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B’nai B’rith Women Moved by Racially, Religiously Mixed Choir of Young Addicts

Seven hundred members of the B’nai B’rith Women were emotionally overwhelmed today by a performance by a racially and religiously mixed choir of heroin addicted youngsters from Odyssey House, the New York drug-treatment center. The performance closed the organization’s four-day triennial international convention. The women wept openly when a black youngster sang the solo part of the closing number, the theme from “Exodus” and gave a standing ovation to the choir of 18 boys and girls aged 13 to 17, who were making their first public appearance as a singing group. The choir director, Martin Sussman, is a former Odyssey House patient. Mrs. Judianne Densen-Gerber, founder and executive director of the clinic, was one of six women honored by the BBW. The others were Mrs. Joan Ganz Cooney, producer of television’s “Sesame Street”; Katherine Graham, president of the Washington Post; Elizabeth Duncan Koontz, the first Negro director of the Labor Department’s Women’s Bureau; Judge Lenore Underwood Mills, 82-year-old retired jurist who was the first national president of the BBW, and Sally Priesand, the 24-year-old prospective woman rabbi studying at the Reform Seminary in Cincinnati.

At yesterday’s session Dr. William Korey, director of the United Nations bureau of the B’nai B’rith, told the delegates that Soviet Jews had sent 294 emigration-aid petitions to date to the UN and various national governments. The signers, he said, were mostly employed in the sciences and the humanities and were mostly from Riga, Moscow, Tbilisi (cq) and Kutisi, the latter two cities in the Georgian SSR. “The petitions,” Dr. Korey said, “reflect the burgeoning Jewish pride of these young Jews. They mention Jewish heroes–the Maccabees and those of the Warsaw Ghetto–and the unity of the Jewish people and the love of Israel. In the American idiom, the petitions would read ‘Jewish is beautiful,'” Last night Mrs. Nathan Holstein of Pittsburgh was installed as the BBW’s 16th international president, succeeding Mrs. Michael Shapiro of Washington. As president-elect, to succeed Mrs. Holstein in 1974, the convention elected Mrs. Milton T. Smith of Austin, Texas.

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