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300 North American Jewish Leaders Attending CJF 44th General Assembly Epstein Calls for Streamlining

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Raymond Epstein, outgoing president of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds told the 3000 delegates from the U.S. and Canada attending the 44th General Assembly of the CJF, that there must be a reassessment and revolution in Jewish life, both in substance and form. In a hard-hitting valedictory address-last night at the opening of the four-day Assembly, Epstein declared:

“We are trying to bring about a smoother meshing of…operations to overcome unnecessary duplication, to provide more community input and more accountability to the communities. I am not calling for monolithic American-Jewish community. I am calling for a streamlining of our present structure.”

He referred, at the beginning of his address, to “the infamous and unforgivable resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly just nine nights ago,” observing that “we cannot begin these deliberations without adding our voice in protest, without assuring Israel and our brother Jews here and abroad that we will dedicate ourselves to overcoming any possible consequences” of the resolutions.

Epstein continued: “Our concern for Israel goes deeper than UN resolutions.” He referred to “The need for leadership or the lack thereof. We meet at this time of shattered illusions about the integrity of government institutions in the U.S., at a time when we are painfully aware of the renewed vulnerability of Israel and of the limitations on our ability to help her.”

He observed that young people are looking “for something to cling to in our age of atomic and moral uncertainty…There is a general de-emphasis, even a denigration of public support for welfare or, in the case of New York City, a grave threat to literally millions of people who are dependent upon its social and welfare services.”

DUPLICATION OF SERVICES CRITICIZED

Epstein acknowledged that there were valid dissatisfactions within the Jewish circle which called for scrutiny of duplication of services among community related agencies. He conceded that there is “the question of some parochialism in our approach,” He mentioned the “so-called defense agencies.”

Epstein mentioned several organizations and the uses to which they put their funds. He noted that “the Memorial Fund for Jewish Culture…has $20 million of German reparations money and spends $2-$2.5 million annually for Jewish education and scholarships throughout the world,” He said the Jewish Agency allocates money for Jewish education in the current emergency in South America, and the World Zionist Organization spends $11 million a year for Jewish education in many countries.

The basis for these grants and the potential of their involvement and resources should be analyzed in the perspective of the new comprehensive planning and financing that is required,” Epstein said. He told the delegates that “Tow-thirds of the money raised in your cities goes to and is spent by the Jewish Agency…a body in which you now have a voice and can now participate in decisions as to how your money will be spent.”

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