MIAMI BEACH, Fia. (Feb. 5)
A concrete picture of Jewish mass emigration from Rumania and other East European countries to Israel was presented here today by Rabbi Herbert A. Friedman, executive vicechairman of the United Jewish Appeal, following his return from a ten-day visit to Vienna and other cities where he studied the problems involved in the exodus of the Jews.
Rabbi Friedman spoke before a 100-man expanded UJA Campaign Cabinet meeting which marked the first session of the three-day UJA National Inaugural Conference here at the Fountainbleau Hotel. The conference launches the nationwide UJA drive for 1959 in 3,500 communities throughout the country.
“It is not mere talk,” he said, “to suppose that this year may see 100,000 Jews going to Israel from Rumania and other East European countries. The movement of nearly 20,000 Jews from Eastern Europe since September has already posed a great financial crisis for the United Jewish Appeal agencies,” he reported.
Rabbi Friedman said that “the Rumanian authorities have taken a humanitarian step in permitting the departure of large numbers of Jews. In my opinion,” he added, “the action is in response to pleas of tens of thousands of Jews separated by World War II, and by subsequent events, to be reunited with families now in Israel.”
Rabbi Friedman noted that the UJA had raised over $150,000,000 ten years ago to help displaced Jews leave the DP camps. He called for American Jews to raise even more to meet the current crisis. He said 6,000 Jews reached Israel in January, but February may see 10,000 coming. He pointed out that even at the 6,000 monthly rate, the United Jewish Appeal agencies must have between $12,000,000 and $15,000,000 monthly to receive and absorb immigrants.
The services of UJA, he reported, begin the moment the emigrant arrives in Vienna, forlorn and wondering who will meet him. “Hot meals, medical care, pocket money, a place to stay and rest for a day or two, a railroad ticket to Naples where a ship waits to take him to Israel are immediately available, “he explained. He said there was no way of knowing exactly how many Jews are registered for emigration from Rumania, which has a Jewish population of 250,000. But “there is reason to believe that as many as 100,000 are already registered
Tomorrow’s session of the conference will be a second expanded Cabinet session. The meeting will take up further ways by which communities can obtain maximum results in this year’s UJA drive. The United Jewish Appeal will conduct a two-pronged drive this year. It seeks a $100,000,000 special fund to resettle new immigrants streaming out of Eastern Europe to Israel and a regular budgetary goal of over $105,000,000 to meet outstanding needs of earlier immigrants to Israel and for Jews in need in 24 other countries including refugees arriving in the United States.