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Rabbi Kirshblum Says ZOA Parley Will Reject Amendment Leading to Torczyner Re-election

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A contender for the presidency of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) says he “feels confident” that the organization’s 72nd national convention will reject a proposed constitutional amendment that would qualify Jacques Torczyner to seek fifth and sixth consecutive terms as president.

Rabbi I. Usher Kirshblum of Kew Gardens Hills, N.Y., a ZOA national vice president, decried in a statement a vote taken by ZOA’s national executive committee, during the recent Pan American Zionist conference in Miami Beach, to amend the constitution.

The Long Island rabbi, whose candidacy is being backed by a number of ZOA members, claims that “not even a legal quorum participated in the vote” of the executive committee. He said that a quorum consists of 50 members, that the recommendation for an amendment was carried by 29-11, and that “it is quite obvious that at least 10 members abstained from voting.” Asked to comment, Mr. Torczyner said that the ZOA’s constitution does not provide for a national executive committee quorum. The committee has some 200 members, he said, and there is never more than 60-80 at any meeting.

Rabbi Kirshblum contends that before the Miami Beach session, he had asked Mr. Torczyner to call a special national executive committee meeting “in the East in order to afford a maximum number of members the opportunity to attend. That request was denied. Apparently the president was interested in having a small, rather than a large attendance.” Mr. Torczyner denies that assertion. He says he was never approached by Rabbi Kirshblum. Moreover, he says, even if the meeting had been held elsewhere, the committee would have approved the constitutional change, because his reelection is supported by an “overwhelming majority” of the committee.

The committee’s vote, alleged Rabbi Kirshblum, was designed “to suit the personal ambitions of our president.” Replied Mr. Torczyner: “I have no ambitions. I do not want to stay on as president, but I have been urged by about 125 committee members to do so because of the critical times in which we live.”

The constitution presently reads that a president who has served for four consecutive terms shall not be eligible to succeed himself further without the lapse of at least one full term, A term is one year. The committee voted in Miami Beach to recommend that the August convention change the basic law so that while the four term restriction still exists, “the incumbent president shall be eligible to succeed himself for not more than two further consecutive one-year terms.” Another candidate who will by vying for the president at the Los Angeles convention is Rabbi Joseph Shubow of Boston.

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