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Umbrella group kills resolution on funding for Jewish education

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WASHINGTON, Feb. 23 (JTA) — A move to call for increased local Jewish spending on Jewish education has collapsed amid concerns over turf. Delegates at the annual conference of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs killed by a wide margin a resolution that would have called on local Jewish community relations councils to convene priority task forces with an eye toward urging local federations to increase their allocations to Jewish schools. The resolution, sponsored by Reform, Conservative and Orthodox groups and supported by the JCPA leadership, was intended to put some teeth into JCPA’s longstanding policy supporting Jewish education. JCPA is the umbrella group of local Jewish community councils and national Jewish groups. But the delegates voted Monday to pull the measure from consideration because of concerns that it was telling local federations what to do with their money. “There was some concern, especially from those who felt it was not appropriate for one institution to tell another how to spend its money,” said Lawrence Rubin, JCPA’s executive vice chairman. There was concern expressed, he said, that such a move would draw the ire of local federations, which fund the local councils. The issue of Jewish education recently has exploded on the communal scene, with many believing that it should be a given priority status as a way to keep Jews Jewish. Last year the JCPA in a more general way reaffirmed its support for funding local Jewish day schools and after school education programs. The decision drew sharp criticism from the Orthodox Union’s delegate, who had spearheaded the effort to pass the measure. “It’s extremely disappointing that in this day and age where we have study after study showing that funding Jewish education is critical for Jewish continuity that the JCPA shouldn’t manage to pass a resolution in support of Jewish schools,” said Nathan Diament, director of the Institute for Public Affairs of the Orthodox Union. The JCPA conference brought delegates from around the country. University students and environmental activists convened for simultaneous gatherings. In other action this week, JCPA: * called on Israel and the Palestinian Authority to use “creative diplomacy” to resolve the permanent status of Jerusalem. JCPA officials insisted that the group is not calling for a shared Jerusalem and has not weakened its support for a united Jerusalem under Israeli control, as opponents charged during a brief debate on the measure. Instead, JCPA wants Israel and the Palestinians to simply think creatively as they discuss their concerns, officials said. * sided with Holocaust survivors who have criticized the World Jewish Restitution Organization and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany for representing Holocaust survivors in negotiations with European companies over Holocaust-era assets. The JCPA said “Holocaust survivors must play a direct role” in these efforts. * voted down a measure calling on Israel to allow relatives of the Falash Mura still in Ethiopia who have family in Israel to emigrate. The Falash Mura are not recognized as Jewish by the government of Israel. Instead, the group called on Israel to fairly and in a timely manner accept or reject their applications.

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