CLEVELAND (Nov. 15)
Plans were being made here today for mobilization of the American Jewish community to meet intensified demands for aid in Israel and other countries abroad, and for the strengthening of Jewish community programs at home, particularly in the field of education. These topics will be the major concern of the 36th annual General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds, which opens here tomorrow at the Sheraton-Cleveland Hotel.
More than 1,500 delegates and guests attending the Assembly will also devote much attention to the role of the Jewish agencies in regard to the programs for dealing with urgent national social problems, such as the crisis in the cities, the war on poverty and the broadening of educational opportunities. The Assembly is also expected to devote much attention to the civil rights struggle, and to take a strong stand on the question of separation of church and state in the area of education.
As in past years, most of the Assembly’s work will be done in workshop sessions, with the larger and smaller communities meeting separately to discuss the impact of issues on communities of like size, and how the community agencies can best deal with them. Major focus of the Assembly will be on the increased needs confronting the communities in 1968, after the greatest fund-raising year in American Jewish history.
Council officials noted today that the federations and welfare funds had raised some $100 million more in 1967 for domestic and overseas needs than in 1948 — the previous peak year. Reports to the Assembly will establish that overseas needs, particularly in Israel, will continue in 1968 with little abatement because the State of Israel must concentrate its resources on security. This situation was recognized in the earlier decision to continue the Israel Emergency Fund for the coming year. Reports to the Assembly will also show the extent to which new and changing needs and rising costs have made it necessary to continue increased support for domestic programs.
Workshop sessions will consider in detail the extent to which Government welfare and health programs have affected the programs maintained by the Jewish communities, but reports prepared for discussion in these sessions tend to show that the Government programs fill hitherto unmet needs, rather than to assume the responsibilities of voluntary agencies. In line with the trend of recent assemblies, this session was expected to deal in detail with the question of Jewish education and to urge on the federations and welfare funds an increased role in this area, and support of detailed measures to upgrade Jewish education.
Observers predicted that the Assembly, the largest and most representative meeting of Jewish community leadership, would adopt a strong position on a number of political issues, including a plea to the United States Government to support Israel in its efforts to reach peace agreements with the Arab states; a strong reaffirmation of belief in the principle of separation of the church and state; a strong position on the civil rights issue; and detailed criticism of the Government’s policies and measures in handling problems such as urban blight and the war on poverty. A special session of the Assembly will be devoted to the Jewish role in the human rights struggle.