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Klutznick Calls for Restructuring of U.S. Jewish Community

A “more representative” structuring of the American Jewish community to deal with “changing needs, changing lifestyles and the increasing burdens of inflation” was proposed yesterday by Philip M. Klutznick, a former president of B’nai B’rith and long-time advocate of greater communal unity. Klutznick called for an assembly of community leaders, academics and scholars, business and professional specialists, and college youth–“supported by adequate technical studies”–to engage in “critical and constructive examinations” of the community’s needs, programs and activities.

Addressing convocation exercises commemorating the 50th anniversary of B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundations, Klutznick predicted that “the next 10 to 20 years will be a testing period for Jewish life in this country, a concomitant to the shifting economic, political and social complexes that all of America is likely to experience.” American Jewry, Klutznick said, will have to exercise “ingenuity and skill” to avoid “indiscriminate budget cuts” in many Jewish communal services and “to diminish, if not curtail, wasteful duplication where it exists.”

He warned that the combined pressures of inflation and “indispensable Jewish communal needs abroad that must be met” can mean a weakening of its own Jewish institutions and programs if the American Jewish community continues to “trifle with the need for change.” He said that over the past decade, the dollars “in absolute terms”–discounting inflation–provided for domestic Jewish programs have meant, in effect, either budget cuts or “barely enough more to absorb inflation.” As a result, “the Jewish establishment has been charged with neglecting the real needs of Jewish youth, education and culture. We are not free of guilt,” he said.

The convocation honored Dr. Abram L. Sachar of Brandeis University whose leadership in the Hillel movement spans its full 50 years. Dr. Sachar, 73, was awarded the B’nai B’rith President’s Medal as the “Master Builder” of a program that began with a handful of Jewish under-graduates at the University of Illinois and has since proliferated to 315 campuses in this country and abroad. B’nai B’rith president David M. Blumberg surprised the 400 invited guests with a similar but unscheduled presentation to Dr. Sachar’s wife, Thelma, for her own involvement in the campus program in its formative years.

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