American Jewish Leaders Take Part in Celebrating Jta’s 50th Anniversary
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American Jewish Leaders Take Part in Celebrating Jta’s 50th Anniversary

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Several hundred leaders of the American Jewish community, joined by representatives of the world press and a delegation of American Jewish newspaper editors, joined today in celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, at a luncheon at the Americana Hotel.

The agency, which began as the Jewish Correspondence Bureau, was launched in The Hague in 1917 by the late Jacob Landau, with the assistance of four young Belgian Zionists. One of this group, Sylvian Russ, was present at the celebration today, as were a number of former JTA staff members who had served JTA in posts around the world.

Three leaders of the American Jewish community: Louis J. Fox, president of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds; J.D. Weiler, national chairman of the United Jewish Appeal; and Mrs. Rose L. Halprin, chairman of the Jewish Agency-American Section described different phases of the JTA role in and for the world Jewish community. Robert H. Arnow, president of JTA, and chairman of the function, stressed, in a brief speech, the vital nature of communications in the Jewish life of today and the importance of JTA in developing an alert and informed American Jewish community.

Mr. Fox told the assemblage that increasing coverage of Jewish news by the general press, stemming from a growing interest in Jewish affairs by readers generally, and the increasing sophistication of a university-educated American Jewry, presented JTA with both unique difficulties and opportunities.

He told the luncheon guests that the Jewish community needs the best possible Jewish news service now more than ever before. Citing the work of the JTA during the past 50 years as "the eyes and ears" of the Jewish world, Mr. Fox declared that the events of the May-June crisis and war in the Middle East had demonstrated that, despite all differences, "we now know that there is a real Jewish identity." The CJFWF leader said that, in the effort to convert the sense of Jewish identity manifested during the May June crisis into permanent identification with Jewish life, the JTA "can give leadership in many ways." The JTA, he declared, should not only seek to provide Jewish news and Jewish interpretation not available from the general news media, but should also seek to set a standard of journalism for the whole press. He said that the 50th anniversary of the news service should be a time not only of congratulation for past achievements but also one to develop the news agency’s future, to make sure it would be "greater than its past."

Mr. Fox called for a vigorous Jewish press in this country, and declared that JTA could give leadership in its development, not only as the indispensable source of national and overseas news, but as "the fountainhead for the development of top-quality Jewish journalism."


Others speakers included Eleazar Lipsky, chairman of the JTA Board; Charles Frost and Rabbi Edward Sandrow, members of the JTA Board; and Joel Schenker, managing director of the Theatre Guild. Adolph Rosenberg, president of the American Jewish Press Association, presented an award to JTA in recognition of JTA’s contributions to Jewish journalism. It was accepted by Mr. Arnow.

Guests of honor included Wes Gallagher, general manager of the Associated Press; and Nahum Shamir, Economic Minister for the State of Israel.

Another highlight of the occasion was the presentation of a citation from the JTA board to Boris Smolar, editor-in-chief emeritus of the JTA, for 43 years of devoted and dedicated service to the JTA."

Mr. Weiler, noting that the JTA was continuing its reorganization to adapt to new conditions of the Jewish community in the United States and overseas, urged maximum support of the news agency to enable it to fulfill its essential role.

Mrs. Halprin noted that today’s celebration coincided with the 50th anniversary of the issuance of the Balfour Declaration in 1917, and suggested that the first dispatches of the agency included coverage of that event. She pointed out that, because the first JTA headquarters was in a neutral country during the first World War, the Jews of Germany and Russia learned of the issuance of the declaration through JTA dispatches.


Mr. Arnow read a message from Vice-President Hubert H. Humphrey who praised the JTA for its services to the Jewish community and to mankind. The Vice-President said, in his message, that he was conveying his congratulations on the "golden anniversary" of the JTA "before departing on my trip to South Asia," in recognition of the fact that "rapid and comprehensive transmission of information provides the indispensable basis for public understanding, for decision making, for human progress." Mr. Humphrey added that "these five decades of service have witnessed JTA’s impressive growth" and that "across its wires has come an increasing volume of news." He noted that, sometimes. that news "has been of triumph, sometimes of tragedy, sometimes of man’s noblest achievements, other times of oppression, of per solution, of inhumanity. But whether in times of promise or of peril, the Jewish communities throughout the world and men of goodwill of every faith and every nationality have been linked and aided by up-to-the-minute knowledge of events, of trends, of personalities." The Vice-President expressed his "hope and prayer" that the news of future years would be "of peace and prosperity in the Middle East and throughout the world, and of ancient prophecy joyously fulfilled for human dignity."

Prime Minister Eshkol extended, in his message, "hearty congratulations and sincere good wishes" on the JTA anniversary and to its "long and distinguished record in disseminating news of the world of Jewish thought and activity in the political, social, economic and cultural fields" which he said had "contributed immeasurably to greater worldwide understanding of one of the most eventful and meaningful epochs in Jewish history."

The Israeli Prime Minister added that the growth and development of the worldwide Jewish news agency had "run parallel to the growth and development of our State in the making and of Israel itself which this week celebrates another golden jubilee, that of the Balfour Declaration. May it be granted to you to continue in this path and in the important role you have thus far performed with such outstanding success for the growth and welfare of Israel and the entire Jewish people."

President Shazar declared in his message that he remembered "vividly the birth pangs" of the JTA and recalled "the able men who were its founders." He added he was happy to be able to share in the golden jubilee celebration.

"As an independent and effective Jewish news service, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency has consistently made a valuable contribution to the unity and understanding of the Jewish people," the President declared. "Its function has become all the more significant now that Jews are scattered more widely than ever they were, and are at the same time building their national center and future in Israel.

"The JTA Daily News Bulletin that reaches Jewish leaders throughout the world is in effect a link that connects their communities with each other and with Israel, the heart of Jewry. May the Jewish Telegraphic Agency long continue to serve thus the Jewish people." President Shazar declared.

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