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Zionist Action and Development Jewish Agency Prepares for a ‘working Assembly’ Next Month

The fourth annual assembly of the reconstituted Jewish Agency which opens in Jerusalem June 16, will be “a working assembly,” in the words of Agency Director General Moshe Rivlin. The 800 delegates and 100-plus observers and guests will steep themselves in the issues and problems facing the Agency in the coming year, in its budgetary problems and in the long-range plans to be submitted to the assembly by several of the Agency’s departments.

The assembly will be convening just after another crucial “working meeting”–between President Ford and Premier Yitzhak Rabin in Washington. By any assessment, mid-June will be a fateful period for Israel, and Rivlin therefore sees the assembly in another role too; as a ringing acclamation of world Jewry’s support for and identity with Israel.

Rabin will return to Israel during the assembly and will appear before it to deliver a first-hand account of his talks in Washington. His audience will include representatives of every major Jewish community in the free world, Rivlin stressed in his interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. The assembly will provide an unparalleled opportunity for a show of diaspora solidarity with Israel.

(The Jewish Agency assembly’s formal composition is 150 delegates representing the fund-raising organizations and the same number of Zionist representatives.)

One of its chief functions will be to approve the Agency’s 1975-76 budget. At present, the Agency is operating under a budget approved for the three months April-June by its Board of Governors, Expenditure, of course, depends on income, and Rivlin said he is confident that this year’s cash income from the United Jewish Appeal and the United Israel Appeal will exceed that of 1974-75.

KEY ISSUES AT ASSEMBLY

The problems facing fund-raisers–especially in this period of world economic recession–will be examined in depth in the assembly’s fund-raising committee under chairman Paul Zuckerman (of the U.S.) and co-chairman Michael Saches (of England). The committee includes delegates of the large and the small communities and is a forum for what Rivlin termed “our kind of international cooperation” pooling and sharing of experiences and ideas.

Aliya and absorption will be a key theme at the assembly, with delegates discussing frankly the current low in aliya, the worrisome drop-out rate among Soviet emigres, complaints among newcomers to Israel, ways to improve absorption techniques in Israel–especially in the crucial area of social absorption, Agency officials will reports on the many facets of the Agency’s social activities inside Israel aimed at “narrowing the gap” between rich and poor, deprived and established sections of the population.

AREAS OF ACTIVITIES

Rivlin listed these areas of the Agency work with pride; building and running kindergartens, especially in development areas; building day nurseries; building secondary schools, especially in development areas; funding scholarships for secondary school pupils (the school-building and scholarship, funds are directed through the USA’s Israel Education Fund, which, Rivlin said, “has changed the educational map in many areas of the country,”)

Still in education–the Agency covers a major part of the budgets of the country’s universities and the assembly will be examining this considerable effort. Youth Aliya’s program of admitting local deprived children into its residential schools has had major success: 5000 of Youth Aliya’s 13,000 wards are now local children. The Youth and Halutz Department has been responsible for providing clubs, summer camps and other activities–again with the stress on development towns.

Rivlin said the assembly delegates will tour towns like Kiryat Shemona to see and feel for themselves the effect of the Agency’s various projects to help the people there. (Amigur, the Agency’s housing firm, has expanded or renovated over 40,000 dwellings, mostly in these development towns and in the poorer quarters of the large cities,)

The Settlement Department will lay out its plans before the assembly for new Jewish settlements in the Galilee, planned as industrial rather than purely agricultural villages. The plans for two industrial centers, Segev and Tefen, are already well advanced. There are detailed plans, too, for establishing several new settlements in the Arava, where the existing kibbutzim and moshavim have proved themselves thoroughly profitable in high-price export crops, some grown under glass and with Israeli-developed irrigation techniques.

For Agency Chairman Pinhas Sapir, who was elected at last year’s assembly, this will be his first assembly in the chair–alongside Board of Governors Chairman Max Fisher of Detroit. Among the Israeli leaders to address the assembly will be President Ephraim Katzir, Foreign Minister Yigal Allon, Defense Minister Shimon Peres and Treasury Secretary Yehoshua Rabinowitz. One evening will be devoted to marking the 30th anniversary of the end of World War II–with a session at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Institute addressed by Golda Meir and Gideon Hausner.

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