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Jewish Congress Parley Asks Unified Agency, Relief Reorganization

October 4, 1939
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Resolutions calling for establishment of a “unified agency” to conduct Jewish defense activities during the war and for extension of “responsibility for the distribution of relief… to include representatives of various groups and elements in American Jewry” were adopted unanimously last night by 1561 delegates from 421 local and national Jewish organizations attending an emergency conference at the Hotel Edison sponsored by the American Jewish Congress.

In order to bring about “the fullest cooperation of the Jewish masses” a committee of 26 was appointed to consider the problems “in conference with the Joint Distribution committee.” The resolution stressed that the J.D.C. had done “splendid work” during the past 25 years, but that the machinery of relief “must be reorganized and strengthened to meet infinitely larger and greater needs arising out of the war situation.”

The resolution calling for “one unified agency” said it was aimed at eliminating “the spirit of competition now existing among agencies engaged in defense of Jewish rights.” A question was asked from the floor as to what reference this resolution had to the General Jewish Council, and Louis Lipsky, vice-president of the congress, who presided, replied that it “addresses itself to a question now under consideration by the General Jewish Council.”

Several of the speeches demanded that Jewish organizations and leaders subordinate themselves to one Jewish agency and that the Jewish masses be given a greater voice in relief activities. Dr. Stephen S. Wise, president of the congress, said: “We would have the American Jewish masses understand that the Joint Distribution Committee is not a private or limited undertaking, but that it can be made to represent the whole of American Jewry in the realm of service.” He urged “such reorganization and unification of defense forces as will end the pitiable farce of competition in Jewish defense and bring about the establishment of one great and effective force which, in the spirit of American democracy, shall seek to safeguard the life and to secure the status of equality for Jews wherever they may dwell.”

Lipsky criticized “those who rule our Jewish affairs and asked “whether the Jewish people, in the face of this great catastrophe, are prepared to submit to the collective will in regard to the Jews’ collective rights and status or continue as at present, each group regarding itself as possessed of divinely given rights to exist.”

Dr. Samuel Margoshes, editor of the Jewish Day, urged “one general staff to lead the Jewish armies in America.”

Both Jewish and non-Jewish speakers joined in expressing confidence that the Polish nation would be reborn and in denouncing the spread of racial hatred. The guest speakers were Anthony Czarnecki, a Polish-American leader and member of the staff of the Chicago Daily News; Representative John D. Dingell, who was introduced as an American of Polish origin; the Rev. William C. Kernan and Dr. John Howland Lathrop, chairman of the American Committee on Religious Rights and Minorities. Other speakers were Mrs. Wise, Max Wolff, Grand Master of the Independent Order Brith Abraham; and Louis Levine, Grand Master of the Independent Order Brith Sholom.

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