Jewish philanthropic federations throughout the country who are being prevailed upon to minimize their support to Jewish education and other character building agencies are called upon to desist from this action in an appeal issued by the Rabbinical Assembly of the Jewish Theological Seminary, representing over two hundred American Jewish Congregations, and made public through the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today.
The appeal which is signed by Dr. Mordecai M. Kaplan, president of the Assembly, scores the attitude of many congregations which are endeavoring to renounce their financial responsibility for the maintenance of Jewish schools under their direction and are turning it over to teachers and incompetent volunteers.
The attitude of Federations in this connection has assumed a character of discrimination against which the Rabbinical Assembly protests, the statement says.
“Some of the Federations have reduced their appropriations to Jewish and to Community Centers far beyond the reductions made in any of their other activities,” the statement charges. “Schools, Bureaus of Education, and Centers, have been discriminated against to the point of destroying their vital functions and their morals. Federations are even attempting under the pressure of certain subscribers, to release themselves entirely from the responsibility for the communal aspects of Jewish education. After having supported and fostered the work of their Bureau of Education during days of plenty, they are now trying unfairly to foist upon their Board of Education the impossible task of raising separate funds during these days of economic depression.”
Dr. Kaplan calls such action “Unjust, unwise and dangerous to present Jewish morale and to the future welfare of the American Jewish community.
“At all times,” he says, “have there been individual objectors, largely from among the assimilationist Jews, who have attempted to impose their views upon the organized community by insisting upon the exclusion of Jewish educational activity from the community programs. Nevertheless, the leaders of the Federations undertook responsibility for a constructive unifying program of communal work. It was at this time, when the need for subscriptions is greatest that the strength of character and purpose of our Federation leaders is being tested. Will they permit money pressure to cause them to be false to their own ideals of communal Jewish development?
“Education,” Dr. Kaplan asserts, ‘is not a luxury. Certainly not among Jews. It has been at the very center of our existence and must continue to be so. The opposition of bread to education has no meaning to us. In times of greatest stress and poverty, Jews have divided whatever funds they had between both bread and education.
“We solemnly call upon the Federations of Jewish Charities to be true to their own programs and to the trust which the Jewish masses have reposed in them. Any discriminatory action against Jewish schools and Centers at this time, any diminution of responsibility for the communal aspects of Jewish character building would bring division in the community, distrust and demoralization in community organization, and untold harm to the future of American Jewish life,” Dr. Kaplan declares.