Marked by an apparent antagonistic division in its membership ranks which made itself conspicuous through a number of acrimonious tilts between individual and collective groups of members, the Independent Order B’rith Abraham opened its forty-third annual grand lodge convention at the Steel Pier yesterday, with 900 delegates representing more than five hundred lodges in attendance.
Greetings were extended by City Solicitor Joseph B. Perski, representing the city administration; Dr. A. Singalowsky and Dr. Henry Moskowitz, of the Ort; Bernard Deutsch, newly elected president of the American Jewish Congress; and B. Steinberger, representing the I. O. B. A. lodges of this city.
It was at the afternoon session, which was devoted to the reading of the grand master’s message by Max Silverstein of New York, that evidence was given of the sharp rift in the membership ranks, due almost entirely to the controversy raging about Class “A” membership and fraternal rates. Mr. Silverstein was repeatedly heckled during the reading of his message, and on several occasions the convention was in a state of uproar. Adherents of the grand master on his stand anent the Class “A” question, and adherents of the opposition, said to be led by Judge Gustave Hartman, past grand master, frequently rose in their seats and hurled epithets and threats at each other. A dramatic moment was reached at the close of the session when Past Grand Master Judge Leon Sanders made a motion to appoint a committee to report on the grand master’s message, and Judge Hartman, asking to speak on the motion, was hooted down by administration adherents. He resumed his seat without speaking. The motion was adopted and Judge Sanders was designated to head the committee.
The question of Class “A” rates, assessments, etc., has been a thorn in the side of the Order for some time. Mr. Silverstein devoted more than half of his message to the question and read communications from the insurance departments of the states of Connecticut and Maryland ordering hearings on the matter, on pain of revocation of licenses in these states. The grand master summarized his views on the matter by recommending the appointment of “a committee consisting of at least 21 members, 10 of whom shall be members of the executive board and the others shall be chosen from the active members of the Order, who shall investigate and study the endowment problems, and with the view of protecting the members of Class ‘A’, and report their recommendations and findings to the executive board before January 1, 1930, and that a copy of the report and findings be sent to all the
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lodges before February 15, 1930, and that the grand master at the next convention submit the said report and findings together with any recommendations that he may have.”
The grand master’s message showed that during the last fiscal year, ending April 30, the membership, including the ladies’ lodges, was 110,062 in 505 lodges as compared with 115,492 in 513 lodges the year previously, thus indicating a net decrease of 5,430 members. Mr. Silverstein, in his message, urged continued support for Palestine, continued moral and financial support for the American Jewish Congress, support for the Ort, Hadassah, Jewish education projects and the I. O. B. A. Center movement. He concluded his message with a strong plea for harmony, and when he stated that by the laws of the lodge a grand master can serve no longer than two terms and therefore “the convention is to decide who shall be the grand master for the coming term,” he was given an ovation and there were shouts of “Silverstein.” In the evening there was some talk among the delegates that the laws may be amended so that grand masters may serve three terms, and thus endeavor to have Mr. Silverstein re-elected.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.