The Luckiest Orphans: A History of the Hebrew Orphan Asylum of New York

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9780252018879: The Luckiest Orphans: A History of the Hebrew Orphan Asylum of New York
From the Back Cover:

Founded in 1860, the Hebrew Orphan Asylum of New York was the oldest, largest, and best-known Jewish orphanage in the United States until its closing in 1941. This book, the first history of an orphanage ever published, tells the story of the HOA's development from a nineteenth-century institution into a model twentieth-century child-care facility. Because of the humane and benevolent attitude of the New York Jewish community toward its orphans, the harsh authoritarianism and Dickensian conditions typical of contemporary orphanages were gradually replaced there by a nurturing approach that looked after the religious, social, and personal needs of the children. Though primarily an instrument of social control, the HOA was also an expression of Jewish ethnicity. Its history is set in a larger context that includes the life and character of the New York Jewish community, the city's immigrant population, the social and economic conditions of the time, the child-saving efforts of other groups, and the debate over institutional versus foster care. Drawing from HOA archives, published sources, and his personal experience as a resident from 1932 to 1941, Hyman Bogen brings a unique perspective to child-saving efforts in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His compelling tale portrays daily life for those who lived and worked in such institutions. He illustrates how an enlightened orphanage, rather than crushing the spirit of its young residents, can help children to gain self-esteem and become secure adults. Bogen's tale will be of particular interest to urban and social historians, to city and government officials, and to social workers, as well as to anyone concerned with thegrowing crisis in child-care options.

From Publishers Weekly:

This rich social history reads like a cross between a Dickens novel and Stephen Birmingham's Our Crowd . From 1860 to its closing in 1941, New York City's Hebrew Orphan Asylum (HOA) was more generously endowed than any other American orphanage; Horatio Alger contributed to its fund-raising efforts by writing a 12-part story that stimulated a flood of subscriptions to the HOA's magazine. A favorite charity of Jewish philanthropists and the predecessor of today's Jewish Child Care Association, throughout its history HOA was marked by the internecine tussles between Sephardim and Ashkenazim, Orthodox and Reform Jews ("Cover your head" was the battle cry at a late-19th-century HOA banquet). Bogen, president of HOA's alumni association, offers concise sketches of orphans, wardens and trustees, revealing instances of abuse but remaining positive about the institution as a whole. He also relates a few humorous stories (appropriate enough for an organization whose alumni include Art Buchwald), most memorably one about an Irish policeman who, reading a banner backwards, thought the HOA's marching band was from the Ancient Order of Hibernians. Photos not seen by PW .
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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