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Ajcongress Charges Colp a Misrepresents Its Position on Day School Aid

The American Jewish Congress demanded today that the National Jewish Committee on Law and Public Affairs (COLPA) cease what it called a “campaign of misrepresentation” against the AJ Congress’ position on government aid to religious schools. COLPA president Julius Berman claimed, in a statement published in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s Daily News Bulletin yesterday, that the AJ Congress’ plan to file suits against Federal aid in six states was a “coup do grace to the day school movement.” Paul S. Berger, chairman of the AJCongress’ Commission on Law and Social Action, called the charge “indefensible and shocking.”

In a letter to Berman, released to the JTA today. Berger wrote, “Far from Intending a ‘coup de grace,’ the AJCongress is interested in meaningful cooperation to obtain effective financing. I suggest you consider the fact that the small sums that are the most the day schools could have expected from the government actually reduce the incentive from financing within the Jewish community. The fact that an institution gets government assistance can be, and frequently is, used as an excuse for denying it communal funds.”

Berger, a Washington attorney, said the COLPA charge would not deter the AJCongress from its “continuing efforts to secure support for day schools from the Jewish community” but neither would the AJCongress be “bulldozed” into changing its position against government aid. He said that by announcing that it would file suit with the American Civil Union in six states to halt parochial school aid under the Supreme Court’s decision of last week, the AJCongress was not delivering a “coup de grace” to the day schools. “You should know, and COLPA certainly does know,” he wrote, “that the AJCongress since 1966 has urged Federation support of the Jewish day school movement, that it has implemented that policy through an active educational program and has been recently deeply involved in meetings with the New York Federation in an effort to overcome its resistance to the financing of day schools.”

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