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Special to the JTA Proposed New Regulations for Ceta Dropped After Widespread Protests

January 30, 1979
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Proposed new regulations for Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) funds, which would have barred use of such funds for on-the-job training for persons in religious schools and houses of worship have been dropped after protests from a broad range of Jewish organizations, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency was informed.

The ban, which would have included Christian sponsored schools and churches and which also was protested by Christian groups, was included in proposed regulations scheduled for publication by the Department of Labor in the Federal Register on Jan. 19. Under the on-the-job training program, participants are employed for 20 weeks and their wages are paid half by the employer and half by CETA. While exact figures were not immediately available, CETA grants to Jewish organizations have totalled hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.

The planned regulation specified that “participants shall not be employed in any capacity in religiously affiliated elementary or secondary schools, theological seminaries or houses of worship. A school shall be deemed religiously affiliated if it is owned by or subject to on-going control by a religious organization or if religious instruction is mandatory for students at the school.”

The JTA was told that the apparent rationale for the proposed changes was concern over the possibility of church-state separation breaches in the grants of CETA funds to religious groups.

What particularly angered the Jewish religious community, the JTA was told, was that the original regulations would have precluded the participation of religious institutions in such CETA funded programs and set them apart as pariahs.


Under procedures developed by the Labor Department, agencies concerned with the CETA program were, asked to submit comments on the proposals in December. Four Jewish organizations, and Catholic groups, did submit critical comments, the JTA was told. The four Jewish agencies, all of which have had CETA funding for years, are Agudath Israel; Young Israel; Torah Umesorah, the National Society for Hebrew Day Schools; and the Satmar Hasidic movement.

In addition to the critical comments by the four Jewish organizations, a broader protest program was organized, in part involving contacts with Senators and Representatives. Strategy was coordinated at a meeting here on Dec. 27 at which representatives were present from the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, Rabbinical Council of America, National Jewish Commission on Law and Public Affairs, Agudath Israel, Young Israel, Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York and the Synagogue Council of America.

When the proposed changes were published in the Federal Register on Jan. 19, the objectionable paragraph was omitted and specific assurance was included that the proposed changes did not “preclude religious organizations from the administration or operation of CETA programs or the use of religious facilities in the operation of such programs.”

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