MONTREAL (Nov. 14)
The 34th General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds closed its five-day session here today with the adoption of a series of resolutions on Jewish communal services, the needs of overseas Jewish communities, fund-raising, leadership development, immigration to the United States, and the situation of the Jews in the Soviet Union. Lewis H. Weinstein, of Boston, was elected CJFWF president, succeeding Louis Stern, of Newark.
Pointing out that rapidly changing conditions, including the changes in the Jewish communities, advances in the social sciences, extension of governmental aid programs and revision of nonsectarian services, reinforced the necessity of continuing reexamination and reevaluation of Jewish communal programs, the General Assembly stated in its resolution on communal services:
“The new governmental programs do not decrease the need for voluntary programs and efforts. Rather, the joint and complementary resources of governmental and voluntary agencies offer increased opportunities to achieve basic humanitarian goals to which our Jewish communities are profoundly committed.”
The Assembly stressed in its resolution on community services that, precisely because the Jewish agencies can help identify the needs which require general community support and which should most appropriately have general auspices, the resources of Jewish agencies can be fully devoted to particularly Jewish goals and purposes. The resolution recommended that Jewish agencies, often paralleling other sectarian agencies, should:
SPECIFIC TASKS OF JEWISH COMMUNAL SERVICES IDENTIFIED
1) Meet those needs of the poor that are ineligible or inappropriate for government assistance; 2) meet the special Jewish needs of the Jewish community to advance education, culture, inter group relations and related requirements; 3) enlarge the Jewish contribution to advance the goals and character of our pluralistic American and Canadian societies, and to advance the voluntarism fundamental to our democracy; 4) conduct essential research into the causes and cures of individual and social problems and into the changing nature of the Jewish communities in the United States; 5) meet welfare and health needs among all economic levels of the community — the mental, physical, emotional, vocational problems which are not respective of income, and which affect children, families and the aged in all economic groups.
The resolution pointed out that the central Jewish community organizations give expression to American Jewry’s concern for the well-being of the individual Jew and for the strengthening of the community as a whole. “To this end, it stated, “our federations and welfare funds support a vast network of essential services — our programs for children and the aged, our family welfare agencies, our medical services, Jewish educational systems, community relations programs, cultural services and Jewish community centers, vocational agencies, national service agencies and others.”
U. S. IMMIGRATION REFORM LAUDED; USSR RAPPED FOR ‘CULTURAL GENOCIDE’
With regard to Jewish immigration into the United States, the General Assembly commended the United States Congress and the Administration for “enactment of the long-sought legislation, revising the immigration laws of the United States to eliminate the national origins quota system.” The Assembly recommended that the Jewish community and national agencies in the United States “make the most of the new opportunities to resettle the additional immigrants who will be able to come to the United States, by continuing and extending their reception and assistance programs.”
The General Assembly, in its resolution on the fate of Soviet Jewry, called on Soviet authorities to end the deprivations imposed on the Jews of their country. “Despite indications of concern by the Soviet Government about anti-Semitism, and some token concessions, the basic pattern of discriminations remains, namely, the denial of the rights which are available to other religious and nationality groups in the Soviet Union,” the resolution stated.
“We appeal to our governments to do everything possible, through the United Nations and other appropriate channels, beyond the actions already taken, to halt this religious and cultural genocide,” the resolution added. “We call upon all people of good will to make known their concern to the Soviet Union. We commend our Jewish national and community organizations for their cooperative actions, and urge their continued and strengthened collaboration for these vital purposes.”
In a resolution on overseas needs, the Assembly emphasized that urgency of needs in Israel and other Jewish communities abroad will continue in 1966 and beyond. Many more people press for resettlement, the resolution noted. Many who are already resettled are still burdened with social, medical and educational problems that require massive and skilled help. The Assembly recommended that the federations and welfare funds should give their attention in 1966 to the following:
ASSEMBLY VIEWS 1966 OVERSEAS NEEDS; URGES PRIORITIES, COORDINATION
1) Effective methods of replacing the funds lost by the Joint Distribution Committee and United Hias Service in 1965, and by the Jewish Agency for Israel in Jerusalem in 1966, because of the termination of West German reparations; 2) analysis of the relationships of philanthropically supported programs and those financed by Israel Government funds, other governmental and inter-governmental funds, and among the several voluntary agencies themselves; 3) analysis of all sources of income for all of these programs assisted by American Jewish philanthropy; 4) examination of priorities in the programs of assisted welfare, health and related programs; 5) coordinated planning and financing of Israeli institutions of higher education, in view of the growing proliferation of appeals for these purposes, as well as rationalization of their support in the light of dual financing by community welfare fund grants directly to these institutions and allocations by the Jewish Agency for Israel, Inc., also from community funds; and 6) extension of American technical assistance services overseas; such services have been gratifying and constructive in Israel and Europe.
Beyond assisting in the foregoing purposes, the General Assembly recommended that the CJFWF should continue to build closer relations with lay leaders and professional staff in overseas countries, for the mutual exchange of experience to strengthen community organization, financing and services.
With regard to fund-raising, the Assembly stressed that gains have been made in the 1965 Jewish federated fund-raising campaigns, and that this has been a step forward in moving up from the national plateau of recent years. “Yet,” the resolution stressed, “there remain important disparities among communities in the levels of their fund-raising achievements, the extend of their gains, and in the scope of their planning for continuous improvement.” The resolution recommended that priority attention be given by each community to:
1) An intensive analysis of each of the community’s campaign procedures, designed to bring into focus those areas which merit special attention; and 2) special efforts to close the gap between the cities with the highest levels of gifts, which are raising their standards further, and other cities whose levels are considerably lower.
LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT STRESSED; IMPACT OF MEDICARE EXAMINED
The Assembly also adopted resolutions urging the fostering of leadership development, and suggesting measures for meeting the shortages of professional personnel in Jewish institutions. The parley commended the Canadian Jewish community which, through unified efforts, has succeeded in interesting governments at all levels in progressive legislation and its implementation.
In a resolution on civil rights, the Assembly reaffirmed the principle that, “as Jews and Jewish groups, in keeping with the ethics of our faith and traditions, and in cooperation with others, we have a special responsibility to do all within our power to help achieve the purposes of the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act and all other measures to eliminate injustice.”
At an earlier session, the impact of Medicare on the financing and services of Jewish hospitals, homes for the aged and other institutions was discussed by the Assembly at a meeting where LeRoy E. Hoffberger, of Baltimore, presided.
Dr. Morris Hinenburg of New York, who recently made a survey of hospital administrators around the country on the implications of Medicare, gave a lengthy report on the results of his study. He said that the Jewish community federations would have to establish and maintain study programs in various health services to measure the known and possible effects of the new Federal legislation and of the liberalization of Social Security benefits.
Dr. Benjamin B. Rosenberg, executive director of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston, called for a continuation of the close relationships between Jewish community federations and hospitals in areas of planning for the most effective role of the hospital as a community institution. He said federations must assume continuous leadership by involving Jewish hospitals and other beneficiary agencies with related services in joint planning. They must be responsible, he declared, for the financing of specific services required by the Jewish community, for which other sources of funds are not available.
Dr. Rosenberg emphasized that the Jewish federations must participate with beneficiary Jewish hospitals in planning for capital expansion and in determining priorities in the light of other communal needs. Studies such as the one currently being conducted by the CJFWF on mental impairment among the aging, and an earlier one on long-term illness, are having and will have direct impact on the planning, coordination and financing of certain essential phases in medical care, he said.
The annual allocations of federations to Jewish hospitals, he said, may represent only a small percentage of the total hospital budget. Although these allocations may not cover even the costs of those areas of service which have been designated for federation financing, he asserted “the role of the community agencies and of the Jewish federations in strengthening lines of Joint planning, and in grappling with the problem of adequate financing, is in most cases increasing rather than diminishing.”
COMMUNITIES URGED TOWARD GREATER RESPONSIBILITY FOR JEWISH EDUCATION
The urgency of basic, unmet requirements in Jewish education — particularly as related to the responsibility of community organizations — was discussed at another session of the Assembly. Stress was laid on the following questions:
a) The need to raise the quality and standards of educational programs, and to assure their relevance to contemporary American Jewish life, major social issues, and Jewish developments throughout the world; b) the crucial factors of teacher recruitment, training, competence and compensation which, in most cities, are possible only through cooperative community-wide programs related to these purposes; c) community coordination and planning, to apply to Jewish education the principles and gains achieved in other fields of communal responsibility; and d) clarification of responsibilities and principles of communal financing of Jewish education.
The Assembly recommended that the CJFWF board of directors should set up a special committee to study these problems. The Assembly also recommended that programs and directions should be formulated to help strengthen Jewish education standards and achievement, particularly with regard to Jewish identification and commitment, and to achieve the greatest impact which central Jewish community organizations can make.
AVRUNIN DISCUSSES EDUCATION; PROF. HESCHEL STRESSES JEWISH YOUTH
William Avrunin, executive director of the Jewish Welfare Federation of Detroit, addressing the delegates on the problems of Jewish education, said that the Jewish community federations and institutions of Jewish education must find a way to work together more effectively. He asserted that Jewish education has been deprived of the communal tools of planning and, perhaps more important, of communal leadership and communal goals. “This is essential in order to improve Jewish education,” he stated.
Mr. Avrunin urged that Jewish federations should attempt to provide a Jewish education program at post-elementary levels for graduates of all Jewish schools. “A communal college of Jewish studies, a communal Jewish high school and, if possible, a communal Junior high school should have a high priority for federation attention and support,” he suggested.
Other Jewish educational services, Mr. Avrunin asserted, should have a high-priority claim on community funds. Among them, he said, are teacher equipment and training, in-service training and other enrichment programs. “The communal school,” he said “has a priority for federation support, in fact, for deficit financing, because, like other federation agencies, it serves a communal objective; its administration and board are integral parts of the federation structure; it shares with the federation leadership the details of its hopes and plans to raise the level of Jewish education.”
Dr. Abraham J. Heschel, of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, addressing the dinner session of the Assembly, said it is crucial to make Jewish youngsters and young adults aware that Jewish values are relevant to their daily life. “Our young people,” he said, “are bewildered, perplexed about the meaning of their existence, about the meaning of being human, about the meaning of being a Jews. There is a waiting for meaning, but meaning is kept a well-guarded secret. It is we who fail them. Instead of conveying the intellectual splendor of the humanity of our heritage, we offer them infantile conceptions of Judaism, stereotypes, cliches.”
Dr. Heschel said he found it continuously reassuring to discover a rise of appreciation and fondness for being a Jew on the part of many young Jews. In the past seven or eight years he said, he has noted an “extraordinary change” in people’s attitudes toward Judaism. “People are not running away any more, but on the contrary indicate concern for spiritual orientation.”
He also pointed out that the attitude toward Judaism of the Christian community in the United States has undergone a radical change. “Instead of hostility to Judaism, there is a respect and an expectation, ” he said. “There is belief that we Jews have a message to offer. That we have some significant insights which other people ought to share.” This expectation, he stressed, presents a serious challenge to the Jewish community. The primary issue in Jewish-Christian relations, is “self-understanding and communication,” he added.
Dr. Heschel told the audience that it should stop worrying about Jewish survival. “The Jewish people will survive, ” he said. “I am not afraid of the future. I am concerned with the present. The critical question for each individual to ask is: Is my way of living compatible with the age-old Judaic heritage?” He called on Jewish federations to make common bond with religious leaders in creating an atmosphere of reverence for Jewish tradition.
BRONFMAN ADDRESSES DINNER SESSION; OTHER OFFICERS LISTED
Samuel Bronfman of Montreal, vice-president of the World Jewish Congress and president of its North American section, addressing the dinner session, said the growing involvement of local, state and federal governments in North America with welfare, health and other services does not portend the end of voluntary agencies engaged in this work.
Speaking on relations between Israel and Jewish communities outside of Israel, Mr. Bronfman said: “There are two Jewish worlds — one, the State of Israel; the other, the Diaspora. The Diaspora will always be with us, and we must vouchsafe a good life for the present and future generations. The Diaspora is as necessary to the well-being of Israel as Israel is to the spiritual and moral welfare of Jews elsewhere. These two simultaneous freedoms, as they have been called, must be carefully nutured if a continuing Jewish life is to persist.”
In addition to electing Mr. Weinstein as CJFWF president, the General Assembly reelected as vice-presidents Dr. Max W. Bay, Los Angeles; Mrs. Joseph Cohen, New Orleans; and Joseph L. Gidwitz, Chicago. Elected vice-presidents were Max M. Fisher, Detroit; Alan V. Lowenstein, New York; Edwin Rosenberg, New York; Cecil Usher, Montreal; and Judge Nochem S. Winnet, Philadelphia, Carlos L. Israels, of New York, was elected treasurer; and Louis J. Fox, of Baltimore, succeeds Mr. Weinstein as secretary.
At the dinner session, the 1965 William J. Schroder Memorial Awards were presented to Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital and to the Women’s Division of the Milwaukee Jewish Welfare Fund. The awards recognize superior initiative and achievement by voluntary health and welfare agencies under Jewish auspices in the United States and Canada.