Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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5 Iyar 5760 - May 10, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Jerusalem Religious Council Says: "We Will Never Sit with Representatives of Heretical Movements"

by Betzalel Kahn

In the wake of the State Comptroller's censure of the Religious Councils for not holding joint meetings with representatives of the Reform movement, members of the Jerusalem Religious Council have made it absolutely clear that the council has always and will always conduct itself in accordance with halocho as directed by the ruling of the gedolei haTorah.

In other matters, the Religious Council was pleased with the findings of the Comptroller which clearly indicate that over the past few years the Council has extended considerable assistance to hundreds of charitable groups. However, one of the areas in which the Comptroller criticized the Council was in its distribution of money for kimcha dePischa, and here the Council rejects the Comptroller's opinion that the distribution of kimcha dePischa should only be given to bodies under direct supervision of the Council.

All decisions regarding granting of aid to the needy were agreed upon by Religious Council committees which are composed of elected public representatives. Analysis of the list of the hundreds of organizations which received help from the Council indicates that aid was given to both religious and secular institutions, as well as families and community centers.

By its decision to conduct itself in this manner, the Council has continued the long-standing Jewish tradition that kimcha dePischa money is distributed not only to families and individuals but also to charitable organizations known for the help they extend to the needy in all parts of the city.

Heads of the Jerusalem Religious Council explained to the State Comptroller that the Jerusalem Religious Council -- along with all religious groups in the State -- distribute kimcha dePischa on the basis of the Jewish approach which does not differentiate between Jews regarding money or food products for the needy. Furthermore, in recent years, the number of voluntary organizations distributing kimcha dePischa in the form of food packages has greatly increased, and it is precisely in this area that the Council has made outstanding progress.

The Religious Council pointed out that organizations helping the needy informed their beneficiaries that part of the subsidy comes from the Council. Those subsidizing the Religious Council -- the Religious Affairs Ministry and the Jerusalem Municipality -- encourage the Religious Council in its efforts because they regard the distribution of kimcha dePischa as one of its basic functions.

The Council examined every institution or nonprofit organization before granting help. Organizations which are not legally registered or whose records were not audited and subsequently approved were rejected. Due to the limited amount of manpower available to the Religious Council, it was able to conduct follow-ups of distribution activities only on samples of a broad cross section of the organizations supported.

The Religious Council has stated that the few suggestions by the Comptroller regarding Council administrative activities have either been already rectified or are currently in the process of rectification.

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