NEW YORK (Feb. 28)
Rabbi Moshe Sherer, executive president of the Agudath Israel of America, has accused the New York Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of “glaring insensitivity to the root causes of Jewish assimilation” by a “topsy-turvy sense of priorities” which allocates only a meager portion of its budget for Jewish education. He called for the impaneling of “a special commission of distinguished Jews” to investigate the Federation’s policies and priorities.
The Federation, meanwhile, put out a statement “to present the facts about the significant growth of its support for Jewish education in the Greater New York Jewish community.” The statement, which was not in response to Sherer’s attack, noted that “In 1970, Federation provided $1.1 million for the support of Jewish education in Greater New York. In the current year, Federation is expending $2.7 million for aid to Jewish education–an increase of 145 percent since 1970.”
CHARGES GLARING INSENSITIVITY
Sherer claimed that “The Jew is dropping out of the fold not because he lacks hospitals or community centers but because he lacks the type of Jewish education necessary to enable him to withstand the ravages of a secular society.” He contended that “during the past seven years, a period when the Federation has been professing greater concern over Jewish education, it has increased its budget for education by a cumulative total of only six percent.” He said that in 1976-77, the agency allocated “27.4 percent to community centers and only 6.1 percent for education.”
Sherer maintained that “With Jewish assimilation on the increase, it is incredible that those who hold the purse-strings of the Jewish charity dollar in New York City continue to display such glaring insensitivity” to the problem. He demanded that the Federation “show that it has the courage to accelerate its snail-like pace of increase in funding for Jewish education.” Otherwise, he said, it “will be responsible for the loss of thousands of Jews from the Jewish faith simply because the dollars which should be spent to educate them as Jews are being diverted to less important services.”
FEDERATION PINPOINTS AID AREAS
The Federation statement noted that of the current $2.7 million budgeted for education, $1 million is from the Program Development Fund for Jewish Education established in 1973. “Approximately 90 percent of this fund is distributed as direct aid to Jewish day schools” the statement said.
“These funds are used for scholarship aid to children in 165 Jewish day schools and for building renovation and emergency repairs which have kept a number of Jewish day schools from closing their doors.” The statement added that “In sum of every dollar it disburses for community services. Federation now gives 10 percent to Jewish education as compared with under five percent in 1970.”
The statement also observed that “Federation assistance to Jewish education takes many forms above and beyond direct aid to Jewish schools.” It listed support for Jewish education in children’s residential institutions: in sleep-away and day camps; and in community centers where it offers Jewish educational programs for children and adults.