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are supported out of the special taxes spoken of above. Most of the large hospitals are located in the South and Southwest, and while northwestern Russia has a greater share of all other charitable institutions, it has only a few hospitals. A hospital is an establishment that annually requires a large sum of money for its support, and few northwestern towns can afford to make the necessary outlay.
The lack of hospitals in the Northwest is partly compensated by numerous societies for the care of the sick at their homes. Out of a total of 665 such societies 349 are located in the northwestern, 143 in the southern and the southwestern, and 173 in the Polish provinces. The functions of these circles are varied, ranging from financial assistance and hiring of medical help to actual care of the sick by members of the circle. The budget of such a circle seldom exceeds 500 rubles ($257.50) each year.
The organizations for furnishing food to the needy at a nominal compensation, or absolutely free, are not many and exist mainly in. the larger cities. Thus, the dining room for the poor in Vilna distributes during the year about 200,000 dinners, at the average cost. to itself of 8 or 9 kopecks (4.1 or 4.6 cents), while the price charged is 3 or 5 kopecks (1.5 or 2.6 cents). This is the result of an effort to substitute organized assistance for the traditional custom of having some poor person at one's table, a custom that is still observed in the smaller towns, and is a form of charity specially popular during the most. important holidays, when one or two poor persons are to be seen at. the tables of the richest men of the town each Saturday, if not every day. The poor scholars of the “kheders” and of the “eshiboths"" (institutions for higher instruction in the Hebrew language and Jewish theology) are the most frequent recipients of this primitive form of charity, but the practice is rapidly dying out. It was customary for such poor students to make their way through the school by boarding at seven places, one day a week at each place. Another form of charity, which is rapidly vanishing, is the assistance to poor brides. This consists in small subsidies, sometimes limited to 5 rubles ($2.58) for the purchase of the most necessary household utensils. Since marriage is strongly urged on each and every Jewish youth and maiden, it is considered a holy act to assist poor girls to its consummation.
The more primitive charitable institutions are centered around the local synagogue, because charitable activity has among all nations found its inception in the religious feeling, but the more modern organizations are managed by special boards and committees, and are frequently incorporated. But no matter how the organization is effected, practically each Jewish family, unless it be itself a recipient of charity, contributes to some charitable purpose, even if it be
only 2 copecks (1 cent) a week, this sum not infrequently being the regular dues in some of the societies of the smaller towns. Even a superficial acquaintance with the life of the Russian Jews in the large American cities shows the same tendencies to mutual help and self-help to a marked degree, the desire to take care of its own poor and sick being still strong in the Jewish race.
The economic importance of popular education is so well recognized that no apology is necessary for introducing the subject of education in a study of economic conditions.
The degree of literacy may be considered a fair measure of the educational standing of a people. It is therefore proper to begin the study of education of the Russian Jews by quoting the available data of the degree of literacy among them.
According to the Russian census of 1897 there were in a population of 125,640,021 persons, 26,569,585 literate persons, or 21.1 per cent. The number of males who could read and write was 18,318,812 out of a total of 62,477,348, or 29.3 per cent, while the number of literate females was 8,250,773 out of 63,162,673, or 13.1 per cent. Thus the degree of Russian illiteracy is not so great as frequent assertions in the press would make it appear, for one often sees the statement that more than 90 per cent of the Russian people can neither read nor write. Moreover, the proportion stated above does not take into consideration the large number of children of tender age, who should certainly be excluded in calculating the percentage of illiteracy.
But the point which must be emphasized here is that the proportion of illiterate persons of Jewish faith is much smaller. Of 5,215,805 persons of Jewish faith there were 2,031,497 literate persons, or 39 per cent, which gives a per cent of literacy almost double that of the total population of Russia. Of 2,547,144 males, 1,259,248, or 49.4 per cent, were literate, while of 2,668,661 females, 772,249, or only 29 per cent, could read. Thus the proportionate literacy of the Jews is about twice as high as that of the entire Russian nation.
A better idea of the degree of literacy and illiteracy among the Jews, in comparison to the entire population of the Russian Empire, may be obtained by means of a table giving the number and per cent of persons able to read, by age groups. These data are presented in the table following. Unfortunately the basis for this table in the reports of the Russian census is not religion, but nationality as determined by the mother tongue. As a result about two hundred thousand Jews of the higher, more educated classes, who claimed Russian as their mother tongue, have been excluded, which undoubtedly reduces the actual percentage of Jewish persons able to read.
LITERACY OF THE TOTAL RUSSIAN POPULATION AND OF THE JEWISH POPULA
TION IN EACH SPECIFIED AGE GROUP, BY SEX, 1897.
The following deductions may be made from the above table:
Of those over 10 years of age the illiteracy among the Jews is considerably smaller than for the total population of the Russian Empire, it being 72.3 per cent for the entire country, and only 49.9 per cent for the Jews. For the male population over 10 years of age the comparative figures of illiteracy are: For the total 61.3 per cent, and for the Jews only 35.4 per cent. For the female population over 10 years of age the data of illiteracy are: For the total 83 per cent, and for the Jews 63.4 per cent.
When, however, the table is examined carefully it is found, both for the total population and for the Jews, that the lower the age of the class the higher is the percentage of literacy. This indicates an improving condition in Russia. The rise is more noticeable in the case of the total population, which seems to indicate that within recent years the cause of education has received greater stimulus among the Russian population than among the Jews.
Some slight rise is noticed also among the Jews, especially among women, the education of the latter being comparatively an innovation. Nevertheless, it is worthy of notice that the highest age group among the Jews has a larger percentage of people able to read than the most educated total age group, there being proportionately more literate Jews over 60 years old than literate Russian population of the age of 10 to 19 years. In other words, fifty years ago the educational standard of the Jews was higher than that of the Russian people at large is at present. This comparison is certainly very significant.
It must be added that the data are ten years old, and that the general rise of education must have further reduced the percentage of illiterates among the Jews and among other persons in Russia.
This comparatively high standard of education, achieved, as will be shown presently, without any system of State obligatory schools, is to a great extent due to the religious spirit of the Jews. The ability to read his prayers is as sacred to the Jew of the older generation as it was to the New Englander of the colonial times and had the same effect of stimulating education. It follows that the majority of the Jews first learn to read the Hebrew alphabet; and since the same alphabet is used for the so-called Yiddish (a German dialect, the colloquial language of the Jewish mass), therefore the Jew who can read his prayers has the ability to read and write in his spoken tongue.
The vast majority of the Jews, and especially the Jews in the cities of the Pale, where they constitute the majority of the population, speak this Yiddish, but the mingling with persons who speak other tongues forces upon the average Jew a knowledge of some other language. The enforced use of Russian in all Government institutions makes some knowledge of Russian almost a necessity, and so, nolens volens, a great number of the Jews derive what additional culture there is to be obtained from a knowledge of a second language. In the following table are presented the data in regard to the number and per cent of Jews of all the age groups who can read Russian.
NUMBER AND PER CENT OF JEWS IN EACH SPECIFIED AGE GROUP ABLE TO READ
RUSSIAN, BY SEX, 1897.
(From Premier Recensement Général de la Population de l'Empire de Russie, 1897.]
Thus it is found that more than two-fifths of the males 10 years of age or over, and almost one-fourth of the females of the same age group, are able to read Russian. This feature of education is comparatively new, since the figures show that the percentage is larger among the lower than among the higher age periods. period of from 20 to 29 is the most characteristic among the males, 52.5 per cent being able to read Russian, while among the females 10 to 19 is the age period that shows the greatest proportion, 31.7 per cent being able to read that language.
To appreciate these results achieved by the Jews of the Pale within a very short time it is necessary to know something of the educational system as it exists in Russia. A system of gratuitous education supplied to all by the Government is an institution comparatively new to Russia. High schools and universities were
. established by the Government long before there were any schools for the common people. The emancipation of the serfs in 1861 found the Russians an illiterate people. It was only after the Government had established the so-called "zemstvos" that an organized effort was made to introduce schools in the rural districts, and the granting of some measure of municipal self-government to the cities gave the first impetus to the city schools. No such institutions were granted to the western Provinces of the Pale, because the foreign population was not trusted with such rights; therefore the Jew in Russia has never enjoyed the benefits of a general gratuitous governmental system of education.
While this may be considered a passive infringement of the Jew's opportunity for an elementary education, there have existed and still exist many other restrictions of a more direct kind. The limitations, by percentages, of Jewish students admitted to universities and high schools have been pointed out in the section on professional