NEW YORK (May. 23)
American Jews, if they are to understand the future of Jewish community organization, must avoid the pitfall of substituting slogans for substance and of becoming trapped by form while disregarding content, Philip Bernstein, executive director of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds told the General Assembly of the Synagogue Council of America last night.
“Each organization can speak only for those who authorize it to speak for them,” Mr. Bernstein said. “There is a difference between membership and representation. People may be affiliated with an organization but it may not represent them–particularly when it speaks on issues on which they have never been consulted, and which, in fact, may be far removed from the purposes, programs and experience of the organization.
“American Jewish community organization must grow from the ground up, not from the top down, ” the CJFWF executive continued. “It must have its roofs in communities where people live, where their needs are felt. We have in our cities, central community organization for financing, planning and coordinating virtually all of our major responsibilities–local, national and overseas.
“Only our Jewish education generally remains more fragmented even in some cities where we have bureaus of Jewish education; and though we have central rabbinical bodies and synagogue councils in some two score cities, the degree of cooperation often falls short of what we have achieved in other respects, ” Mr. Bernstein pointed out.