GENEVA (Jul. 9)
The World Conference of Jewish Organizations (Cojo) was taken to task today for having done “nothing practical up to now” for Jewish education in the diaspora. It was warned that this was “the last occasion for Cojo to tackle this most vital problem in Jewish life today.” The castigation and the warning were voiced by Louis A. Pincus, chairman of the World Zionist Organization Executive in Jerusalem and co-chairman, with Dr. Joachim Prinz, of Cojo. Pincus delivered the keynote address at today’s session of Cojo’s annual plenary meeting at which Jewish education was the major item on the agenda.
The meeting opened Friday with a discussion on Soviet Jewry during which it was reported that between 80-100,000 Russian Jews presently have applications pending for exit visas to go to Israel. Ambassador Shabtai Rosenne, Israel’s representative to United Nations bodies in Geneva, and Israel’s envoy to Switzerland, Ambassador A. Levavi, attended the opening and brought greetings on behalf of the Israel Government. Dr. William A. Wexler, of Atlanta, Ga., chairman of Cojo, presided.
Pincus declared that “The time has come to stop talking of Jewish education and to start doing things.” He claimed “We have lost ten precious years in which Cojo has attended to neither the collective aspect of the problem of Jewish education in the diaspora nor to the specific problems in the various countries where Jews dwell.” If it fails to act, “it would virtually mean the end of Cojo,” Pincus said, adding however that he felt “the sense of urgency in this respect has now permeated the leaders of Cojo and its affiliates.”
SITUATION IN VARIOUS COUNTRIES DESCRIBED
Describing the position of Jewish education in various countries, Pincus said, “In South Africa, where the Jews have an educational system, this system is now on the verge of disintegration and there is no appreciation by the communal leaders as a group for the overriding importance of Jewish education.” He observed that “The quality of Jewish education in South Africa, though higher than in some other places, is not adequate to ensure Jewish continuity.”
Pincus said that in the United Kingdom, “The Zionist Federation schools have made a contribution to Jewish education, and so have some others, but there is still a long, long way before Zionist Federation schools and others can be deemed to be ensuring Jewish continuity.” In Argentina, the WZO leader said, “the system of Jewish education was faced with a financial collapse, and it was balled out by the World Zionist Organization. The crisis continues and the WZO and the American Joint Distribution Committee are trying to save the situation.”
Pincus stressed that “Cojo is not impinging on any body’s rights and not competing with anybody’s activities. But the Cojo Commission or Education can fulfill urgent talks which only this body can perform successfully,” he said Dr. Wexler also gave assurances that “Cojo is not trying to displace any of its affiliated organizations such as the World Jewish Congress or B’nai B’rith.” But, he added, “there is a need for a roof organization such as Cojo. Coordination in approaches to governments and other outside factors, and in the vital field of Jewish education in the diaspora, amply justifies its existence.”