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United Jewish Community of Bergen County Amends Resolution on the Issue of Aid to Soviet Jews

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The Board of Trustees of the United Jewish Community (UJC) of Bergen County (N.J.), meeting in River Edge late last month amended a previous resolution on Soviet Jewish emigration and now will pursue a policy which will support first degree relatives of Soviet Jews previously resettled in the County, it was officially reported. The amended resolution provides that “Soviet Jews with first degree relatives previously resettled by the United Jewish Community of Bergen County and/or the Jewish Family Service and already residing in Bergen County shall receive aid from the UJC for the reunification with their families.”

It continues: “The term ‘first degree relatives’ is hereby defined in accordance with the generally accepted international definition to mean only husbands and wives, their children, their parents and their brothers and sisters.”

The UJC Board’s original resolution attempted to discourage additional Soviet Jewish resettlement in Bergen County but provided for those already living there a model program for integration into the Jewish community.

The amendment emphasizes the Board’s goal, which was the basis for the original action — “in order to encourage maximum Russian Jewish immigration to Israel and to discourage Russian Jewish immigration to the United States.”

INTENSIVE DISCUSSION IN COMMUNITY

The UJC, which merged six separate entities into one federation less than two years ago, has been steadfastly trying to weld the more than 100,000 Bergen County Jews into one cohesive body for communal strength. Passage of the original resolution last October was followed by intensive discussion in the community.

There were those who felt Israel needed the Soviet Jews for its survival, and that the Russian Jews needed to be in Israel for their survival as Jews, and those who felt that Russian Jews should be helped with U.S. Jewish charitable funds wherever they chose to settle.’

The amended resolution was proposed at the UJC monthly Board meeting after study by a special committee appointed by UJC’s president, Sidney Silverstein, to hear the community’s reactions and to report them to the Board. Investigation also was undertaken to determine what action was being taken on the issue in other communities, nationally and internationally.

The amendment, it was reported, was hailed as a “compromise that will maintain the continued good growth of our community, so that we can continue to realize our potential for Israel and local services.” The vote for passage of the amended resolution was 33-1 and one abstention.

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