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44
TWELFTH ANNUAL REPORT.
history. The whole of the proceedings were conducted in French, a language which the pupils spoke with surprising fluency and correctness. Their intelligent answers bore evidence of the careful instruction they had received. I consider that the Alliance is most fortunate in securing the services of M. Fresco, who seems eminently fitted for his post. He has started a library for the use of the School, and any contributions of books would be most thankfully received.*
A Girls' School is much needed at Damascus. It is to be regretted that the Jews of Damascus, who are comparatively isolated from Western influences, attach but little importance to female education, the consequence being that their women are for the most part shallow and ignorant. About forty Jewish girls attend the Missionary School of St. Paul, where their parents pay little or nothing for their education. The Jewish pupils in the School are compelled to join in prayers, a mere mockery on their part, as the result as regards conversions is fruitless. Until the establishment of the Boys' School in 1880, a number of Jewish lads also attended the Mission Schools. If a Grirls' School were opened an excellent result would be obtained. After a careful calculation, I found that forty girls might be instructed at an annual expenditure of 3,000 francs.
If the Jews of Europe were to take the initiative and start the School, it would not be long before the Jews of Damascus would learn the importance of female education, and such an institution would in the course of time be well supported by them.f Until a few years ago, there were many very wealthy local Jewish families, but large numbers were ruined in consequence of a loan forced on them by the Turkish authorities, who, it is said, compelled them to furnish about three quarters of a million sterling to defray the expenses of the Mecca Caravan. 18 per cent, was promised for the loan. The interest was paid the first year, but subsequently not a single penny.
* Tlie Council of the Anglo-Jewish Association have acted on this recommendation.
f Since "writing the above, I learn from M. Fresco, in a letter dated Damascus, May 25th, that a committee of the leading Jews, with M. Gilbert, French Consul, as president, has collected sufficient funds to pay for the hire of a school house, salaries, etc., and that the Alliance has promised to furnish a directress. The sum of one thousand francs was urgently needed for furniture, school material, etc., and I am glad to be able to report that I have succeeded in collecting this sum through the kind contributions of personal friends in London.
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