TORONTO (Nov. 13)
The 1800 delegates from the United States and Canada attending the five-day 41st General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds which ended yesterday were preoccupied with planning, coordinating and defining of future priorities and programs for the 800 communities served by the CJF.
Areas of concern were evaluated against the backdrop of the U.S. Presidential elections, the festering growth of racial tensions, the impact of busing and quotas, the needs of the Jewish poor, the expanding women’s liberation movement, the increasing demands placed on Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds, the ongoing thrust for more and better Jewish education and the intensified involvement of young people in Jewish community affairs.
Delegates were told that at least $125 million is needed in 1973 for the aged, the sick and poor, for education and culture, for youth services, for economic and vocational needs and for families and children. In addition, requirements for immigration and absorption in Israel, housing, health, welfare, secondary and higher education, youth care and agricultural settlements total $785 million of which $505 million has to be raised in North America. The total, therefore, for both domestic and overseas needs, it was reported, is a minimum of $630 million for 1973. This is $240 million more than the record sum of $390 million the Federations and Welfare Funds are raising this year.
The delegates attending the Assembly–most of them had attended previous Assembly conventions, but a sizeable group, including some 200 youth delegates, had never attended an Assembly before– were told in the course of 50 workshops, plenary sessions and forums that each Federation must assess the full implications of these needs and then seek that goal which will help achieve the greatest response. They were told they should not be limited by the levels of previous achievements.
Sidney Z. Vincent, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland and coordinator of the 1969 International Conference on Human Needs in Israel, underscored this approach when he told several hundred delegates attending a forum dealing with the impact of contemporary issues “that priorities must be reordered in terms of continuing Jewish community needs, The mood of the country shows that our (Federations) base will continue to be broadened and not, as some seem to think, be merely a fund-raising mechanism.” As evidence, Vincent cited such problems as changing neighborhoods, civil rights, student needs and women’s liberation demands within the Jewish community.
FULL EQUALITY FOR WOMEN URGED
Jacqueline Levine of Essex County, N.J., a CJF official, focused on the need to re-evaluate and step up the role of women in Jewish Federations. Addressing a plenary session on “The Changing Role of Women in the Jewish Community,” she declared that it is time for women “to insist that they be allowed to participate completely in Jewish community life.”
Noting that women “are a vital human resource.” Ms. Levine said that although more women are serving on boards of directors and as officers of Federations, and while the Jewish community structure is more open than it was a few years ago, “real changes haven’t happened yet.” She commended, however, the CJF for taking an initial step in assessing the role of women in Federations by issuing a “most searchingly detailed” questionnaire to directors and lay leaders.
“This is the very first time that an evaluation has been requested of the organized Jewish community of its utilization of the talents of its women,” Ms. Levine said. Thirty cities have responded to the questionnaire so far, she reported. Three of the top 10 cities reported that 12.9% of the combined total of the board of directors in 1972 ware women, compared with 11.4% in 1965. In the middle population group, she continued, the respective women serving were 14.8% in 1972, 12.5% in 1965; and in smaller communities 21.8% in 1972 and 16.5% in 1965. In all cases, the actual number of women increased by 50% over the seven-year span, Ms. Levine related.
The number of women serving on all Federation committees and serving as officers shows a greater increase, according to her. In 1972, the large cities reported that 16.2%, the intermediate cities 22.1% and the small cities that 28.4% were women. In 1965, the percentages were 10.2%, 20.3% and 19.5%.
Bertram H. Gold, executive vice-president of the American Jewish Committee, discussing the patterns of voting in the Presidential election and the implications for Jewish community relations, stated that there was “an inordinate amount of attention focussed on the Jewish vote,” more so than in previous national elections. Issues concerning Jews were prominent during the election campaign, thus giving the Jews a greater visibility as an electoral group, if not a bloc.
Gold observed that the Jewish vote was “anomalous,” explaining that while President Nixon garnered 61 percent of the national vote, 61 percent of the Jews voted for Sen. George McGovern. While the national vote indicated a “centrist trend, a middle-of-the-road approach to change,” the Jewish vote “indicated, if anything, that Jews now appear to be more liberal than the rest of the country.
He added that the impression might have been created that Jews are less concerned with America because of reports that “some signals were being sent out by Israeli leaders.” the attention given by Jews on such issues as Israel’s defense and security needs and the campaign against the head tax imposed by the Soviet Union on educated Jews seeking to emigrate. In addition, “with large amounts of money going into the election campaign for both parties, this might give the extreme right-wing grist for their mills that Jews control both parties.”
A number of workshops dealt with the role and future of the American-Jewish press. Participants generally agreed that the Jewish news media is healthy, vital and flourishing and an increasingly growing force in assuring awareness of Jewish developments throughout the world. It was generally agreed that the Jewish news media fulfills a vital role in providing detailed reports and incisive analyses of the day-to-day activities and struggles of Soviet Jewry, Jews in Arab lands, defense and security needs of Israel, Jewish life-styles, cultural, scientific and artistic developments, and ongoing and newly developing programs and projects in Jewish communities that are seldom dealt with, only peripherally in the daily news media.
The Jewish Association for Services for the Aged of New York, and the Allied Jewish Community Services of Montreal were the recipients of the 1972 William J. Shroder Awards at the CJF General Assembly in Toronto this weekend.