J.w.b. Serves 150, 000 Gi’s; Jewish Centers Have 552,000 Members
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J.w.b. Serves 150, 000 Gi’s; Jewish Centers Have 552,000 Members

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More than 150,000 Jewish men and women in the United States Armed Forces were served by the National Jewish Welfare Board during 1954, it was reported today at the annual meeting of the organization’s board of directors held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Charles Aaron, of Chicago, was reelected president of the JWB for 1955.

A report submitted to the members of the board also stated that there are today 552,000 members in the 350 Jewish Community Centers and YMHA’s affiliated with the JWB. This represents an increase of 12.5 percent since 1949. Center expenditures reached $15,450,000 in 1954, a rise of 37 percent, while the number of professional center workers totalled 1,300, an increase of 42 percent. The investment in postwar building programs planned, under way or completed, totalled $43,686,000.

The report emphasized that in spite of the fact that 1954 was the first full year in five years that America was not engaged in a shooting war, the need for the JWB’s religious, morale, recreational and welfare services for Jewish GI’s and hospitalized veterans during the year was greater than at any other time since World War II. The reasons advanced for this development were:

"More than half the armed forces were stationed overseas. For every large base that was closed, a dozen smaller and more remote ones were opened. Installations were moved to the interior sections of the country, to the frozen north, to the rims of civilized living. The rigors of active combat changed to the boredom of static guard duty and long months of watchful waiting in scattered places the world over. Servicemen felt themselves isolated; veterans were positive that they were ‘the forgotten ones.’ Since so many men were stationed overseas, JWB’s morale program in all its aspects had to be American-imported, developed, administered and projected."


Addressing the annual meeting of the Jewish Center Division of the National Jewish Welfare Board, Philip Bernstein, executive director of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds, said that if the Jewish population increases in the same proportion as that of the general population in the next five years there will be 500,000 more Jews in the United States by 1960.

Speaking on "The Changing Community – Implications for the Jewish Community Center," Mr. Bernstein told 150 Jewish Community Center leaders that the Center movement will be materially affected by the fact that "the greatest population growth in the next decade will be the number of children under 14 and the number of older persons over 65." The move to suburbia, which Mr. Bernstein said is taking 1,200,000 Americans to the suburbs every year, will also have its effect on Jewish Community Center work since "a significant part of our Jewish population is represented" in the 40,000,000 who now live in suburbs. Center services "cannot be planned for suburbanites in the same context as they were in the areas from which suburbanites came," he emphasized.

Internal changes in the Jewish community, Mr. Bernstein said, are making American Jewry. "increasingly an American born generation. The barriers which have separated us are breaking down. We are changing our concepts about Jewish organizations and institutions – our synagogues, our schools, our social and fraternal organizations – with direct affects upon Centers. There is in some respects a greater sense of community. We are leaving our internal isolations."

A highlight of the board of directors meeting was the presentation of the 1955 Frank L. Weil Awards to Dr. Jacob R. Marcus, Cincinnati; Michael A. Stavitsky. Newark, and Dr. David de Sola Pool, New York. Named for the man who was president of the JWB from 1940 to 1950 and who is now its honorary president, the Frank L. Weil Awards–bronze medallions are given annually for outstanding achievement in JWB’s three fields of service to the American Jewish community.

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