NEW ORLEANS (Nov. 7)
Jewish communal leaders from the United States and Canada began arriving here today for the 42nd General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds. By tomorrow, when the four-day Assembly begins, there will be close to 3000 communal leaders. Uppermost in the minds of all will be the crisis in the Middle East and its implications for North American Jewish communities in terms of responsibilities and commitments.
Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban and Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Simcha Dinitz will be among the Israeli leaders giving the assembled delegates–the largest ever to attend a General Assembly–first-hand reports on developments in the Mideast and on the mounting needs of the people of Israel. American leaders will report on American policy as it relates to Israel, the Arab states and to the energy crisis.
Raymond Epstein, CJF president, reported that the interest in this Assembly is phenomenal. “It is obvious from the reservations that continue to pour in that our leaders are looking to the Assembly for this crucial stock-taking and planning in the rapidly changing events of the Middle East, and for the basic underpinning of our communities upon whom the greatest responsibilities now fall.” Noting that the “challenges and trials of recent days are imprinted on each of us,” he asserted that “we are responding to it with the utmost commitment and generosity.” The CJF leader stated that to date, “our response in cash–over $185 million sent to the United Jewish Appeal against the initial $100 million goal, and continuing to leap every day–and our response in pledges, three, four and 10 times our 1973 gifts, are an inspiration.”
Speaking at the opening plenary session tomorrow evening Dinitz will cover the military and political situation in the Middle East. Max M, Fisher, chairman of the Jewish Agency Board of Governors and former CJF president, will review the role of the U.S. in the Mideast. Epstein will chair this session. On Saturday night Eban will address the Assembly’s banquet on “Israel: The Changed Perspective.” He will relate what has transpired in the Mideast–and the world’s reaction to it–since the outbreak of hostilities, and report on the outlook for peace in that troubled area.
In keeping with the Assembly’s theme and concern of the delegates, Friday’s plenary breakfast will focus on the “Impact of the War on Israel’s Human Needs: Our Communities’ Responsibilities.” Chaired by Edward Sanders, chairman of the CJF’s Campaign Services Committee, this session will feature Moshe Rivlin director general of the Jewish Agency for Israel, and Paul Zuckerman, UJA national chairman. Also on Friday, public announcement will be made of this year’s winners of the Boris Smolar Awards. (See separate story on the winners.) The Assembly was scheduled to start this morning but was compressed into a four-day instead of a five-day Assembly. “With all of Federation and Welfare Fund leaders working days and nights on the emergency–with our own Council officers and staff doing that nationally–we are compressing the Assembly,” Epstein explained. “That will give almost all of us another day and a half to work in our communities.”