CLEVELAND (Nov. 19)
The 36th General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds, representing more than 200 Jewish communities, called on the United States Government today to “continue to work for policies which would bring Arabs and Israelis face-to-face at the peace table” for solution of the conflict in the Middle East. In a resolution unanimously adopted, the Assembly declared that “until peace is achieved, and to meet the new threat brought about by the rearming of the Arab states, it is crucial that Israel be enabled to maintain its capacity to uphold the peace and to deter further aggression, and we therefore urge the United States Government to continue to take such steps as will help make possible this essential determent.”
The resolution commended the Government’s position that the Middle East “cannot return to the intolerable conditions which provoked conflicts in the past,” and said that the “makeshift measures of the past must be replaced by a permanent peace.” It stressed that “it is only through peace that the welfare of all the peoples in the region can be advanced. Peace in the Middle East will be a significant step forward toward the realization of peace throughout the world.”
Louis J. Fox, of Baltimore, was re-elected president of the CJFWF; and Max M. Fisher, of Detroit, Alan V. Lowenstein of Newark, Edwin Rosenberg of New York, Cecil Usher of Montreal and Judge Nochem S. Winnet of Philadelphia were re-elected vice-presidents. Elected to first terms as vice-presidents were Morris Glasser of Chicago and Lawrence E. Irell of Los Angeles, Carlos E. Israels of New York was re-elected treasurer; and Mrs. Joseph Cohen, of New Orleans, secretary.
‘ENORMOUS’ SUMS SEEN NEEDED, ‘VIGOROUS ACTION’ REQUIRED
The Assembly called on the American Jewish community for maximum efforts to provide the enormous sums needed for humanitarian and other crucial needs in Israel and the increased vital local and national needs at home. A resolution adopted without dissent at a plenary session of the Assembly stressed that “the utmost aid is required for Israel’s human needs through contributions, and for other crucial needs through the sale of Israel Bonds, private investment and intergovernmental assistance.” The resolution pointed out that home needs required additional support and noted that “despite the expansion of governmental health and welfare programs, increased contributions are required for Jewish voluntary services.”
The resolution urged federations and welfare funds to take “the most vigorous action to raise the enormous sums required for Israel’s human needs in 1968” and recommended that this could best be done by getting contributors to make larger gifts to the Israel Emergency Fund while, at the same time, increasing their support to the regular fund for essential local, national and overseas needs. The resolution welcomed the action of the Israel authorities in urging all Israeli agencies to limit their fundraising efforts to their normal needs, and give priority and “complete and unlimited support” to the United Jewish Appeal’s Israel Emergency Fund.
A related resolution stressed the need for continued aid and for closer budgetary planning by the Jewish Agency for Israel, the Joint Distribution Committee and the United Israel Appeal. The resolution called for utmost cooperation with the agencies concerned with rescue operations for the Jews in certain Arab countries, and called on the United Nations to take all possible protective measures for the support and safety of these Jews. It expressed gratitude to the governments and the Jewish and non-Jewish agencies whose efforts had enabled many of these Jews to leave.
Another resolution took note of the 50th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. It appealed to the leaders of the Soviet Union to act upon Lenin’s promises of national self-determination and religious freedom for all groups. It urged that the continuing strangulation of Jewish religious, cultural and communal life in the Soviet Union be halted. The resolution also urged the Soviet Government to no longer impede the maintenance of synagogues, the training of rabbis, Jewish education and the reunion of families.
This measure noted that the Soviet regime had shown sensitivity to condemnation in the outside world of special discrimination against Soviet Jews. It urged that the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry, the Canadian Jewish Congress and local Jewish community agencies should intensify their protests against the treatment of the Jews in the Soviet Union.
The Assembly also adopted a resolution mourning the death of Charles H. Jordan, calling his demise “a grievous loss to Jews throughout the world and to all mankind.”
CIVIL RIGHTS, CHURCH-STATE PRINCIPLE, WAR ON POVERTY HIGHLIGHT DOMESTIC PROBLEMS
On the domestic scene, the Assembly adopted resolutions taking stands on two controversial areas-civil rights and separation of church and state. On the former, it reaffirmed its long-standing commitment to equal rights and equal opportunity for all, regardless of race, religion or national origin, and stressed the belief that “this goal can and must be achieved through peaceful democratic means.” It pointed out that “events of the past weeks in the courts and in the voting booths have demonstrated that historic progress can be made by these means.” The resolution affirmed that “while we condemn anti-Semitism whenever and from whatever source it appears, we will not permit resort to anti-Semitism by some Negro demagogues and organizations to deflect us from our commitment to the cause of justice and equality. Anti-Semitism, like terror and violence, breeds in ignorance, want and deprivation. We pledge to intensify our efforts to eliminate these conditions.”
Another resolution, expressing concern over current pressures to undermine traditional separation of church and state in the United States, reaffirmed support of this principle, described religious education as “a responsibility of voluntary organizations” and stressed the belief that Government aid to religiously controlled schools, “whether in the form of direct or indirect subsidies, violates this principle and would do a grave disservice to both religious and public education.”
The Assembly also took a strong position on the war on poverty, calling for action on the social problems involved “by a far greater attack, more comprehensive in scope, going to the roots of the problems.” It said that “this can be made possible by financing, especially by the Federal Government, far beyond anything heretofore provided.” The resolution on this subject called on the federations and welfare funds to “undertake the most earnest action either in cooperation with other groups or independently when appropriate, making full use of our special experience, knowledge and skills.” It urged cooperation with the National Community Relations Advisory Council and with local community relations groups which, it noted, were increasingly involved with issues of urban blight and poverty.
Another resolution urged federations to “take the initiative in planning and acting with the appropriate bodies, to stimulate the changes necessary to advance the quality and impact of Jewish education.” A workshop on involvement of college youth in Jewish communal responsibilities and services heard a plea today from Dr. Bernard Martin, chairman of the department of religion at Case-Western Reserve University. He appealed to the federations to provide funds for establishment of professorships of Jewish studies at American colleges and universities. He said that Jewish learning should be made part of the total educational learning experience, and that courses in Jewish history, theology, philosophy and literature would be meaningful and useful to students on the college level. Dr. Martin, who is Abba Hillel Silver Professor of Jewish Studies at Western Reserve, deplored the concentration of Jewish education efforts on the primary and secondary levels, and said that too much emphasis was being placed on the teaching of the Hebrew language. He said Jewish college students were not secularized, but should be given intense interest in religious thought, although the students were not yet ready to identify themselves with the synagogue.
One of the Assembly’s resolutions dealt with a problem that had been extensively discussed in the workshop sessions, calling for an augmented program to deal with the critical shortage of personnel for the national agencies and in the federations and welfare funds. The resolution detailed specific steps to be taken, and urged each federation to establish machinery to carry out comprehensive local training and recruitment programs.
ABRAM. LELYVELD, SCHARY. WHITNEY YOUNG PARTICIPATE IN MAJOR EVENTS
At an earlier session, the heads of the three American Jewish human rights agencies agreed that the Jews, as Jews and American citizens had a vital role and responsibility in the human rights revolution. and that equality of rights cannot be attained without equality of opportunity and elimination of what one of the three termed the “affluence gap.” Participating in the panel of reassessment of the Jewish role in the human rights revolution were Morris B. Abram, president of the American Jewish Committee; Rabbi Arthur J. Lelyveld, president of the American Jewish Congress; and Dore Schary, chairman of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith. The three agreed that Negro anti-Semitism was a serious factor, but warned that its manifestation must not deter Jews from active participation in the civil rights struggle and the war against poverty.
A noted liberal Negro leader told the Assembly last night that the American Jewish community had a special obligation in the area of civil rights, and must recognize that the Negro is its first line of defense. Delivering the annual Herbert R. Abeles Memorial Address, Whitney Young, Jr., executive director of the National Urban League, warned that if the Klan, White Citizens Councils, the John Birch Society and other bigot elements, including the whole new class of “affluent peasants” overcame the Negro, “you know who is next in line.” Mr. Young was introduced by Irving Kane, of Cleveland.
The newly-elected Mayor of Cleveland, Carl B. Stokes, first Negro to head the government of a major American city, made his first public appearance at the banquet since his election, and was accorded an ovation. He paid tribute to the Jewish role in the civil rights struggle, and called on the Jewish community to intensify its participation in the war against poverty.
Max M. Fisher, of Detroit, who was chairman of the function, told the assemblage that American Jews recognized that, since the Six-Day War, a new Israel had come into being a new American Jewish community had also come into being and, “while we are in a sense a new community, we are still a community dedicated to the great themes that have motivated us since the 1930’s.”