Rabbi Sets Six Month Deadline for the Establishment of National Torah Fund

Rabbi Joseph Karasick, president of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, set today a six month deadline for the establishment of a “national Torah fund” to aid financially ailing Hebrew day schools. He told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the step would have to be taken within six months unless the Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds assumed greater responsibility for Jewish education. Rabbi Karasick said the Orthodox, community would not be asked to stop supporting the Federation. He estimated however that if part of the monies they now contribute were diverted to a Torah fund, the Federation might find its income reduced by 25 percent. Rabbi Karasick said the establishment of a separate Torah fund would be undertaken reluctantly because the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations prefers a “total community” effort. But, he said, the pressure is increasing and “we have come to the point where we may have to act.”

Rabbi Karasick said that the approximately 400 Orthodox Jewish day schools with a combined student body of 80,000 operated on an aggregate annual budget of $60-80 million. He said they were presently short of their budgetary needs by about $30 million. Another spokesman for the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations told the JTA today that the Orthodox community appreciated essentially what the Federation does for hospitals, day care centers and other community services but it does not do enough for Jewish education. Rabbi Karasick observed that Federation leaders all over the country have spoken in opposition to State or Federal aid for parochial schools. He said that a separate Torah fund was inevitable if the various measures pending in State legislatures for aid to religious schools do not materialize and the Federation remains adamant. Asked whether enactment of some of the pending legislation would alter plans to establish a Torah fund for Jewish education, Rabbi Karasick said that in that event the plans would be “re-evaluated” though not necessarily abandoned unless the Federation acted.

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