Role of Jewish Social Welfare Organizations in United States Analyzed by Sobeloff

The peculiar contribution of Jewish social welfare organization has been the organization within one community of “all the services which by common consent have a claim upon us, without arbitrary limitation of geography or nature of service,” Isidore Sobeloff, executive director of the Jewish Welfare Federation of Detroit, declared here at the National Conference of Jewish Social Welfare.

Mr. Sobeloff, one of the past presidents of the Conference, who spoke at a dinner honoring the presidents at the 50th anniversary convention of the Conference, said: “We have evolved an instrument that permits us on a voluntary basis to perform the traditional social services, to relate ourselves to those needing help press our kinship for our fellow-Jews in Israel.

“Any program which carries with it the preponderant, the overwhelming interest and support of our fellow-Jews is a legitimate branch of our community organization,” Mr. Sobeloff added. He asserted that this machinery applies the “concept of over-all shared concern for the common problems at home and abroad.” This development, the social welfare leader insisted, grew historically from the Jewish community’s earlier procedure of merging “contending federations within one community.”

Speaking of the role of the professional social worker in the history of the last five decades of Jewish social work in America, Mr. Sobeloff declared that the professional earned his status in the “heroic work of developing agencies and communities organized to serve themselves, rather than uptown serving downtown.” This work, he continued, went hand-in-hand with the job of converting children’s institutions into foster homes, improving the level of service in old age homes, making family agencies out of relief societies and “introducing study and social work research as guides for community organization and development.”

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