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Hias-usna Merger Effected; Single Migration Agency Established

Close to two years of negotiations and planning for the establishment of a single Jewish national and international migration agency was culminated today with the consolidation of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, United Service for New Americans, and the migration services of the Joint Distribution Committee into a new agency called “United Hias Service.”

Ben Touster, last president of HIAS, who has been elected first president of United Hias Service, announced the consummation of the consolidation at a press conference held today. The new single agency is expected to give better and more expeditious service to migrants, and to eliminate duplication and overlapping in the field of Jewish migration.

Merger of the Jewish migration services, performed on a global scale, was prompted by Jewish communities throughout the world. Agreement on proposals for the merger was first announced on January 28 of this year, at a press conference held in the New York offices of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds, which was chaired by Edwin Rosenberg, Jewish communal leader who initiated the merger negotiations in September, 1952.

The budget of HIAS, which for 1954 was set at $2,000,000, is being covered by contributions from its vast membership and by grants from Jewish welfare funds throughout the United States and abroad. The approximately $600,000 budget of USNA, and the estimated $1,500,000 budget for the JDC migration services this year, are covered by allocations from the United Jewish Appeal. Beginning with 1955, however, United Hias Service will raise its funds independently through contributions from individuals and allocations from Jewish federations and welfare funds.

At the first meeting of the United Hias Service board of directors, which is composed of 39 former HIAS directors, and a similar number designated by USNA, Arthur Greenleigh, former USNA executive director, was appointed executive director, to head the operations of the new agency in all parts of the world. Walter H. Bieringer was elected chairman of the executive committee.

Mr. Touster told the press conference today that there is no change in policy on the part of the combined organization with regard to operations in Israel, and none is contemplated. The organization has offices in Tel Aviv and Haifa for which it feels the need is justified.

The board of the new organization, it was disclosed, will give immediate consideration to the North African situation and the emigration requirements there. Mr. Greenleigh will leave for North Africa in about two weeks’ time, it was stated, for a survey of the situation, particularly in Morocco.

In response to questions, it was stated that between 12,000 and 15,000 Jewish refugees could be expected to enter the United States under the Refugee Relief Act of 1953 during the three-year period, provided that existing obstacles are removed.

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