The two million dollar campaign which the Federation for the Support of Jewish Philanthropic Societies opened last night at the Astor Hotel must be successful if New York Jewry is really interested in the existence of the ninety-one welfare institutions which are sponsored by the Federation.
In Europe â€” in countries like Germany and Austriaâ€”a compulsory taxation is imposed by the state on every Jew for the support of such Jewish welfare agencies. Every member of the Jewish community, no matter whether orthodox, liberal or reformed, pays taxes for the maintenance of Jewish institutions, just as he does for the maintenance of federal and municipal institutions. These taxes for Jewish needs are collected by the Jewish community with the aid of the government, and provide the budget necessary for the existence of Jewish hospitals, homes for the aged, orphan asylums and the like.
DIFFERENT IN THE UNITED STATES
In the United States, no such compulsory tax exists. The welfare work done by the Federation for the support of Jewish Philanthropic Societies is, however, no smaller in scale than the work done by the Jewish communities in Central Europe. During the eighteen years of its existence, the Federation spent no less than sixty-six million dollars in New York for supporting its various welfare, charitable and cultural institutions.
In the years of prosperity, the Federation faced little difficulty in balancing its budget. The work of the Federation being appreciated, many Jews contributed large sums to it in the form of annual subscriptions, in addition to the general drive which the Federation used to carry on every year.
The number of annual subscriptions has, however, decreased now because of the existing economic difficulties in the country. Former contributors of large sums of money have now reduced their donations. Small contributors have dropped out altogether.
VOLUNTARY AND COMPULSORY
This explains why the Federation must in its present campaign seek more money than ever before. The two million dollar drive commenced yesterday is an emergency measure. It is needed to wipe out the deficit of the Federation and to balance the $3,650,000 budget which Federation must cover.
The problem of covering its budget would have been no problem at all for Federation if it were privileged to impose a special welfare tax on Jews, as is being done by the Jewish communities in Central Europe. Taxed only two dollars per head per year, the two million Jews in New York would well cover the budget of Federation.
Since the system of compulsory taxation for Jewish institutions does not exist in the United States, voluntary taxation must replace it. The Jews of New York must therefore voluntarily contribute to Federation just as if they were taxed by the state.