GENEVA (Jul. 16)
The World Conference of Jewish Organizations (COJO) decided today to set up a foundation to foster and develop Jewish education throughout the world. The foundation will operate on a basic budget of $600,000 per year supplied by participating agencies and will also ask host countries to contribute additional funds. The foundation’s main tasks, as defined by Jewish Agency chairman Louis A. Pincus, will be to train teachers, produce adequate text books and establish a central pedagogic institute in Jerusalem.
Pincus, who spoke at the concluding session of the two-day conference, gave France, “a country with one of the saddest situations in this field,” as an example of what such a foundation could do. He said that “With a little help from COJO. France could find within itself the necessary funds to the tune of $200-300,000 per year needed for Jewish education.” The Jewish Agency chairman said that this money can be found in France without any cuts in the funds raised either for French UJA or for Israel.
Pincus said that the condition of Jewish education was “difficult” in many other areas. He spe cifically mentioned Iran and said that even in the United States “the situation was far from perfect.” He said that the three participating agencies–the World Zionist Organization, the Joint Distribution Committee and the State of Israel supply $200,000 a year each for two three years, enabling the foundation to have after this period an annual income of from $400-500,000 a year. The foundation will be administered, said Pincus by a small body sitting in Jerusalem.
RESURGENCE OF COMMITMENT AMONG U.S. JEWS
The conference heard an optimistic report of a “surprising resurgence of interest, identity and commitment among American Jews, including young Jews of college age.” Prof. Leonard Fein of Brandeis University cited the growth of departments and chairs of Judaic studies, the “flourishing” of Jewish journalism at university level, the study of Hebrew and Yiddish by unprecedented numbers of Jewish people as evidence that “the university campus in the U. S. can no longer be described as a ‘disaster’ area for Jewish life.”
Prof. Ady Steg, president of the Representative Council of French Jews (CRIF), said the situation of Jewish education in his country “was not as dramatic as some described it.” Speaking in Yiddish, Prof. Steg said that more and more young Jews examine world and sociological problems in the light of their “Jewishness” which is playing an increasingly important role in everyday life.
Hebrew University President Avraham Harman said that “Israel can play a role as a model and resource in the creation of indigenous Jewish leadership and cultural life outside Israel.” He “totally rejected” the view that Jewish survival depended on Jewish catastrophe as a binding force.
Prof. Nadav Safran of Harvard University’s Department of Government, criticized Israel for not doing enough to encourage Egypt’s “liberal forces that are willing to come to terms with the Jewish state.” He called for the creation of an Israeli “strategy of peace” to make a concerted effort to help Egypt’s liberal elements prevail against conservative and radical tendencies in that country. He said “when it comes to peace, Israel sits back and hopes liberals will prevail but much more must be done if that element in Egypt is to succeed in reversing the course of Egyptian history over the past 25 years.”
PINCUS ELECTED COJO CHAIRMAN
Pincus, chairman of the Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization Executives, was unanimously elected chairman of COJO at the close of the plenary meeting. Dr. Joachim Prinz of the World Jewish Congress, and David Blumberg, international president of B’nai B’rith were elected co-chairman of COJO. The vice-chairmen are: Sir Samuel Fisher, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews; Sol Kanee, president of the Canadian Jewish Congress; and Sion Cohen Imach of the DAIA in Argentina. Yehuda Hellman was re-elected Secretary General of COJO.
In addition to these officers, Mrs. Charlotte Jacobson, chairman of the WZO-American Section. Dr. William A. Wexler of B’nai B’rith and Tibor Rosenbaum of the World Jewish Congress were elected members of the presidium of COJO.