PITTSBURGH (Nov. 14)
Louis A. Pincus, chairman of the Jewish Agency, urged American Jewry last night to “hold the line” to prevent economic conditions in Israel “from getting worse.” Pincus delivered the Herbert J. Abeles Lecture at the 40th General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds (CJF) attended by 1,500 delegates representing the Jewish community leadership of the United States and Canada. The Assembly, which began last Wednesday night, adjourned today.
Pincus discussed in detail the many economic problems facing Israel which, he warned, could affect the continuity of immigration. At one point he said the problems could well create a demand for a halt in immigration. However, Pincus observed, in partnership with American Jewry, Israel can and will assure that every new settler will be welcomed, especially Soviet Jews who will have “an unending welcome.” Pincus said that 50,000 new immigrants will have to be integrated into Israel this year.
He attributed Israel’s economic problems to the heavy burden of defense which imposes a heavy tax burden on Israelis. “Our balance of payments is in terrible shape.” he said. He noted that there are 250,000 Jews in Israel who live on a bare poverty basis. He said the Jewish Agency must secure $625 million to provide for the mounting social and humanitarian needs.
On the positive side, Pincus noted Israel’s “economic excellence,” the elimination of unemployment, growing tourism and an increasing gross national product. There is nevertheless a massive gap, he said, “and we cannot postpone massive action to deal with the tensions.” He called the housing situation the most serious. But “by holding the line, American Jewry can and must assist in solving these problems,” he said.
INCREASED ACTIVITY OF YOUTH
CJF leaders said American Jewry must raise a minimum of $550 million in 1972 to provide for all local, national and overseas Jewish needs. A special committee was established to carry out proposed guidelines for the support of Jewish day schools. Increased support for day schools through the federations was anticipated in the coming year. Resolutions adopted by the CJF called for increased US aid to Israel and urged the sale of more planes to Israel to maintain the military balance. The CJF called on the Arab governments to “end the persecution of Jews, restore their basic rights and permit their free emigration.”
A similar resolution was adopted calling for religious, cultural and emigration rights for Soviet Jews. On the domestic scene the CJF urged increased participation of Jewish students, youth and faculty members in community affairs. It proposed making available Jewish know-how to ease the problems of minority groups and the crises in the cities. It called for welfare reform in the US, an increase in social security payments, the maintenance of an expanded food stamp program and other measures to aid the needy.
At an earlier session, the CJF Assembly passed a resolution on Jewish identity which will provide more than $1.35 million for new programs. Climaxing two years’ of study and work of the CJF Task Force on Jewish Identity, the resolution called for the establishment of a program set up as an instrument for creating innovative experiments and projects which develop the quality of Jewish life in each community. The program will be directed by the 40-member Board of Trustees.
A youth caucus composed of 150 students and young adults from around the country, a number of whom are official delegates to the Assembly, supported the Task Force proposals as the minimum necessary for such a program, but urged that young people be given a greater role in the decision-making process affecting implementation of the proposals. The youth caucus also called for more adequate funding and greater assurances that local federations will continue to provide increasing support for local identity projects.
The caucus expressed hope that individuals and foundations would help fund the program. Other resolutions passed at the Assembly included one to recruit young men and women of exceptional ability and Jewish commitment for professional leadership and careers in Jewish federations. Another resolution passed called upon the Voice of America to broadcast in Yiddish to the Soviet Union.