Leaders of U.j.a., J.d.c., United Hias Report on Increased Needs
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Leaders of U.j.a., J.d.c., United Hias Report on Increased Needs

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The needs of overseas Jewry, as they affect the current responsibilities and problems facing the Jewish communities in the United States, were discussed in detail here in addresses by top leaders to the 1,000 delegates attending the general assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds. The principal addresses forming the basis of discussions on these needs and problems were delivered by Joseph Meyerhoff, general chairman of the United Jewish Appeal; Moses A. Leavitt, executive vice-president of the Joint Distribution Committee; and Murray I. Gurfein, president of United Hias Service.

Mr. Meyerhoff told the delegates that, in 1962, the UJA will call on American Jewry to raise a special fund of $35,000,000, in addition to the regular UJA fund of $60,000,000. He said the $95,000,000 total would meet the “minimum share which American Jews, in all conscience, must provide to meet the costs of a growing immigration to Israel. He noted that, at the same time, UJA funds must be raised to meet the continuing programs of its beneficiaries, serving more than 500,000 persons. These are the Jewish Agency for Israel, Inc.; the J.D.C., which cares for Jewish need in 27 overseas countries; United Hias Service; and the New York Association to New Americans.

The proposed $35,000,000, special fund will be submitted to 1,000 delegates to the UJA annual national conference, which will open in New York on December 10, Mr. Meyerhoff said. He revealed that Israel Finance Minister Levi Eshkol would fly specially from Jerusalem to report to the UJA conference on the special measures being taken in Israel to receive and absorb immigrants now arriving in considerable numbers.

Mr. Meyerhoff, who is also president of the Associated Jewish Charities of Baltimore, stressed that he was not asking American Jews to seek a special fund for UJA at the expense of bona fide local needs. He urged that both needs be met, and declared that they could be met.

“I am completely aware of the vital necessity of adequate support for Jewish hospitals, local family and children’s services, and other local activities,” he said: “But American Jews can, if they will it, meet both their home obligations and the wonderful historic opportunity to save lives, represented by Israel’s new immigration.” He told the Assembly delegates that they should not think they would bear the major costs of the new immigration. “The people of Israel,” he said, “despite their small numbers and their limited economic resources, will, as they always have done, bear the brunt of the cost of immigration. They will do this through taxation and through other charges.”


Mr. Leavitt analyzed the problems of the Jewish communities around the world, and pointed out that more than three-quarters of all Jews live today in three countries–the United States the Soviet Union and Israel. The remainder of a little more than 3,000,000 Jews live scattered in almost every other country of the world.

In the five North African countries, the plight of Jewish minorities was becoming increasingly grave, Mr. Leavitt reported. He said that difficult economic conditions, coupled with the tragic conflict in Algeria and an intensification of Arab nationalism, had led to despair and hopelessness among the 360,000 Jews in North Africa.

As against the somber picture in North Africa, Mr. Leavitt described the great progress made by Western European Jewish communities in the rebuilding of their communal life and welfare services. Leadership, both lay and professional, has emerged to an extent that today the JDC acts only as technical advisor and consultant to the social agencies and organizations, he stated, adding that the JDC helps to finance their activities but the actual functioning of the programs was in local hands.

“Thus 16 years after the end of the Nazi holocaust, tremendous progress has been made by the decimated communities of Western Europe, where 600,000 Jews look forward with hope and confidence to rebuilding their lives and perhaps bring aid to less fortunately situated Jews,” Mr. Leavitt said.


Mr. Gurfein, addressing the assembly, said that the United Hias had estimated that, for the current year, it would be called on to assist 3,960 migrants and refugees to resettle in new homelands. However, he said, since January 1, 1961, “we have already served about 6, 500 Jewish men, women and children, and there is every indication the upward current will soar to close to 7,500 by the end of the year. This means we are heading toward a migration assistance program of more than 80 percent above expectations. Judging from the current trend, this rate of migration will not diminish in 1962 and may even accelerate.”

“Our responsibilities in the Cuban situation have grown tremendously,” Mr. Gurfein continued. “Shortly after the Castro revolution, United Hias was confronted with a problem of resettling the many hundreds of Jews who made their own way to Miami. With the help of Miami Jewish communities, and the local Jewish communities throughout the country, this job was tackled so effectively that more than 60 percent of the refugees have been resettled out of Miami. This is the best record achieved by any of the voluntary agencies,” Mr. Gurfein stressed.

The Cuban migration is continuing, Mr. Gurfein reported, However, he pointed out that there was no anti-Semitic policy on the part of the Cuban Government. “Sweeping economic changes are impelling this emigration and the Jewish communities throughout the country are responding nobly to the additional tasks involved in the resettlement programs,” he said.

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