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Fisher Outlines ‘high Priority’ Tasks at C. J.f.w.f. General Assembly

November 12, 1965
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Four “high priority” tasks face the Jewish communities in the United States and Canada during the coming year, Max M. Fisher, of Detroit, general chairman of the United Jewish Appeal, declared here this evening. Addressing the 34th annual General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds, which opened today, Mr. Fisher said that the principal tasks facing the communities, the UJA and the welfare funds next year were:

1) A stepped-up program to help Israel absorb 200,000 immigrants from backward Asian and African countries, settled now in 21 immigrant development towns throughout Israel;

2) Large-scale aid to help an anticipated 52,000 Jewish immigrants a year from distressed areas of Europe, North Africa and Asia to Israel and to Western countries;

3) Increased aid for some 400,000 distressed Jews living in Europe and in various Moslem countries;

4) An intensified program of fund-raising designed to make up the loss of $17,500,000 no longer being received annually from West German reparations by three of the UJA’s beneficiaries–the Jewish Agency, the Joint Distribution Committee and United Hias Service.

Mr. Fisher called for a renewal and expansion of the creative relationship that has existed and exists now between the CJFWF and the UJA in meeting the Jewish overseas problems. That relationship, he noted, has produced more than $1,500,000,000 in 20 years.

Through this “greatest, voluntary, life-saving effort ever undertaken by a given national or religious group,” he said, 1,735,000 Jews “from places of despair” were settled in free lands, including 1,373,000 in Palestine and Israel; the greatest, non-governmental program of relief and assistance the world has ever known was implemented; shattered Jewish communities were helped toward rebuilding in Europe, where feasible; and new dimensions were provided to hundreds of thousands of Jews in backward lands in North Africa and Asia, through welfare and education activities.

During the same period, he noted, the establishment of 480 new farm settlements in Israel was aided; help was given to the building of new Israeli towns and communities; two out of three immigrants who had come to Israel were helped toward “reasonably successful adjustment.”


Since the end of World War II, the UJA general chairman told the delegates at the Assembly, American Jews alone had raised a total of $2,000,000,000 of which $595,000,000 came through campaigns conducted by the Jewish federations and welfare funds. Of that total, nearly 60 percent, or a little more than $1,500,000,000, went to the UJA and its beneficiaries for overseas aid, while $52,000,000 went to other overseas organizations.

“As of this moment,” he reported, “we are helping some 750,000 to 800,000 persons overseas; by this year’s end, we will have helped another 50,000 Jews to emigrate.” Inside Israel, today, some 30,000 immigrants are being helped with absorption, training, agricultural aid and other assistance. Outside Israel, another 430,000 Jews are being helped, most of them in Europe, but about 25 percent of them in Moslem lands. In the United States, about 5,000 Jewish refugees are still being helped.

One of the problems faced now, Mr. Fisher pointed out, is the anticipated new, Jewish immigration to the United States as a result of the enactment of the amended Immigration Act, wiping out “the racially-biased and statistically outmoded act of 1924, with its national origins quota system.” Under the new legislation, he said, “it is possible that we will see U. S. immigration rise considerably, and the United Hias Service called on to handle an annual average immigration to Western areas of about 12,000 persons per year. The federations and the UJA must be prepared to meet an overall movement of about 52,000 persons annually for the next five years.”


Mr. Fisher revealed the results of a survey conducted by the Jewish Agency recently, at the request of the UJA, among 200,000 immigrants in 21 Israeli development towns. That study, he said, showed that 30 percent or more are illiterate in any language; 20 percent represented non-productive families, including persons on permanent relief or employed, fulltime or part-time, in public works; 60 percent consisted of families of six or more persons, against the overall Israeli national average of 3.7 persons per family. The data also showed that, in the development towns, average earnings are scarcely $100 monthly, against average, urban, individual earnings of $205 monthly in other parts of Israel. He pointed to the gap in education, as between youth in the development towns and the young Israelis in the rest of the country, and told of the efforts being made to close that gap by the Israel Government and the UJA’s new Israel Education Fund. He reported that, in its first year of existence, the IEF has pledged $11,000,000 for schools and scholarships in Israel, and that 12 new high schools are now being built in Israel.

UJA TO RECEIVE $62,000,000 IN 1965; WILL SEEK $74,000,000 IN 1966

After recalling the $17,500,000 loss of income from German reparations faced during the next year by JDC, United Hias Service and the Jewish Agency, Mr. Fisher reported that “it appears that, in 1965, UJA will receive $62,000,000 from the community funds and the UJA of Greater New York.” That sum, he said, would represent an increase of about $2,000,000 over the sums raised each year by the UJA for the last four years. Then he told the General Assembly:

“In 1966, the United Jewish Appeal will come to the communities with a new and challenging proposal. We will point out that the authentic needs overseas are always many millions more than American Jews attain in their fund-raising efforts. In 1966, these will total about $115,000,000 for all of the UJA’s agencies. But we will say–since we cannot raise that full amount–let us try to raise 20 percent or 25 percent more than the $62,000,000 we raised in 1965. Let us work together and try to raise $73,000,000 or $74,000,000. It is needed. I think we can do it and that we will want to do it.”


Dr. Astorre Mayer of Milan, Italy, chairman of the European Standing Conference of Jewish Community Services, delivered a stirring address on both the achievements and needs of the Jewish communities in Europe today. He gave a short outline of the Jewish institutions which had come into being during the recent years in the communities of the 16 countries affiliated with the Standing Conference–Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Yugoslavia.

“We, as all the other Jews in the world, have been aided by American and Canadian Jewry for 50 years, and it is time for us to being to bear our own share in this relentless effort,” Dr. Mayer said. “The whole work was only possible with the help of many thousands of American and Canadian community workers and contributors who made the Jewish ‘Marshal Plan’ possible. I am very pleased to tell you that the small number of European Jewish community leaders of the beginning has now grown to a large group of people who are doing very fine work.”

The leader of the European Jewish communities revealed that some of the Jewish communities behind the Iron Curtain have indicated that they would like to participate in the Standing Conference. “There are, of course, a number of technical and other questions to be solved, but the trend is a gratifying one and we shall stand by if, as and when our brethren in the East will call on us and will be able to join our ranks,” Dr. Mayer told the General Assembly.

Pointing out that the European Jewish communities raised more than $700,000 for Jewish refugees from North Africa, and that this is an unprecedented joint effort in Europe on behalf of a sister-community, Dr. Mayer said that, following the termination of funds from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, new and “revolutionary” approaches will have to be worked out in the field of aid by the Jewish communities of Europe.


He suggested the possibility of the creation of an inter-community loan fund through which the financially more important and better equipped communities could finance vital projects in communities of a lower financial standard on a strictly credit and refund basis. “The means to realize these plans could be obtained through extraordinary donations integrated with long-dated credits at a moderate rate of interest,” he said. “The communities should, directly or through their national or European unions, grant the reimbursement after a suitable number of years from the completion of the work, and over a reasonably long period.”

Reporting on activities in the field of Jewish education, he said; “In this field we were not very successful. We have built many schools. Some of our communities may be proud of having day schools for the large majority of their children, like Antwerp, Strasbourg, and Milan. Others are following, but still we are very far from covering all the needs of the young people.

“The State of Israel and American and Canadian Jewry are the pillars on which we must rely for rebuilding a world program of education for Jews conscious of their duties, otherwise the efforts we made during the last 20 years after the end of World War II will be partially frustrated.”

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