Compromise Fails to Bridge Essential Issue Dividing Jewish Social Workers

The National Conference of Jewish Social Service has held its annual convention but while the sessions are over, a serious battle is looming over fundamental Jewish issues which were raised at Detroit.

Two contending factions will bring the issue to the next convention, in 1934, at Atlantic City. While there were two candidates for the office of the presidency—Jacob Kepecs of Chicago and Harry L. Glucksman of New York—each curiously enough receiving 135 votes, thus throwing the election into a deadlock, the issue was not one of personalities, but had some deep-rooted issues involved in it.

Dr. John Slawson, who headed the committee of 100 which placed the name of Mr. Glucksman in nomination in opposition to the official candidate of the nominating committee headed by Harry L. Lurie of New York, explained the issues at the luncheon of workers in the Emergency Allied Jewish Campaign of Detroit this afternoon, at the Hotel Tuller.

THE FUNDAMENTAL ISSUE

Referring to the final choice by the committee of five of Jacob Billikopf of Philadelphia, for the presidency of the conference, Dr. Slawson declared that it was not an election that took place at the conference but a compromise. “We compromised on a candidate that is acceptable to the Jewish point of view—that is how some of us compromised”, Dr. Slawson stated, and with this remark revealed the underlying issues which divided the conference into two factions.

“There was a fundamental issue involved, and this issue is one with which some of us struggled and are still struggling now”, said Dr. Slawson. “The question is whether our social interests shall be pivotal in their Jewish content, or whether we shall run away from being Jewish. I would like as many of us to be Jewish because of a philosophic concept and not through pressure of anti-Semitism. Don’t bank on the German situation making American Jews more Jewish permanently. What we need is a positive and effective Jewish attitude.”

THE BATTLE TO GO ON

It is evident that the battle within the National Conference of Jewish Social Service is on, and that the group represented by Dr. Slawson, Mr. Glucksman, Morris D. Waldman, Dr. Solomon Loewenstein and others is determined to carry on the battle which, as they explain, is intended to make the National Conference of Jewish Social Service Jewish and not merely an organization dealing with techniques and skills.

That the viewpoint represented by Dr. Slawson has powerful support from many laymen was indicated in another address at the Detroit luncheon Monday, delivered by Judge Jonah J. Goldstein of New York. Declaring that there is need for emphasis on the healthy side of the community, Judge Goldstein declared that there is nothing Jewish about poverty or tuberculosis, and that it is the business of Jewish communities to concern themselves with specific Jewish problems, and with matters affecting Jewish education.

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