NEW YORK (Sep. 24)
A vast, new American Jewish community undertaking, to be known as the Israel Education Fund, which has set a goal of raising $127, 000, 000 over a period of five years for the purpose of expanding Israel’s educational system, was announced here today.
More than 300 of the top leaders of the American Jewish community, summoned by the United Jewish Appeal–which has broadened its basic purpose of aid to immigrants in Israel by launching the new drive–endorsed the plans and programs of the Israel Education Fund at a two day conference which opened today at the Biltmore Hotel. The UJA made it clear that the new Fund will be “separate and distinct from the regular annual UJA campaign, and will follow a wholly different set of basic principles.”
The new Fund will conduct its half-decade campaign for the building and equipment in Israel of 72 high schools, at a cost of $57, 000, 000; and the provision of thousands of scholarships for students and teacher-trainees at an additional cost of $52, 000, 000, in addition to other projects. The overall plan will include the establishment of youth centers, the building and equipment of pre-kindergarten schools, and the development of other educational facilities needed in Israel such as libraries and science laboratories.
The program adopted at the conference was based on a report submitted by a special study mission, composed of outstanding American educators, which had surveyed the educational field in Israel and had recommended the plans unanimously. The mission was composed of Charles J. Bensley, for many years a member of the New York City Board of Education; Dr. Harold B.Gores, president of the Educational Facilities Laboratories of the Ford Foundation; Dr. William Jansen, former superintendent of schools of New York City; and Dr. Harold Wilson, dean of the School of Education of the University of California at Los Angeles.
EBAN ADDRESSES CONFERENCE IN NEW YORK; ENDORSES EDUCATION PLAN
The mission’s report was presented to the conference by Dr. Gores, and endorsed tonight enthusiastically by Abba Eban, Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister and former Minister of Education. He told the conference that improvements and enlargements of his country’s secondary education facilities were crucial to Israel’s intellectual and spiritual future. He particularly stressed the need for acceleration of the progress of students of Oriental origin, one of the leading aims of the newly announced program.
“Israel’s immense burdens for defense, primary schooling and the support of higher education has made it impossible to open the high schools and vocational secondary schools to all,” Mr. Eban stressed. “A very great proportion of those who do not pursue their education to the high school and university levels are the children of immigrants of Asian and African countries.”
Calling the situation a great threat to Israel’s social cohesion, Mr. Eban noted that recent progress by students of Asian-African background had been encouraging. “But the gap is not being closed quickly enough. This is not a marginal issue. Israel’s central interests lie in the balance. Nothing can more effectively promote Israel’s historic purposes, ” he declared, “than an intense reinforcement of her educational program by the assistance of American Jewry.”
CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE FUND WILL NOT COMPETE WITH GIFTS TO U.J.A.
Joseph Meyerhoff, general chairman of the UJA, who presided at the conference, stressed the continuing and increasing importance of the UJA’s “core program in Israel of transportation and absorption of immigrants. ” He emphasized the fact that contributions to the Israel Education Fund will be accepted only “over and above” annual campaign gifts.
The conference will be continued tomorrow with principal addresses by Rabbi Herbert A. Friedman, executive vice-chairman of the UJA; Francis Neppel, United States Commissioner of Education; Edward M.M. Warburg, UJA national chairman, and a member of the New York State Board of Regents; Dr. Hanoch Rinot, director-general of Israel’s Ministry of Education and Culture; and Eliezer Shmueli, director of secondary education in Israel.
The results of a survey of educational problems in Israel conducted by Abraham S. Hyman, of the United Jewish Appeal, in preparation for the announcement of the establishment of the Education Fund, were disseminated among the 300 Jewish communal leaders who came here from all parts of the country to attend the two day parley. The survey stressed the fact that, while elementary education is free, universal and compulsory for all children aged 5 to 14, “secondary school education is not free, very costly and beyond the reach of many children.”
Pointing out that the children of families of African-Asian origin predominate among those who get no formal schooling beyond the elementary level, and that these are the very children who should receive the greatest amount of attention, the document warned: “There is a danger implicit in this situation that a gap may develop between the Jews of Western origin, on the one hand, and the Jews of African-Asian origin on the other.”
EDUCATIONAL GAP BETWEEN TWO GROUPS OF CHILDREN IN ISRAEL CITED
Dr. Gores, in his report on behalf of the educational mission, told of the meticulous preparations and briefings that preceded the survey, and outlined the major problems facing Israel in the educational field. These, he said, are: The shortage of teachers; the financial inability of many of the children to attend secondary schools; the cultural gap between Jews of European stock and most Jews of Asian-African orgin.
Backing up the view that an educational gap exists between children of European Jews in Israel and children of Oriental Jews there, the report of the UJA Education Mission, said that, while Oriental Jews in Israel make up almost 50 per cent of the total population, and the children of these Oriental Jews number about 60 percent of the school-age population, the Oriental-origin children provide 60 percent of the kindergarten students, 50 percent of those in elementary schools, 25 percent of those in secondary schools, and only 12 percent of those in universities.
“The two groups, ” the report noted, “are divided by social, economic, cultural and educational barriers. Because Israel is an open society, however, there is a strong desire to eliminate these barriers, and this is accompanied by the conviction that, once the education gap is bridged, all the other barriers will break down.”
BASIC PRINCIPLES OF THE EDUCATION FUND CAMPAIGN OUTLINED
In emphasizing that the Israel Education Fund campaign will be conducted along lines wholly different from those which govern the annual UJA campaign, the Jewish leaders attending the conference were given the following outline:
1. The Education Fund campaign will have as its objective the procurement of gifts from a limited number of people.
2. The minimum gift that will be accepted is the sum of $100, 000. The gift will, at the discretion of the donor, be payable over a period of three to five years.
3. No gift will be accepted unless and until the prospective donor has given the UJA assurances that his contribution to the capital fund campaign will not prejudice his gift to the regular UJA campaign or to the community federation campaign in which the UJA shares.
4. The campaign will not be linked to the UJA annual campaign calendar but will be conducted the year round. It will not be conducted through mass media or large meetings but, rather, through individual approaches to prospective donors, with specific projects in mind. The donor will be given the privilege to have the school, other facility or scholarship fund for which he makes his contribution, bear his name or the name of any other person he may designate.
In the interest of good administration, to make certain that a uniform policy is supplied, and to insure that the UJA annual campaign is not adversely affected by the Israel Education Fund campaign, the UJA will have the exclusive right to solicit funds for the education projects included within the campaign.
Organizations already engaged in activities related to education in Israel will continue their traditional fund-raising activities in support of their education programs, but in the context of their total program and not as an independent effort.
The education campaign will be coordinated with local Federations and Welfare Funds with the view of insuring that the timing of solicitation of potential contributors by the Israel Education Fund is consistent with the overall interest of the local communities.
ADMINISTRATIVE STRUCTURE OF THE ISRAEL EDUCATION FUND
The Israel Education Fund, established as a separate department of the UJA, will have a lay chairman of a board of representative men and women, and a lay president. The small Israel Education Fund professional staff will have the responsibility for preparing all campaign and solicitation material, including studies, surveys, and presentation pieces for specific projects. Lay leaders will participate in the process of solicitation of gifts.
The United Jewish Appeal will turn over the proceeds of the Israel Education Fund campaign to the United Israel Appeal which, in turn, will transmit the funds to the Jewish Agency for Israel, Inc., the same American corporation which receives UJA funds destined for use in Israel for the transportation and absorption of new immigrants.