JERUSALEM (Sep. 5)
The Jewish Agency executive, at a special meeting today devoted entirely to the current squabble over placement of Youth Aliyah wards from Orthodox backgrounds, decided to enlarge the committee handling classification of Youth Aliyah wards to include Orthodox representation. The decision was lauded by Chief Rabbi Nissim.
In its statement, the executive gave its unqualified backing to the Youth Aliyah and its director, Moshe Kol, asserting that the work of the agency “always has been and will continue to be based on the principle which ensures accommodation and upbringing in religious institutions of all of its wards who come from Orthodox homes, or who had previously been educated in Orthodox schools, or whose parents had opted for religious education for their children.”
In announcing the expansion of the classification committee, the executive said it was doing so “to avoid any possible inadvertent errors in the future and to forestall any suspicions or misrepresentations. ” The executive said the committee henceforth will consist of four educators, including two on behalf of the Youth Aliyah religious committee, and the “Chief Rabbinate.”
In defending the Youth Aliyah, the executive asserted that “any practice of coercion in matters spiritual or religious, like any attempt to deflect anyone from his faith or tradition, is completely alien to its spirit.”
CONDEMNS ORTHODOX CAMPAIGN AGAINST YOUTH ALIYAH ADMINISTRATION
The statement said that 30, 000 of a total of 70, 000 boys and girls who have been handled by Youth Aliyah since Israel was proclaimed had received a full religious education and that the percentage was considerably higher for the last group of Youth Aliyah wards most of whom had come from an Orthodox background. Despite “certain difficulties, ” the executive added, 224 or 79 percent of this group of 283 wards were to be found in Orthodox institutions.
The executive also condemned the “virulent propaganda campaign” conducted by “certain circles in Israel and abroad” about the absorption of this particular group of Youth Aliyah wards. The executive called the campaign “senseless libel and unscrupulous slandering of the Zionist Organization” and of its “most felicitous institution which for many years has been engaged in the rescue of young Jewish souls.”
The executive particularly denounced the “violent personal attacks” against Mr. Kol and said the demonstrative prayer meetings held daily by Orthodox elements outside the Jewish Agency building were “an act of profanation.”
Meanwhile, Agudas Israel, which has been among the sharpest critics of the Youth Aliyah administration, was asked to retract its allegations or face litigation charging slanderous libel. The demand was contained in a letter to the Aguda executive from A. Luchovsky, Jewish Agency attorney, who asked a public retraction of the charges leveled at Youth Aliyah on giant posters calling for a mass rally here today.
The charges, which were worded in bitter language, assailed Youth Aliyah director Kol, and alleged that Youth Aliyah had embarked on a deliberate campaign of “shmad” of young immigrants.