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Black Convert to Judaism Elected to Board of Jewish Social Service Agency

Donald W. Jones, 36-year-old Deputy Director of Community Relations Services in the Federal Justice Department, who is Black and Jewish, was unanimously elected to the board of the Jewish Social Service Agency of Washington it was announced here. Jones, a native of Orlando, Florida, and son of the late Rev. John Jones who was a minister of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, is believed to be the first Black Jew named to the directorate of a community-wide Jewish organization in the United States.

He told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he was converted to Judaism in 1968 by Reform Rabbi Joseph Narot of Miami. His wife, Carole, is a Methodist. Their eight-year-old son, Donald Jr. is receiving instruction in Judaism at home from his father who plans to place him in a Hebrew school soon.

Jones practiced law in Miami and was active in civil rights before joining the Justice Department agency which seeks to mediate racial disputes. Julius Sankin, president of JSSA told the JTA that in electing Jones to the board “my feeling and the feeling of all the directors is that he is eminently qualified and interested in serving the community and the JSSA board” of fifty members. Jones’ election followed a demand by the Health and Welfare Council of the United Givers Fund that member groups include representatives of minorities on their boards on a quota system.

Sankin stressed that election of Jones was “not predicated in any sense” on the HWC’s policy. JSSA was one of three Jewish social agencies warned that it would be deprived of financial aid from the area-wide United Givers Fund by Sept. I if it did not have representatives of Blacks or Spanish-speaking persons. At a meeting of HWC officials with leaders of the three Jewish agencies, agreement was reached dropping quotas for Jewish groups which pledged to increase efforts to aid minorities in their jurisdictions.

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