Label Katz Rejects Formation of New Central Body by American Jewry

Label A. Katz, president of B’nai B’rith, today rejected proposals that have been made for the creation of a new, overall, central body for American Jewry, declaring that the Presidents Conference, consisting of the heads of major Jewish organizations in this country, offers “the wiser alternative.”

Addressing the B’nai B’rith Council of Pittsburgh, here, Mr. Katz endorsed the principle of organic unity in Jewish life, describing the evolution of an American-Jewish central body as “a desirable and attainable goal.” He warned, however, against “a formalized body with specific voting procedures which, however democratic in their intent, disregard the fundamental fact that there is no compulsory quality to American Jewish life.” Instead, he said, “let us build on what we have–namely the Presidents Conference.”

Mr. Katz, who is currently chairman of the Presidents Conference, told the meeting here than an effective central body of American Jewry must be guided by several characteristics of American Jewish life. These characteristics, he said, are “the spirit of voluntarism, the denial of compulsion, respect for dissent, and a wariness of concentrated power.” The Presidents Conference, he held, offers “a practical, pragmatic approach to the problem of Jewish unity.”

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