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JNF Returns to Basel, Switzerland, 90 Years After It Was Founded There

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More than 1,000 people from around the world came to the Swiss city of Basel last week to attend the 90th anniversary celebration of the Jewish National Fund.

They gathered in the same Casino Hall where the establishment of the land acquisition agency for the Jewish people was announced by Theodor Herzl on Dec. 19, 1901, during the fifth Zionist Congress.

But the speeches delivered there last week reflected concerns far different from those that absorbed Zionists at the beginning of the century.

Simcha Dinitz, chairman of the World Zionist Organization, spoke of Soviet aliyah, which he hoped would reach the 1 million mark by 1995.

For the first time since the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E., the majority of the world’s Jews will live in Israel, Dinitz said.

He expressed concern that substantial numbers of Soviet olim, unable to find jobs, are leaving Israel. But he said there is “no cause for alarm,” since such defections have accompanied emigration waves in the past.

The JNF celebration was attended by delegations from North and South America, Australia and Europe, including the former Communist bloc countries of Czechoslovakia and Hungary.

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