WASHINGTON (Dec. 7)
B’nai B’rith took formal action today toward closing a 12-year breach in Jewish community relations activities, through re-affiliation with the National Community Relations Advisory Council. The B’nai B’rith board of governors adopted a proposal to reaffiliate with NCRAC, a coordinating body of national and local Jewish groups engaged in combating anti-Semitism and religious and racial discrimination.
Label A. Katz, president of B’nai B’rith, said his organization’s stand is conditional, requiring similar approval by the national commission of the Anti-Defamation League, its community relations arm. The ADL commission, whose executive committee has already recommended approval, meets in February.
The move to reaffiliate came after two years of discussions and negotiations between a joint B’nai B’rith-ADL committee and NCRAC representatives. The negotiators ironed out the differences which had caused B’nai B’rith and the American Jewish Committee, then the two largest constituents of NCRAC, to resign from that body in 1952.
The differences grew out of a study by sociologist Robert I. Maclver who proposed a division of activities and responsibilities among Jewish community relations organizations. A major controversy erupted in the Jewish community. When a majority of NCRAC affiliates–these now number six national agencies and 74 local community relations councils–voted to implement the Maclver report, B’nai B’rith claimed that the status of NCRAC had been altered from that of an advisory “roof organization” to a functional agency.
Mr. Katz said today that B’nai B’rith’s decision to rejoin NCRAC “on the basis of mutually agreed terms which provide for a coordinative process that respects voluntarism and the integrity and autonomy of its constituent members” was in keeping with B’nai B’rith policy “to encourage and support cooperative activity in Jewish community life.” He called it “an example of a working and practical unity in which all elements, and particularly the community itself, stand to gain.”
Aaron Goldman, of Washington, national chairman of the NCRAC, welcomed the announcement by B’nai B’rith that its board of governors had approved rejoining the NCRAC, subject to similar action by the national commission of the ADL. He said “this is the most welcome and gratifying step toward more effective cooperation among Jewish community relations agencies engaged in pursuit of a common cause.”
ADOPTS $9,476,000 BUDGET FOR 1965; ADDRESSED BY CATHOLIC LEADER
The B’nai B’rith board of governors adopted a new budget, highest in the organization’s 121-year history. The board voted $9,476,000 for the year 1965. This includes $4,339,000 for the youth program next year–a jump of more than $262,000 over current expenditures. The board also endorsed a proposal to inaugurate a campaign for a $5,000,000 development fund as a major step toward meeting the growing needs of the expanding number of Jewish teenagers and college students.
Monsignor George C. Higgins, of the National Catholic Welfare Council predicted in an address to the board of governors that the next session of the Ecumenical Council would overwhelmingly approve declarations on deicide and religious liberty. “The crisis, if anything, tended to galvanize support for the resolution rather than weaken it,” said Msgr. Higgins who participated in the Council held in Rome.
“When they get down to the finish vote line, most of the negative votes will evaporate,” he said. “I hope and pray, once the doctrine is promulgated, it will be the beginning of a new era “in Catholic-Jewish relations. He cautioned B’nai B’rith against expecting any dramatic changes. “No doctrine is going to change the face of the earth between Monday and Tuesday,” he said.
Asked whether the deicide declaration would lead to revision of parochial school textbooks which sometimes reflect anti-Semitism, he replied: “I would expect it to lead to all kinds of activities at the local diocesan level in refining all that needs to be refined, including the reforming of textbooks.” Implementation, he said, would vary from place to place, depending on the “experience and initiative of the people involved.”