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Chicago Jewish Federation to Aid in Resettlement of 500 Refugees

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The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, at a special board meeting last Friday, voted unanimously to provide resettlement assistance requested by the United States government for refugees from South Vietnam. This action is the first by any of the Jewish Federations throughout the country who have been asked to participate, officials said. Sidney J. Hess Jr., president of the Federation, announced that the organization and its affiliates and beneficiaries will make available services to approximately 500 persons for resettlement immediately in the Chicago area.

“Our action,” Hess said, “is consistent with the historic Jewish and American response to the needs of the homeless and dependent. We are joining with many sectarian and non-sectarian agencies of all faiths throughout the country in this massive humanitarian effort,” James P. Rice, Federation executive vice-president, reported that the resettlement process will be initiated by the United HIAS Service. HIAS staff members in the three government receiving centers in California, Arkansas and Florida will channel refugees to each community based on individual sponsorships which are being received in Washington by the thousands from all over the country, Rice said.

Upon arrival in Chicago, the Jewish Family and Community Service will assist the refugees in finding housing and in getting acclimated to the language and culture. The Jewish Vocational Service will assist the approximately 100 heads of households in finding employment. Other Federation agencies will provide health and welfare services as needed. While the facilities and services of experienced voluntary agencies like Federation are being utilized in the resettlement, the costs will be met by government funds.

Meanwhile, the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the Workmen’s Circle added their pledges of cooperation to aid in the measures to help resettle Vietnamese refugees in the U.S. William Stern, executive director of the Workmen’s Circle, added in his telegram to President Ford; “We regret such action was not taken in behalf of Jewish survivors following World War II, but we must never again fail to aid survivors of disasters or wars or those seeking refuge from tyranny.” Last week the American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, the national executive board of B’nai B’rith Women, and the New York Board of Rabbis announced their support for the Vietnamese resettlement effort.

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