Home page The Occident and American Jewish Advocate Jews in the Civil War Jews in the Wild West History of Palestine The Occident Virtual Library Shopping Mall of Zion AHAVA Hero Products 250x250

בס"ד

Report of the Directress of the Ladies’ Hebrew Sewing Society

 

Pious and moral writers have made charity their theme; its duties, applications, results, all have been deemed so important as to engage the attention of the philanthropist in every age; can we then hope to add light, where all of enlightenment has been brought to the inquiry? No; but we can strive so to profit by it as to use the best means to attain the best end. The experience of each succeeding year can scarce fail to effect this, in more or less degree. The officers of any institution do but a small portion of their duty, evince little understanding of all that is comprised in manager, if they deem the bestowal of pecuniary benefits the most important part of their vocation. It is true, in their annual report, this item must be made manifest to those who have honoured them with the trust of almoners of their bounty; but also to those, and surely to their God and their own conscience, they stand but little acquitted of their duty, if it has been so limitedly fulfilled.

It requires to bring to the work, a mind free from prejudice, a heart susceptible to the wants to be catered to, and a judgment to distinguish between the habitual alms-seeker, the improvident, or the bowed spirit, whose efforts have been unsuccessful, or at least inadequate to the requirements of the objects dependent on them; all such have, and will be found as applicants. In addition to the present, a cursory glance at the last year’s statement, with a slight retrospect of the several preceding, will illustrate this. Four families, who from the commencement were, and are recipients of your bounty, prove very different results. The one, a widow with six children, claimed and obtained the especial sympathy, that the Father of the fatherless has enjoined, and few hearts fail to respond to; and now with lightened cares, her children trained to religious and moral conduct, she blesses the kindly relief afforded by the Hebrew Beneficent, the Ladies’ Benevolent, the Fuel, and Sewing Society; nor less the watchfulness that required her children’s attendance at the Sunday and general schools. With many thanks, she declines farther assistance for her eldest daughter, who gives fair promise of comfort to her. Another instance, a widow with three children, proves equally satisfactory. Alas! that we should be obliged to contrast them by instances of conduct, that hitherto has resisted the efforts to combine mental with personal benefit; thus rendering it proper to withhold the latter, since not permitted to render it available to the higher purposes of moral and religious culture; how far this might be remedied by judicious interference, becomes the subject of reflection, and this especially is the vocation of the manager.

Need we lessons to prove what woman’s influence can effect? The name of Grace Aguilar should be the watchword on our lips, to incite to the exercise of those high qualities so powerfully delineated as practised when Israel dwelt under their own palm trees, yet equally belonging to our present condition, for the benefit of this and future generations. Yes, as “Women of Israel” be it our task, our pleasure, our privilege, to pursue with energy the one grand object, on which so much depends, the improvement of our youth; the more subordinate, though eminently useful part of our duty, that of providing for their personal comfort, is the means to give influence to efforts for the regeneration of their hearts, minds, souls; the one palpable good addressed to their senses must be accompanied with words of counsel. Nor can we hope at once to have them received or profited by; every day’s experience proves the fallacy of such expectation; but we ought to persevere in the attainment of our gratification, whatever obstacle be in the way, and in this alone throw the reins to whom ever may be willing to curb the restive spirit, probably utterly unused to control. In nothing have our plans met more opposition, than in striving to make maidservants of the recipients of your bounty; in every instance this has been frustrated on the part of the parents so little qualified to be their guides. Its expediency or inexpediency, we would therefore suggest, be made matter of mature deliberation. In the absence of such institution as would afford opportunity for proper training, this appears the next most feasible plan, liable to some objections doubtless; but the manifold evils attendant on the present lack of proper tuition, mental, moral, and religious, in several cases, is so evident, that we would earnestly call your attention to the subject. It is, we are aware, on occasions like this, usual to state only the benefits conferred; we deem ourselves justified, ay, conscientiously required to leave the beaten track, when the path that lies beyond can only be reached by showing that obstacles are to be surmounted, ere the fair fields rich in fruits of uprightness and truth are attained. We hesitate not to aver, that many and various are the difficulties encountered; we have instanced a few, do not therefore, deem it necessary to enlarge on the subject. Infancy, youth, and age, have received the benefits of your bounty, have had occasion to commend and thank the kindly industry that clothed with neat and comfortable habiliments those, who else had worn the tattered garments of poverty. Care, too, has been taken that no uniform marked the Sewing Society’s pensioner; and where the recipient, as in more than one instance occurred, had fallen on adverse and bitter days, though raised in the lap of luxury, the almoner and her God alone knew, that your aid was asked and given, this being an especial privilege for an especial occasion. One who numbers fourscore years, we feel peculiar satisfaction to have afforded comforts to. May we not hope the blessings invoked by him, may have been heard and accepted? An instance of endurance that only a delicate mind ís capable of, was reported to, and instantly an­swered by your Committee, to whom it was evident no exaggeration had been in the statement, that a mother and four children were lacking common necessary clothing; provision for the time, and proffer of assistance for the future, gave comfort and gladness, instead of sorrow of heart.

Our feeble voice can add but little to the celebrity of an institution combining the advantages of locality, science, cleanliness, and general order, to such degree as must render it efficacious, except when the decree had gone forth, that no human skill, nor mortal anguish of spirits, nor fervent prayer could avert. From the Pennsylvania Hospital, on several occasions, efficient aid has been received. A wife, a mother, shared your bounty, whilst there as a free patient, and is now comparatively restored.

To thirty-four children, and seven adults, five hundred and forty-three garments have been distributed; the expenditures, receipts, and present fund, our treasurer will inform you of. It remains only to acknowledge the continued liberality of those who have each given according to their ability, with the willing spirit of benevolent hearts. Our donors are, Messrs. S. Solis, D. H. Solis, A. Hart, H. Cohen, M. L. Samuels, J. Andrade, I. Bernheimer, I. Leeser, A. S. Wolf, H. A. Phillips, B. B. Hart, M. Jacobs, I. J. Phillips, Mr. Moss, Gans, Berg, J. D. Jackson, Mrs. A. Hart, Miss Gratz, Mrs. J. Moss, Miss Josephine Etting, Mrs. Joseph Moss, Mrs. Cauffman, Miss Pauline Cromelien, Mrs. E. Moss; from the Managers of the Hebrew Ball, $189.50, were received, with how grateful feelings, we doubt not can be understood by those whose exertions in so worthy a cause, sufficiently manifest that their best reward is, the consciousness there is joy to him who causeth joy.

Treasurer's Report

Amount on hand, last Report,................................ $215.12
Received from Hebrew Ball Committee,.................. 189.50
Donations sundry benevolent persons,................... 105.00
Subscription from Members,.................................. 56.00
-----------
565.62
-----------
Amount paid sundry Orders for purchase of Materials, &c. 244.32
Cash on deposit in Saving Fund society

279.30

Cash in Treasurer's hands

42.00

321.30
-----------
565.62