JERUSALEM (Apr. 4)
Last Wednesday’s closed circuit radio broadcast between Jerusalem and 151 American Jewish communities–the first such operation by the United Jewish Appeal–signalled a major effort to step up and speed up the 1976 campaign. UJA General Chairman Frank R. Lautenberg told reporters here today.
Premier Yitzhak Rabin, Jewish Agency Chairman Yosef Almogi, Jewish Agency Board of Governors Chairman Max Fisher, Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds President Jerold Hoffberger and Lautenberg took part in the 18-minute broadcast during which they addressed an estimated 15,000 Jewish leaders in the 151 communities.
The message was: accelerate the current campaign to meet the national UJA closing date of June 6–coinciding with the anniversary of the Six-Day War. Lautenberg said here today the response across the U.S. had been enthusiastic and gratifying.
(According to a UJA spokesman in New York, Jewish leaders in Hartford, Conn, and Hollywood, Fla. declared a total mobilization although these cities had already reached their goals. In Chicago, several leaders announced additional plus gifts. In Los Angeles, the broadcast was amplified by having a two-way live conference call with the city’s UJA General Chairman Joseph Sinay who is now on a mission in Israel. In Minneapolis the broadcast was used to plan a final telethon.)
IMPROVED ECONOMIC SITUATION WILL HELP
Lautenberg reported that some communities announced a moratorium till June 6 on other non-campaign activities. Some communities, he said, began re-soliciting gifts, meaning that where local fund-raisers believe a person’s financial situation has significantly improved since he made his 1976 pledge, then, although he had already pledged, they will re-solicit him, asking for an increase.
Lautenberg said economic conditions in the U.S. were improving and this “augers well” for the UJA campaign. He said the fact that the 1976 campaign had so topped the 1975 campaign was a heartening sign of the strength of Jewish commitment because the present campaign had had to weather the effects of the recession.
The cash situation was also running better than last year, he observed, despite the liquidity problems which many givers had experienced and the effects of which were only now beginning to recede. The 1975 campaign was the best ever non-war-year campaign, Lautenberg said, and for the 1976 campaign to top this was a signal achievement.
‘THIS YEAR IN JERUSALEM’ CONFAB SET
Looking ahead, Lautenberg anticipated a “dramatic” start to the 1977 campaign with the planned “This Year in Jerusalem” national UJA conference Oct. 24-31 to be held in Jerusalem for the first time. Three thousand leading American contributors would be involved in this “great Jewish happening.” he said. Irving Bernstein. UJA executive vice-chairman, noted that this will be the largest-ever event of its kind in Israel. The conference had been announced by Lautenberg during the Jewish solidarity conference here last December.
Lautenberg said participants would be restricted to persons who had made “significant” contributions in the past and who would be prepared to make a similarly significant pledge during the visit. Some 500 participants would be in the under-40 age group. There was no specific dollar-qualification, he explained, since obviously, in the smaller communities contributions were relatively smaller, and yet leaders of smaller communities would be welcome participants.
The conferees would not be spending their time in stuffy conference halls. Lautenberg and Bernstein stressed, but would be out meeting the people of Israel in a program designed to “emphasize the concept of outreach and interaction.” Bernstein pointed out that other major diaspora campaigns had taken UJA’s example: the French have just had their conference here, the Canadians will hold theirs just before the UJA and the British just after.
CONFIDENT OF U.S. JEWRY’S RESPONSE
During the historic radio broadcast, Rabin called upon American Jewry to “work even harder for the great human purpose of Israel. If all of us do what we can do, there is no obstacle we cannot overcome together.” In his first major presentation to the American Jewish community, Almogi said, “You have done wonders–you are our partners–but we need a greater effort. And. I’m confident that our Jews, our nation, is not a nation of disappointment, Give us your good hand and good heart and both of us will continue to strengthen Israel to be a free and democratic society.”
Fisher expressed his confidence in American Jewish leadership: “From years of experience in Washington, D.C., I know that the Administration, the Congress, the State Department, every element in our Capitol concerned with American foreign policy, is very interested in knowing just how broad and deep the American Jewish support for Israel’s people is. I know that American Jewry will turn the messages being heard today into a clear and forceful call to action.”
Hoffberger said: “What our communities accomplish will determine for many years to come the physical and spiritual quality of lives of Jews everywhere…for the people of Israel; for the Jews of other countries who have also suffered from the budget cutbacks…for ourselves, for our own youth, our own aged, our own deprived…for the strength and future of our own communities, upon which so much depends.”