New York (Aug. 28)
The formation of a Committee To Oppose National Budgeting was announced at a press conference today by Ezra Shapiro, president of the Jewish Community Council of Cleveland, in behalf of leaders of Jewish federations and welfare funds throughout the country which are seeking “to prevent the imposition of national budgeting upon the American Jewish community.”
Mr. Shapiro, who was named chairman of the newly formed committee, told the press conference that the new body “was organized to mobilize the overwhelming sentiment of American Jewry in opposition to any program which would give centralized autherity to a single group to determine the future of all causes, national and international, appealing for American Jewish support.” He announced that William Sylk, secretary of the Allied Jewish Appeal of Philadelphia, will serve as secretary of the new committee which, he emphasized, “will endeavor to coordinate the opposition of federations and welfare funds on the issue which will be taken up at the next General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds,” to be held early in 1946.
“I note,” Mr. Shapire stated, “that the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds has modified the decision of its board of directors, so that the issue of national budgeting will be presented to the next General Assembly, presumably to be held early in 1946. As a result of this action, more adequate time will be afforded to the Jewish communities of America to discuss and to decide on this problem, the most vital that has ever confronted welfare funds and one of the most serious that has ever called for the consideration of the whole of American Jewry.
PRINCIPLE OF REFERENDUM IS TERMED SOUND
“However, the principle of a referendum involved in the original resolution of the board, is sound and should be followed through. Thus, every member agency of the Council should, between now and the time of the General Assembly, permit the most thorough discussion of the national budgeting proposal so that when the Assembly meets, it may record the mandate of the individual communities. In this way, the views of the Assembly may be an accurate cross-section of the views of the member agencies and not nerely individual opinions.
“The Committee To Oppose National Budgeting will proceed on the democratic assumption that the Council itself and all member agencies welcome this extended opportunity for discussion of the pros and cons of national budgeting. Only by local action, registered officially and in a representative way, will any decision on national budgeting have meaning and validity.”
At a time when there is “no uniformity on basic ideologies and principles” in American Jewish life and when Jewish needs here and abroad require an expansion rather than a contraction of “the horizons of community thinking on basic Jewish problems,” it would be “the height of unwisdom to entrust the grave responsibility of far-reaching decisions to one centralized authority,” Mr. Shapiro asserted. He pointed out that the Budget Researed Committee of the Council, which was appointed in 1942 for the purpose of conducting a fact-finding survey, had voted by an overwhelming majority in opposition to national budgeting.
He declared that the program was being presented to the General Assembly of the Council for review despite the fact that the committee which had been appointed by the Council for the specific purpose of determining the value of national budgeting had rejected it by a majority vote. Another vital factor, he said, is the undesirahility of croating a situation which would “plunge American Jewry once again into violent internal controversies.”