Wertheim Outlines Duties of American Jewry at American Jewish Committee Meeting
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Wertheim Outlines Duties of American Jewry at American Jewish Committee Meeting

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The responsibilities which the war has placed upon American Jewry were outlined here today at the 35th annual meeting of the American Jewish Committee by Maurice Wertheim, its president. The meeting, held in the Hotel Astor, re-elected Mr. Wertheim as president of the American Jewish Committee. Louis E. Kirstein was re-elected chairman of the General Committee.

Hon. Irving Lehman and Abram I. Elkus were re-elected honorary vice-presidents; Lessing J. Rosenwald and Carl J. Austrian, vice-presidents and Samuel D. Leidesdorf, treasurer. Victor S. Riesenfeld of New York was elected to the executive committee, filling the vacancy left through the death last week of Dr. Solomon Lowenstein.

The annual report of the executive committee was read at the meeting by Morris D. Waldman, general secretary. The gathering also heard reports on various activities of the American Jewish Committee delivered by George Z. Medelie, Carl J. Austrian, Harold K. Guinzburg and Morton Webster.


Declaring that the war situation has imposed “tremendous responsibilities upon the American Jewish Committee,” Mr. Wertheim, in his presidential report, urged American Jews to recall that “out of the 15,000,000 Jews in the world, about 5,000,000 are in America and the overwhelming majority of the other 10,000,000 are so situated that they are without the means, the influence, or even the energy to determine their own fate.”

“Today,” Mr. Wertheim continued, “the American Jews almost alone must carry the grave responsibility. Upon our actions and upon our leadership will depend the fate of all the Jews in the foreseeable future. And among American Jews the American Jewish Committee stands as the body which may, if it will, be the morel powerhouse for the Jews in this country. I say this because there is no question but that we have the platform from which the proper basic direction can come, namely, that Jews in America are of American, and no other, nationality. In standing for this principle, we believe that we represent not merely the views of our Corporate Members, but the deepest and innermost aspirations of the overwhelming number of American Jews to integrate themselves further in the life and spirit of our beloved country.”


Calling for a “maximum of Jewish unity” in the United States, Mr. Wertheim said: “The war and the tragedy that have befallen Jews throughout the world, impose upon us a mandate to make every effort for the maximum unity of action within the bounds of basic differences. I daresay that no one will maintain that we have at all times approached our differing points of view with calm intelligence and without prejudice. But we must do it now. The obstacles, of course, lie in the deep rift in American Jewish life that has been caused by the conflicting ideologies of Zionism and non- or anti-Zionism (or as I prefer to call it, anti-Nationalism) and the extremism that has invaded areas of Jewish activity where, by every rational standard, it has no place. Frankly, the dispassionate observer might well find it a deplorable spectacle. The lengths it has gone to, the activities it has paralyzed, and the personal antagonisms it has developed, have brought us to a point where the real issues have been obscured, if not almost forgotten. Fortunately, there is reason for optimism. On our part, I sense within this Committee the most sincere interest in Palestine and everything that it connotes as a home for Jews who wish to live there. Colonization and immigration have been fostered by many of us individually, and this Committee itself, under the Presidency of its great leader, Louis Marshall, officially endorsed the Balfour Declaration of 1918.”

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