Friday, December 24, 1982 19
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
. . . and Me'
(Copyright 1982, JTA, Inc.)
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BERLIN, WEST GERMANY
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MONITORING RECESSION: The Council of Jewish
Federations, keeping its finger on the pulse of Jewish com-
munal life in the United States and Canada, has been
monitoring the impact which the economic difficulties in
the country and the federal budget cuts are having on
Jewish families and individuals.
The CJF undertook a fact-finding survey of 50 key
federations. They were a representative sample of all 200
organized Jewish communities. The study concentrated on
establishing the extent to which lower income and middle
income Jewish families have been affected by the economic
recession. The findings were discussed with representa-
tives from national Jewish agencies engaged in social serv-
ices and in education. The latter were advised by the CJF to
make similar studies in their own fields. The survey was
conducted under the direction of Lester Levin, the head of
the CJF Community Planning Department.
The federations contacted by the CJF all expressed
concern. They included communities with a Jewish popula-
tion of 40,000 and over — such as Baltimore, Detroit, Cleve-
land, Newark, Miami, Philadelphia — as well as inter-
mediate communities with populations ranging between
15,000 and 40,000 Jews, smaller communities numbering
from 5,000 to 15,000 Jews.
Almost all of the respondents indicated that not only
lower income groups — who are often dependent on services
provided by local Jewish agencies — are being affected by
the present economic conditions, but also significant num-
bers of middle income Jewish families and individuals.
Some reported unemployment in their communities; others
emphasized the difficulty among Jewish college graduates
in finding employment and the increasing numbers of
Jewish married women entering the work force to supple-
ment the family income.
In general, the Jewish communal service agencies
were concerned about growing caseloads and requests for
services and the potential inability to meet these growing
needs due to limitations in their budgets resulting • from
federal budget cuts.
THE JEWISH MIDDLE CLASS: The national
Jewish Welfare Board, which was one of the national
Jewish agencies that conducted surveys of their own, estab-
lished the following fact:
• Eighty percent of the Jewish centers affiliated with
the JWB indicated that their members had difficulties in
making fee payments; also that there was a 40 percent
increase in membership defaults.
• There was an increase in membership dropouts.
• There was an increase in the number of scholarships
requested for both annual dues and camp fees.
• There is a declining enrollment in free programs
simultaneously with an increased enrollment in free pro-
• Fifty percent of the reporting centers have now fewer
• Forty percent reported increased use of center activi-
ties as a replacement for more expensive commercial lei-
sure time activities.
• There is an increased interest in programs and lec-
tures dealing with economic issues.
• Centers are serving more meals, with seniors having
higher incomes "participating."
• Some families with higher income levels are request-
ing scholarships, while others are choosing to drop their
membership in the centers rather than request assistance.
• Some see - the center day camp fee as so far beyond
their means that they are not even bothering to inquire as
to financial aid or enrollment.
CJF SUGGESTIONS: In the field of Jewish educa-
tion, a survey conducted by the Jewish Educational Serv-
ices of North America shows that there is a declining
enrollment and participation in Jewish communal educa-
tion; that unemployment and inflation increased the
number of middle class Jewish families who cannot afford to
pay tuition now for their children in Jewish schools; that
staffs have been curtailed in the schools and lunch pro-
grams have been reduced in quantity and quality; and that
there are increasing numbers of requests for scholarships
from non-eligible income groups. As a result of the impact
of the economic crisis on Jewish families, Jewish educa-
tional institutions anticipate a further decline in enroll-
ment in schools and in summer camps.
The Council of Jewish Federations advises local feder-
ations to continue to monitor the impact of the present
economic situation locally, as the numbers of individuals
affected are growing. It suggests some short-term solution
for the communities to explore. They include development,
or expanding, small loans to middle-income families for
participation in Jewish programs, the expansion of schol-
arship fund dollars, and the financing of a revolving loan
fund, supported by non-campaign sources.
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