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Jdc’s Haber Tells Cjfwf That Polish Decree Was Designed to Hasten Jews’ Departure

November 14, 1969
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Samuel L. Haber, executive vice-chairman of the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), charged today that the Polish Government decree setting a Sept. 1 deadline for tightened regulations governing Jews’ emigration “was actually designed to push the country’s Jews out faster.”

He told a workshop session of the 38th General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds (CJFWF) here that Jews were leaving Poland at the rate of about 250 a week and he predicted that less than 10,000 Jews would be left in Poland by the end of this year. Mr. Haber said that the Warsaw Government “accomplished its objectives of destroying almost everything in Jewish life in Poland.” He said also that the Jewish cultural Union in Warsaw “to all intents and purposes has ceased to exist” and that the JDC and the organization for Rehabilitation through training (ORT) were expelled in December, 1967. He pointed out that the Home for the Jewish Aged, built with JDC funds, had been removed from Jewish control and was no longer exclusively a Jewish home.

“We are now witnessing the end of a millennium,” Mr. Haber said. “We are witnesses to Hitler’s mad dream becoming a tragic reality–the ‘final solution’ of the 1,000-year history of Polish Jewry. The madness of Nazi Germany is becoming a reality in Communist Poland.

Mr. Haber who recently visited Rumania, estimated the average age of the 100,000 Jews there at 60 and reported that many of the aged lived under conditions of intense poverty. “At least they are allowed to live and worship in freedom,” he remarked. He deplored the fact that “the current JDC program is barely enough to keep the neediest of the needy above the starvation level.” The current program, he said, involves projected expenditures of over $1.5 million by the end of the year and reaches about 15,000 aged and sick Jews.

Gaynor I. Jacobson, executive vice-president of the United Hias Service, confirmed that refugees were continuing to leave Poland “without any letup in pace.” He said 4,200 of the estimated 8,500 Jews who had left Poland had applied to United Hias for migration aid. More than half of these, he added, had already been resettled, but the agency still had a Polish Jewish refugee caseload in excess of 1,400.

Immigration to the United States assisted by United Hias, he reported, increased 50 percent in the first 10 months of this year over the same period in 1968, Polish-Jewish immigration, he disclosed, jumped from 251 to 1,325 during that period. He revealed that “there has been a small but hopeful increase in immigration of Jews from the Soviet Union.” During the first 10 months of this year, he said, United Hias had assisted 128 Jews from the Soviet Union to come to the U.S. in comparison with 92 in all of 1968. He described the plight of the remaining Jewish communities in the Arab countries as “fraught with considerable anxiety and unease.”


Speaking at a plenary session on overseas needs, Edward Ginsberg, general chairman of the United Jewish Appeal, declared that “the will to survive” of the people of Israel “may well determine their destiny” in the continuing war of attrition waged against them by the Arabs. He expressed his conviction that “nothing can shatter the courage and determination of the people of Israel.”

Describing American Jewish support of Israel as one of the key factors in maintaining Israeli morale, Mr. Ginsberg warned that “we must steel ourselves for a long and persistent challenge. We must forge the determination of the American Jewish community to provide unprecedented financial and moral support to meet humanitarian needs for as long as it takes.”

The president of the CJFWF warned the American Jewish community today that current Arab strategy involved a two-pronged war of attrition–wearing down the Israelis on the security front and eroding the support of Jews of the world for Israel’s human needs. Addressing the 1,500 delegates, Louis J . Fox of Baltimore asserted that “as never before we are being tested–the depth of our understanding, our conviction and our generosity–our quality as Jews.”

In an address reviewing the problems facing the 233 Federations and Welfare Funds affiliated in the Council, Mr. Fox stressed the “urgency” of continued support for Israel, called on the Jewish community to play a more active role in seeking solutions to urban problems, urged a more meaningful program to involve Jewish youth in the life of the community and recommended a strengthening of the Jewish community.

A sense of “humanitarian concern and responsibility” directs Jewish attention to Israel’s social, educational and welfare needs, Mr. Fox declared. “Israel’s people want a better society at a time that logic says is not opportune, at the time when they are struggling for sheer survival.” In helping Israel to build a free society, he said, “we join civilization’s continuous pursuit of a better society.” Turning to the American scene, Mr. Fox called the “urban crisis” a part of the “human rights revolution” and emphasized that it was essential that the Jewish community “go even further than we have in visibly and positively committing ourselves to finding solutions to the urban crisis.”

He urged greater federation involvement and called on Federations to take a leadership role and to act as a “central resource to stimulate interest and participation by all segments of the general community.”

A fundamental requirement, Mr. Fox added, was “a strong viable Jewish community. He declared that “only a totally mobilized and organized community can provide the resources, brains and abilities required year after year.” He stressed that greater involvement of youth is essential to the building enduring communities and pointed out that “our task now is to reach out plan fully in our cities to our best young men and women.” He proposed that communal funds be made available for scholarships to encourage more young men and women to seek careers in Jewish social agencies and other communal groups.


In an assembly working session devoted to pressures on sectarian services, Donald B. Hurwitz, executive director of the Federation of Jewish Agencies of Greater Philadelphia, pointed out that while Jewish federations and their agencies had remained under Jewish control and clearly represented the Jewish community in action, “today there are pressures and demands which could seriously affect the nature, structure and position of the Jewish community.”

The major pressures, he said, were the “forces of social revolution” at play in the U.S., and sectarianism. He pointed out that the “meteoric rise in public expenditure for social purposes”, which agencies sometimes accepted “on terms which challenge their basic structures and purposes,” posed a threat to voluntarism and sectarianism of the Jewish federations. Pressures on united funds, he said, may require them to re-define their purposes and divert dollars from their traditional beneficiaries to new programs. One result may be, he said, that Jewish agencies “already, suffering from budgetary malnutrition, must be affected by this development.”

Non-Jewish individuals may be involved in Jewish agencies in many ways, Mr. Hurwitz declared but he added that “the controls, the policy-making responsibility, should remain within the Jewish community.” He cited the example of the Philadelphia federation which adopted the position that its board of trustees and the boards of its constituent agencies must reflect the fact of belonging to, and responsibility to the Jewish community. The Federation position nevertheless recognized, he said, that “where appropriate,” representatives of the general community could serve as members of the agencies’ boards provided the principle of Jewish community control was not infringed.


Reform of the decision making processes of the American Jewish community was urged Thursday by Gordon Zacks, chairman of the Young Leadership Cabinet of the U.J.A. addressing an assembly plenary session. Presenting the views of the young leadership, Mr. Zacks called for establishment of a $100 million foundation for Jewish identity in America. A CJFWF spokesman said later that this proposal would be considered by the Council board of directors.

In slashing criticism of the direction of Jewish life, Mr. Zacks charged that “we have diluted and watered down Jewish education to the point that far too often, in far too many schools, it is one vast wasteland of banalities, unimaginative, uninspiring, uninformative and unproductive.” Most of the products of this system, he asserted, “have nonsense of identification with their Jewish part, no relatedness to the Jewish present and no sense of common destiny with a Jewish future. They are confused as to their identity and unsure of their roots. ” He said that education should be responsibility of the federation rather than the exclusive concern of the synagogues and rabbis.

In calling for a “fundamental change” in the decision-making processes in the community, Mr. Zacks complained that too much stress was placed on attempting to ensure operating efficiencies of the Jewish agencies rather than on their purposes. He urged what he described as the “program approach.” shifting emphasis from “doing things right to doing the right.” He urged inclusion in the federations’ decision-making process of men whose only qualification is Jewish learning and commitment to Jewish life,” and said that “we must involve young people in significantly greater numbers.” Federation boards, he said, must be made more representative of the community.

The speaker warned that “we can no longer afford to support agencies or programs that are not central to our currently defined relevant needs. We must be prepared to close up, or transfer to other authorities, agencies and programs which are no longer relevant to our special responsibilities.”

Applause frequently interrupted Mr. Zacks when he asked whether the community can afford $9 million a year plus millions more in capital funding for hospitals, whether Jewish centers contributed to Jewish survival and whether the communities can afford to contribute federation funds to community relations agencies for external community relations “when we are in desperate need of internal community enrichment.”

The speaker was cheered again, when he questioned the correctness of federation allocation of only $7 million to Jewish education out of $44.4 million allocated by federations for local and national agencies. Mr. Zacks said later that three delegates to the assembly had approached him and offered contribution of $100,000 each to the funding of the national foundation he has proposed.


The assembly began its formal sessions with a considerable amount of excitement generated by the presence and activities of a large number of activist Jewish youth, mainly from colleges in the Boston area, reinforced by a large contingent from New York. A three-man delegation, representing the Concerned Jewish Students, went before the Assembly’s resolutions committee and submitted a series of demands for action on Jewish education, Soviet Jewry, for reform of the federation structure, federation action to encourage new projects within the community, and the filling of professional and lay leadership positions by persons who “show their commitment to Judaism by participating in Jewish study.”

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