Menu JTA Search

Wexler Urges Jewish Power Structure to Be More Attuned to Jewish Collegians

There is little validity in our being the Jewish power structure if we deny the Jewish future,” Dr. William A. Wexler, international president of B’nai B’rith, said tonight in advising the organization’s convention that Jewish collegians “are the innovators of a Jewish counter-culture which wants less preaching from Jewish pulpits, less glibness from Jewish presidents, less catering at bar mitzvahs and more genuine Jewish involvement in the struggle for peace and for racial and social equality.”

Dr. Wexler, who is also chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, asserted: “They want better teachers, better curricula, and not the dull, unimaginative Sunday school experience. We are the Jewish power structure and they–the forefront of the Jewish future–they want more from us.” Dr. Wexler, who is completing his second and last three-year term as B’nai B’rith president, warned the 1,200 delegates that “Bright, articulate, Jewishly committed young men and women are resisting a Jewish community they regard as overwhelmed with form and structure and barren of substance.”

He concluded: “Many Jewish youths are not alienated, They are accessible to us. The crucial problem is: Are we accessible to them?” Dr. Wexler also called for a new “nonpartisan liberal” ethnic-racial-religious-labor coalition to revive the spirit of the civil rights campaigns of a decade ago “to resist the mood of sullen wariness that has crept into American society.” Also needed, he said, is a renewed Jewish-black dialogue to close the gap between the two groups that was created when the black revolution “turned inward and separatist” and caused “harshness and penalty to many Jews.”

As examples of this legacy, he cited attacks on Jewish merchants and oustings of Jewish teachers from ghetto schools as “cruel side effects of the black community’s request for equality.” There is no solution in polarization, he declared. On another subject. Dr. Wexler charged that to “harass and abuse a Soviet diplomat” and “shatter a window” was not the way to aid Soviet Jews but constituted “futile and self-acclaiming heroics.”

NEXT STORY