San Francisco Federation May Freeze Local Spending to Pay for Refugees
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San Francisco Federation May Freeze Local Spending to Pay for Refugees

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Faced with the rising cost of resettling hundreds of Soviet Jewish emigres and an annual fund-raising campaign that may fall short of expectations, the Jewish Community Federation here plans to clamp an unprecedented three-month freeze on allocation increases to its agencies, beginning July 1.

Federation officials said they will hold 1989 allocations to more than 40 San Francisco Bay area agencies at the same level as they received last year. The proposal will be submitted for approval by the federation’s board of directors next Wednesday.

The federation does not plan to reduce the money it sends to Israel.

Other American Jewish communities also have faced budget crises as a result of the Soviet influx.

The Los Angeles federation cut its allocations by 8 percent a year ago, and New York already has cut its allocations by some 2 percent this year.

“What the freeze will do, in effect, is to buy time and enable us to better estimate how much we will raise in our Project Freedom and annual 1989 campaigns,” said Annette Dobbs, the federation president.

Project Freedom, like the national Passage to Freedom campaign, is a special fund-raising campaign being run by the federation to resettle the more than 1,500 Soviet emigres now expected to arrive Bay Area this year.

$650,000 SHORTFALL

The federation had hoped to raise $20.45 million in its annual campaign, including $3 million Project Freedom goal, to cover local, national and overseas allotments.

Recent projections have indicated, however, that fund-raising efforts will being in only $19.8 million this year — meaning a shortfall of $650,000.

so far, Project Freedom has raised some $1.25 million from individual donations, according to Rabbi Brian Lurie, executive director of the federation. Other resources have added $875,000.

And federation officials are uncertain how much money the federal government will earmark for emigres, although they are hoping for at least $600,000.

Had its fund-raising goals been met, the federation “could have funded dramatic increases in local and overseas projects, while still taking care of basic emigre needs,” said Dobbs.

But “in Jewish tradition, the mandate is to first take care of the refugee, she said. “In order to do that, a federation freeze was necessary.”

Agencies that will be hardest hit by the freeze are those that rely most heavily on the federation for funding, including the Sam Francisco Bureau of Jewish Education, the Jewish Community Relations Council and the federation itself.

“We’re taking it in the spirit of being part of the whole community,” said Howard Gelberd, director of the Board of Jewish Education, which draws $1 million, or 80 percent of its budget, form the federation.

“We’re all banding together to deal with the emigre situation, which we’re all very enthusiastic about,” he said.

In late September, the federation’s budget and allocations committee is expected to re-evaluate the situation, deciding whether to extend the freeze, to halt it or to offer increases to agencies retroactively,

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