Publishers Honor J. T. A. on 40th Anniversary; Eisenhower Lauds J. T. A.
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Publishers Honor J. T. A. on 40th Anniversary; Eisenhower Lauds J. T. A.

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The Jewish Telegraphic Agency, only world-wide Jewish news agency, was honored tonight at a dinner session of the 15th annual convention of the American Association of English-Jewish Newspapers. The dinner, held at the Olcott Hotel here, was dedicated to the 40th anniversary of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. The Association represents 28 English-Jewish weeklies in 22 states.

President Eisenhower, in a message sent from the White House to the dinner, congratulated the JTA stating that the agency has served the English-Jewish press forty years “with distinction.” The message, addressed to Abraham Slabot, president of the Association, reads:

“I understand that the American Association of English-Jewish Newspapers is honoring the fortieth anniversary of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency at a dinner tonight, and I would like to add my own personal congratulations. For forty years the agency has served your papers with distinction. May I also extend my best wishes to the members of the American Association of English-Jewish Newspapers who are attending the dinner.”

Principal speakers at the dinner included Semach Hyman, Israel Consul General in New York; Rabbi Herbert A. Friedman, executive vice-president of the United Jewish Appeal; Louis P. Rocker, president of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency; William J. Miller, an editor of Life magazine, and others. Philip Slomovitz, editor and publisher of the Jewish News of Detroit, presided.

Mr. Hyman who was introduced as a man “who knows what a galley proof looks like,” and as one who had earned distinction in the field of journalism before becoming a successful advocate of his country’s cause as a diplomat, recalled his newspaper days in Jerusalem. He stressed the importance of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency as a bridge between the people of Israel and the Jews of the Diasplora and urged the publishers to do their utmost to ensure that their newspaper readers obtain an understanding of Israel.

Rabbi Friedman paid tribute to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency for its 40 years of service to the Jewish people. He stressed the importance of having factual information quickly available and noted that Jewish leaders here and abroad look to the JTA for objective, accurate and speedy information. The UJA leader, who described the JTA system as a unifying force in the community, stressed the role of the press in the challenge facing the Jewish people today. He described the UJA’s National Rescue Conference last week-end and called on the assembled publishers to give the UJA their maximum cooperation.


Mr. Rocker, speaking of the service being rendered by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency to world Jewry, said that the JTA can best be described as “a two-way bridge between Jews outside of Israel and Jews living in Israel. “He pointed out that ever since the Balfour Declaration, declaring British support for the establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine, “the Holy Land has been a major focus of JTA coverage. It quickly became the single major source of world Jewish news for the Jews of Palestine, just as it has been the major single source of news from Israel to Jews throughout the world,” he emphasized.

Discussing the need and role of such a specialized news agency, Mr. Rocker said that “much of what concerns us as Jews is not necessarily of sufficient general interest to merit coverage by the general press systems. If the various member communities of the great worldwide Jewish family are to be kept informed about developments vital to them as Jews, then it must be done as a Jewish enterprise,” he asserted. He recounted the achievements of the JTA in covering the struggle at Versailles over minority rights in postwar Europe in 1919, the rise and fall of Hitler, the coverage of the liberation of the Nazi death camps and other major Jewish news events.

Mr. Slomovitz emphasized that the Jewish newspaperman of today is the chronicler of contemporary Jewish history.” It is an act of historic justice,” he said, “that the convention banquet should be devoted to the JTA, in recognition of the great contribution it has made towards keeping alive Jewish kinship. Without JTA–he pointed out–there might have been no links between us and the rest of world Jewry, between us and those who survived the destructive fires in the inhuman decade of Nazism, between us and our kinsmen in Europe and Asia and Africa–and, of course, Israel.

“Without JTA there might not have been that deep understanding of the events that led to the rebirth of Israel. JTA kept Jewry informed. JTA continues to keep Jewry informed. It is the force that forges an indestructible chain that makes for wholesome Jewish existence. It is a process that first was made possible by the vision of Jacob Landau, JTA’s founder, and that now is given constructive continuity by the editorial skill of Boris Smolar and his associates and the good management of Victor Bienstock.”

Mr. Miller, in his address at the dinner, proposed that the publishers of the English-Jewish press undertake a readership survey to determine what kind of Jewish news the readers of their newspapers want. Former Senator Herbert H. Lehman, in a message read at the dinner, paid tribute to the work of the JTA “with which I became associated almost on its creation” and extended his greetings to “the members of your association with whom I have worked in different causes over the years.”

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  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund