BARON DE HIRSCH FUND, fund established by Baron Maurice de *Hirsch , the financier and philanthropist who dedicated his fortune to the welfare of East European Jews at a time when worsening conditions in Russia made mass emigration a stark necessity. Convinced that modern secular education could ameliorate the lot of his oppressed brethren, De Hirsch hoped to regenerate them into a class of independent farmers and handicraftsmen in the New World. In 1889, on the advice of Oscar S. *Straus and Michael *Heilprin , De Hirsch allocated the proceeds of a $2,400,000 fund toward agricultural colonies and trade schools in the United States. With the cooperation of Jacob Schiff and other American Jewish leaders, the Baron de Hirsch Fund was incorporated in New York in 1891. Judge Myer S. Isaacs became president; Schiff, vice president; and the trustees included Straus, Mayer Sulzberger, and William Hackenburg. A subsidized rural community, Woodbine, was established in southern New Jersey, with an agricultural school which functioned until 1917. In New York the Baron de Hirsch Trade School continued to serve a generation of immigrants. Significant also was the fund's support of the Jewish Agricultural Society and of classes in English, legal aid, and other services to integrate newcomers in America.
S. Joseph, History of the Baron de Hirsch Fund (1935).
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.