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June 03, 1988 - Image 22

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-06-03

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

I OPINION I

YOU ALONE CAN DO IT,
BUT YOU CAN'T DO IT ALONE . • .

• DO YOU "LIVE" TO EAT?
• DO YOU HAVE TROUBLE SAYING NO?
• TOO MUCH TO DO, TOO LITTLE TIME?

CALL

• STRESS MANAGEMENT
• ASSERTIVENESS
TRAINING

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22 FRIDAY, JUNE 3, 1988

Crisis

Continued from preceding page

fall should be allocated
primariy to Jewish education.
For example, every Jewish
community would be able to
provide tuition-free, universal
Jewish education to any
child, regardless of the finan-
cial status of the parents and
without any means test. This
would apply to any type of
Jewish education, including
day schools, Jewish camps,•
Talmud-Torah, synagogue
schools and Israel programs.
Tuition for adult Jewish
students would be free or
heavily subsidized by the
federations (up to 75 percent),
with no means test involved.
And salaries for Jewish-
Hebrew studies teachers,
principals, and ad-
ministrators would be
significantly increased, in-
cluding security and retire-
ment benefits, in order to at-
tract the best possible staff.
Funds also could be used to
improve services to the
Jewish elderly, including
housing, home care, advice
and counseling, meals and
visitation. The Jewish
children's and family services
programs could be
strengthened and expanded
to include more outreach and
increased staff.
These are only a few of the
possible uses for increased
federation funds. Even if the
educational goals were the
only ones fulfilled, they would
bolster the future growth and
Jewish enrichment of the
community. In the long run,
Israel wold probably benefit,
with one of these benefits be-
ing increased aliyah. And
Americans could stop schnor-
ring from each other on
behalf of Israel.
- The aftermath of such a
development would be
dramatic. The Jewish Agency,
dependent on federation-UJA-
United Israel Appeal funds
for its survival, probably
would wither or cease to ex-
ist. The overlapping of func-
tions of the various ministries
of the Israeli government and
the Jewish Agency depart-
ment also would disappear.
Aliyah probably would be
handled by the Ministry of
Immigration and Absorption,
Rural Development by the
Ministry of Agriculture, and
Youth Aliyah by the Ministry
of Education and the
Ministry of Labor and Social
Affairs. There would no
longer be a government
within the government. The
political appointees from the
World Zionist Organization
would have no fiefdom to rule
and fight over and no quasi-
ministerial trappings to enjoy.
But most of all, Israel and
Diaspora Jews could begin a
healthy partnership which

would substitute educational
cooperation, economic in-
vestments, • and welfare pro-
jects for a charity
relationship.
Federation executives and
leaders surely will object to
the option of "keeping the
money at home," fearing that
without the Israeli motive,
people will lose incentive to
give and the local pot will
shrink dramatically. I can on-
ly urge greater efforts to ex-
plain the deep crisis in local
Jewish needs and the fight for
cultural survival.
More difficult will be the
revolution in Israel-Diaspora
ties, which requires both part-
ners to redefine their view of
themselves and their
pragmatic relationship. Such
an effort is long overdue and
very badly needed.
Assuming that Jews abroad
will not relinquish a central
fund-raising effort for Israel,
how could the Israel-bound
funds be put to the best possi-
ble use?
A minimal change would be
to salvage the Jewish Agen-
cy by restructing it to have a
majority of non-political,
donor, and Israeli represen-
tatives on all the governing
bodies.
The Jewish Agency should
get out of the business of pro-
viding social services. It
should have been disbanded
after the establishment of the
state in 1948, or in 1967,
when the government and in-
digenous non-profit agencies
should have taken over the
functions of its various
departments.
Unfortunately, social plan-
ning and service delivery are
not the most relevant
variables when evaluating
the raison d'etre of the Jewish
Agency. Israeli political
economic interests firmly con-
trol Diaspora charity. This is
coupled with the stubborn in-
sistence of Diaspora leaders
to cling to the Agnecy as "the
principal link between Israel
and the Diaspora com-
munities." The combination
has kept the Agency alive. For
the Diaspora leaderships, the
Agency is the next best thing
to a Jewish international
"parliament," and it allows
them personal and political
involvement in Israeli affairs.
Let there be no mistake:
The Jewish Agency is
primarily the product of
American Jewish donor
leadership, which maintains
it in the name of philanthropy
for Israel but needs it as a
manifestation of its own
status hierachy.
Unfortunately, the bulk of
UJA donors ahve no insight
into this labyrinth, were
never asked how they wanted

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