The Ezras Noshim society in Buenos Aires was formally established in the 1920’s in order to assist women in their various struggles, especially against the Jewish white slave trade. The material in this collection describes events and activities between 1913, several years before the official foundation of the Ezras Noshim society, and 1966. Most of the files (3,600) in the collection are personal files. The remainder are files of correspondence with institutions and government offices.
Over one third of the personal files contain requests of the society’s officials to interfere, assist or mediate in family disputes caused by personal or economic difficulties, by violence within families, by desertion (generally by the father) etc. The society’s staff members also advised and assisted families in cases which led to divorce. Ezras Noshim received a variety of requests, among them from the Polish consulate in Buenos Aires, regarding abandoned wives, where the husband was usually in Argentina or in an unknown location, while his wife and children in Poland searched for him.
Another significant activity of the society was the treatment of requests from thousands of individuals to obtain for them two important documents: a confirmation of honesty and a permit to disembark from the ship (certificado de moralidad, y permiso de libre desembarco), without which it was impossible to enter Argentina. Ezras Noshim also assisted hundreds of immigrant couples to obtain the documents required in order to marry (permiso de casamiento). Because of the notoriety of the “Zvi Migdal” organization, which dealt in prostitution and the white slave trade, many people, including families of potential couples, turned to Ezras Noshim, requesting information on the moral behavior of a potential groom or even a potential bride. Ezras Noshim also attempted to assist couples and families who had trouble finding somewhere to live because of financial or other difficulties. Many families applied to the organization for financial assistance in the forms of loans, grants or emergency assistance to the destitute.
About 60% of the letters, requests and recommendations were written in Spanish or a combination of Spanish and Yiddish. 33% were written in Yiddish alone, and the reminder in a variety of languages, including some Spanish and Yiddish.
The administrative files (290 in number) relating to a number of matters, contain a sizable correspondence of Dr. Halfon, for many years the moving force behind the organization, mainly on the battle against prostitution and the white slave trade. The documents, some listing names, describe the ways in which Ezras Noshim attempted to protect young women arriving from Europe in Argentina, and also depict contact and cooperation with other organizations. The files contain, in addition, newspaper clippings on prostitution and the battle against the white slave trade in Argentina as well as in other South American countries. Some of the files are strictly administrative in nature, relating to the activities of Ezras Noshim. They include minutes, annual reports, reports to the community and files on financial activity, bookkeeping and banks.
Due to privacy restrictions, the inventory of the personal files is not available on-line.