zederbaum, editor of "Ha-Meliẓ." In Odessa lived and labored up to 1903 the well-known Russo-Jewish historian S. Dubnow; and here, too, resides the man of letters Ben-Ami (I. M. Rabinovich). Of the younger generation are Julius Hessen and Pen, who are engaged in the study of the history of the Jews. Of writers in Hebrew Odessa has among its residents Solomon Jacob Abramowitsch ("Mendele Mocher Seforim"), who was also the "father" of Yiddish literature; "Aḥad ha-'Am" (Asher Ginzberg); the poet Bialik; the pioneer of the Zionist movement, M. L. Lilienblum; and the men of letters Ben Zion and Tschernovitch. Other Hebrew writers who worked in Odessa were the late P. Smolenskin, Gottlober, and Mandelkern; and among those of the younger generation, Berdyczewski, Brainin, Klausner, the poet Tschernachovski, and the Yiddish writer "Scholem Alechem." From the list of distinguished Jewish writers of fiction in Russian may be mentioned Juschkevitch and Khotimski, who chose for their subjects types from Jewish life.
In the field of art, also, the Jews of Odessa are not backward. At the annual exhibitions of South-Russian artists are to be seen the works of the Kishinef painters of Jewish life, Bershadsky, Goldstein, and others. Other prominent artists are: L. O. Pasternak, whose genre and plein air pictures are to be found in the museum of the Luxembourg, Paris, in the Tretyakov gallery at Moscow, and in the museum of Alexander III. at St. Petersburg; O. Brasa, a young artist who has already obtained a certain recognition, and whose career has just begun; Askenasi; Marinest; and Hirschfeld.
In the sphere of public life the activity of the Jews of Odessa is restricted, for the right to vote in the election of municipal officers has been taken from them. Up to the year 1892 the Jews constituted the most influential element in the management of the municipal affairs of the city. The period of activity of the Jewish members of the municipal council—A. M. Brodski, Soloweichik, and P. L. Khari—marks the golden era of the local administration, which, according to the uniform admission of the press, has retrograded since the introduction of the reforms denying to the Jews the right of participation, either active or passive, in municipal elections. In the management of public affairs of purely Jewish character, the first place is occupied by M. G. Morgulis; then follow M. Rabinowitch and O. Chais. As generous contributors to charities are to be mentioned L. G. Askenasi, Wainstein, Mendelewitch, M. and J. Rabinowitz, and others.
Among the Jewesses of Odessa who have devoted themselves to acts of charity and benevolence, the recently deceased Maria Saker must be mentioned. She made her appearance as the pioneer of the emancipation of women, and worked hard to raise the intellectual standard of her fellow Jewesses. She was besides no stranger to literature.
The economic importance of the Jews for Odessa and for the whole territory of New Russia has long been acknowledged. Even the anti-Semites themselves have admitted the beneficial influence of the Jews upon the commerce and industry of that territory. As proof of the danger of Jewish predominance the former found it necessary to emphasize the fact that the Russian element in Odessa was being pushed to the rear, and that until recently the native Russians had occupied only a secondary place. The history of South - Russian commerce has to record the name of the Rabinowitsch firm, which was the first to engage in direct commercial intercourse with the Far East in general and with China in particular, and the names of the Jewish mercantile firms which were the first to find a steamship route connecting the Black Sea with the Baltic.Jews in Commercial Life.
The export of grain, which recently became the staple trade of Odessa, contributes very largely to the employment of Jewish capital and labor. Of late this trade has suffered, owing to the competition of neighboring ports, and Odessa has had to engage in industrial pursuits. But even here the Jews of Odessa compare favorably with their neighbors. Detailed information with regard to occupations is difficult to obtain in Odessa, where, as in the Russian empire generally, the science of statistics is still in its infancy; but certain figures are available from documents of the Board of Commerce granting permission to the respective licensees, upon payment of certain fees, to engage in commerce and industry. Of 1,660 licenses granted to merchants by the Board of Commerce, 820, or nearly one-half, were issued to Jews. There are underthe control of Jews 15 important banking-houses, 105 large manufacturing establishments, and 560 large commercial houses, and 140 Jewish firms are engaged in the exportation of grain to foreign countries. These figures give only a vague idea of the participation of Jews in vast commercial enterprises. There are also numbers of Jewish shareholders in incorporated banks; and many of them are directors of such corporations. The Second Mutual Credit Company is entirely controlled by Jews. In many industrial joint-stock companies, as in the sugar industry and in distilleries, the participation of Jews is very extensive. Trade and industry on a small scale are almost entirely carried on by Jews.
If, however, the inference should be drawn from the above data that the Jewish inhabitants constitute the wealthiest class in Odessa, such an inference would be extremely erroneous. The bulk of the wealth is in the hands of the Greeks, Italians, and Orthodox Russians. In this respect the Jews take fifth or sixth place, the number of individual large fortunes being very limited. It is noteworthy that of the 14,633 real-estate parcels in the city only 2,857, or one-fifth, are owned by Jews, although the latter form about one-third of the total population. The general material condition of the Jews is best illustrated by the report of the committee for rendering aid to the Jews for the Passover holy days. It appears that, in spite of the apparent reluctance of many Jews to accept charitable aid, the number of those registered on the books of the committee is about 50,000, that is, one-third of the Jewish population, thus showing that an equal proportion is suffering from actual want. The number of the poor, those who, being scarcely able to make both ends meet, are always liable to fall into the category of the class suffering from actual want, may be estimated at 35,000. The rest of the community may be divided into the following classes: (1) the middle class, consisting of artisans, clerks, and small tradesmen who can not accumulate any savings; (2) the well-to-do class, the members of which are able to save; (3) the wealthy, such as owners of real estate; and (4), finally, 18 Jews possessing enormous fortunes.
According to the census of 1892, there were 35,505 Jews engaged in the various branches of the city's manufactures and commerce (this number included the representatives of the large manufacturing as well as of the less important commercial concerns). Of these, 15,543 were owners or managers of the different concerns, 14,572 were workmen (assistants), and 1,758 were apprentices. There were 3,632 independent workmen.
According to the statistics of the city and gild administrations for 1898, there were 8,458 Jewish artisans, including 3,948 master-workmen, 3,053 assistants, and 1,457 apprentices. All these figures do not, however, correspond with the facts, the actual number of artisans being considerably higher for many of the classes (especially assistants and apprentices who are not registered in the gilds).
The prevailing trades among Jews are those of ladies' tailors, shoemakers, merchant tailors, lock-smiths, cabinet-makers, etc. It is difficult to estimate the number of laborers, owing to the absence of registration; but from the fact that of those who applied to the committee for charitable aid for the Passover holy days 2,115 were married laborers, it may be estimated that there are not less than 6,000 Jews in Odessa who belong to this class.
There are in Odessa eight large synagogues and forty-five houses of prayer.
The oldest among the synagogues is the Main Synagogue, which was founded soon after the establishment of Odessa, on a lot given to the Jewish community by the city (it was rebuilt in the fifties). Other old synagogues are the Artisans' Synagogue, the Warm Synagogue, the Newmarket Synagogue, and the synagogue on the street Balkowskaya. Later on there was founded the Brody Synagogue (on the street Pushkinskaya), transformed in the "forties," as noted above, into the Choral Synagogue. Subsequently this congregation removed to a building which it owns. In 1887 there was founded the New Synagogue (on the street Yekaterininskaya) and in 1898 the Nachlass Eliezer (on the Peresyp).
Of the houses of prayer, eighteen were in existence before 1835, as, for instance, those of the kasher-butchers, the flour-dealers, the pedlers, the porters, and the expressmen. In 1859 the clerks', and in 1865the cabmen's, houses of prayer were established. Between 1866 and 1879 there were organized fifteen new houses of prayer—among them those of the furniture-workers and the bakers—and between 1875 and 1888 five additional, among them that of the painters.
In the last decade the commerce of Odessa passed through severe crises, which undermined the prosperity of the Jewish community. Moreover, the Jewish populations forcibly expelled from their old domiciles (as, for instance, from Moscow) became a heavy burden on the Odessa community; and there were recorded recently more than 40,000 needy Jews. Nevertheless the community is being enriched by new educational and charitable institutions, while supporting the old ones. While private charity is extensive, the community also, as a definite financial administrative unit, is bearing heavy burdens. The table on page 384 illustrates the condition of the various charitable educational institutions.
Indeed, the Jewish community of Odessa is justly famed for its charitable institutions. The hospital has grown to such dimensions that it occupies to-day four city blocks. It contains several departments: the general hospital; children's hospital; a splendid operating department, the gift of the well-known philanthropist Mrs. L. G. Askenasi, the cost of which amounts to not less than 100,000 rubles; an ambulance department; and several others. The hospital has a branch on the Liman, a health-resort whose salt-lake water is efficacious in cases of rheumatism and in children's diseases. The contingent of patients is mainly recruited from the Jewish population, but there are also many Gentiles (30 to 35 per cent). The annual expenditure amounts to 125,000 rubles, covered partly by the income from the meat-tax, and partly by donations.Charitable Organizations.
The Jewish Orphan Asylum of Odessa has its own commodious building in the best section of the city, and accommodates 250 orphans of both sexes. A school, with separate departments for boys and girls, is annexed thereto, as is also a trade-school where bookbinding and shoemaking are taught. The Hebrew Agricultural School, an adjunct of the orphan asylum, is located in the suburbs of the city. Boys are trained there for agricultural pursuits, and girls in the management of dairies. As a result of the ukase prohibiting Jews from owning or leasing agricultural land, and even from residing in country towns and villages, the graduates of the school had to remove to other places where their knowledge may be applied, as Palestine or Argentina. Many of them have to abandon altogether the calling to acquire a knowledge of which they devoted the best years of their lives. The budget of the orphan asylum, including the agricultural school, amounts to 55,000 rubles annually.
The Home for the Aged and Infirm of Odessa shelters 250 inmates, and its annual budget amounts to 25,200 rubles. The Cheap Kitchen of Odessa distributes 250,000 meals, partly free and partly at very low prices. Its annual budget amounts to 28,000 rubles. The Day-Asylum of the Society for the Care of the Homeless, maintained by voluntary subscriptions, provides shelter for the children of laboring people, who would otherwise remain without care while their parents or guardians are at work. The children receive food and clothing, are instructed in reading and writing, and are generally cared for.
Not long ago a House of Industry was established in Odessa on a moderate scale, where poor laboring girls may always find employment at sewing. Those who can not sew may here learn the trade, receiving during their apprenticeship a small salary as partial compensation for their work.Educational Institutions.
The Jewish schools may be divided into the following classes: religious, government, public, private and public, professional, Sabbath, and evening schools. To the first group belong three Talmud Torahs, public yeshibot, and private yeshibot. The First Talmud Torah is, as stated above, the oldest Hebrew school in Odessa, its age being, in all probability, the same as that of the city itself. In the first half of the eighteenth century it was managed, like all others of its type in the Pale of Settlement, without any organized system. In 1857 it was reorganized into a model school, winning the commendation of the most distinguished pedagogues and scholars, among them Pirogov. At the present time the school is directed by S. Abramowitsch ("Mendele Mocher Seforim"). There are 400 pupils, of the poorest class, who are furnished gratuitously with text-books, clothing, and foot-wear. A committee of charitable ladies supplies the pupils with dinners. The annual budget of the school, including that of the ladies' committee, amounts to 20,000 rubles. The Second and Third Talmud Torahs were opened in the suburbs last year, the pupils in the two schools numbering 400.
The yeshibah, existing since the year 1886, was founded with the object of giving to Jewish youth instruction in the Talmud and the Bible in conjunction with tuition in popular subjects. Unfortunately the school has retrograded in efficiency, and can now be considered as nothing more than an elementary school. About 100 pupils receive instruction, and the annual budget amounts to 6,000 rubles. On the initiative of Rabbi Tschernovitsch and A. Lubarski and through the financial aid of R. Gotz, a private yeshibah has been established, the aim of which is to furnish theological instruction to students preparing for a rabbinical career.
The government schools are such only in name. They were established on the initiative of the government, but are maintained from sources specifically Jewish, as the income from the meat- and candle-taxes. Of such schools there are three: two for boys, and one for girls. Each of the boys' schools consists of six consecutive classes covering the course of elementary schools, with the addition of instruction in foreign languages and bookkeeping. In each school about 300 pupils receive instruction; and the budget is fixed at 15,000 rubles. The girls' school consists of five "original" and five "parallel" classes, with 600 pupils; budget, 22,000 rubles. The school is located in a building which was donated for the purpose by L. A. Brodski of Kiev and the cost of which was 80,000 rubles.
All the above-enumerated schools belong to the class of public schools. To this category belongs also the Ellman school, so named from the donor of a large sum of money for its establishment and maintenance. It is located in the suburbs, and affords elementary instruction to 200 boys and 100 girls; budget, 8,000 rubles annually. A permanent synagogue is annexed to the school.
There are fourteen private and public schools, which give free instruction in elementary subjects to not less than 2,000 children of the poor. Almost every such school is aided by a committee which provides the children with clothing, foot-wear, and hot meals.The Trud School.
In the category of professional schools the first place belongs to the school of the Trud Society, which has existed for the last forty years. This school, the pride of southern Russia, and which attracts pupils from the most distant parts of the country, contains five "original" and five "parallel" classes, in which about 450 students receive instruction. There is also a postgraduate course, besides a model workshop for mechanics, including cabinet-makers, a profitable iron-foundry which provides Odessa and the neighborhood with model work, and an electro-technical workshop. Many of the graduates of the school go abroad for supplementary technical education, and it is no rare thing to meet an engineer who has received his elementary education in the Trud. The budget of the school amounts to 61,000 rubles. Extremely poor pupils receive clothing, foot-wear, and board free. The professional schools for girls number five, the instruction given being mostly in sewing. The foremost of them is the school built through the liberality of A. M. Brodski. Among the professional schools may also be included the Hebrew Public School of Commerce, established in 1904. It has a handsome building of its own, the cost of which was about 100,000 rubles; and its pupils, including those of the preparatory school, number at least 200.
Of private schools there are thirty-eight. In this number are included the Hochman School of Commerce and the Iglitzki Classical College, each having a normal course corresponding to that of the American high school, and five schools for girls.
A very interesting educational phenomenon is presented in the establishment of evening-schools. The development of these is greatly hampered by the interference of the officials of the education department; but they nevertheless number fourteen, for adults of both sexes. Aside from elementary courses, lectures are given on physics and on other scientific subjects of general interest. Some of the schools are nearly similar to the "Universités Populaires" of Paris and the "People's Palaces" of England and America. The evening-schools of Odessa stand, as it were, midway between these two classes of institutions, resembling in some respects the one and in some the other. They are established and maintained by an extra educational committee of the Society for the Promotion of Culture. There is also a graduate course leading to the teacher's diploma.
There are two Sabbath-schools, accommodating 400 pupils recruited from the laboring classes, whichon work-days can not devote even an hour's time to instruction in reading and writing.The Ḥadarim.
The ḥadarim of Odessa have all the shortcomings of the traditional ḥeder, including insanitary equipments and pseudo-pedagogic methods. On the initiative of the Zionistic societies, however, a movement has recently been set on foot to open model ḥadarim, in which shall be applied the correct method of teaching the ancient Hebrew language by means of that language itself. Unfortunately, there are only three of such ḥadarim. There are in all 198 officially registered ḥadarim, with a quota of 3,815 pupils, and about 200 unofficial ḥadarim, having at least an equal number in attendance.
According to the report of the inspector of the education department, 162 official Hebrew schools, exclusive of ḥadarim, are registered in Odessa, having 276 male and 204 female teachers, with 3,686 male and 3,190 female pupils, and a budget of 27,000 rubles; but these figures are certainly too low. It is very interesting to observe that, including the ḥadarim, the number of Jewish elementary schools providing elementary education to the children of one-third of the total population of the city far exceeds the number of schools, called "general" schools, for the children of the rest of the inhabitants. Of the former there are 360; of the latter, 152; although in the general schools, notwithstanding the restrictions imposed, not less than 3,708 children are being instructed. Nevertheless, the number of Jews who are of necessity refused admission to Hebrew and general schools is very great, so intense is the thirst of the Jews for education.
As regards the city schools (excluding the elementary), there were 781 (7.9 per cent) Jews in the Odessa public schools in 1902. In the two girls' gymnasia there were 125 Jewish pupils; and in the city Sunday-schools there were 199, in a total of 427 pupils. In the city school of Efrussi, established by the Jews of Russia, there were 328 Jews, or 65 per cent of the total. In 1897 there were in all 10,332 Jewish pupils in the different educational institutions.
The foregoing data relate to elementary education. As regards middle and higher education, the number of Jewish students is very limited, owing to the restrictions imposed by the government, as stated at the beginning of this article, the admission of only 5 and 10 per cent of Jews to the colleges being allowed, while the opening of higher educational institutions by private individuals is prohibited.
The number of female teachers is not less than one-half of the whole; and it must be added that the zeal displayed by them in their work is highly valued in every school.
Since the birth of Neo-Zionism of the Herzl type in recent years a party war has made itself felt in the Russian Jewry. The Zionists and Nationalists demand the nationalization of the schools, i.e., an increase in the number of Hebrew lessons, the protectorate of the model ḥeder, etc., while the radical element insists, on the contrary, upon the abolition of everything national. To the latter belong the bourgeoisie.
The Odessa branch of the Society for the Promotion of Culture Among the Jews of Russia contributes to the support of several educational institutions; distributes, though rarely, prizes for essays; publishes, still more rarely, some books; pays the tuition fees of some students of the universities; and maintains an excellent library of Judaica and a reading-room. Of the various committees cooperating with this society, such as the Historical Culture, the Provincial, the Ḥeder, etc., one is doing very good work, namely, the Evening School committee, which has for its object the education of adults.Various Associations.
The Society for the Mutual Aid of Hebrew Clerks is an important feature of commercial Odessa. In addition to its special object, the rendering of financial assistance to needy clerks, the association maintains a library and reading-room, which has the largest and finest collection of Judaica and Hebraica in Russia. This society has lately erected a building of its own, containing a spacious room in which the members meet for prayer. It was the first to introduce all organ and a female choir into the religious services. The choir has recently been discharged on account of the strong opposition to the innovation from certain sections of the society.
The Association of Jewish Teachers of the New-Russian Territory and Bessarabia comprises the members of the teaching profession in Odessa alone, and not those of the whole territory under its jurisdiction. Up to the present day the operations of the society have been limited to making loans and rendering financial aid on a small scale to its members; but a movement is now on foot to awaken the society to the necessity of active work in the sphere of higher education.
The Society for the Aid of Hebrew Agriculturists in Syria and Palestine, having its seat in Odessa, is a branch of the Russo-Hebrew society Chovevei Zion, the activity of which is well known throughout the world.
In all the non-sectarian societies also, from the sporting fraternities to the charitable societies of all phases, the Jewish element is everywhere noticeable.
It has recently been computed that for the purchase of the usual ham, bread, and eggs for distribution to the Greek-Orthodox Russians for their Easter, the Jews contribute more than one-half of the money required.
The annual expenditure by all the Hebrew charitable organizations in Odessa amounts to 800,000 rubles, of which the sum of 300,000 rubles is derived from the income of the meat-tax, and the remainder is provided by voluntary contributions.
|On Jan. 1, 1903.||Appropriated by the City (Rubles).||Derived from||Total Expenditures by Institutions (Rubles).|
|Candle-Tax (Rubles).||Basket-Tax (Rubles).|
|Trud Technical Institute||423||pupils||............||............||17,000||58,000|
|Odessa Jewish Communal Public School, with Industrial Department||198||"||............||............||9,000||12,300|
|Ellman General School||187||"||............||............||4,300||7,500|
|Government Jewish Girl's School||516||pupils||............||4,300||6,400||22,000|
|Women's Professional School||228||"||............||............||10,400||13,000|
|First Jewish Elementary School||288||"||............||6,900||5,500||15,000|
|Second Jewish Elementary School||239||"||............||............||10,500||15,000|
|Orphan Asylum, with Farm||200||"||3,000||............||29,000||50,000|
|Three private schools||.....................||............||............||2,600|
|Two new schools in the suburbs (one with a house of prayer)||.....................||............||............||6,200|
|Jewish Hospital (in 1962 there were 4,575 patients, 16 per cent of whom were Christians; ambulance cases, 42,715).||230||beds||17,000||............||75,600||120,500|
|Payment for the instruction of poor children in the general schools||.....................||............||............||11,400|
|Aid for Passover||.....................||............||............||7,500||20,500|
|Dining-Hall for the Poor||254,000 meals and 28,000 free meals.||............||............||3,100||28,000|
The annual net increase of the Jewish population is estimated at about 5 per cent.Rabbis.
The condition of the rabbinate in Odessa has been deplorable for the last fifteen years. In 1888 Rabbi Schwabacher was succeeded by Rabbi Gurland. Since the death of the latter in 1890, no rabbi has been elected, but, contrary to law, the occupants of the office have been appointed by the local authorities. Eichenwald and Pomeranz, former assistants of Schwabacher, were appointed not because they enjoyed the respect of the community, but because they succeeded in gaining the favor of the inferior local authorities. Now, however, the Odessa community has protested against this procedure. Nevertheless the candidates elected by the community have not been confirmed; and the post of rabbi is occupied—although presumably only temporarily—by Dr. Kreps, who received at the election the least number of votes.Vital Statistics.
According to the census of 1892, the Jews numbered about 112,000, or 32.9 per cent of the total population, which was estimated at about 341,000. In 1902 the births among the Jews were: males, 2,789; females, 2,418; total, 5,207 (5,164 in the city and 43 in the suburbs), or 34.6 per cent of the total births in the city. Illegitimate births among the Jews amounted to 0.1 per cent as compared with 11.9 per cent among the Greek Orthodox. In 1902 about 2,840 Jews died (according to the burial society, 3,224), or 30.19 per cent of the total number of births. The death-rate among the Jewish children for 1902 was 28.5 per cent; among the Greek Orthodox 34.5 per cent; while among other nationalities the percentage was less than among the Jews. In 1904 the Jews of Odessa numbered about 160,000 in a total population of 500,000. The natural increase of the Jewish population for 1902 was 14.7 per thousand; among the Greek Orthodox, 7.6 per thousand. If that increase continues on the same scale, Odessa will become the center of Jewish population in Russia. For the last fifteen years a transmigration of Jewish settlements has taken place in the direction of Odessa and toward the New-Russian territory, where the conditions of life are better than in southwestern Russia. In the latter the struggle for life has become very intense.