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The New Government Ordinance for Regulating Affairs of Jewish Communities in Poland: What It Provide

The new Government Ordinance regulating the affairs of the Jewish Communities in Poland fixes the amount which the Jewish Communities may levy on their members in Community tax, as well as the fees which may be charged for Shechita, or for burial in the Jewish cemeteries, and for the setting of tombstones. It further provides with regard to the budgets of the Jewish Communities that they will be confirmed in future no longer by the Minister of Education and Public Worship, but by the local administrative authority.

The Ministry of Public Worship thus ceases to have direct contact with the Jewish Communities as it has had hitherto. The Communities have the right of appeal to the Ministry, however, against any decision taken by the administrative authority with regard to the budget, the Ministry being the final court of appeal, not excluding even the Supreme Administrative Tribunal.

The administrative authorities have been given power to strike out items from the budget of the Jewish Community, or to reduce or increase certain items, though only within the general framework of the budget. They may even refuse to approve the budget at all, if it does not correspond in their opinion to the duties which the Jewish Community has to carry out.

The budgets of the Jewish Community, according to the Ordinance, may contain only such items which arise out of paragraph 3 of the Jewish Community Law, which states that the Jewish Communities are to satisfy the Jewish religious requirements, such as the maintenance of Rabbis, synagogues, ritual baths, and cemeteries, the provision of kosher meat, and the provision of religious education for the Jewish children, as well as to a certain extent Jewish charitable activities.

In certain Jewish quarters there is some anxiety because of the feeling that while the Ministry of Public Worship has been in the habit of confirming items included in the Jewish Community budgets for Jewish cultural purposes and for general Jewish interests, like subsidies for schools, evening classes, Palestine funds, etc., the administrative authorities may refuse to pass such items, as has happened already in Vilna, where the District Governor struck out this week from the Vilna Jewish Community budget grants made to several Jewish institutions, on the ground that they are not of a religious character.

In fixing the prices to be charged for Shechita, the Ordinance lays it down that no Community may charge more than these fixed prices for the slaughtering of animals or of poultry. In exceptional cases, however, the Ministry of Public Morship may agree to a Community increasing its charge for Shechita.

All Jewish Communities which have not been themselves in charge of their Shechita affairs must now take them into their own control immediately. The farming out of Shechita is strictly forbidden. All Shechita revenue must go into the Community Treasury. The Shochtim must be included as salaried officials in the Community budget and receive their fees from the Community Treasury. The conditions under which Shechita is conducted and the working conditions of the Shochtim and their scale of payments must be approved by the Administrative Inspection Authority. It is forbidden to charge Shechita fees in excess of the amounts fixed or to demand supplementary fees for Shechita inspection.

In regard to the fees for burials and tombstone settings, fixed prices are laid down in the Ordinance, which also provides that there must be in each Jewish cemetery separate reservations for the poor, where the fee must not be more than 10 zlotys.

Till 1933 the Jewish Community dues will continue to be fixed by the Community administrations which may make use in this regard of an estimating commission, which will, however, possess only consultative rights, and must not itself decide the amount of the tax to be levied, which can be done only by the administration. In imposing the Community tax, the Community must take into account not only the income and the possessions of the tax-payer, but also of his family obligations and what he is doing for the Jewish Community in the way of charity given through the Community or through his own personal channels.

All men and women who are in work and earning wages, including children who have come of age, but still live with their parents, must pay Community tax. Only poor people, who are in receipt of charity and Rabbis who are in possession of the proper credentials are exempt from taxation. The smallest sum payable in Community tax is 5 zlotys.

Beginning with 1933, the Jewish Community tax will be based on the State taxes paid by the member in the previous year, the maximum amount of the Jewish Community tax being 10 per cent. of the State taxes. Persons who do not pay State taxes at all must nevertheless pay Community tax of between five and 20 zlotys.

DEPUTY HARTGLASS FORMER PRESIDENT OF CLUB OF JEWISH DEPUTIES WELCOMES ORDINANCE AS PUTTING STOP TO ARBITRARINESS OF JEWISH COMMUNITIES IN TAXING THEIR MEMBERS: CLAIMS THIS LARGELY LED TO DISRUPTION OF JEWISH COMMUNITIES BEFORE POLISH PARTITION: BUT EXPRESSES HIMSELF DISPLEASED WITH PROVISIONS LAYING DOWN METHODS FOR AUTHORITIES DECIDING COMMUNITY BUDGETS

Advocate Hartglass, former President of the Club of Jewish Deputies and a prominent lawyer, has declared that he welcomes the new Ordinance, which he sees as a first attempt to curb the arbitrariness of certain Jewish Communities in estimating the amount of taxation to be imposed on the members of their Communities.

Such an Ordinance was very much needed, he says, because we have been hearing protests on all sides against the excessive taxation burdens, and the unjust method of distributing the Community taxation. It was to a large extent these arbitrary methods, he claims, that led to the disruption of the Jewish Communities in the olden days of the Polish State, before the partition of Poland.

Advocate Hartglass is not pleased, however, with the provisions in the new Ordinance, which give the local administrations the power of striking out, reducing or increasing the separate items in the Jewish Community budgets.

The Jewish Community is a self-administrative body, he maintains, and should, therefore, have the right of itself deciding its budget, within the general framework of its statutes. The administrative inspection authority should have only the right of control, to see that the budget does not go outside the framework of the Jewish Community statutes.

It is stated in reliable quarters that the Jewish communal workers have obtained an authoritative assurance that the administrative inspection authorities wull not do anything to hinder the Jewish Communities conducting their philanthropic and cultural activities. The action of the Vilna District Governor in striking out certain items from the budget of the Vilna Jewish Community this week, has, despite the assurance, given rise to considerable apprehension on this point, and it is largely for the purpose of clearing up this point, that the Warsaw Jewish Community is convoking a Conference of all the larger Jewish Communities in the consider the situation created by the new Ordinance.

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