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dearth of fuel necessitates keeping the windows closed, and the air is vitiated not only by the overcrowding of the room with pupils but also by the cooking of food.
All these objectionable features of the typical “kheder” are accentuated by the excessively long hours, almost as excessive as were the hours in the factory before the struggle of the Bund for a shorter workday began. The antiquated methods of instruction, together with the zeal of the parents that their son understand the intricacies of Bible exegetics at the time when the American boy has scarcely advanced beyond the second reader, encourage these long hours. The school day begins at 9 a. m. and ends at 5, sometimes at 6 or even at 8 p. m., so that the school day lasts anywhere from eight to eleven hours. Only in the larger cities, especially of the South, where the Jewish traditions are weakened and Jewish learning not held in such esteem, does the school day sometimes fall to seven hours. When the Jewish boy spends the entire day for many years, and practically without any vacation, in this atmosphere in the strenuous mental effort of disentangling the medieval intricacies of the commentators of the Bible, there is little wonder that he leaves the “kheder” an anæmic, emaciated youth, with physical powers much impaired.
The “talmud-thora” is a communal school, supported by the Jewish community, in which an effort is made to do away with the hygienic and educational imperfections of the “kheder” system. The Hebrew branches are given sufficient prominence to make the school satisfactory to the orthodox, while at the same time are introduced the Russian language and some general educational subjects. The “talmud-thora” is gradually growing into a national school for the Jews; but the number of these institutions is limited, because of their general expensiveness.
An improvement of the school facilities for the Jews in Russia will come only after the many restrictions are abolished and with substantial assistance from the Government funds.
The facts detailed in the foregoing pages indicate how deeply the lives of the Russian Jews have been influenced by the legal conditions under which they live. A study of these conditions and their economic results seems to be doubly important for a clear understanding of Russian Jewish immigration to this country; not only because these conditions shape the physical, psychological, and economic status of the immigrant, but also because they are of decisive influence in determining the very dimensions of the current of immigration from Western Russia to the United States.
RECENT REPORTS OF STATE BUREAUS OF LABOR STATISTICS.
Twelfth Biennial Report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the State
of California for the years 1905-1906. W. V. Stafford, Commissioner.
The following are the subjects considered in this report: Social statistics, 49 pages; Chinese and Japanese, 11 pages; condition of farm labor, 10 pages; wage statistics, 84 pages; factory inspection, 8 pages; child labor, 3 pages; employment offices, 4 pages; strikes and lockouts, 32 pages; rehabilitation of San Francisco, 7 pages; welfare work, 1 page; labor laws and court decisions, 21 pages.
SOCIAL STATISTICS.—Criminal statistics (misdemeanors, felonies, and juvenile crimes) and statistics of marriages and divorces for the year ending June 30, 1906, are embraced in this presentation.
CHINESE AND JAPANESE.—This chapter comprises an investigation into the condition of the Orientals in the State. The former biennial report (1903–1904) of the Bureau led to the conclusion that on October 1, 1904, there were upward of 20,000 Japanese and in the neighborhood of 40,000 Chinese resident in the State. Since that date, from the records of the steamship companies, exact figures of arrivals and departures are obtainable. During the two years ending September 30, 1906, the net increase in arrivals over departures of Japanese at the port of San Francisco was 13,658, while during the same period the departures of Chinese from the same port exceeded the arrivals by 7,748, thus showing a net decrease in the Chinese population to that extent.
Excluding agricultural labor, tables are given showing for the year 1906 wages per day, per week, and per month in various occupations of Chinese in San Francisco and Oakland and at points outside of those cities; also, similar data for Japanese in different sections of California.
In Fresno County and in the Pajaro and Vaca valleys, devoted extensively to fruit and vegetable growing, the Japanese have largely displaced the white labor and to a great extent that of the Chinese. More than half of the fruit orchards of Vaca Valley and adjoining foothills are said to be in the hands of Japanese lessees or owners,
and many of the vineyards about Fresno are leased or owned by Japanese.
CONDITION OF FARM LABOR.—Under this title the social, sanitary, and economic conditions surrounding white and oriental farm labor in different sections of the State are set forth. In two tables (the first for white male employees) are given, for the year 1906, the wages paid per day and per month without and with board for both permanent and temporary farm help, and (for oriental male employees) the wages paid per day and per month without board for both permanent and temporary farm help. The following summary statement respecting wages is reproduced:
Taking the entire State, there is very little difference between the amounts paid for temporary and for permanent employees, except in harvest time, when the wages are greatly increased. can safely be put at $1.25 per day and $30 per month with board for white help the State over, and $1.50 per day and $45 per month for the same kind of help without board. Harvest hands must be rated an exception. Oriental laborers command a rate of $1.25 per day and $35 per month, always without board.
WAGE STATISTICS.-Wages and hours of labor of employees in railroad construction, on steam and electric railways, in stores and factories, in gold mines, and in lumber woods and sawmills are presented in this chapter. The tables give for each industry shown occupations, number of establishments and of employees, classified daily hours of labor with number of employees in each class, and classified wages per hour, day, week, or month with number of employees in each class.
CHILD LABOR.-An act regulating the employment of children was passed at the 1905 session of the State legislature. It provides that no child under 14 years of age shall be employed except (1) during the regular vacation of the public schools and (2) during the sickness of the parent, on a certificate of the judge of the juvenile court allowing the exemption. It also provides that no minor under 18 years of age shall be employed more than nine hours per day. All minors between 14 and 16 years of age must be provided with age and schooling certificates, which must be kept on file by the employer.
Since the enactment of the law child labor in six important industrial lines, in different sections of the State, has been investigated, viz, in stores, in canneries, in laundries, in can and glass factories, in clothing and shoes, and in the iron trades. Canneries showed the greatest percentage of child labor, many of the children, however, being vacation employees. Laundries showed very little child labor;
; and the iron trades employed mostly boys between 16 and 18 years of age when minor help was used, and many of these were apprentices.
EMPLOYMENT AGENCIES.-The law relating to employment agen cies makes it the duty of the State commissioner of labor to exer
service. These restrictions exist even for private high schools, which are subject to governmental supervision in the same degree as governmental institutions.
To provide for the education of the Jewish children, who are thus almost debarred from the general schools, a few special Government schools are established, but these schools depend upon a limited fund and the number is very insufficient. The number of such schools at the end of the last century was determined to be 183, with an average of 113 pupils for each school. Two teachers' institutes for the preparation of Jewish teachers were established, but one of them was subsequently discontinued.
Without the benefits of a system of free education the Jews are forced to depend upon their own resources. Private schools and communal schools established and supported by charitable or other organizations have been opened in many places, the number of such schools with systematic courses being 637, so that the total number of schools in Russia for the Jews is 820.
But the number of schools in itself does not give a proper conception of the lack of educational facilities; much depends upon the size of the schools. The total number of pupils in these schools was determined to be about 50,000, and if the inevitable omissions are considered the number may be as great as 60,000; but if the number of children of school age be estimated at one-seventh of the total population (which is a very small proportion), it follows that out of more than 700,000 children less than 10 per cent enjoy the privilege of schooling in more or less organized schools, which, on the whole, have a course of studies lower in grade than that of a grammar school in the United States.
The Russian Jews owe their comparatively low degree of illiteracy to the peculiar Jewish institution called the "kheder," a denominational school the primary object of which is instruction in the Bible and in Jewish religion and learning. In practice this takes the form of instruction in the Hebrew language and in reading the Scriptures and the many commentaries. If the specific name of these schools has come to be used in the Russian language, it is because of the many peculiarities of their organization, which peculiarities have been preserved from time immemorial.
The “kheder" is a private school. The State interests itself little in the organization of these “kheders” beyond requiring that no person shall teach in them without a permit, and that he shall not teach anything but Jewish subjects. Practically no requirements of an educational nature are enforced. The profession of a "melamed,” as a teacher in one of these “kheders” is called, has therefore become the refuge of men who have failed in other occupations. A "melamed"
organizes the school, and upon his energy and facilities depends the number of scholars that can be gathered into it.
An investigation conducted by the well-known Imperial Russian Free Economic Society in 1894 determined the number of “kheders” at 14,740, with 202,000 pupils, or an average of 13.7 pupils per “kheder.” This gives an idea of the nature of the school. The Jewish Colonization Society collated data from 507 localities, with a Jewish population of 1,420,000, and found 7,145 “kheders," from which data it estimates the total number of existing “kheders" to be 24,000. Taking the average number of pupils to each “kheder” to be 13.7, these 24,000 “kheders” evidently contained about 329,000 pupils.
The investigation of the Russian Free Economic Society showed that in 1894, out of a total of 201,964 pupils registered in the 14,740 “kheders” reported, there were only 10,459 girls, or 5.2 per cent. It seems, then, that almost all the boys of school age attend a "kheder," while only a few girls do so. It is true that the religious element plays some part in this unequal distribution of the educational advantages, the church duties of the Jewish men being more important than those of the women. For the same reason the old-fashioned Jew of the Pale is readier to send his daughter than his son to a secular, Christian school. As has been shown above, the facilities for giving the Jewish child an education in the governmental schools are extremely limited, and while the percentage of illiteracy among the Jewish women is much higher than among the men, still the data in regard to the number of girls attending schools do not show where the 45 per cent of young Jewish women acquired an elementary education, and, what is still more surprising, where 35 to 40 per cent of them acquired a knowledge of Russian in addition to Yiddish.
The explanation lies probably in the peculiar zeal of the Jewish people for some education, for there is scarcely another race or social group which has succeeded in attaining such a high percentage of literacy without a public school system. The women and girls use
. every available means to learn to read and write. Private tutoring is very popular in Russia, and because of the general low standard of prosperity such tutoring has been made so inexpensive as to be within the means of even poor families, the average Jewish family being willing to sacrifice a great deal to obtain some education. Then, again, the male members of the family will share their education the best way they know how with their sisters. The very widespread tendency of the educated minority to organize secret classes for the instruction of adult working men and women in combination with secret socialist and other propaganda must not be disregarded, although no statistical accounting of the dimensions of this movement is possible. Yet there is evidence in the tables of the existence of this belated