Solender: N.Y. Crisis Foreshadows Threat to U.S. Philanthropy Long-term Communal Replanning Urged

The financial crisis in New York City, with its possible out in funding for welfare services and institutions threatens the very existence of the voluntary philanthropic structure in America and “may dismember our existing health, welfare and educational set-up, leaving us only with the remnants of a system that is unable to function.”

This warning was sounded here today by Sanford Solender, executive vice-president of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York, at the 44th General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds. Because of the strike in New York City of Federation employes, Solender’s address was read by Melvin Mogulof, Federation’s executive director for community services.

In his presentation, Solender painted a dire picture, “The profound tragedy of what is now happening in New York,” he said, “is that the heaviest burden of the drastic out-back in city expenditures is at the expense of the poorest, most deprived and defenseless people. They are the victims of unemployment and the inflationary squeeze, the poor and the people on marginal incomes, the aged, the troubled families, and the children in difficulty.”

MUST VIEW SITUATION WITH GRAVITY

All of American philanthropic structures, Solender noted, must view the New York situation with gravity, and as a warning of what can happen elsewhere. He also pointed out that it is particularly grave and instructive for Jewish leadership “since American Jewry is concentrated in the urban centers of America.”

Federations in other cities “must recognize that the government funding to which they have become habituated, in time, may be open to the same radical change as is occurring in New York. The long-standing reliance of voluntary agencies in America upon government funding is moving into an ear of uncertainty, change and transition, Jewish communities must re-evaluate how services to their community are to be assured in the light of these developments,” Solender said.

“The absence of an orderly planning process which provides a framework for immediate and long-term budget reduction, is critical,” he added. “Planning must be initiated now to redesign the system to change the human services set-up so that with fewer dollars to spend the human service system will be at least workable. Failure to do so can only produce chaos, confusion, waste of money and deep social discontent.”

Other major addresses at the Assembly high-lighted priorities and prospects for Jewish communal life in North America, the impact of the economy on Jewish needs and financing, the recent Israeli-Egyptian accord and the Middle East situation, and Jewish development in the perspective of America’s Bicentennial.

The Assembly agenda being considered by the leadership serving 800 Jewish communities in North America reflects the broadest range of human needs, issues and priorities facing Jewish life.

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