DETROIT (Nov. 13)
The North American Jewish community was told last night that long-range planning is imperative “if we are to survive, with the quality of Jewish life we want for our children and their children.”
This theme, along with the announcement of the undertaking of a billion dollar level of annual campaigning “needed by the Jewish communal enterprise,” was made by Morton Mandel, president of the Council of Jewish Federations (CJF), at the opening plenary session of the CJF’s 49th General Assembly meeting here through Sunday at the Detroit Plaza Hotel.
To underscore the fact that “the billion dollars is the current requirement to properly meet our needs,” Mandel told the more than 3000 Jewish leaders from the United States and Canada, a number surpassing that of the previous high attendance at the 47th General Assembly in Son Francisco two years ago: “There is no certainty that our Jewish communities will survive forever, for another 100 years, or even 50. ” The key to this survival, he said, is long-range planning “in our overall strategy” to meet basic Jewish responsibilities at home and overseas.
SILENT ON EFFECTS OF U.S. ELECTION RESULTS
Mandel’s speech was devoid of any references to specific, concrete political and economic developments that might impinge on Jewish communal activities in the period ahead.
Aside from oblique references to differences between the leadership of North American Jewry and that of Israel’s leadership on some issues, which he stressed could be resolved through dialogue, Mandel exuded optimism about the ability of American Jewry to meet the challenges of the period ahead in defining goals and reaching given objectives.
If he was discreetly silent about the factor of the new political equation and constellation following from last week’s elections, he refrained from dealing with the significance and consequences of what many analysts see as a swing to the right in this country’s political orientation on the projected activities of the Jewish community in the next period.
In explaining the need to move from the current combined North American communal campaign of $550 million to a new level of $1 billion in the next five years, Mandel declared; “The plain fact is that we have not been raising the money we need to properly meet these basic responsibilities. This has produced a sense of frustration, as we try to find ways to cut up differently a pie that is already too small, shifting funds from one deserving recipient to another.”
GROWTH OF ENDOWMENT FUND INCOME
Mandel reported that since last May, the CJF has worked closely with the United Jewish Appeal through a Joint National Task Force “to help communities assess their fund-raising potential, to see what their true fund-raising capacity really is, and then set appropriate realistic campaign objectives for 1981 through 1985.”
Complementing the efforts to accelerate these campaigns, is the development of Endowment Fund income where, Mandel noted, “we have made quantum advances in recent years. Our communities have moved in just five years, from a 1975 total endowment of $185 million to a $425 million endowment in 1980.” Here too, he said, “we have established a billion-dollar goal for 1985,” a goal that, like the billion-dollar annual campaign, Mandel said,” is based on hard, realistic expectations. “
Among the greatest domestic concerns and priorities for the CJF in the period ahead which require the increased financing and long-range planning Mandel listed Jewish education, problems of the family, services for the elderly, Soviet Jewish resettlement, Federation-synagogue relations “and still other key issues.”
COMMITMENT TO ISRAEL
In addition, Mandel said, “the Jewish community of North America has made a permanent and deep commitment to the support and sustenance of the State of Israel” whose well-being “is central to our well being” in a chain that is irrevocably linked. He noted that a major opportunity exists to find ways “to develop our relationship with Israel much more fully; to create a true partnership in every sense of the word” that “pools its talent and strives to improve the quality of life of both partners.”
In assessing this relationship, Mandel observed: “With oil our similarities, Israel is and North Americans live in different cultures, and they are used to entirely different political systems. It is essential to our future that Israel’s leadership and the leadership of North American Jewry understand the ground rules by which each group governs itself. Today, we do not always have this understanding.”
Focussing on the apparent although unspecified differences, Mandel stated: “I believe we need to continuing dialogue with Israelis in the areas of human services, economics and international relations. Both Israelis and our Federation leaders have much to learn from each other. If such a dialogue can be structured, it can substantially improve our working relationship with Israel.”
Meanwhile, Mandel reported that there are several brood areas of concern with regard to Israel that CJF is dealing with currently. “First, just two months ago, local Federations and CJF, in cooperation with the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council, launched a special program on Israel public relations, designed to supplement current on-going activities,” Mandel said. “The objective is to interpret Israel better to North Americans in light of some erosion of Israel’s international position.”
In the area of Israel economic development, Mandel continued, CJF has appointed a committee to find a mode, or mechanism that will bring the business leadership of the American Jewish community more effectively into Israel’s economic future “that will commit the vast business talent that exists in North America with the opportunities and talent that exist in Israel.”
Furthermore, Mandel said, in September the CJF board of directors officially went on record “encouraging the Jewish Agency to move forward with its plans of self-examination. This process, to be launched next February, carries with it the hope of making the Jewish Agency even more effective in the programs it undertakes for social betterment in Israel. We believe that in the months ahead, North American leadership has a unique opportunity to participate importantly in what may be a major re-shaping of the Jewish Agency:”
Tonight, Premier Menachem Begin of Israel will address the Assembly on Israel-diaspora relations. One of the tightest security systems has been organized here for Begin’s visit.