New York (Aug. 3)
Letters and telephone calls of protest against a decision of a Philadelphia Jewish War Veterans post to sell its building to a Christian missionary group has prompted the national JWV headquarters in Washington to start an investigation of the transaction, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency was told today in a telephone interview.
Harris Stone, JWV national director, confirmed that he had received a letter from Paul Small, a member of the Lt. Milton Kelkey Post No. 575 in Northeast Philadelphia, reporting on the projected sale of the building to the Messiah Missions Assembly of God. After receiving calls and letters from members of the
JWV post and the Jewish community, Stone ordered the creation of a board of inquiry, headed by Harvey Friedman, to determine all the facts of the transaction, scheduled to be completed in November. Friedman was named head of the board by JWV national commander Irvin Steinberg. Stone said the board would examine whether the Kelkey Post constitution and the national by-laws were violated by the projected sale.
He said each JWV post is independent and can sell its property without consultation with the national office, adding that the national office had no part in the sale and did not know about it until the first week in July.
Another question to be checked out, Stone said is whether members of the post had to be notified of the proposed sale, which apparently they were not. Stan Feldman, a post member, said he first heard about the planned sale via letter from a synagogue, Congregation Beth Emeth, and not from Kelkey Post officials.
ACTION AGAINST THE SALE
Letters were sent to members of the congregation urging those who were post members to attend post meetings and to urge neighbors who were post members also to attend. The letters were arranged by Stanley Koltoff, president of the congregation and a Kelkey Post member.
Ed Ramov, head of the local Jewish Defense League, is publicly protesting the projected sale. He and several other JDL members have been picketing the Kelkey Post building daily.
Norman Saltzman, a past commander, who is not an official member currently, has joined with several members in seeking an injunction to halt the planned sale. Confirming that the reason given for sale of the building is high maintenance costs, he asked whether it was wise to sell one place and buy another likely to have comparable maintenance costs.
Rabbi Gil Marks, associate director of interreligious concerns at the Philadelphia Jewish Community Relations Council, said the prospective purchaser is a “Hebrew-Christian” group involved in “unethical” methods of missionizing. Rev. Mark Alterman, spiritual leader of Messiah Missions Assembly of God, denied that charge and said his group was interested in saving all people, not just Jews.