Undersecretary of Labor Addresses Histadrut Convention in New York
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Undersecretary of Labor Addresses Histadrut Convention in New York

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Under Secretary of Labor John Henning lauded last night the “pragmatic and romantic” aspects of history which, he said, were common to the democracies of the United States and Israel. Addressing the 40th annual convention of the National Committee for Labor Israel, Mr. Henning, who made a second visit to Israel last September, reported on the remarkable advances of the country, particularly the progress of the Histadrut, the Israel labor federation.

He said it was largely due to the Histadrut that Israel became one of the great social democracies and a state dedicated to advance the progress of all peoples and political and religious freedom “for Jew, Moslem or Christian.”

The convention concluded here today with the adoption of a $5,000,000 goal for the 1964 drive on behalf of major medical, vocational training, cultural and rehabilitation services in Israel.

Rabbi Jacob J. Weinstein of Chicago was re-elected national chairman of the Committee. Dr. Sol Stein was re-named executive director and Israel Stolarsky, associate director. Isaac Hamlin, now a resident of Tel Aviv, was again named Israel representative of the National Committee for Labor Israel.

William H. Sylk, chairman of the American Histadrut Development Foundation, reported to the convention that the Foundation had reached the $4,000,000-mark of long-term commitments in the form of wills and bequests for the future needs of Israel, Louis Segal, secretary of the Foundation, and Rabbi Weinstein appealed to the older generation of American Jewry to utilize the Foundation as a means of assuring a continuous bond between their families and Israel.


A salute to the founders of the Israel Histadrut Campaign was extended at last night’s session by Israel Ambassador Avraham Harman, who compared the work of the “dedicated Jewish workers of the teeming East Side in New York of the 1920’s with the pioneering work of American settlers in the Far West a century ago and the contemporary pioneering on the ancient frontiers of Israel itself.”

Katriel Katz, Israel’s Consul General here, told the 3,000 delegates that the Histadrut was “the school for, Israel’s leaders and statesmen, the educator of its people in social and national responsibility.” He said Israel’s labor federation had “created a unique social economic pattern of co-existence and cooperation between free enterprise on the one hand, and cooperative, communal and public endeavors on the other.”

The difficulties facing Israel in the integration of 500,000 immigrants from Oriental countries was outlined to the convention by Yitzhak Ben-Abaron, member of the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, who described it as the chief issue facing the country today. Noting the “serious cultural and economic gaps between the veterans and the large masses of newcomers from Asian and African countries,” Mr. Ben Abaron said that “only through advancing and equalizing opportunities for education will the magic catchword ‘integration’ assume concrete form and content.”

During a morning session, young adult leaders of the Histadrut Campaign were addressed by Dr. J. L. Teller, educational director of the National Committee for Labor Israel on the subject of “Labor Israel and the American Jew.” Dr. Teller analyzed aspects of organized philanthropy and rejected notions that, by supporting philanthropic endeavors in Israel one was interfering with the internal affairs of the country. Other speakers at the convention included Moe Falikman, vice-president of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union and Ben-Zion Ilan, official representative of the Histadrut executive.


In a resolution adopted at the closing session today, the convention protested the discrimination against Jews in the Soviet Union and endorsed the Appeal of Conscience addressed to the leaders of the Soviet Government last October by a group of 100 Americans headed by Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas.

The Appeal had called on the Soviet Government to: permit Jewish education in all its forms; reopen Jewish cultural institutions; permit the establishment of central institutions to serve the religious needs of Soviet Jewry; and allow the establishment of formal religious and cultural bonds between Soviet Jewry and Jewish communities abroad.

The convention adopted resolutions expressing its grief at the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the death of Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver.

At an earlier session, the convention paid tribute to Abraham Sutzkever, the celebrated Yiddish poet living in Israel who was an underground fighter in the Vilna Ghetto against the Nazis.

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