My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK —The stories about the few people who were saved from the American Airlines plane wreck here the other day were heart-rending in many ways. The horrible experience makes one wonder how it might affect the little boy survivor, Robert Sullivan, whose whole family was wiped out in a very few minutes. I hope his close relatives or even another family will cherish him and bring him up in much the same way that he was growing up in his own family.

A disaster of this kind makes us think of the many children who were left in all parts of the world, deserted and alone, as an aftermath of World War II.

Once before I wrote in this column of an Italian institution near Florence, Italy, called Opera della Divina Providenza Madonnina del Grappa. At this place more than a thousand orphans were housed and fed. One of the priests who looks after these youngsters is Father Alfredo Ciapetti, an American citizen who was born in the U.S. and who comes home quite often.

He was here four years ago to appeal to American generosity to give him a helping hand, and he is doing so again. I mention it now because little Robert Sullivan's tragedy brings closer to us all, I think, the tragedy of thousands and thousands of children in all parts of the world who find themselves deserted and lonely and who without homes such as one finds in Italy, usually run by priests, or the work of Youth Aliyah in Israel, would have no chance of growing up into the normal, healthy citizens of their countries.

On Thursday afternoon I went to the closing meeting of the Hadassah group that was conferring the Hadassah Award for Humanitarian Service on Mrs. Yitzhak Ben-Ziv, the wife of the President of Israel. A film was shown that brought back many of the memorable events which have taken place in Israel during the past years.

The crowd of women attending this meeting was tremendous and had to be divided into two rooms. After I made my little talk on the remarkable work done for children in Israel by Youth Aliyah I had to go to a second room to greet the ladies just as did the Israeli Consul General, Mr. Simcha Pratt.

Youth Aliyah has had to adapt itself first to the flow of children from camps in Europe immediately after the war, then to refugees from North Africa and other countries in the Near East and even India, and finally now they face a new problem in the children who have lived in Egypt all their lives. Also, there is a new influx from Romania .

Most of these children have been Communist-educated and they pose an entirely new problem because the teachers and the homemakers who care for them have to overcome this indoctrination. I am sure, however, that this difficulty will be met with the same patience and intelligence that has solved all other Youth Aliyah problems.

I want to mention here, too, a rather significant thing that is to be done on February 21 to underline the meaning of Brotherhood Week. The Men's Club of Congregation B'nai Jeshurun, whose temple is here in Manhattan, is giving its annual Brotherhood Award to Dr. Ralph J. Bunche this year. And this organization feels that it is honoring itself because Dr. Bunche will accept the award, which will be made at an interfaith and interracial service.

Dr. Bunche has not lacked for awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize, but I am sure that this gesture, being made in Brotherhood Week, will give him pleasure and will highlight for the Congregation Jeshurun their devotion to the principles of Brotherhood Week.


(Copyright, 1959, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, February 7, 1959

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.