C.J.F.W.F. Assembly Discusses Basic Changes in American Jewish Life
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C.J.F.W.F. Assembly Discusses Basic Changes in American Jewish Life

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The need to relate communal services more closely to changing cultural, economic and human needs–both at home and overseas–was underscored here today by two distinguished Jewish community leaders at the opening of the 33rd General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds.

Focusing on the Assembly theme–the relevance of federations to the prime issues of our time–Hyman Safran of Detroit and Irving Kane of Cleveland called upon more than 1,000 delegates to re-examine the quality, impact and future direction of these services in terms of the fundamental purposes federations wish to serve.

Mr. Safran, who is president of the Jewish Welfare Federation of Detroit, delivered the Keynote address at the opening general session. His presentation dealt with socioeconomic changes that are affecting federation services and priorities in the United States and Canada.

Mr. Kane, a past CJFWF president and chairman of its Overseas Services Committee, spoke on Overseas Needs and American Responsibilities–presenting a detailed report on the findings and recommendations of the CJFWF Overseas Delegation which recently completed on-the-spot studies of health and welfare programs in Europe and Israel.

Mr. Kane noted that American and world Jewry is faced with sharply increased philanthropic responsibilities which must be met in order to overcome problems created by: Continued and anticipated large-scale immigration to Israel; a massive backlog of unabsorbed and deprived immigrants now residing in Israel and France; and the mounting educational needs of disadvantaged Israeli children coming from Asian and African countries.

Because the future flow of immigrants is unpredictable, and may increase or decrease substantially, Mr. Kane asserted that Jewish communities ought to prepare for various alternatives. He therefore recommended that overseas agencies together with federations “prepare for not just a year ahead, but for a decade ahead–for basic changes in priorities and programs in American Jewish aid.”

While Israel has housed and provided employment for most of the 1, 200,000 immigrants who have come into the country since 1948, Mr. Kane pointed out that 200,000 still remain to be integrated into the economy. These people are on relief, or work relief, and represent a vast and critical welfare problem, he added.


The CJFWF delegation, Mr. Kane said, was particularly concerned about the “unabsorbed” 10 percent of Israel’s population, and it has recommended that the Council provide American technical assistance and expert personnel to help obtain necessary data on the specific needs of these people. Much of this information is currently lacking, and Israel cannot develop effective programs to get these individuals into productive and self-sufficient roles until such information is available, he said.

Turning to the problem of education, Mr. Kane reported that Israel desperately seeks to close a dangerous cultural gap between children of European origin and the disadvantaged youngsters from Asian and African countries. More than half of all children now in Israel’s elementary schools come from these disadvantaged families, and seldom continue their education, since a system of free higher education does not exist in the country, he pointed out.

Since the massive immigration and absorption programs financed by Jewish philanthropy must continue to meet critical and mounting needs, increased fund-raising throughout the world will be required during the forthcoming year, he stressed. To do this, “we have to get off the fund-raising plateaus that too many of our cities are on to rid ourselves of the crisis of normality that has seized us,” he said.

In his report on the delegation’s observations in Europe, Mr. Kane lauded the activities of the European Jewish communities, and noted that they now look forward to an increasing sense of solidarity among themselves and with Jewish communities throughout the world. Last year, these Jews raised a half-million dollars to assist Jewish refugees in France.

Mr. Kane’s observations came from a series of meetings with representatives of the Standing Conference of European Jewish Community Services, which now comprises a network of Jewish community organizations in 14 countries. The member groups, Mr. Kane said, have requested Council assistance in undertaking fund-raising studies, and in training professional staffs to strengthen their services.

The French community faces special problems arising from the 200, 000 Jewish refugees who have come to France during the past three years. These North African Jews, Mr. Kane reported, live in squalor comparable to the Mellahs from which they came. The French Jews, he pointed out, cannot carry this burden alone. They regard the need for housing, relief, Jewish education, community centers and synagogues as responsibilities to be shared by Jews throughout the world.


In the keynote address presented earlier in the day, Hyman Safran assessed major social and cultural changes that are influencing federation programs here at home. Noting that Jewish communal service has been research-oriented and fact-conscious for many years, Mr. Safran declared that many significant findings have not been implemented by federations–or utilized to full advantage by the Jewish community. “We must now begin formulating some significant federation responses to the changes which have been called to our attention through such studies,” he said.

Selecting from among several well-known demographic facts, Mr. Safran commented on the high proportion of young Jewish college graduates. He asserted that intellectual attainment and preoccupation have little to do with emotional commitment, and expressed the view that the Jewish community need not be concerned about their identification and commitment–if the community will offer them the opportunity for development and participation.

He further declared that there is no established assurance that more Jewish education today will mean more and better identified Jews tomorrow. In this context, he called for a fuller evaluation of the content of this education, its results and achievements, and the impact it has on its pupils in terms of their later commitments to the ideals of organized Jewish communal life.

Louis Stern, CJFWF president, addressing the National Committee on Leadership Development, amplified the keynote address–focusing on major issues which confront the Jews of America.


At a working session on Endowment Funds for intermediate and smaller communities, participants revealed that endowment programs are currently receiving priority attention in these communities. Two intermediate-sized cities, Buffalo and Cincinnati, now have assets of over $1,000,000, it was reported–with a total of 27 cities in this category now participating in such projects.

Other sessions included a special Southern States Region assessment on the impact of civil rights legislation on Jewish communal services in the South and a group dynamics meeting conducted by the CJFWF National Committee on Women’s Communal Services in an effort to train and develop campaign workers through deeper insights into the motivation of giving.

In sessions concluded today, the Large City Budgeting Conference, composed of representatives of the 23 largest Jewish welfare funds, conducted reviews of the 1965 programs and budgets of nine national and overseas Jewish agencies.

Chairman of the opening general session today was Dr. Max W. Bay, president of the Jewish Federation-Council of Los Angeles. Dr. Bay cited winners of this year’s community interpretation contest and paid special tribute to three community organizations now celebrating anniversary years. These include; the Jewish Service Agency of Memphis for 100 years of service; the Jewish Welfare Federation of Des Moines, now 50 years old, and the United Jewish Appeal of New York–on the occasion of its 25th anniversary.

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