In Appreciation of Teachers

In Appreciation of Teachers

The teachers had roasted marshmallows all over their hands but they didn’t seem to mind.  As the Schechter Manhattan faculty distributed smores to the students around the Lag Baomer campfire last week, they smiled at each other and their students, enjoying the fun and messy moment.  I saw two teachers give each other a sticky, melted marshmallow high five. The Schechter Manhattan teachers were great throughout field day. They had fun playing games with their students- kickball and gaga and relay races.  They made sure that all of the students were included and found ways to participate that felt good for each of them. And they cared for their students, making sure they had sunscreen on and enough to drink on the hot day, and giving attention to any student in need.  I was reminded how proud I am to work with such talented, dedicated educators.

The Schechter Manhattan teachers are not only exceptional on special days, like Lag Baomer, but they make a positive difference in the lives of our students every school day. They nurture positive and trusting relationships with their students so that students feel safe to take risks in their learning.  They work tirelessly to bring to life the school’s mission. The Schechter Manhattan teachers make it happen: the student-centered learning activities, opportunities for reflection, community building, sharing ideas, asking questions, and doing good that make up our days at Schechter Manhattan.

This week was Teacher Appreciation Week and it is a good time to say thank you to our teachers.  Thank you for creating engaging lessons that spark your students’ curiosity. Thank you for being ready with the next question to help your students move along their path of learning. Thank you for gathering lots of assessment data about your students so that you know them really well. Thank you for developing differentiated learning materials so that students can engage at the just right level of challenge. Thank you for encouraging your students to look at their work carefully and to aspire ever higher levels of quality. Thank you for facilitating respectful classroom dialogue so that your students learn to treat each other with care, especially when they disagree. Thank you for greeting your students each morning with a smile.  Thank you for offering your students compassion and the opportunity to learn when they make mistakes. Thank you for leading your students in helping others through community service activities and the tzedakah roundtable. Thank you for partnering with your students’ parents by communicating with them about their children’s progress and writing those extensive and in-depth reports. Thank you for being role models of menschlichkeit and ethical behavior. Thank you for being there for your students when they need you. And thank you for rolling up your sleeves and getting dirty, sometimes with melted marshmallows.

I invite all of the members of the Schechter Manhattan community to join me in thanking our faculty for all of the amazing work that they do.

תודה רבה

 

Shabbat Shalom

Ben_Mann_Signature_small

Benjamin Mann

 

 

Author’s Chair

Each week we will feature the written work of our students. We hope that you will stop back next week and see what they are writing and thinking about.

Gan

Gan students reflected on some of their activities over the past couple of weeks.

I was droing how meny my familys is.
(I was drawing how many my family is.)
  -Jonah

I was maKeinga ei Picksher it was fun.  I liked it.  it was nice it was byoodafull.
(I was making an eye picture.  It was fun.  I liked it.  It was nice.  It was beautiful.)
 -Tova

I wuz mac ig ah at.  In hebroo.  It wuz fuN.
(I was making a hat in Hebrew.  It was fun.)
  -Hannah

I was making a coorl Reef plant.  me and simonwas working tgedr we yosdpipclenrs I yosd blue grensimonyosdgastBolue.
(I was making a coral reef plant.  Me and Simon was working together.  We used pipe cleaners.  I used blue green.  Simon used just blue.)
  -Landon

 

Kitah Bet

For the last few weeks, students have been reading Series Books and getting to know one character’s in their series. They have been thinking about each characters unique personality traits as well as the author’s writing style and how each character is depicted.

This week, students were asked to write an imaginative story using their character as their inspiration. Below, is a sneak peak of some of their work.

Click here to view work by Ethan, Daniel, Zeva & Rony

 

Kitah Heh

The fifth graders have been working hard on their immigration projects. Each student wrote a paper about a topic of their choice

German Jewish Immigration 

The Holocaust ended the lives of six million Jews. 180,000 of these victims were German Jews, who were not able to leave Europe before they were killed by the Nazis. However, in the years leading up to the Holocaust, 80,000 German Jews immigrated to the United States to escape the Nazis. They emigrated because in Germany Jews faced terrible anti-semitism and persecution. They were blamed for all of the country’s problems because Adolf Hitler, the German leader, needed someone to blame. When they got to America, life was not easy, but at least they were alive.

One reason Jews left Germany was because of religious persecution. With the election of Adolf Hitler in March 1933, the Nazis came to power and looked to make life difficult for the Jews. All over Germany, gangs of police known as brownshirts attacked Jews. Synagogues were destroyed. In the first three months of Hitler’s rule, over forty Jews were murdered. Later in the year, Jews were forced out of their government jobs and university positions. Life was becoming hard for the Jews in Germany.

Over the next few years, life became even worse for the Jews as laws were passed against them. In September 1935, the Nuremberg Laws on Citizenship and Race were enacted. These two Nuremberg Laws were unanimously passed by the the German government in the fall of 1935. The first Reich Law of Citizenship divided people in Germany into two categories: the citizen of “pure German blood” and the rest of the population. The Nazis defined a Jew as anyone who had three or four Jewish grandparents, even if they did not think of themselves as Jews or had converted to Christianity. The Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour prohibited marriages between Jews and Germans, and forbade German women under the age of 45 from working for Jewish households. By defining who was considered a Jew, not allowing Germans to marry Jews and limiting interactions between Jews and Germans, the Nazis were separating the Jews from German life.

As more rules were made life got even worse for the Jews. Between 1937 and 1939, Jews were forbidden from attending public schools, or going to the theater or vacation spots. They weren’t even allowed to live or walk around in certain parts of German cities. They were not able to live freely and enjoy things they would normally enjoy. At this time Jews started to get scared and leave.

One tragic event that happened was Kristallnacht, “the Night of the Broken Glass.” It was a terrible night for the Jews of Germany. On November 10, 1938, Germans were told to go out and burn Jewish books and smash windows of Jewish owned stores and buildings. The rioters destroyed 267 synagogues and 7500 Jewish owned businesses. 100 people were killed and hundreds injured. The German authorities did nothing to stop the rioting.

Not only were Jews excluded and mistreated, they faced economic problems as a result. On April 1,1933, the Nazis declared a Boycott of Jewish stores. The Nazi government told Germans not to buy anything from stores that were owned by Jews. The six-pointed “Star of David ” was painted in yellow and black across thousands of doors and windows. Signs were posted saying “Don’t Buy from Jews.” The Nazis wanted to make it more difficult for the Jews to earn money. The German government took Jewish owned property. Homes and schools were destroyed. Life was getting harder and harder for the Jews as they could not go to work or school.

For those immigrants looking for a place to practice Judaism freely America was a good option. In America Jews could practice their religion without fear of persecution. Jews had equal rights. Unlike in Germany, Jews could go to school in America. There were many synagogues where they could pray and Jewish neighborhoods where they could live.

However, coming to America was not as simple as people might think. The government limited the number of immigrants they allowed each year. In 1924, the United States Congress passed the Johnson Reed Act, which set quotas on the number of visas available to immigrants from each country. All immigrants needed a visa. These quotas were still in place in the 1930s. The maximum number of German who could immigrate in one year was 25,957. There were many more German Jews who wanted to come to the United States than there were visas for people from Germany. In 1938, 139,163 Germans were on the waiting lists to get visas to come to the United States. In 1939, the waitlist had 309,782 people on it. In 1938, there was a conference in Evian, France with representatives from 38 countries asking each of them if they would take more German refugees. President Franklin Roosevelt said no.

Not only were there too few visas, it was also hard to get a visa. The refugees needed many types of documents to get a visa. For example, they needed a ticket for passage to the United States and records from the bank and the government. To get a visa, they also needed proof of an American sponsor who guaranteed they would help the immigrants financially.

Without a visa, it was not possible to enter the United States. The ship SS St. Louis left Hamburg Germany for Cuba in 1939. The plan was to stay in Cuba until they got visas to go to the United States. Cuba would not let the people off the boat and neither would the United States. The people had to return to Europe. That boat had 937 people on it. They all had to go back to Germany and live a terrible life under the rule of Hitler.

Another challenge the immigrants faced was the journey itself. As it got riskier to travel across the Atlantic Ocean because of submarine attacks, there were fewer ships crossing the ocean. This made it more difficult and expensive to get a ticket.

There were some people in the United States who wanted to help the Jews who were in danger come to America. Jewish support agencies provided loans and other help to newly arrived immigrants. One Jewish support agency was The German-Jewish Children’s Aid Society. It was formed in New York in 1934 to find homes for children who came to the United States without parents. There were also Jewish and Christian organizations that helped refugees complete the paperwork they needed to get visas to the United States and provided money for food and clothing and helped immigrants find jobs once they arrived. Some immigrants had family in the United States who could help them settle and find jobs.

Many Americans were not welcoming to the Jewish immigrants. Prejudice against all foreigners was very common at this time. One of the reasons for this is that they did not want to let in people who could take their jobs. There was also anti-semitism in America. Many Americans just did not like Jews. A Gallup poll taken on November 24–25, 1938, asked Americans if they thought the government should allow more Jewish refugees to come to the United States to live. 72% responded “no.” In some neighborhoods, if Jews moved in other people would move out. Some private colleges and universities would let in only a small number of Jewish students. Though they were still faced with anti-semitism it was better than being in Germany.

Once refugees arrived in America, it was difficult to find jobs. There were several reasons for this. Many Immigrants had worked as professors scientists or bankers. In America, they could not find those kinds of job opportunities because they did not speak  English. Also, because of the Great Depression, there were not enough jobs for everyone. Furthermore, there was some anti-semitism in the United States and there were many jobs to which only non-Jews could apply. This made life more difficult for the new immigrants.

Since Jews were faced with anti-semitism and the threat of genocide, German Jews fled to America for a better life. They chose America because it offered religious freedom, safety, and a chance to reunite with their families. While life in America was better it was not easy.  The United States made it difficult to come and difficult to find jobs. The story of the German Jews in the 1930s is an example of how immigrants who needed to escape their homeland because of persecution overcame obstacles to come to the United States in search of a better life and found a better life.

  -Maya

Statue of liberty

Approximately 3.5 million people visit the Statue of Liberty every year! It is one of the most  popular landmarks in the United States, the Statue of Liberty was a gift from France and it now stands in  the New York Harbor. Lady Liberty is a well known symbol of freedom and welcome immigrants to america wife a promise of a better life.  It took a lot of time and careful planning between the two countries to create this world famous monument.

France gave the United States the Statue of Liberty. They had wanted to honor the alliance of France and the United States during the American Revolution. Edouard De Laboulaye first proposed giving the statue representing liberty to the United States of America. De Laboulaye had admired Lincoln and his ending slavery and wanted to convince Frenchmen to support a more democratic government in France. He felt that this gift would bring the two countries closer. A young sculptor named Auguste Bartholdi supported Laboulaye’s proposal and became the sculptor of the statue. Alexandre -Gustave Eiffel, later the designer of the Eiffel Tower, designed the inside of the statue.  It was supposed to be given on the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 1876, but it sadly didn’t get finished by then so it was actually given on June 19, 1885.

In order to create a pedestal for the statue, America  needed to fundraise. Joseph Pulitzer helped write about how they need to raise funds for the statue’s pedestal. He needed help to raise money for the pedestal because America agreed to build the pedestal, but they didn’t have enough money. To get the the American public interested, Joseph pulitzer would print all the names of the people who donated in his newspaper. He was one of the many American people who helped with the Statue of Liberty. He was very passionate about this project and was very pleased that they got enough money to build the pedestal.

Emma Lazarus was another American person that helped raise money for the statue. She  wrote a poem called the new The New Colossus in 1883 to raise funds for the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal. In the poem, Emma tried to make it seem like the statue was taking in and welcoming  the immigrants to america. She cries with her silent lips saying “give me your poor your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” As a Jew she had felt connected to the immigrants because a lot of them came from Russia. She knew that Jews were being killed, persecuted, and their homes were being burned down in Russia. The Statue of Liberty gave her hope and she knew when the immigrants came in  they would be welcomed by a caring powerful woman. Emma Lazarus died in 1887, shortly after her poem had been engraved on bronze and placed inside to the pedestal’s lower level. Even to this day her poem touches so many hearts

The Statue of Liberty was transported from France to the U.S. It was shipped across the Atlantic Ocean in 350 individual pieces, in more than 200 cases. In France, the statue was built in  different sections over many years. One part is the torch and arm. The arm and the torch were constructed first and displayed at a centennial exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876. The measurement from her arm to the tip of her torch is 42 feet long. The head was completed after the arm and shown at the Paris World’s Fair in 1878. Her head is 17 feet and 3 inches tall. In 1885 the statue was put together. First the iron frame was built, then the copper pieces were put over the top of the frame.

Americans played a big part in engineering the statue.  As the chief engineer from 1883 to 1885, Charles P. Stone was yet another American that helped with the statue. Stone was born in Greenfield, Massachusetts. While the statue was being built, he had to work 16 hours a day. When the sun went down he would eat and then finally go to sleep. Stone’s job was completed in 1886, and he died shortly after from pneumonia.

The Statue of Liberty Symbolizes various interesting things. The whole statue together represents freedom, liberty, and friendship between the United States and France. The statue is 305 feet from the ground to her torch. She has chains on her feet which represent breaking free from tyranny. In the American Revolution, Americans broke free from the British monarchy, which gave the idea for the French Revolution, breaking free from tyranny means breaking free from the monarchy. The torch represents the enlightenment of the world. Enlightenment of world means a well educated and wise world. In  other words, it could represents the path to liberty. The statue has a few small things like the Tablet on left arm, robe, crown, and book. The robe represents Libertas, the Roman goddess of liberty and freedom. The seven spikes on the crown represent the seven seas and the seven continents of the world. She has a tablet in her left hand that represents the law and has July 4th, 1776 inscribed on it in Roman numerals. Finally, her book represents the need for laws to help protect freedom.

The statue of liberty is a significant symbol of america’s freedom. Lady Liberty symbolizes so many beautiful things. She is indeed an inspiration around the world.  In order to make the statue of liberty possible people from France and america had to work together. The statue took a long time to build, but the monument we see today in New York Harbor has been and continues to be an invitation and a promise to all who come to America.

  -Ella

 

Chinese Immigration to America

There are currently 3.8 million Chinese Americans living in the United States. Although most of the original 300,000 Chinese immigrants settled in California during the gold rush, their population has continued to increase over time. Faced with natural disasters, poverty, and war, people left China to come seek gold in America. The first wave of Chinese immigrants,  from 1848 to 1882, was mostly men of working age who found work in gold rush towns. This wave of immigrants was confronted with a lot of discrimination due to the differences in language, culture, and physical appearance. Once in America the reality was more challenging than they had expected, however, they managed to create communities and become an important part of American society.

Chinese people had many different reasons to leave China. One reason Chinese immigrants left China was because of natural disasters. One natural disaster was a drought in the mid 1800s. In the drought there was no rain for a long period of time, which dried out and killed crops. Another natural disaster was that The Yellow River, a main river in China, flooded, destroying farmland and causing crop and food shortages. This, together with the drought caused a famine, which is when there is a shortage of food. After all these things, many of the Chinese people wanted to leave China.

Another reason Chinese immigrants left China was because of overpopulation. In China, the population was growing very quickly, causing cities to become overcrowded and taking over much of the farmland used to grow food. Another factor that made people want to emigrate was that an area that still had good growing land, called the Pearl Delta, became overcrowded after all the natural disasters. People moved there because much of the great growing land in other areas was no longer available or good for growing crops. When things are overcrowded, too many people live in one small place. Disease can spread quickly and there is not always enough resources for everyone. These things made people not want to stay in their homeland.

People also wanted to leave China because of the problem of not having enough money. People did not own adequate land to grow food. Due to this people did not have enough food to sell or support their large families. As a result of these things, without enough money to live and prosper, many people wanted to leave China for a better place to live.

Violence in China was another reason Chinese people wanted to leave. In China, there had been a civil war that lasted from 1950-1964. As a result of this war, 20 million people died. This civil war was caused by a rebellion group called the Taiping, which was started by a man named Hong Xiuquan. He believed that he should rule China. At first, he gathered followers from the poor and outcasts, and by the late 1850s he ruled one third of China. It cost the Chinese government one million dollars to defeat the Taiping. Additionally, in China there was competition for major resources like land and water. This was because of the natural disasters like floods, droughts, and famine. In many places, this caused rebellion and local wars between competing groups. Also, the Chinese government was dishonest and cared little for its people and, because of this, the citizens opposed the government which caused violence and death. Due to these problems, some of the Chinese people decided to leave China.

Many Chinese people leaving China came to America for a variety reasons. One reason that immigrants wanted to come to America was to find gold. In the mid 1800s, there had been rumors of gold mines in California where people could get rich. One example is the story of John Sutter, who had a sawmill in what is now Sacramento, California. One of Sutter’s workers found gold flakes in the river in 1848. This discovery, along with other local discoveries of gold, led people to flock to California in search of their fortunes. This migration was called the ‘Gold Rush.’ The news of gold was spread all over the world by newspapers, causing many to want to immigrate to America. In China, shipowners spread the story of a Gam Saan which means ‘gold mountain’ in Chinese. They did this because they could make a lot of money bringing passengers over, and people listened to the ship owners, because they also wanted more money. After all, China was not completely stable, and most people did not have that much money.

With money as a major concern, job opportunities were a major reason that Chinese immigrants chose America. There were many types of jobs in America. There were jobs working in stores, or in shops, like restaurants and laundries. Chinese people opened a lot of their own shops. In the west, in gold mining towns, mostly white men lived, and they refused to do laundry because they thought it was women’ work. Chinese men were willing to do laundry, so they were very successful. For Chinese immigrants, there were also jobs like servants, laborers, carpenters, or working on farms, lumber yards, fisheries, canneries, and even helping to build the Central Pacific Railroad. Due to these reasons Chinese people decided to come to America.

Once in America, Chineses immigrants faced a lot of challenges. One challenge was having enough money to get by because there was not enough gold in the gold mines. One reason for this was that white people forced the Chinese immigrants to work in areas that had already been mined and did not have much gold left. Very few of the Chinese miners got rich enough that they would have been able to return to China proudly. They also worked at low paying jobs that white people did not want, because these were often the only places where they could get hired. Although Chinese people came to America to get rich, the reality was not like that at all.

Social discrimination was another challenge Chinese immigrants faced in America. White people hurt the Chinese people in a lot of ways. In some cases, there were violent riots against the Chinese people. They were also beaten, tortured, lynched, massacred, run out of town, and forced out of business. Additionally, there was competition in the gold fields and white men who did not find gold took their frustrations out on the Chinese people. Chinese equipment was destroyed and many were beaten and killed. Not only were people violent, but they also held large anti-Chinese meetings. Other people blamed Chinese people for anything that went wrong. One example of this is when people came back from the gold mines and could not get their jobs back, they blamed it on the Chinese people. The Chinese people were scapegoated, and they suffered worse than any other group who came to the U.S.A. voluntarily.

Mistreatment by other Americans was not the only   way Chinese people were discriminated against. They also faced political discrimination from the government, which made laws against the Chinese people. One type of law was against traditional Chinese ways. For example, people could not carry things on poles and that was how Chinese people carried things. There was a law in San Francisco that men could not wear their hair in a braid, and that was how Chinese men wore their hair. Another type of law prevented specifically Chinese people from joining American society was a law that Chinese children could not learn in public schools, Chinese people could not participate in the government, and they could not testify against Americans of European descent in court. In addition, a law was passed that foreign miners had to pay a twenty dollars, but most of the Chinese people could not afford to pay that. As if this wasn’t bad enough, the American government banned most Chinese immigration to the U.S.A. from 1882-1943. For all of these reasons, Chinese immigrants had a lot of challenges to face in America.

In addition to different forms of discrimination, the Chinese immigrant miners in America lived hard lives. Originally, most Chinese miners lived in the gold mines. People lived in little towns in the gold fields called Cantons. The huts where people lived flooded in the winter and were burning hot in the summer. So that people in a Canton had things they needed, a merchant would setup places like stores and post offices. Additionally, life was hard and dirty, and drunken fights were common. Life was very rough in the gold fields.

Eventually, the gold rush was over and Chinese people had to go elsewhere. For this reason, many of them moved to Chinatowns. Chinatowns were places that gave Chinese people a place that felt like home because everyone there was like them. In these Chinatowns you could find a lot of things that that were actually in China, like food and traditional temples. Chinatowns are still around today and there are lots of famous ones all over America. One famous Chinatown is in San Francisco. It was established in 1848 and is the oldest one in America. There is also a Chinatown in Chicago which was founded in 1905. Chinatowns are now large tourist attractions that display Chinese heritage and culture.

Chinatowns had jobs that were specifically for Chinese people. They were basically the only places that Chinese people could open businesses and Chinese businesses were virtually the only places that would hire Chinese people when non-Chinese owned businesses would not. Lots of people also worked in opium and gambling clubs, because there were a lot of them. Some of them even had a series of reinforced doors so that people there would have time to hide their illegal stuff before the police came in. For Chinese people, jobs were easier to get in Chinatowns than elsewhere.

To make the lives of immigrants easier, there were organizations set up in America that helped the Chinese people. District associations acted like the government in Chinatowns. They did roles the government would have done, like finding jobs for new arrivals, caring for the sick and poor, and arranging for the bones of the dead to be sent back to China. They also served as representatives to the non-Chinese people. There was some crime in Chinatowns in organizations called tongs but the district organizations fought against them. There were also another type of association that helped Chinatowns called civic organizations. They also provided needed services. For example, fifteen of them combined their efforts in 1925 to build the cities Chinese hospital. These organizations were very helpful.

Chinese people moved to the U.S.A. from China for a better life. Life in America was not as nice as they expected, but they overcame this challenge by creating communities together. When coming to America, Chinese people faced many challenges, like discrimination and hard living conditions, but they also had successeses, like creating Chinatowns and successful businesses. Since this immigration wave, starting in 1848, around 2.1 million people from China have immigrated to America, and many people of Chinese descent have become famous. One example of this is retired figure skater Michelle Kwan. The story of Chinese immigration is an example of how immigrants faced a lot of challenges but also overcame many of them.

  -Talia

 

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory

Boom! Crash! This is what it sounded like at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory on March 25 1911, one of the most popular dates in New York City history. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory was located in Manhattan, on the corner of Greene Street and Washington Place. The factory took up 3 floors from the Asch Building(the 8th, 9th and 10th). The fire was one of the most devastating events that has happened in New York. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire was a tragic event in history that brought attention to immigrant working conditions and led to legal changes.

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory made many things. What the factory was especially known for was for making shirtwaists. They made shirtwaists in many different shapes, colors and sizes. Each one was different and special in it’s own way. Some of them were fancy but most were just casual shirtwaists that people would wear on a daily basis. Another thing that they made were blouses. Some of them had buttons on the front and some of them didn’t. Most were colorful and had ruffles but some of them were just black or white. Back then, these things were popular for women to wear so they made a lot of money by making these clothes.

A normal day for the workers was very straightforward and their schedule never changed.  Most of the time they worked from 10-12 hours and got no breaks. They never got a lunch break or even just a break to relax. If they had to go to the bathroom or were thirsty they would have to wait till the end of the day. They had to be at work by around 7:15 or earlier and had to leave by 5:00 and some people had to stay back some extra time. They all had to work over holidays even if they had personal things to take care of.  Men and women worked on the same floors. Although most of the women were a lot better at sewing than men, back then people were sorted into how good they do their jobs and their skills but men and women still worked on the same floors. Each person only got 15 dollars a week and if they did a bad job sometimes they would get 7 dollars a week. Most of the time, they all had to pay for their own sewing machines, needles and thread so they had even less money. Although they all had a very hard time at work, all of the workers still tried to stay as happy as possible.

There were many different people who worked in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, which was owned by Max Blanck and Isaac Harris. Mostly women and teenage girls worked in the factory. There was a very little amount of men and there were no little boys. Women were better in this job because they were all more used to the idea of sewing. Men didn’t have a lot of experience with the fabric, so they were often the ones who would ruin the fabrics and materials. Also, most of the people who worked in the factory were either Jewish or Italian immigrants. Some of the people were born in America or lived near the factory,  but most of them were people who just immigrated and were desperately looking for a job. Jobs for immigrants were very hard to find because most jobs required speaking fluent English, and immigrants often aren’t as fluent in English so a job without speaking was easier for them. Although there were other immigrants working there, Jewish and Italian women were the most popular type of immigrant to be working at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory.

Although the factory ran very smoothly there was one day that changed it all. On March 25, 1911, a Saturday afternoon at around 4:30 a small fire began on the 9th floor. It started out as a small fire but ended up as one of the worst things in history. Water couldn’t put it out so it just got bigger and bigger. Some of the building was empty but most people were still working. Both of the elevators on the 8th and 9th floors weren’t working and the doors were locked on these same floors so everybody on those two floors had to use the stairs even though there wasn’t enough space for everyone. Some people got stuck on those floors and tried jumping out of the windows to get to safety. Down below, firefighters were already coming but when the people tried to jump, most of their landings broke the firefighters nets and all the people who tried to jump died.

The fire ruined all sorts of things and left a mark wherever it went. Nobody could stop the fire so it just got worse and worse. It ruined paper patterns, wooden tables, loose materials and some fabric. The fire killed 146 people and more than 120 of them were women. Also, besides that, 50 people died of burns or suffocation. It has never been determined what started the fire, however some people think that maybe a cigarette butt was thrown into one of the scrap bins, or there was a spark from a machine, or perhaps some faulty electrical wiring, or possibly even an iron that was accidentally never unplugged. Regardless of how it started it was a terrible event in history.

After the fire, they weren’t just going to leave the owners like that but the people  had to do something. After the tragedy the owners of the factory Max Blanck and Isaac Harris were put on trial for the death of the fire victims. People thought that they were the ones who locked the doors on the 8th and 9th floors. There were 150 witnesses. It took the judge less than 2 hours to prove them not guilty. It was found out a couple days later that the foreman had locked the doors because they locked the doors everyday and  they had forgotten to unlock them. Overall, even though the foreman had locked the doors they still didn’t get in trouble for it.

After this terrible tragedy people wanted to have a day to remember all the people they had lost so the public decided to have a memorial. The memorial was on April 5 1911, one month after the fire. The event was on 5th avenue and lasted for several hours in the pouring rain. More than 100,000 people that worked in different factories attended. It lasted for quite awhile and people walked over 50 blocks to remember all of these people. Over 300,000 people attended overall. This memorial comes to show just how much everybody cared for all the people who sadly died in the fire.

Another thing that happened after the fire was a memorial meeting. After the fire people demanded to have a nice, formal meeting to discuss everything. It took a lot of convincing but they finally had one on April 2 at the Metropolitan Opera House. A lot of very important people attended the meeting. One of the most important people who attended the meeting was feminist Rose Schneiderman. She made a very important and big speech that had a big impact on people. Her speech was about how this was all very, very depressing and how from now on they have to make better rules and some changes to ensure how this won’t happen again. Shortly afterwards, they had some of these ideas come to life.

After this meeting, people quickly realized that things needed to change. People sent investigators to inspect the burnt factory and other things. They all had many ideas of what they could change but 36 of those ideas were enacted into law. Some of these new laws were that factories had to have more fire drills, automatic sprinklers, fire hoses, fire alarms, fireproof buildings and more. They also said that employment is prohibited of women within four weeks after child birth. Also, factory rooms always had to be clean. There are MANY more laws and rules that they made but those were just a few.

Overall, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire was something terrible that had happened, but that led to better changes in life. Even though the immigrants got treated horribly and the fire is not, in anyway forgivable, it made people realize the importance of all sorts of things in their day to day life like how they protected themselves. But, to this day people are still honoring the people who had died. The story of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory is an amazing example of how horrible immigrants who moved in hopes of a better life got treated. We have to make people feel comfortable and safe wherever they are.

  -Arielle

Irish Immigration

Did you know that most Irish immigrants to America came because of a potato famine? They immigrated to America in the late 1840’s. About 1 million Irish of all ages immigrated to America during the late 1840’s. They mostly settled in Boston, New York, and Chicago. Faced with hunger and poverty, the Irish came to America for better life, but it wasn’t as easy as they expected once they got there.

The Irish left Ireland for many reasons. One reason they left is that there was a potato famine. The potato famine was caused by a  disease called blight, and the potatoes rotted. The potato famine was from 1845 – 1850 and the worst year was 1847. Potato prices went up because there were less potatoes. Most farmers also lost their jobs, because the main crop they planted was potatoes. Potatoes were their main source of food because they grew pretty quickly and potatoes were nutritious too. For the first few days the famine was not so bad but after a few days it got worse and more potatoes rotted. Since the main source of food in Ireland was potatoes, and because of the famine they had no food to eat, about 1.5 million people died. Because of this lack of food, many of the Irish people left Ireland.

Another reason the Irish left Ireland was because of economic problems in Ireland, such as the difficulty in finding jobs. Most of the jobs available were as farmers, but because of the famine, the Irish couldn’t make a living as farmers. Another economic reason they left was that they didn’t have a lot of money. They didn’t have a lot of money because the taxes were really high. The British – who ruled at the time – made the taxes higher in order to fund the public soup kitchens. Soup kitchens were kitchens the British made with the Irish taxes to feed the Irish most affected by the famine. With so little money, Irish people could barely afford anything. Due to the economic problems, many Irish people were also homeless. One reason some of them were homeless was that they couldn’t pay the high rent. If they couldn’t pay the high rent, guards would show up to kick them out. One last reason some of them were homeless is that there were so many people competing for land. People wanted a place where they could have land and a home.

A third reason they left Ireland was because of the living conditions in Ireland. In Ireland, the Irish lived in rural areas. They lived in rural areas so they could plant a lot of potatoes, and also because there very few cities. In those rural areas, they lived in windowless mud houses with a stool as the only furniture. Their animals also lived in the house with them (like pigs). Due to this, many Irish left Ireland for better living conditions.

One last reason they left was the illness. Some people died of starvation / malnutrition. They died of starvation and malnutrition because they didn’t have the amount of money for food. Some people died of fever or other diseases. Therefore the Irish left Ireland so they wouldn’t be so sick.

In America there were most of the political improvements that the Irish wanted, like freedom. One thing that attracted people to America was independence. In America there were no other countries controlling it, unlike in Ireland, where the British ruled. In America, the government didn’t hate the Irish, whereas in Ireland, the British didn’t like them, so they made the bills for everything high. As a result, the Irish came to America because the government was better.

The Irish also came to America for economic attractions. One economic attraction is that in America there were jobs. The mens’ jobs were loading ships at the docks, sweeping streets, making shoes, cleaning stables, and building roads. Women could have jobs as servants for the the rich or working in textile factories. Also in America there were homes. If they wanted to live in a rural area they could own their own land and not get kicked out because they couldn’t pay the rent. Under those circumstances the Irish immigrated to America.

The Irish also immigrated to America for social reasons. Unlike Ireland, America was a much healthier place. In America, there were less food diseases and human diseases. Also there were more food choices, so even if you couldn’t have one food – like potatoes – you could have another food. One last social attraction is that other Irish people went to America, like their friends and family. So if they also immigrated to America, they might already know people there. As a result many Irish people immigrated to America.

While the Irish were looking forward to the move to America, it wasn’t so easy. The journey to America was a really difficult journey. Most of them traveled to America on Canadian cargo ships. The cargo ships weren’t meant for passengers but they didn’t cost anything, unlike the boats that went directly to the US. The cargo ships were called ‘coffin ships’ because so many people died on the ships of fever or other diseases. There were over 900 people crowded  onto each ship, so lots of people got sick from other people, and it was hard to breathe. Finally, when they got off the boat in Canada, the Irish either stayed, or did what most people did, and crossed the border into the US.

When the Irish finally got to America, life was not as good as they expected. They had very little money because they spent most of it on the trip to America and on food for the trip. The Irish couldn’t do most jobs, like teaching, or starting businesses, because they had very little education. For men, one of the main jobs they could do were physical labor. For women, they  could work in factories, or do other similar  jobs. In most of their jobs, Irish people had to work long hours for little money. In the hope that life would get better, Irish immigrants persevered through the challenges.

There were also several social challenges for Irish immigrants to America. When they got there, Irish immigrants were discriminated against because they were Catholic and because they were uneducated. As they were getting off the ship, runners would take their luggage and make them pay to get it back. For the few jobs they could do, they sometimes would get rejected. That was because Americans thought the Irish would take all the jobs if they were allowed to work. Even though one attraction was that there were homes available, the tenements were so small so people didn’t have the room they needed. Even though life was hard in America, the Irish did not give up.

In conclusion the Irish faced hunger and poverty in Ireland, so they came to America for better life. When they arrived life was harder for them then they thought. They struggled with finding well paying jobs and bigger homes in America. After all their struggles, they did have some successes like some of them became famous and lots of their culture is now very popular in America. Paul David Hewson is a famous Irish singer – songwriter aka Bono as his stage name. Also some Irish descendants became famous like president John F Kennedy. Also some of their culture that’s popular in America is one of their holidays – Saint Patrick’s Day. The story of Irish immigration is an example of how immigrants faced a huge famine and overcame it by starting a new life in America.

  -Rafi