The NYT celebrates an act of philanthropy from a fortune amassed by questionable scruples (“96-Year-Old Secretary Quietly Amasses Fortune, Then Donates $8.2 Million”):
Even by the dizzying standards of New York City philanthropy, a recent $6.24 million donation to the Henry Street Settlement on the Lower East Side was a whopper — the largest single gift from an individual to the social service group in its 125-year history.
It was not donated by some billionaire benefactor, but by a frugal legal secretary from Brooklyn who toiled for the same law firm for 67 years until she retired at age 96 and died not long afterward in 2016.
Her name was Sylvia Bloom and even her closest friends and relatives had no idea she had amassed a fortune over the decades. She did this by shrewdly observing the investments made by the lawyers she served.
“She was a secretary in an era when they ran their boss’s lives, including their personal investments,” recalled her niece Jane Lockshin. “So when the boss would buy a stock, she would make the purchase for him, and then buy the same stock for herself, but in a smaller amount because she was on a secretary’s salary.”
A question that comes to mind: who benefits? It appears the college scholarships are limited to students of the Henry Street Settlement, which is itself limited to residents of Manhattan’s Lower East Side:
Henry Street Settlement is located on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, which has historically been and continues to be one of the most ethnically diverse communities in the nation.
While Henry Street provides services to all New Yorkers, the agency remains firmly rooted in the Lower East Side, as a trusted advocate for our community since 1893.
True to its legacy as an immigrant enclave and the hub of Progressivism in New York, the Lower East Side today remains rich in diversity, activism, and artistic experimentation. At the same time, it suffers from one of the highest poverty rates in Manhattan, with 30% of households in our district earning under $20,000 a year.
The accompanying website photos depicts lots of nice POCs. But what percentage of the beneficiaries, I wonder, are POCs?
While there are many risk factors in the neighborhood, there are also many strengths. The changing face of New York City is reflected by demographic shifts in our community, which is 33% Asian, 31% White, 25% Hispanic, and 7% Black or African-American, with a foreign-born population of 36 per cent. Our residents include members of Chinese, Thai, Filipino, Bangladeshi, Puerto Rican, and Dominican communities, as well as descendants of the Jewish families who first immigrated to the Lower East Side in the 19th century. The rich cultural, racial, and ethnic diversity of our community underlies a sense of community among residents, providing a strong foundation for our Community Board; a vibrant artistic community; and culture-based values among many families that emphasize the involvement of the extended family in the care of children as well as older adults.
We can assume the ‘white’ category is 95% (if not higher) Jewish.
How, I wonder, does the demographic racial breakdown noted above compare to the breakdown in dispensation of scholarships by race? You can’t go to college unless you’ve graduated high school. Blacks and browns have high school dropout rates in the 50% vicinity.
I wonder if the percentage of scholarship monies dispensed to ‘whites’ exceeds the 31% noted above?
I do hope I am wrong in my speculation, because if my speculations were show to be correct, this would be a significant blow to curbing anti-Semitic stereotypes.
Perhaps the SPLC can donate some monies to me to investigate this. Together, we could put a stop to the spreading of vile stereotypes of Jewish ethnocentrism & Jewish Privilege.