Rabbi Criticizes Self-imposed Isolation in Jewish Life

Rabbi Benjamin Kahn, executive vice-president of B’nai B’rith, today criticized the “turning inward attitudes” in Jewish life that “create self-isolation” from the social ills of the nation and reflect a “diminution of faith in the democratic process and an attitude of futility toward possible improvement and change.” Rabbi Kahn addressed the closing session of the annual meeting of the B’nai B’rith Board of Governors.

The Board approved an $18.77 million budget for 1973, the largest in the organization’s 129 year history, representing a six percent increase over last year’s budget. The emphasis in the new budget is on B’nai B’rith’s youth programs which will be allocated 45 percent or $8.64 million, a 10 percent rise over last year.

The Board was told that private fund-raising for Jewish communities that suffered severe damage in last summer’s tropical storm Agnes produced $125,000 which will be distributed to the hardest hit communities in the Wyoming Valley and Harrisburg, Pa., and Elmira, N.Y.

Rabbi Kahn said in his closing address that he considered “valid and necessary” Jewish opposition to preferential quotas and other forms of preference to remove economic and educational barriers. But he said it was not valid for Jews to isolate themselves from the civil rights movement in which Jews themselves have a stake. “Self-interest is a valid concern but when it becomes the dominant motivation of Jewish activists isolated from the rest of the community, it runs counter to Jewish tradition and ceases to be good self-interest.” he said.

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