C.J.F.W.F. Assembly Opens; Kane Stresses Responsibility of U.S. Jewry
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C.J.F.W.F. Assembly Opens; Kane Stresses Responsibility of U.S. Jewry

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The full range of responsibilities and needs confronting the Jewish communities in this country and in Canada–individually and collectively–were outlined here today by Irving Kane, president of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds, at the opening session of the four-day General Assembly of the CJFWF. More than 1,000 representatives from 800 communities are attending the Assembly which is holding its sessions at the Statler Hilton Hotel.

Mr. Kane emphasized that this is possibly the largest Assembly in the GJFWF’s history. He pointed out that the problems which will be discussed at the sessions deal with millions of Jewish lives. The Assembly, he said, will formulate directions for Jewish health, welfare, education and culture services “in this decade.” It will review the tasks facing American Jewry in its relationships with overseas Jewish communities in Israel, Europe and North Africa. It will also discuss the planning and organization of the 1962 fund-raising campaigns by welfare funds and federations. Domestic issues of great significance to the welfare funds and federations will form the core of several Assembly sessions, Mr. Kane said.

One of the principal speakers at the evening session, Mr. Kane stressed that unmet needs of immigrants to Israel, as well as the needs of increased immigration this year, will require an extraordinary effort by United States Jewry, in cooperation with the Jews of Israel. He presented a comprehensive report on the findings and recommendations of a CJFWF delegation which he headed on a survey of conditions in Britain, Europe, Israel and North Africa.

The delegation, made up of key leaders of major American Jewish communities, visited installations and services supported by American funds. The delegation members also met with counterpart leaders in Israel, holding a series of 35 meetings in 12 days with government officials. The latter included. Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, leaders of the Jewish Agency, Jerusalem, and other leaders in Israel.


Mr. Kane warned that it was “easy to get a false perspective” of Israel today for “behind the signs of progress everywhere, there is the stark and challenging reality of human need and anxiety. There is even disappointment over help urgently needed, and promised but not received.”

He reported that Israel’s gross national product “has been increasing eight to ten percent per year” and that the country has virtually no unemployment. He said American Jewry would take great satisfaction from these gains “which we have helped to bring about but we must also recognize that Israel still has a foreign trade gap of well over $300,000,000,” which he termed “a measure of its economic dependence.” He said Israel’s key problem was to close the gap.

He noted that the deficit has been made up by West German reparations, by personal restitution payments to individuals from West Germany, by loans in the form of bonds, by investments and by contributions through the United Jewish Appeal. He warned, however, that reparations were scheduled to end in 1964 and that personal restitution payments “will soon begin to taper off. Our contributions of free dollars become even more important, therefore, until the gap can be bridged through Israel’s own earnings.”


He said the sharp rise in immigration, which began last April, was continuing and that it required funds “that were not in sight when the Jewish Agency first formulated its 1961 budget.” He indicated that the Jewish Agency budgetary estimate for 1961 was based on a figure which was surpassed in the first seven months of this year, and therefore “the funds for absorption, housing and settlement” of immigrants have been exhausted. He added that Israel wanted more people.

He reported that Israeli leaders “agreed with our delegation that this should be planned for, not as a crisis or emergency, but as Israel’s basic objective and program.” He said the CJFWF proposed “that a five-year plan might be drawn up that would take into account realistically the fact that immigration comes not in averages but in waves.” The delegation also suggested that such a five-year plan “should be flexible enough to put more money into transportation and other immediate needs when immigration is high, and into overcoming the backlog of unmet needs when it is low. The attempt to develop such a five-year plan is now under way,” Mr. Kane reported.

He said this was the background behind a series of moves in recent weeks initiated by the CJFWF. He noted that there were “some $30,000,000 outstanding in August of this year on the books of our community organization for 1960 and prior years, most of it therefore past due, in addition to the pledges made in 1961.” Declaring that “this money is needed now,” he said the conclave would hear a report tomorrow on the results of a special nation-wide effort, headed by Lou Smith of Boston, to collect the unfulfilled pledges to local campaigns for the United Jewish Appeal.


American Jews, he reported, have supplied in the past 80 percent of the outside contributed funds used to aid new immigrants. “The Israelis,” he said, “look to us to continue that level of aid. That is not the total added cost. For every $7,000,000 of outside aid required, the Israel Government must provide $27,000,000 from its tax funds to absorb the new immigrants. That was a major reason why our Council decided to institute an unprecedented drive to help collect unpaid pledges. It seemed to us that nothing we could do here would be so helpful so quickly as to make available the cash required.”

He explained that these were the factors behind the UJA decision “to accelerate the 1962 campaign by initiating in the fall of 1961 with the goal of $95,000,000–some $35,000,000 more than 1961 anticipation.” He said this was also the reasoning behind the decision of the Israel Government “to initiate a compulsory loan of $14,000,000 from its own citizen in order in the next six months to provide for immigrant housing, with the intention to follow it with a further compulsory loan of $28,000,000 in the next year.”

Mr. Kane emphasized that even if there were no immigration, Israel’s need for American Jewry’s help would be “very great.” He said that some aspects of the backlog of unmet needs for earlier settlers were “almost as large as they were when our previous delegation was in Israel three years ago.” The most striking instance is the continued dependence of 450 agricultural settlements established since 1948, he stated. They will still require $180,000,000 to make them self-supporting.


He reported that the CJFWF delegation “found a genuine acceptance of the desirability of voluntary fund-raising in Israel itself.” although the delegation had no illusions “that massive support will be quickly forthcoming.” But the delegation, he said, decided a study should be made of the possibilities “under appropriate Israeli auspices of what voluntary fund-raising already exists in Israel.”

Discussing the area of “the basic question of American-Israel understanding,” the CJFWF president said there was “a growing eagerness among Israelis to get beyond the narrow limits of a beneficiary-and-benefactor relationship with American Jews, an eagerness to build a mutual understanding of much greater depth and scope.”

“The Israelis,” he reported, “know little of what American Jewish life is really like, how we are organized, what interests us and motivates us, how we live and function. And they feel that despite the greatly increased tourism, few American Jews know what Israeli life is really like.” Our future requires that we build this bridge–the two-way bridge of understanding and cooperation from which both of our communities will benefit.”


Dr. Isador Lubin, consultant to the Jewish Agency for Israel, Inc. on programs in Israel, reported at the session on the Agency’s activities. He reviewed the progress that has been made since its establishment in April 1960. He placed particular stress on the budgetary controls and auditing procedures that have been established by the Agency, and on the machinery put into effect for the allocation of funds made available by the United Jewish Appeal. These, he pointed out, involved both the consideration of the fields of activity for which the Agency should assume responsibility and the setting up of priorities which will guide it in its allocations.

In discussing the difficulties of arriving at a budget for the coming fiscal year, Mr. Lubin referred to the unforeseen large increase in the number of immigrants that has been coming to Israel in recent months.

“The allocation of approximately $30,000,000 that was made by the Agency for the current fiscal year,” he said, “was based on the expectation that the inflow of immigrants would be relatively modest and that this amount would be sufficient to meet a large part of the basic costs of absorbing the new immigrants. As a result of the upsurge in immigration, however, almost twice this amount had to be expended by the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem during the first half of this budget year.

“If, as we have every reason to expect, the immigration level continues at the present rate for the next five months, the contribution of American Jewry to the cost of bringing in and settling Jewish immigrants in Israel, will constitute less than one-fourth of the total that will be required. The challenge facing us is to meet the extraordinary needs that have arisen as a result of the increase in immigration.”

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