NEW ORLEANS (Sep. 20)
Asserting that “we can’t be one organization and two organizations simultaneously” B’nai B’rith international president David M. Blumberg Monday night proposed a structural overhaul which would allow men and women members the option of exclusivity or integration. Blumberg, who retired today after seven years and three terms at the helm of the largest grassroots Jewish organization, described the “splendid dilemmas” that have confronted him.
He endorsed the concept of a decentralized B’nai B’rith with “diffusion of authority” and “resistance to oligarchy” as steps to resolve some of them. In his final state of the order address to the biennial convention meeting here this week, Blumberg also warned against a “we/they” syndrome blossoming among North American districts overseas districts, agencies and Washington.
Explaining his call for unity, Blumberg said, “We’re either one B’nai B’rith or we’re not. If we are one family, we can’t be separate–and we should be equal.” Blumberg suggested changes that would provide members the opportunity to join men’s lodges, women’s chapters or units of both men and women. Each would have equal representation within all governing bodies.
He also urged the convention to approve an increase in annual dues beginning in 1980 to reduce B’nai B’rith’s debt and diminish the ravages of inflation on the organization’s programs. “Let us seize the future for all we’re worth,” Blumberg declared.
In one of the first actions following his address, the organization voted to establish an International Israel Lodge which would permit all B’nai B’rith members in any nation but Israel to enroll. The assessment of $25 in annual dues would be used to fund B’nai B’rith projects and programs in Israel.