NEW YORK (Aug. 3)
A vast range of needs still faces Israel and European Jewry despite significant progress, the Overseas Delegation of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds reported today in a preliminary review of the situation studied by the delegation during a three-and-a-half-week period, in the course of which the CJFWF study mission held intensive discussions with high-ranking Israel and European Jewish leaders.
The meetings — which were held in London, Paris, Vienna and Israel — also reviewed basic responsibilities that American Jews share with their co-religionists in satisfying the needs of homeless, economically and culturally deprived Jews. The report was issued by Louis Stern of Newark, CJFWF president.
In Israel, Mr. Stern declared, the delegation was greatly impressed with the outstanding job being done in handling the continuing large flow of immigrants. Great progress has been made in integration, but serious problems remain for thousands of families still on relief, he added. “We discussed with the Jewish Agency and the Welfare Ministry the specific steps being taken to effect a large-scale change to overcome this situation, and believe that this is an area where American know-how can be particularly helpful,” he said.
Lauding the Malben program of the Joint Distribution Committee for “setting a pattern of effective American Jewish aid,” he cited its pioneering advances in health and welfare, including the setting of standards, development of professional skills, demonstration of new methods, and strengthening of governmental and voluntary services and cooperation. He warned, however, that the end of German Material Claims funds in 1965 is endangering the continuation of some of these programs, though the needs remain urgent.
The delegation was heartened, Mr. Stern said, by the report that 100 agricultural settlements will become self-supporting this year and will no longer need assistance from the Jewish Agency. Reporting that this was “the first real breakthrough of this kind since 1948,” he noted nevertheless that several hundred other settlements still require aid and that the delegation discussed with Agency officials plans and measures to make them viable.
Israel’s housing problems, according to Mr. Stern, remain very visible. Hundreds of thousands of homes have been built and the Ma’abarot temporary housing virtually eliminated, but housing construction is not keeping pace with the needs. There is overcrowding even in new apartments. The delegation sessions with government officials included discussions of the role of government, bonds, private investment and philanthropy in overcoming the housing problem.
RESPONSIBILITIES APPRAISED; U.S. JEWISH-ISRAEL RELATIONS DISCUSSED
The delegation was especially concerned with the critical educational needs facing the nation — particularly for children from Asian and African countries whose education lags behind the rest of the population. A good deal of progress has been made in this area, Mr. Stern said. But, he added, there are manifest gaps in teacher-training, in scholarship programs, in the construction of high schools, in pre-school facilities, in the development of youth centers for after work and evening study, and in adult education.
Mr. Stern additionally reported that the delegation’s appraisal of philanthropic responsibilities included: 1. Methods of implementing recommendations of the recently completed study of voluntary fund raising in Israel conducted under the auspices of the Jewish Agency in cooperation with the Council; 2. an evaluation of promising changes now under way in services to dependent youth; 3. the possibilities of providing additional American technical aid to help train needed professional personnel for essential programs, and 4. an analysis of the overall problem of financing — including the Jewish Agency’s debt, its various sources of income, and potentialities for the future.
Significantly, Mr. Stern added, the delegation found a considerable disposition among the Israelis to go beyond the discussion of specific responsibilities to a consideration of the future of American Jewish-Israel relations and the quality and character of Jewish life in their country and ours. So important was this question to all concerned that it cropped up in many sessions.
CONFERENCES HELD WITH JEWISH COMMUNITY LEADERS OF EUROPEAN LANDS
In London, the CJFWF delegation conferred with representatives of four major British Jewish agencies — Central British Fund for Jewish Relief and Rehabilitation, the Combined Palestine Appeal, the Jewish Welfare Board, and the British Board of Deputies — on such areas of mutual concern as: Jewish community organization, improved fund raising, volunteer and professional development, services to youth and the aged, Jewish education, and other responsibilities which American and English Jews share.
In Paris, Baron Guy de Rothschild, president of the Fonds Social Juif Unifie, the French Jewish Federation, tendered a reception for the delegation at his home. There and in other sessions, the delegation met with officers of the FSJU and other French Jewish leaders to appraise the progress made in dealing with the immigrants from North Africa who have poured into France the past two years, assess the problems that remain and consider what must be done to overcome them.
In another series of meetings, the delegation met with representatives of Jewish communities in Italy, Switzerland, West Germany, Belgium and Sweden who had come to Paris to evaluate with them the work of the Standing Conference of European Jewish Community Services, an organization roughly analogous to the CJFWF, which the JDC helped establish.
In Vienna, Mr. Stern said, the delegates saw for themselves the operations of these agencies in action. The delegation, which left New York on June 29, was led by Mr. Stern and Irving Kane of Cleveland, a past president of the Council and current chairman of the Council’s Overseas Services Committee.