Philadelphia (Oct. 17)
David M. Blumberg, a 60-year-old insurance executive from Knoxville, Tenn, was elected to a three-year term as international president of B’nai B’rith at the service organization’s triennial convention here. Blumberg, a B’nai B’rith member for 32 years and a vice president for the last six years, succeeds Dr. William A. Wexler of Savannah, Ga. The convention adopted resolutions on urban problems, including a call for stricter gun control laws, and on American military assistance to Israel.
Last night it was addressed by two leaders in American Jewish Affairs–Philip M. Klutznick, former B’nai B’rith president and a former US Ambassador to the United Nations and Dr. Mordecai Kaplan, founder of the Reconstructionist Movement–both of whom criticized aspects of American Jewish community life. Dr. Kaplan who is 90, became the first recipient of the $1,500 Harold Weisberg Memorial Award for his contributions to “Jewish thought.”
The convention resolutions credited US efforts for achieving the current cease-fire in the Middle East but warned that “genuine peace can only be achieved by the negotiation and agreement of the parties in conflict.” It declared, “Outside powers cannot impose peace” but “only a precarious truce.” The resolution expressed “deep appreciation” to the Nixon administration and Congress for military and economic aid extended to Israel. It recalled President Nixon’s address to the B’nai B’rith convention three years ago when, as a presidential candidate, he declared that the arms balance “must be tipped in Israel’s favor” to forestall Arab aggression. “That policy is no less sound or relevant today,” the resolution stated. Dr. Kaplan and Klutznick deplored what they regarded as the inability of the Jewish community to “think through” the problems that confront it.
JEWISH CENSUS FIGURES FALSIFIED
According to Dr. Kaplan, Jewish life has taken on “schizophrenic” patterns that “fragmentize rather than integrate us into a whole people.” Klutznick assailed the idea of “assessing priorities” in Jewish life, declaring that none of the major concerns–Israel, Jewish education and Soviet Jewry–were isolated from one another. He also criticized the separation of scholars and academics from the decision-makers in Jewish life. The convention heard from Dr. Maurice Friedberg, of the Russian and East European Institute at Indiana University who charged that the Soviet Union has “tampered” with Jewish population figures in the latest census to support its claim that Jews are disappearing as an ethnic group in Russia.
He claimed that the figures reported last April which showed a 5.2 percent drop in the Soviet-Jewish population were falsified. He said his charge was borne out by a study he conducted in Israel last summer among the 5,000 Soviet Jews who were allowed to emigrate during the first months of the year. He said the emigres disclosed that in many instances “Russian” was substituted for “Jewish” on the census forms. The 1,200 delegates attending the convention elected a 55-member international board of governors including 14 vice presidents. Moe Kudler of Los Angeles won over Philip Lax, of Maplewood, N.J. in a close race for international treasurer.