The accomplishments of the Jewish Welfare Board during the past two years are the subject of laudatory comment in the Anglo-Jewish press in various sections of the country.
The weeklies, commenting on the proceedings of the bi-ennial conference of the Jewish Welfare Board recently held in Washington, emphasize the importance of its functions as a factor for strengthening Jewish communal life in the United States.
“At the fourth biennial convention of the Jewish Welfare Board, held recently in Washington, the organization received what some will think its due of praise from all the notables present-including the Vice-President of the United States and the Secretary of the Navy,” writes the S. A. J. Review,” the organ of the Society for the Advancement of Judaism, of which Dr. Mordecai M. Kaplan is the leader. “But a just tribute to the work the J. W. B. has actually contributed to American Jewish life during the past few years would go far beyond these conventional salutes to organized philanthropy or religious diversion for the military. The J. W. B. is modest enough not to make the claim for itself, but outsiders should have no hesitancy in giving the J. W. B. credit for being the most constructive national agency for Jewish work that we have.
“If there has been a remarkable increase in the sheer volume of Jewish interest in this country, and the statistics presented at the convention indicate unmistakably that there has, then the J. W. B. has the pleasant responsibility for that. The semblance of Jewish life existing in the outlying regions has been crystallized into community centers by the J. W. B. Where local leaders were at a loss how to proceed the J. W. B. has stepped into the situation with advice and with a program. As a result, Jewish community life in America has made immense progress from its former history of incorrigible malapropoism and it is now making real strides toward the inclusion of the unsynagoged in the community life. The synagogues sometimes look with an uncordial eye upon the success of the J. W. B. where they have failed; but the synagogues should not really construe the success of the J. W. B. as their falure-since before the J. W. B. came on the scene the synagogues were not even trying. And out of the recruits which the J. W. B. has brought to Jewish life, in the Centers, there will ultimately be evolved the clientele, as it were, for the more intense Jewish life that the synagogue is supposed to offer and to be.
Meanwhile it is a highly fortunate thing that the executive of the J. W. B. direct its work from a point of view that is significantly, Jewish. Their attitude has for a long time been vastly more mature than the attitude which once made it possible for Jewish social workers to look upon Americanization work as the end-all and be-all of Jewish work in America. Thanks to their efforts, the J. W. B. has reckoned with the changed conditions of Jewish life during the last decade and thereby guarantees for itself a career of long usefulness.”
The “Jewish Tribune” wrote: “Perhaps the most striking and most timely statement made at this convention was that of Harry L. Glucksman, executive director of the Jewish Welfare Board who uttered a warning against the tendency of some Jewish communities, in erecting buildings to serve as Jewish centers, to go beyond their means and burden the community with a heavy indebtedness. Recently we have been informed of several instances in which this has happened and has had disastrous consequences. Each community should, of course, be provided with a Center for the Jewish youth, but this must be planned so that, when the enthusiasm surrounding the building fund campaigns has cooled, it will still be possible for the community to provide the funds needed for the maintenance of the institution on an adequate scale.”
“If all national organizations were as efficient and as successful in rendering aid to local communities and organizations there would be much more accomplished in every field of Jewish endeavor, educational, cultural and religious,” the “Jewish Times” of Baltimore stated.”
The “Washington Post,” in greeting the convention, wrote: “The Jewish (Continued on Page 4)
Welfare Board might be called one of the few worth-while by-products of the great war. Created in 1917 to serve the needs of the soldiers and sailors of Jewish faith both here and abroad, with the close of the war it turned its resources into new channels. The Welfare Board became the parent organization of hundreds of Jewish Centers and Y.M. H. A.’s throughout the country, at the same time continuing to look out for Jewish service men and disabled veterans undergoing hospital treatment.”