ATLANTA (Nov. 24)
Leon Dulzin, chairman of the Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization executives, expressed grave concern about the future of Jews outside of Israel during a forum at the 52nd General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations.
He cited the inroads made by mixed marriage, assimilation and the loss of Jewish identity among Jews in North and South America and Western Europe. Dulzin said it was easy for a Jew in the diaspora to disappear as a Jew simply by fading “into a larger society.”
But he added that the decision of the American Jewish community to implement the Caesarea Process gave Jewish leaders the “vital tools” to answer affirmatively the ultimate critical question of positive Jewish survival in the diaspora.
The Caesarea Process was a reference to a meeting in Caesarea in Israel at which American non-Zionist fund-raising members of the Jewish Agency accepted the Jerusalem Program which includes a call for the centrality of Israel in Jewish life and the defense of Jewish rights everywhere.
CRUCIAL QUESTION OF JEWISH CONTINUITY
Dulzin posed to the CJF delegates the question: “Will your great-grandchildren sit in such a General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations 25 and 50 years from now?”
He said strengthening of Jewish education and encouraging aliya through the partnership of the Jewish Agency and the diaspora was crucial. He said among the highest priorities of the Caesarea Process were the revitalization of Jewish education and aliya which, he emphasized, were both “indispensable bridges to continuity and identity.”
Declaring that “Israel is our assurance that the Jewish people will survive,” Dulzin said the crucial question was “Jewish continuity outside of Israel.” He cited predictions that the American-Jewish community might be reduced by half in the next 25 to 35 years, adding that “within the next two generations, we may be facing a spiritual and demographic Holocaust of the Jewish people.”
Dulzin said that the Caesaria Aliyah Commission’s recommendation that CJF communities assume responsibility for aliya as they do for other community programs means that growing numbers of American and Canadian Jews will be helped to settle in Israel. He said the local Jewish communities need aliya as much as Israel does because Americans who settle in Israel become living bonds between the local communities and Israel.
He said Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, Minister of Education and Culture Zevulun Hammer and Morton Mandel, a former CJF president, had agreed to join him in convening a “World Leadership Conference for Jewish Education” in Jerusalem next June.
URGES TWO-WAY PROCESS
Philip Granovsky of Toronto, a member of the Jewish Agency Board of Governors, stressed that the relationship between Federations and the Agency should be a two-way process.
He said that diaspora Jewry should support the Jewish Agency through the annual campaigns. Project Renewal, missions, and local programming, as well as a deeper involvement on the part of diaspora leadership through greater participation by local community standing committees and Federation board members.
On the other hand, Granovsky said, the Agency should be more accountable to the Federations. He called for a fundamental tightening of ties, a greater understanding of Agency programming, more careful review of budgeting, and a wider sharing of information between Federations.