Art By Scott Mattern
Splitting The Pie
How the Allied Jewish Campaign settles
its annual debate over local vs. overseas needs.
hen United He-
brew Schools re-
ceived a $20,000
last year instead
of the $124,000
increase it re-
quested from the
Jewish Welfare Federation, UHS
Its board approved the absorption
of the UHS branch at Congregation
B'nai Moshe into the branch at Con-
gregation Beth Achim. It increased
tuition 10 percent for UHS nursery
and elementary classes, Community
Jewish High School and the Midrasha
College of Jewish Studies. It cut to six
the weekly hours of the Midrasha
library and veteran full-time
librarian Sarah Bell.
Community members were in-
censed. Parents at the B'nai Moshe
branch felt betrayed. They had just
won UHS approval for keeping the
branch open another year. Backers of
the Midrasha were upset that a
Jewish school would severely hamper
UHS officials blamed the cuts on
the Federation. Federation leaders
FRIDAY, JUNE 30, 1989
said UHS would have to live within
Who was right?
Detroit's Allied Jewish Campaign
in 1988-1989 raised a record $27
million, plus an additional $2.3
million for the Passage to Freedom
Campaign for the resettlement of
Soviet Jews. With that kind of fund-
raising power, it wouldn't seem dif-
ficult to grant an extra $124,000 to a
United Hebrew Schools or overcome
the Medicaid deficit for the 400
residents of the Jewish Home for
It is difficult when Federation
leaders must split the pie between 22
local agencies and more than 50 na-
tional and overseas beneficiaries.
In May, the Federation board of
governors made its first cut into the
Campaign funds, approving $14.5
million for Israel and overseas agen-
cies and $9.5 million for local and na-
The May split represents an in-
crease over last year of nearly
$500,000 for local and national needs,
and $700,000 for Israel and overseas
But with growing needs at home,
Max Fisher is a Jewish communal
some wonder why the Federation
doesn't keep more for local needs. leader by virtue of his leadership roles
Detroit is bucking a national trend by here, in Israel, in Washington and
consistently keeping only 40-45 per- financially — his annual $1 million
cent of its annual Campaign for gift to the Allied Jewish Campaign is
matched only by A. Alfred Taubman.
National contributions to the Fisher recalls the days after 1948
United Jewish Appeal — the financial when the Federation began dividing
forwarding arm for the American up the contributions.
The allocation process then "was
Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
and the Jewish Agency for Israel — very extensive, very loud and noisy,"
have continued to climb since the Fisher says. "Some of the arguments
founding of the State of Israel in 1948. were very heated, but they became a
In 1975, local campaigns throughout guide for later years." He says the for-
the United States forwarded $472 mula varied from year to year as the
million to the UJA. In 1988, the community responded to emergencies
in Israel, but a formula was created.
amount was $737 million.
But, says Bill Lipper of the UJA's
Fisher sees Detroit's Jewish com-
Chicago office, that represents a munity as "growing up and disciplin-
declining share of the total amount ed. We have done a better job than
collected by the Jewish federations. most and we have seen that overseas
"The UJA is receiving more money, and local needs are two sides of the
but proportionately less of the in- same coin. Israel needs strong Jewish
crease," Lipper says.
communities here and communities
Given that decline, "Detroit, here need a strong Israel."
Cleveland, New York and others con-
Detroiters active in the alloca-
tinue to set high standards" for tions process are reluctant to say that
Jewish federations to follow. But he a formula is used today. It implies a
refused to reveal percentages.
back-room, smoke-filled, one-meeting-
Local leaders, however, are not as a-year cutting of the pie by a few ma-
jor givers and ignores the reality of