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‘total Involvement’ in Meeting Needs of Poor Urged on Jewish Centers

April 29, 1968
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Total involvement in community programs to alleviate the urban crisis through helping to provide jobs, education and better housing for non-whites and other deprived Americans was urged on Jewish community centers in a series of resolutions adopted at the closing sessions of the National Jewish Welfare Board’s 1968 biennial convention here today. The resolutions noted that, through such activities, the JWB’s 450 affiliated community centers and Ys, and their 739,000 members, would be fulfilling their “Judaic commitments.”

Also adopted were resolutions calling for aid to Jewish merchants who were victims of recent racial disorders and urging Congress to give priority to legislation to aid the hard-core unemployed and needy. On the international scene, the convention called on the United States Government to protest the anti-Jewish campaign in Poland and protested the Soviet Union’s continued repression of Jewish cultural and religious life. The JWB saluted Israel on its 20th anniversary and gave its support to the principle of direct Israel-Arab negotiations to achieve a secure peace in the Middle East.

Louis Stern, of South Orange, N.J., was re-elected to a two-year term as president of the JWB. Mrs. Hugo Dalsheimer, a Baltimore Jewish community leader, was elected president of the World Federation of YMHAs and Jewish Community Centers.

In a resolution on the Vietnam war, the delegates urged the Government to intensify efforts to obtain a negotiated settlement and urged it to encourage “full freedom of dissent” on that issue. While expressing concern about “the use of illegal means” to register such dissent, the delegates reiterated that “free and open debate” was essential to “our democratic society.” The delegates also declared that the war had required “diversion of large national expenditures” which would otherwise be available “for needed social and economic programs.”

Sanford Solender, executive vice president of the JWB, expanded today on the theme of the convention’s major resolutions. He told the 800 delegates that the social responsibilities implicit in the values of the Jewish people and in the democratic commitments of every community agency demanded that Jewish communities and Ys contribute to the common effort to better the lot of the Negroes and the poor and to improve the inner cities. The Jewish community center, he said, can “give Jewishness relevance to contemporary social affairs” and can make an important contribution to solving the urban crisis because “it has the experience and competency in dealing with the transitional problems of changing communities.”

Mr. Solender also stressed the need for unity and joint effort by all institutions on the American Jewish scene. “Organizational prerogatives must take second place to cooperative action in behalf of the whole community interest,” he said. “The grave unsolved problems of American Jewry demand no less than a pooling of knowledge, skill, organizational and even material resources in the pursuit of solutions.”

Among several urgent recommendations submitted to the convention by the JWB’s Manpower Commission was the creation of a National Training Bureau to provide qualified professional personnel to work with Jewish centers. The commission also proposed the establishment of a JWB National Scholarship and Fellowship Foundation for students preparing for employment in Centers and Ys. It recommended greater utilization of women professional workers on a part-time and full-time basis and intensification of the Jewish orientation among JCC staffs.

The Manpower Commission reported a shortage of qualified personnel to staff the 447 Jewish community centers, branches and camps across the country. There are presently 1,400 professionals employed in these agencies but approximately 200 positions remain unfilled each year and more than 100 other positions are filled inadequately because of the shortage, the Commission’s report said. At least 300 professional staff members are needed now and more will be required to staff the 60 new JCCs under construction or planned, it was reported.

Bronze medallions and scrolls symbolic of the JWB’s 1968 Frank L. Weil awards were presented to four cultural and community leaders at the banquet session last night. The recipients were Solomon Litt, president of the World Federation of YMHAs and Jewish Community Centers, Lazar Weiner, conductor and musical director of the Workmen’s Circle Chorus, and Mr. and Mrs. Daniel L. Stone, both active in JWB agencies and services.

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