PARIS (Nov. 1)
The President of the Fonds Social Juif Unifie (FSJU) – the central French-Jewish welfare organization – said here tonight that too much French money goes to Israel and, as a consequence the local Jewish community is reduced to “a distress budget.” The President, Guy de Rothschild, head of the famous Jewish banking family, warned that unless the current distribution of United Jewish Appeal funds, two-thirds to Israel and one-third for local needs, is changed “we might have to reconsider the continued existence of a joint fund-raising campaign.” Rothschild was addressing the FSJU General Assembly which later approved a new constitution providing for its democratization and rejuvenation.
The French Jewish leader said that French Jewry which had integrated more than 250,000 Jews since the end of the war, doubling its size, is now forced to close down homes for the aged, youth hostels, schools and social and cultural facilities for lack of money. He said that he is due to meet next week with Jewish Agency Chairman Louis Pincus and will raise this issue with him. “I am sure that Mr. Pincus will understand our problem but, should this not be the case we shall be forced to reconsider the entire principle of a joint UJA.” Rothschild said.
DELEGATES EXPRESS DISAGREEMENT
A number of delegates expressed their disagreement. Michel Topiol, UJA national president for France, said that “first priority must be given to Israel’s needs.” Topiol, who is also president of the Jewish Agency in France, added “The heart of every Jew is in Israel and Israel’s needs are our needs.”
Another delegate, Salomon Friederich, Secretary General of the France-Israel Alliance, said that the solution to the problem is not to reduce Israel’s share but to increase the overall amount of money raised by the UJA in France. It is understood, however, that most members of the FSJU National Committee share their President’s attitude and have empowered him to raise this issue with Pincus. The two are due to meet in Paris next week.
The delegates approved the organization’s new statutes thus turning the FSJU into an organization with grass roots which aims at obtaining the approval and support of the Jewish masses in France. FSJU spokesmen explained that the change is necessary because of profound changes in France during the last 20 years, including a doubling of the Jewish population which has affected that community’s outlook on social aspirations. The FSJU controls France’s social institutions and pays to a large extent for Jewish day schools, cultural institutions and cultural affairs. It was established 23 years ago.