Bogen, Boris David

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BOGEN, BORIS DAVID (1869–1929), U.S. social worker. Bogen, born in Moscow, emigrated to the United States in the early 1890s. He studied at the New York University School of Pedagogy in 1897. While working toward his degree, Bogen taught English in the Baron de Hirsch Trade School, and in 1896 accepted a teaching appointment at the Hebrew Technical Institute, the Educational Alliance. Objecting to the school's "pure Americanism" emphasis, Bogen left and became principal of the Baron de Hirsch Agricultural School in Woodbine, New Jersey (1900). He believed he had discovered his mission: "the feet of Jewish youth were to be turned toward a new destiny, leaving behind the peddler's packs and the sweatshops and the slums of their fathers," he wrote in his autobiography. However, the students at the school did not aspire to the status of a rural peasantry; they turned instead to the administrative and scientific aspects of agriculture, and Bogen vehemently dissented from the directors' efforts to reduce the length of study from three years to one and eliminate the scientific component, in order to produce a "contented Jewry working in the fields." Resigning in 1904, he became superintendent of the United Jewish Charities, Cincinnati, and also directed the work of the Jewish Settlement in Cincinnati. In 1913 he became field secretary of the Conference of Jewish Charities. Bogen maintained that the distinctive function of Jewish welfare was to intensify Jewish group consciousness and identity. Following the outbreak of World War i, he turned to problems of international relief, working in Holland, Poland, and Russia for the *American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee from 1917 to 1924. His autobiography, Born a Jew (1930), deals mostly with his relief efforts in Eastern Europe. Bogen's philosophy of sectarian social work is summarized in his Jewish Philanthropy (1917).


M.Z. Hexter, in: Jewish Social Service Quarterly, 6 (1929), 39–40; A. Segal, in: B'nai B'rith Magazine, 43 (1929), 315–6.

[Roy Lubove]