Workmen’s Circle Urges UNESCO to Make Funds Available to Jewish Communities in the Soviet Union
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Workmen’s Circle Urges UNESCO to Make Funds Available to Jewish Communities in the Soviet Union

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Harold Ostroff, in his farewell assessment as outgoing president of the Workmen’s Circle, told 1000 delegates to the organization’s national convention here this weekend that UNESCO, which grants funds for intercultural activities, “should make funds available to the Jewish communities within the Soviet Union to re-establish their theaters, cultural institutions and literary societies.”

Ostroff noted that while the Workmen’s Circle has sharply disagreed with UNESCO’s recent history with regard to Arab boycott influences, “the time has come for some unrhetorical realism. Our determination is to see that Soviet Jews are permitted to live within Russia as free citizens. This means that if private channels cannot be utilized to reopen padlocked Jewish cultural institutions, then an agency of the United Nations, of which Russia is part, must be called upon to play its proper role.”

He said that those Jews who choose to remain in the USSR are entitled to continue their secular cultural activities, “and UNESCO is the proper medium of assistance, one which the Soviets cannot claim is tainted by Western influence.”

In another action, the convention urged the International Red Cross to give full recognition to Israel’s Red Mogen David as it does to the Red Crescent of the Arab lands, the Red Lion and Sun of Iran and Red Cross units in other nations. “Humanitarianism should know no frontiers of land, people or religion,” the delegates declared.


Bernard Backer of Merrick, Long Island, was elected the new president of the Workmen’s Circle, succeeding Ostroff, Backer, a businessman, was born and raised in Philadelphia and is a graduate of Temple University and the Jewish school movement of the Workmen’s Circle in that city. Ostroff, who served four years in the post, is the manager of the Jewish Daily Forward and president of the United Housing Federation.

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