C.J.F.W.F. Assembly to Discuss Obligations of American Jewry Today
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C.J.F.W.F. Assembly to Discuss Obligations of American Jewry Today

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The 35th General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds opened here today preceded by sessions of the Large Cities Budgeting Conference at which leaders of the 23 largest welfare funds, comprising the LCBC, reviewed the budgets of a number of national Jewish agencies jointly with representatives of those agencies.

The Assembly, which will discuss developments in Jewish life in the United States and Canada — and which is being attended by more than 1,000 top Jewish communal leaders from those two countries — will hear tomorrow major addresses on Jewish needs and on the responsibilities of American Jewry to meet those needs, on the domestic front, in Israel and in other overseas countries.

A keynote address, which will serve as the platform for 1967 fund-raising campaigns, will be delivered tomorrow by Irving Blum of Baltimore, chairman of the CJFWF Campaign Services Committee. Max M. Fisher, general chairman of the United Jewish Appeal, and Irving Kane, chairman of the CJFWF Overseas Committee, will speak on the impact of changes in immigration, the Israel economy, dependency aid, and what American and Canadian Jewry is expected to do. (See today’s JTA supplementary Community News Reporter for a detailed outline of the wide scope of other topics to be considered during the Assembly.)


A report on means by which Jewish federations can help to assure the highest quality in Jewish education in their communities was presented today by a special CJFWF committee established to study the question of what federations could do to strengthen Jewish education in this country.

The committee, headed by Mendel L. Berman of Detroit, reported it had been considering the following problems: 1. what the priorities should be for Federation action in Jewish education; 2. how communal funds could be used most effectively to have the greatest impact; 3. what influence federations, in their planning function, should exert in determining priorities and resources for financing; and 4. how federations should relate to Bureaus of Jewish Education, congregations, schools, national organizations and universities.

The report said that while the committee recognized a wide variety of unmet needs and requirements for strengthening Jewish education, the focus initially was on those segments of the need which particularly require central community planning and financing, and where federations can perform the most meaningful service. Therefore, the first two goals selected by the committee for national and community attention, without precluding others, were: 1. Progress toward upgrading recruitment, training and utilization; and 2. To upgrade post-elementary education, as indispensable for a meaningful Jewish education.

In the field of federation planning responsibility, the committee noted that planning for Jewish education has lagged behind community planning for other fields in a number of cities. The committee recommended that federation planning for education should be similar in many respects — though not in all — to its planning function in the health and welfare fields.

“The coordination of health and welfare programs contrasts in a number of cities with the fragmentation of Jewish education,” the committee emphasized in its report. “The clarity of community functions in these other fields contrasts with the cloudiness in Jewish education.” The committee pointed out that “federation planning for Jewish education requires the dedication, commitment and involvement of top community leaders to assure the essential progress.”

With regard to recruitment and training of teachers for Jewish schools, the committee noted that “the basic facts are clear. There are too few cities that have any facilities at all for Jewish teacher training. There are too few graduates of teachers colleges and too few of the graduates remain in Jewish teaching. Specifically, 800 teachers are needed annually for weekday schools alone.”

“There are 11 accredited Hebrew teacher training schools in seven cities, and 21 other colleges of Jewish studies and Midrashat (partial colleges),” the committee reported. On the average, all of the accredited schools together graduate 130 teachers a year, of whom only about half enter the teaching profession. After four or five years, that has been reduced to one-fourth of the graduates, the committee said.

On the basis of past experience, the committee visualized that the deficit in teachers would be made up from the following sources:

1. From non-accredited teacher training schools; 2. Rabbis ordained in Orthodox seminaries may enter the field, in the main to do work in day schools; 3. From the Israeli Exchange Visitors Program of the American Association for Jewish Education; 4. Israeli students and visitors; and 5. Others from miscellaneous sources.


A number of recommendations were made by the committee which will come up for discussion at the General Assembly tomorrow and Friday. Among the recommendations is one emphasizing that the Jewish federations have a key role in the provision by the communities of the necessary financing.

(In data prepared for the committee’s consideration, it was indicated that seven major cities in 1964 made allocations to Jewish colleges and teacher training programs which amounted to a median grant of $287 per student, against a median tuition fee of $54 per student.)

“Within the total federation resources available for Jewish education, changes in allocations may be advisable in some cities to give greater priority to teacher training and post-elementary education. In this re-examination, there should also be exploration of whether parents can pay a larger part of the tuition costs of elementary education,” the report recommended.

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