C. J. F. W. F. Assembly Opens Today; Will Assess Jewish Communal Activities
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C. J. F. W. F. Assembly Opens Today; Will Assess Jewish Communal Activities

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Changing trends in American Jewish communal life will be discussed at the four day General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds, which opens here tomorrow at the Chase-Park Hotel. Close to 1,000 leaders of federations, welfare funds and community councils from all over the United States and Canada will attend the Assembly.

The Assembly will also chart a course for community action at home and abroad for the coming year. A symposium prepared by a panel of experts will analyze the program, structure and competence of the Jewish federations, and the changes needed to deal realistically with current developments in American Jewish life.

The major problems which will be discussed tomorrow, on the opening day of the Assembly, will deal with the question of what alterations in the pattern of federations are needed to meet the demographic, industrial, educational and sociological shifts taking place on the American scene; how to meet changes resulting from the increased role of government in welfare programs; and changes in rationale toward sectarian services.

Another question which will be examined in detail at the Assembly is: How equipped are today’s federations to attract the interest and commitment of the new college-educated generation? Underscored will be the relevancy of Jewish education for today’s youth in an open society, where Jews are increasingly free from the external pressures and internal tensions which in the past drew and held Jews together.


A special session devoted to this problem will deal with the need to discover a more dynamic approach enabling young people to find satisfactory adjustment to their Jewish distinctiveness, without surrendering their rightful belonging to the broader society of which they are a part. Tied in with this theme will be the central challenge for a qualitative Jewish community, in which Jewish intellectuals and scholars can find incentives for both their participation and their leadership, as well as the gratifying rewards of personal fulfillment.

Cooperative relations with other Jewish communities throughout the world will similarly be discussed and analyzed. A global perspective on the rise and decline of these key communities and their relatedness to American Jewry and to the Jewish future will be presented to the delegates.

“No problem merits more careful consideration than the personnel crisis which prevails in every facet of Jewish institutional life–synagogue, school, center and welfare agency alike.” Mrs. Joseph Cohen, a CJFWF vice-president, and head of the program committee of the General Assembly, declared. “There is general agreement, she said, “on the need to elevate the communal worker to a status of higher dignity and broader respect; to engender in our communal staffs a wider range of Jewish knowledge and a deeper commitment to Jewish values; to enlist a corps of professionals whose talents, dedication and zeal could alter the entire fabric of American Jewish life. What each city can do to help with this critical problem will be the subject of a plenary session.”


The Assembly will give special attention to the findings and recommendations of the C. J. F. W. F’s overseas delegation. “The critical need revealed by the delegation obviously compel us to take a more probing look at our fund-raising activities,” Mrs. Cohen stressed. “Workshops have been increased to help the communities find ways of refurbishing campaign tools and refining competence in order to meet higher goals successfully.

“Other fiscal and budgetary dilemmas must find solutions, also. How to balance new priorities against time-honored precedent? How to apply fairness and equity to competing pressures? Whether to nourish meritorious new ventures or, by denying them, risk the loss of flexibility indispensable to progress?” Mrs. Cohen said.

“To help energize fund-raising and infuse campaign efforts with freshness and vigor, a national program for public relations has been prepared for action by the Assembly. Designed to promote public understanding and acceptance of federation across the country as the primary philanthropic instrument of the Jewish community, the plan seeks to help develop a climate capable of attracting new volunteer participation and increased commitments by dramatizing federation’s contributions to human advancement.

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