Njcrac Leader Rejects Criticism of Jewish Institutional Structure
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Njcrac Leader Rejects Criticism of Jewish Institutional Structure

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Efforts to “democratize” the American Jewish community by restructuring it on a “kind of one-man; one-vote principle” could have the opposite effect of atomizing it and “make the individual Jew feel even more powerless, isolated and alienated,” the executive head of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council declared yesterday.

Addressing the NJCRAC annual plenary, Albert D. Chernin disputed “the criticism being heard from many directions–from Breira on the one hand to the Jewish Defense League on the other, from segments of the rabbinate and even from within the Jewish establishment” that present institutional structures are not responsive to the needs and will of American Jews.

Chernin spoke at a session at which Theodore R. Mann, a past president of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Philadelphia, was installed as the new NJCRAC chairman. The critics, Chernin maintained, ignore the voluntary character of the community when their proposals emphasize a need for a single, central Jewish body. “This would dissipate, rather than strengthen, the cohesiveness and sense of purpose of the American Jewish community,” he said.


Betty Friedan, founder of the feminist movement, urged that passage of the equal rights amendment become a priority concern for the organized Jewish community. The struggle for women’s equality was rooted in the Jewish tradition of opposing injustice, she told the 350 delegates.

Defining the women’s movement as a “two sex movement, or it is nothing.” Friedan said that its effort to “liberate and attain full equality for women would have a positive effect on strengthening Jewish family life in contemporary society.”

Mann, a 48-year-old attorney, was elected to a one-year term as NJCRAC chairman, succeeding Lewis D. Cole of Louisville. He had been a NJCRAC vice-chairman and head of its Israel Task Force, and chairman of the American Jewish Congress Commission on Law and Social Action.

This year’s plenary marked the retirement of Arnold Aronson, NJCRAC’s director of program planning for the past 31 years and recognized as one of the nation’s leading authorities on civil liberties and civil rights issues. He has been secretary of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights since its founding.

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