Civic Clubs in St. Petersburg Bar Jews from Membership

Discrimination against Jewish residents of St. Petersburg by the civic clubs of the city was brought into the open during a discussion at the Human Relations Workshop, sponsored by the St. Petersburg Council on Human Relations.

The disclosures came when Herbert Crill, president of the Inter-Civic Conference, which represents the six service clubs-Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, Exchange, Civitan and Optimsts-told the workshop that there were Jewish members in these organizations.

His statement was immediately challenged by M.G. Rosenberg who said that apart from the two Junior Chambers of Commerce and a suburban Kiwanis Club, no Jews were known to be members of any St. Petersburg civic club. It was pointed out to the session that a “gentlemen’s agreement” existed among the civic clubs on the admission of Jews.

Crill later told a reporter for the Florida Jewish Journal that he had sincerely believed Jews were members of the clubs. “However I checked later and found that there are none in Kiwanis or in the Exchange Club, of which I am a member.” He said there was one Jew in Rotary but added “I grant you, one member is a small percentage of the total membership.” The one Jewish Rotarian, it was learned, was a transfer member from another city.

David Wolper, president of the local B’nai B’rith lodge, said that “this policy of discrimination has been well-known for years, but apparently no one is anxious to permit membership to a Jew no matter how civic-minded or intelligent he may be. It was only four years ago, “he recalled, “that the local Jaycees (Junior Chamber of Commerce) took in their first Jewish member. Today, a Jew is a member of the Jaycees board of directors and has won a Jaycee popularity contest. From all indications the 12 Jewish members of the Jaycees have been a credit to the organization.”

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