WASHINGTON (Aug. 29)
A reappraisal of the structure and programs of B’nai B’rith, to develop greater involvement of its membership, was proposed here today by William A. Wexler, new president of the organization, in view of “the changing character of the American Jewish community.” Dr. Wexler made the proposal at the first administrative committee meeting of the new officers elected at the B’nai B’rith’s recent convention in Israel. He called for a series of “task forces to probe aspects of B’nai B’rith’s many programs, to develop new ideas responsive to the emerging modern pattern of American Jewry.”
Under the Wexler plan, study groups composed of specialists from within and outside B’nai B’rith will systematically research and evaluate the interests of members, the psychological and sociological factors which motivate them, individually, to engage in or to ignore present B’nai B’rith activities.
Dr. Wexler pointed out that B’nai B’rith, with its growing membership and many programs, “clearly contradicts any view that the Jewish community life is diminishing.” He stressed the need, however, for the organization to be alert to shifting trends in the interests and composition of an American Jewry that is now largely native-born, college educated and more deeply integrated into American society. “There is need for experimentation and innovation in organizational life, to activate latent Jewish interests and strengthen involvement in Jewish communal affairs,” he declared.
Rabbi Jay Kaufman, also participating in his first board meeting as the new executive vice-president of B’nai B’rith, stressed the “environmental factors” that could accelerate the growth of such Jewish movements as B’nai B’rith. Among these he listed: an American society which “increasingly accepts religious pluralism and encourages the Jew to live according to his religious and cultural convictions; an affluent economy; and a Jewish community that, notwithstanding its inertia and confusions, wants to be Jewish even if it is uncertain how to be Jewish.”