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December 30, 1977 - Image 34

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1977-12-30

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34 Friday, December 30, 1977' THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

JTA Survey Finds Crime in New York City
Is Forcing Synagogue Cutbacks in Services


(Copyright 1977, JTA, Inc.)

NEW YORK The sharp
cut-backs during 1974 and
1975 in basic New York
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City services, particularly
in police and fire
protection, forced many
synagogues in the city to
cancel night worship. and
service programs.
A Jewish Telegraphic
Agency survey also found
that vandalism and
synagogue closings have
reflected continuing
deterioration of
neighborhoods, rather than
the reduction in city
The JTA made the
survey over a period of
several weeks recently
after the city made some
restorations of the service
cuts, starting in mid-1976,
and it became possible to
assess the impact of the
To determine how the
synagogues' have been




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affected and whether
reported synagogue
shutdowns were 'mown to
be related to the cutbacks
in municipal protection
services, the JTA
submitted questionnaires to
,the New York Federation
of Reform Synagogues; the
New York Metropolitan
Region of the United
Synagogue of America; the
Union of Orthodox Jewish
Congregations of America;
and the National Council of
Young Israel, an
association of Orthodox
congregations. Each has
more than 100 synagogue
affiliates in New York City.
The principal impact of
growing crime on New
York City streets seems to
have been a reduction of
evening programs at the
synagogues, the responding
executives agreed. Some
synagogues have started to
provide escort services for
But agreement was
general that such problems
had been developing before
the city service cutbacks
and will probably continue
as the city begins to
restore police and fire
protection to some degree.
The most detailed report
came from Rabbi Stuart A.
Gertman, director of the
Reform synagogues
federation, who indicated
he had undertaken "a
limited survey" of
affiliated congregations.
Gertman said that, given
the situation of the
neighborhoods where
problems have been
reported, he did not think
the synagogues had been
singled out for attack
"Rather," he
commented, "a general
deterioratiop is inevitably
followed by the
deterioration of a
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support a synagogue and
therefore to the
deteriorating ot the
synagogue itself."
Officials of central
agencies for Conservative
and Orthodox synagogues
in New -York City,
responding to the JTA
survey, r eported their
affiliated congregations had
also been compelled to
change procedures.
But, in contrast to the
Orthodox' synagogues, no
Conservative synagogues
had to be closed or
abandoned during the
difficult periods.
Rabbi - Morris Feldman,
executive director of the
Metropolitan region of the
United Synagogue, said he
doubted there had been a
major increase in
vandalism against .
Conservative synagogues in
New York City during the
1974-75 period, adding there
were few Conservative
synagogues in deteriorating
But, he said, some of the
176 Conservative
synagogues in the
metropolitan area had
reported difficulties. A
notice in the November
news bulletin of the
regional office said "there
has been an increase in the
vandalism perpetrated"
against affiliated
Acts of vandalism against
Orthodox synagogues in
New York City have
increased in recent years
but "there seems to be no
correlation between this
and the police cutbacks,"
according to David Merzel,
community - relations
director of the Union of
Orthodox Jewish
CongregatiOns of America
On the basis of replies to
questiOnnaires sent to
affiliated synagogues in the
New York area, he
reported, "in the stable
areas of the city,
vandalism remains low
while in deteriorating
areas, the rate is
increasing as
neighborhoods deteriorate
still further."
Rabbi Ephraim Sturm,
executive 'vice president of
Young Israel, an
association of ,Orthodox
congregations with more
than 100 member
synagogues in the
metropolitan area, stressed
that vandalism and arson
in changing New York City
neighborhoods "is not
confined to houses of
worship. In our present
moral standards, neither
private nor public property
is sacred."
However, he added, he
did not believe there had
been any significant
increase in burglary
against Young Israel
synagogues in the
metropolitan area since
1974.- . - -

Boris Smolar's


'Between You
... and Me'

Emeritus, JTA

(Copyright 1977, JTA, Inc.)

A MAJOR APPEAL:For the third time in the last three
years-the Jewish Daily Forward — the only Yiddish daily
newspaper in the United States — has issued an appeal
for funds to continue its existence. The 81-year-old
newspaper with a worldwide reputation seeks to raise
$250,000 within the shortest time possible.
The two previous appeals by the Forward — also for
$250,000 each — met with warm and speedy responses.
The responses came, however, primarily from dedicated II
readers and from "Jewish" labor unions sentimentally
attached to the Forward which helped to build them and
fought their battles in the most difficult years of their
history. The great majority of members of these _unions
are today not Jewish, but the Forward is still a sacred
institution to the entire membership and to the leaders.
The national Jewish organizations, which have been
served by the Forward for decades, took the appeal of the
newspaper with noticeable indifference.. They obviously
.did not feel their obligations to the Forward which is still
the only platform they use to reach the masses of
Yiddish-reading Jews. They still exploit the newspaper in
placing reports there about their activities and statements
from their leaders, but seem to be indifferent to its fate.
No contributions to the appeal came from the organized
Jewish communities, the Jewish federations, which raise
more than $500 million a year to support all kinds of
Jewish causes.
The time has come now for leading Jewish
organizations to take a serious look at the question of
coming . to the .aid of the Forward in its crucial moment of
existence. The time has also come for Jewish federations
to understand that the Forward is not just a newspaper —
it has never been privately owned — but an important
communal institution' serving the causes of American
Jewry, of world Jewry and of Israel.
Quite a number of federations — including the New
York Federation — are coming to the aid of their local
2 English-Jewish newspapers through various arrangements.
Some federations even publish their local papers and
cover the cost of the publication. The weekly newspapers
thus helped deserve that support. They serve good
purposes. They help to strengthen Jewish consciousness.
They stimulate giving to local Jewish institutions and to
national drives, including the drive of the United Jewish
Appeal. They reflect Jewish communal life locally and
keep their Jewish communities informed. on what is going
on in Israel and in the entire Jewish world.
They are, however, local organs and not national
institutions as is the Jewish Daily Forward.
appealed to the Jewish federations for allocations. In fact,
during its "good years': the newspaper was itself
contributing funds to Jewish causes. Leaders of the
organized Jewish communities should take note of that.
They must understand that under the present conditions of
the •growing costs of production of a newspaper it is
difficult even for large American dailies to maintain their
existence. Many of them have closed down in recent
years, or merged with others.
There are more than 200 Jewish communities organized
as federations in the larger cities and about 500 in small
towns. Some of those in the larger cities recognize the
- importance of Yiddish and are supporting — albeit
meagerly — such agencies as the YIVO Institute for
Jewish Research, the Yiddish Cultural Congress, and
Yiddish courses in their local colleges and universities.
Some, but by far not all.
The Forward has many friends in the communities not
only among the older generation of Jews who remember
the great role the paper played in building up Jewish life
in this country in the years of Jewish mass-immigration
and poverty. It also has friends in the ranks of young*
Jews who heard from their fathers what the Forward di
for the latter in the "sweat shop" years to secure better
conditions of life for them. Going 'out for the third time
now with a desperate appeal for financial aid to continue
its existence, the paper — deeply rooted in Jewish life and
in American Jewish contemporary history — could
probably reach individually many well-to-do Jews now
who are substantial givers to Jewish causes. However,
this would be looked upon by the local federations as an
intrusion into their centralized, fund-raising system. No
federation likes separate campaigns in its territory.
This creates a situation putting the federations even
under greater obligation to include the Forward as a
public institution, in their allocation system. They could
do it either directly, or perhaps as part of the Joint
Cultural Appeal. With annual allocations from the
federations, and with. other sources of income which the
Forward may succeed in developing, the survival of the
paper would become more certain. Profiting from this
will be only Jewish communal interests.


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