Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Galveston Immigration Movement

The Galveston Movement was a program operated between 1907 and 1914 to divert Jews fleeing Russia and eastern Europe away form crowded East Coast cities. Ten thousand Jewish immigrants passed through Galveston, Texas during this era, approximately one-third the number who migrated to Palestine during the same period. New York financier and philanthropist Jacob Schiff was the driving force behind the effort, which Schiff supported with nearly $500,000 of his personal funds. B'nai Israel's Rabbi Henry Cohen was the humanitarian face of the movement, meeting ships at the Galveston docks and helping guide the immigrants through the cumbersome arrival and distribution process.

Read about the Galveston Movement below in two articles that appeared in Houston's "The Jewish Herald" in 1908 and 1909. Learn about the movement and read the words about the movement as told by Rabbi Henry Cohen.

Rabbi Cohen writes in part:

In the spring of 1907 the Jewish immigrants' information bureau was opened in Galveston to supply that machinery which would advise intelligently the already carefully selected alien how to work at his own trade or profession--or at general labor necessary for his livelihood--thereby serving two purposes: his own maintenance and the crying need of American industries. The present was all-important--the future would take care of itself. For just as soon as a man would save sufficient from the work of his hands to bring his family or his friends to his side, he would do so, and this committee knew by experience. A thousand immigrants the first of the year meant 5,000 a few years later. The un-uttered prophecy has been verified, for although our first group of immigrants arrived on July 1, 1907, and subsequent groups at three weeks' interval, family, relatives and friends have already joined the pioneers; the traveling expenses having been paid by the latter. The Galveston movement bids fair to remain a success as long as the powers that be think its continuance a necessity; and apart from such financial crisis with its consequent depression, as now obtains, there is no reason to believe but that its work will be uniformly appreciated.

The articles about the Galveston movement can be found at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/imm-galveston.htm.

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