Community Centers Foster Group Consciousness, Social Service Conference Hears
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Community Centers Foster Group Consciousness, Social Service Conference Hears

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(Jewish Daily Bulletin)

Jewish community centers have been potent factors in fostering group consciousness among American Jews, according to Rabbi Max Kadushin of New York, speaking at a joint session here last night of Jewish Community Center Secretaries and National Conference of Jewish Social Service.

Samuel A. Goldsmith of New York, secretary of the Social Service Conference denied that the public is tired of drives and said that people enjoy drives and “being driven.” There is the exhilaration of the drive, the thrill of distant appeal, the compensation of ministering to suffering or helping achievement far away,” he declared.

“There are two roads open to you,” Rabbi Kadushin said in discussing the the Jewish Center movement. One way is to ignore the group consciousness; the alternative is to nourish and develop it. The underlying purpose of every activity should be to seek out and use all the agencies which promote Jewish group feeling. The synagogue is no longer the Jewish communal institution and if the synagogue is to succeed it will not confine itself to services. The synagogue must engage in any activity which can serve its purposes and many of these are found in the program of the center.”

The keynote of the convention here, which is being attended by 600 delegates from all over the country, was expressed by Dr. S. Benderley of New York.

“We are getting away from dealing with petty ills and misfortune of the individual and are coming to a study of the group and society in general,” he said. “The Jew does not include in prayer only a plea for the individual. His plea is for “us” and “we.” His prayer is not individual but social,” Dr. Benderley declared.

The Community Chest, which collects in one campaign once a year all money for all charitable enterprises, is a disruptive factor in the development of Jewish community life, according to Dr. Maurice B. Hexter, executive director of the Federation of Jewish Philantropies of Boston, in an address delivered in the Temple here at the opening of the National Conference of Jewish Social Service.

“I have no mandate from my colleagues,” Dr. Hexter said, “but Jewish federations in the larger cities not now affiliated with community chests probably will not join such general financial federation. I believe this will be done because of the discontent into which the Jewish community is cast by reason of such joinder, which diverts the activity of the Jews, as Jews, from their philanthropic impulses.”

“The one clear gain which the chest yields is that of drawing the community together in fraternal cooperation, making for better understanding and good-will between the Jew and the non-Jew,” Dr. Abba Hillel Silver declared.

Rabbi Silver joined Louis M. Cahn of Chicago, President of the conference, in warning against overprofessionalization in social work.

“You must not only tolerate the layman,” he said, “but you must cultivate and stimulate him to participate directly in both the theory and the practice of progressive social work. The layman must not be permitted to discharge his social obligations merely with a check.”

Edward M. Baker, President of the Cleveland Federation of Jewish Charities, welcomed the conference, after the opening prayer by Rabbi Solomon Goldman.

More than 1,000 persons attended the dinner in the grand ballroom of the Hotel Astor Sunday night for the benefit of the Harlem Home of the Daughters of Israel. Receipts will be spent in work on the new seven-story building now being erected at Fifth Avenue and 107th Street. Expectation is that the structure will be ready for occupancy by the middle of August this year. When completed the edifice will have cose more than $1,000,000.

A scientific survey of the National Council of Jewish Women is now being made in accordance with the decision of the Board of Managers at the annual meeting last November. The Bureau of Jewish Social Research, under the direction of Mr. Samuel A. Goldsmith, is making this survey, at the invitation of the National Council of Jewish Women.

Mr. Goldsmith is now visiting several cities in which Council Sections exist, to make a study of their activities. This study will supplement a survey of the National Departments, offices and committees, and will be completed in the fall.

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