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Jewish Community Centers in U.S. Reported Having 700,000 Members

Membership in Jewish Community Centers and YM-YWHAs throughout the U.S. has soared to 700,000, a new high which represents close to a 30 percent growht since 1953, the National Jewish Welfare Board, national association of YM-YWHAs and Jewish Community Centers, reported today.

Activities in JCCs and YM-YWHAs attracted the participation of 27,685,000 people in aggregate, over a million more than participated the previous year. Center and Y budgets increased by 6.5 percent, or $1,900,000, for a record high of $30,600,000. Since 1948, gross expenditures have tripled, the JWB report said.

These statistics are included in the JWB Year Book’s lead article by Emanuel Berlatsky, director of JWB’s Community Services. Other key facts reported by Mr. Berlatsky are:

1. Jewish Community Centers and YM-YWHAs emphasized their role as agencies serving the Jewish needs of communities and increasingly sought to develop an indigenous American Jewish culture in such activities as fine arts, drama, dancing and literature.

2. Civil rights continued to be a part of the program and interest of JCCs and Ys. Furthermore, Centers participated in such matters of current Jewish concern as the wellbeing of Soviet Jewry and the modification of United States immigration laws. Centers also became involved in many aspects of the Government’s war on poverty.

3. An increasing number of Centers assumed responsibility for serving Jewish personnel in the Armed Forces and their dependents.

4. In the face of a growing membership, increased participation in activities and programs, rising expenditures, and added responsibilities, the shortage of skilled professional personnel grew even more critical. The number of unfilled positions increased from 175 to 204. Most critical was the growing difficulty in filling supervisory and executive positions.

5. Income increased at the same rate as expenditure. Of the total, 61,2 percent came from membership dues and activity and service fees, and 38,8 percent came from central fund-raising bodies. Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds allocated 23.5 percent, an increase over the previous year.

6. Resident camps increased their bed capacity by about 8 percent, but 75 percent of the camps had waiting lists of children who could not be served. Day camps increased their capacity by about 8 percent; this was done by expanding facilities and in some instances, developing new camps.

Mr. Berlatsky based his report on annual reports received from Jewish Community Centers and YM-YWHAs and supplementary material compiled and analyzed statistically by Samuel Asofsky, Consultant, JWB’s Research and Data Services.

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