The American Jewish Committee
A Half-Century View
The American Jewish Committee long reflected the intellectual and social views of the community in which it had been established in 1906. Since its first active members were strong men of pronounced opinions, their assumptions substantially influenced the work of the organization. But the turbulent events of the past half-century left their mark on its development: two world wars, the spread of totalitarianism and nationalism, the end of immigration to the United States, and the transformation of the character of the American Jews created imposing problems in the face of which the Committee was often compelled to shift its mode of operations and even its immediate objectives. Yet the guiding ideal of its founders supplied it with an impressive element of continuity.
In 1906, a small group of men who had been meeting informally for some time decided to form a permanent organization which they called the American Jewish Committee. The character of those men and their ideas had a critical importance in the historical development of the organization.
At the center of the group was the commanding personality of Jacob H. Schiff. His wealth, his power, and his single-minded certainty were the rocks upon which the American Jewish Committee rested in its early years. Schiff had come to the United States in 1865 from Frankfort, where his family had long been active in business circles. A young man of eighteen anxious to make his fortune, he had become a broker, then spent some time back in Germany, and finally returned to America for good in 1875 as a partner in Kuhn, Loeb and Company. Ten years later he was the head of the firm. In the next quarter-century he participated in a succession of profitable ventures that increased both his wealth and his power. He formed an effective alliance with Edward H. Harriman, with whom he engaged in railroad development and finance. He was active in the affairs of such great corporations as the Equitable Life Assurance Society and the Union Pacific, Baltimore and Ohio, and Pennsylvania railroads; and his interests reached out into Mexico, Japan, and China. Only J. P. Morgan outdistanced him as a banker.
Schiff was conscious of his power, but conscious also of the obligations to use it with propriety. He had no taste for the expensive diversions of the other moguls of the period. Instead, he devoted himself to an elaborate round of philanthropy. The Henry Street Settlement, the Red Cross, Columbia, Harvard, and Cornell universities all profited from his solicitude. Rejecting the predominant laissez-faire philosophy of his times, he spoke up for the Negroes, for free public education, for the rights of labor unions, and for the Child Labor amendment. And he also took a fierce pride in his allegiance to Judaism. His active interest in every phase of Jewish life occupied him in a host of activities in which he gave generously of his time and money.
Working closely with Schiff was Louis Marshall, by then fifty years old. Born and raised in Syracuse, Marshall had developed a successful law practice before coming to New York City in the 1890’s. In the metropolis, his fine legal mind earned him a fortune in corporate law. But he, too, was highly conscious both of his identity as a Jew and of his general responsibilities in the community. The conservation movement, Temple Emanu-El, the Jewish Theological Seminary, and the Educational Alliance were among the organizations and causes that profited from his activity.
These men were drawn together through the influence of Cyrus Adler, the intellectual and scholar of the group and the only one who was not a rich man. He had been secretary of the Smithsonian Institution when he was asked, in 1901, to assist in the reorganization of the Jewish Theological Seminary. His learning and his sound common sense impressed the New Yorkers he then met, and in the end he came permanently to New York to serve as director of the Seminary. Thereafter he was frequently a counselor and spokesman for the group.
Somewhat on the periphery was Adolph S. Ochs, a man closely tied to the others but unwilling by temperament and position to take as prominent a role as they in public life. Born in Cincinnati, Ochs was ambitious from early boyhood. While still a young lad, a job on the Knoxville Chronicle had attracted him to newspaper work. But he was a natural plunger, unwilling to settle down in the routine of a stable situation. When he was only twenty he purchased the Chattanooga Times, for two hundred and fifty dollars, and he made it eminently prosperous. But then he gambled all he had in local real estate, and lost.
Undaunted, he took that setback as a challenge. In 1896 he came to New York, borrowed $75,000 to purchase the New York Times, and made it the nation’s outstanding newspaper. While it still ran a deficit, he lowered the price to a penny, in a bid for mass circualtion. In an era of yellow journalism, he insisted on keeping the news fit to print. And with the aid of an outstanding group of editors, he made both gambles pay.
Ochs had married a daughter of Isaac M. Wise and, although he did not have the traditional learning of the others in the group, his knowledge of public issues and his advice were important in formulating the policies of the Committee.
Business, personal, and family relationships tied these men to the Warburgs (especially Felix Warburg), the Strauses and the Guggenheims, the Sulzbergers in Philadelphia, and to similar groups in Boston, Chicago, St. Louis, and San Francisco. They were the nucleus of the Committee.
All shared significant characteristics. They were all relative strangers to New York. Immigrants or the sons of immigrants, none was the descendant of 18th- or early-19th-century families. Not one of them had lived in the city before the Civil War. Thus they knew the insecurity of newcomers.
The fact that they were outsiders in hibited them from conforming to the style of life of their social and economic equals. Although almost all were men of great wealth, having taken advantage of the enormous opportunities of the growing city, and although they shared some of the interests and tastes of their contemporaries—in the opera, in art, and in country life, for instance—the memory of their own distinct antecedents and heritage kept them from merging with the heterogeneous society of the larger community. Instead, they held consciously to their separateness as a group.
In part, that sense of separateness was derived from a stubborn loyalty to the faith of their fathers, which centuries of persecution in Germany had not stifled. In part, it had its source in an uneasy fear that they might be rebuffed if they approached “society” too closely; pride made them unwilling to risk the slights and slurs of discrimination. But there was also a more important positive quality to the group’s sense of identity as Jews. Almost all of them were intimately familiar with their tradition, had some degree of learning, and were convinced that their religion satisfied a genuine emotional need in their lives.
The immigration of East European Jews, after 1890, was a test of their group consciousness. Well established and prosperous, the German Jews nevertheless did not turn their backs upon the poverty-stricken fugitives from Russia and Poland. Instead, they accepted the obligations of assistance and identification. And although there was to be bitterness and misunderstanding enough between the two groups, there was also the recognition of kinship through a shared religious tradition.
The awareness of their Judaism did not in the least diminish the certainty of such men as Schiff and Marshall that they belonged fully in the United States. Their own successful careers were a triumphant demonstration of their capacity to adjust to American life. Indeed, they held it as a fixed article of faith that American democracy offered Jews a unique opportunity to develop a way of life in accord with the highest values of their religion.
Their Judaism and Americanism were more than compatible, they were complementary, for neither was restrictive or narrow in its demands upon the individual. Americanism involved no total conformity or uniformity; rather, it was fluid and receptive. And Judaism did not condemn them to live in a ghetto. Both compelled them to live in a world made up of a variety of men and to practice tolerance of differences. As for their own group, that remained cohesive because it bore a prophetic mission of social redemption derived from its religious traditions, a mission which it could best fulfill in the receptive atmosphere of American democracy. The complex of these ideas was gradually to define the character of the American Jewish Committee in the next half-century.
Defining the Organization
A succession of crises brought the American Jewish Committee into being. By 1906 even men who believed in progress and in the power of reason perceived with distressing clarity that anti-Semitism was on the increase. The Dreyfus case in France had still not come to a satisfactory end; the fabricated charges of an international Jewish conspiracy were being elaborated throughout Europe and were even crossing the Atlantic; a pattern of discrimination in employment and in education was developing in the United States; and the great Kishinev pogroms of 1903 had shown the horrible extreme to which these hatreds might lead. Occasional ad hoc measures were all too inadequate in the face of such dangers. No central, authoritative body spoke for the Jews of America; earlier efforts to form such an association, modeled on those of the British and French Jews, had proved unsuccessful.
Certainly it seemed the time had come for continuity of effort in self-defense. The New York group had already been meeting informally and sporadically to discuss problems of common concern. It was altogether appropriate that its members should now form the American Jewish Committee as the means of developing a long-term solution of the problem.
At the start, no one had a clear conception of the scope of the new organization’s work or of the way in which it was to function. There was a rather ingenuous expectation that some system of election and representation would create a body that could voice the opinions of the community. That expectation did not materialize; but the hope that it would died hard. Through the first nine years of its existence, the Committee attempted to arrive at some national basis of representation. Many of its members imagined that perhaps the Kehillah in New York might serve as a model for communities elsewhere in the country, and that these would become a valid basis for representation in the Committee.
These notions proved delusive because they took no account of the real divisions that existed among American Jews. Even on questions of defense there were serious differences between the Orthodox East Europeans and the Reform Germans, between the Socialists and the political conservatives, between the Zionists and the non-Zionists. Much as they valued unity as an ideal, the founders of the Committee were compelled by their convictions to act by themselves as a cooperative, self-instituted organization. This became clear in the acrimonious discussions of policy during the First World War, when the genuine and often irreconcilable diversities of opinion among American Jews became fully manifest. The experience of the Committee then at last defined its own view of its proper organizational role.
The outbreak of fighting overwhelmed the communities of East Europe. By 1915, the need for relief was already urgent. Furthermore, the war raised disturbing political issues insofar as it offered the Jews of the West the opportunity to erect some safeguards for the future security of those of the East. And intermeshed with these problems was that of the aspirations of the Zionists, who conceived of the war as but the prelude to a migration to Palestine.
The American Jews took stands on these problems in accord with the general ideological positions they occupied. The Socialists anticipated a revolution for which they thought the Jews were inadequately prepared. Diaspora nationalists demanded a regime of special rights in Poland. The Zionists wished all other problems subordinated to that of recognition of the national home. And the Committee optimistically hoped that the Jews of Europe might some day be integrated in their own lands as those of the United States had already been.
In the face of these ineluctable differences of viewpoint, a demand was now raised for a Congress that would speak for all American Jews. The nationalists considered the Jews a people who might be given political identity by a representative body. They conceived of the proposed Congress as a legislature democratically elected that would dispatch ambassadors to negotiate with the states that would make the peace.
The American Jewish Committee resisted the proposal. The experience of its members in the Kehillah made them doubt the efficacy of such bodies; and by now they had perceived that the very conception of a representative organization that presumed to speak for all Jews was dangerous. It was uncomfortably close to political action; and it seemed to assume the separateness of the group. Furthermore, there were substantial grounds for belief that a Congress would only supply a forum for nationalist agitation; and it might well be dominated by men with ideas other than those of the Committee.
Yet the Committee was unable consistently to stand altogether apart. To have done so would have put the welfare of the helpless victims of war in jeopardy. Once it could secure some compromise as to the structure of the Congress, it was willing to cooperate. The proponents of the Congress needed the financial and political support of the Committee, and agreed that this was to be a temporary arrangement for limited purposes only.
The accommodation proved useful insofar as immediate problems were concerned. Louis Marshall was among those who went to Paris in 1919 and secured consideration of the rights of the Jews in the drafting of the peace treaties. Although some individuals refused to accept the disbandment of the Congress and reconstructed it in 1921, it was not thereafter to represent more than its own members. In the process, the Committee had defined its own organizational structure and role. It gave up any pretense or aspiration in any sense to voice the opinions of all American Jews, aware that, given the actual context, it could best serve the interests of its members by the more limited and more realistic conception of what it was.
Through the 1920’s and 1930’s it thus aroused considerable antagonism. It was accused of being autocratic and undemocratic by those who saw it as just the instrument of a small self-appointed group of families who wished to control the whole community. These resentments were intensified, particularly after 1933, by the growth in influence of the East European Jews and their children, who felt they were being arbitrarily excluded, and by the development of nationalism and Zionism under the stimulus of anti-Semitism. What its critics did not realize was that the Committee sought no control and aimed to give expression only to those who voluntarily adhered to its position.
A crisis developed after 1933 with the spread of European totalitarianism and the approach of a second world war. Again there was an urgent cry for unity, both from those convinced this was the only means of dealing with the emergency and from nationalists who still sought a representative congress. Again the Committee was persuaded, in the early 1940s, to participate in a temporary American Jewish Conference. The change of title signified the limited scope imparted to the organization by its members. But even that degree of unity proved deceptive. An early effort by the Zionists to capture the Conference induced the Committee to withdraw.
Finally, in the 1940’s, the Committee took part in the National Community Relations Advisory Council, an organization designed to coordinate the work of various agencies that dealt with the problems of Jewish defense. For the expense of defense work had mounted rapidly and, given the burdens of fund-raising, unification seemed a desirable way of increasing efficiency. But the MacIver Report1 and the ensuing controversy over its recommendations once more compelled the Committee to go its own way. Insisting still upon freedom of action, the Committee remained unwilling to accept the restraint of any centralizing authority.
By 1952, however, there had been significant changes in the structure of the Committee itself. A complex of factors had been responsible. In the 1920’s the founding generation had died away. The Committee had been fortunate to find as their successors men like Judge Joseph M. Proskauer, Jacob Blaustein, and Irving M. Engel, who were able to adapt themselves to a new situation. At the same time acculturation and the appearance of a second generation made the Jews of East European origin more receptive to the point of view of the Committee. The new social setting provided a far broader base of membership than formerly.
Furthermore, the Committee’s work, growing steadily more complex, had created an expanded professional staff and also an expanded budget. Yet this was precisely the period in which depression, rising taxes, and a multitude of other demands upon them diminished the ability of a few wealthy individuals to support the whole effort. It was, however, difficult for the Committee to seek aid outside its own membership. Similar pressures had increased costs for all agencies, and many communities throughout the country had adopted the methods of federated fund-raising. Under such circumstances it was necessary to seek allocations from bodies responsive to broad communal pressures; and that emphasized the desirability of widening the Committee’s membership as far as possible.
As a result the internal structure of the Committee was transformed. The creation of local chapters shifted some control away from the central office in New York. The number of members rose rapidly and an active program involved them frequently in the process of decision-making. After a half-century, although the Committee still drew its support from but a limited sector in the community, it was better prepared than ever before to deal with the major problems it confronted.
The purpose of the Committee at its establishment was to protect the rights of Jews everywhere. But changes in the conception of those rights as well as changes in the Committee itself gradually transformed the character of its task.
Domestic anti-Semitism, in the early decades of the century, was expressed primarily in a developing pattern of discrimination. Slurs and prejudiced attitudes were not only on the way to becoming habitual, but they were also beginning to close the doors of opportunity to Jews in education and employment.
The response of the Committee was through intercession, through a personal or private approach to influential men, in the hope that they could use their influence to abate the practices complained of. This was in part a carry-over from the tradition of the European banker who bought safety for his co-religionists by services to a prince. It was partly a reflection, too, of the position of Schiff, Marshall, and Ochs, who had real power in politics and business and were accustomed to using it.
The orientation toward intercession led the Committee then to regard the methods of mass protest with disfavor. Great meetings at which flamboyant and often irresponsible speakers let themselves go were calculated to antagonize the very people whom the Committee wished to persuade. Furthermore, they were likely to get out of hand and to give undue prominence to a variety of disorderly elements who had no faith in American democracy and actually supplied ammunition to the detractors of the Jews. The Committee decidedly preferred a more restrained approach.
In line with its own assumptions, it thought of government primarily in a negative sense. It wished the state to remain free of religious involvements, as the First Amendment required; and it devoted a good deal of attention to such matters as the unfair effects of the Sunday laws, Bible-reading in the schools, and the like.
Unfortunately, the times were not propitious for a reasonable, moderate approach. Whatever good the Committee could do in specific cases, the pattern of discrimination grew more rigid through the first three decades of the century. In addition, a disturbing element of racism imperiled the security of the Jews. Demagogues like Tom Watson developed political anti-Semitism into a potentially powerful force against which the tactics of intercession appeared to be helpless. It seemed futile to abstain from public outcry against prejudice and thus leave the field entirely open to those who preached it.
The first significant breach in the Committee’s policy occurred over the Leo Frank case.2 No one could stand idly by when anti-Semitism condemned an innocent man for murder; Louis Marshall prepared the brief for the appeal to the Supreme Court. And when Frank was lynched, it was, of course, appropriate publicly to voice horror and indignation.
As anti-Semitism grew in strength after the First World War, the Committee gradually shifted the emphasis of its efforts. Intercession still proved occasionally useful, as when Louis Marshall persuaded Henry Ford to retract his accusations of an international Jewish conspiracy. But a mass movement like the Ku Klux Klan could not be held within bounds by such means, and the Republican party, with which many members of the Committee were affiliated, showed a distressing disinclination to take a stand against xenophobia. When Hitlerism revealed the ugly outlines of what might happen, and when a score of proto-fascist organizations emerged in the 1930s, it was clear that other methods were called for. In a democracy, the appeal to public opinion was more important than the ability of a few powerful men to talk with one another.
The Committee still shunned the great mass protest meetings which, it felt, convinced only those who were already converted, and which, by the emotions they generated, might actually antagonize further those who were hostile. Instead it began to conceive of its task as one of educating Jews and other Americans as to the nature of prejudice and the means of abating it. Under the direction of its executive vice-president, John Slawson, the Committee embarked upon an extensive and continuing program of scientific research, relying upon collaboration with the developing social sciences in the universities. It used the results of that research in long-term educational efforts through the churches, labor unions, and other organizations to diffuse an understanding of the problem through American society. While it is difficult to assess the effects of such a program with precision, it certainly played a part in altering the climate of opinion with regard to Jews over the past twenty years.
In the course of its own work the Committee had long since learned that prejudice was indivisible, and that in the United States it was less desirable to argue in favor of the rights of Jews than to defend the equality of all Americans, including Jews. A long involvement in the problems of immigration had amply demonstrated the wisdom of that course.
In 1906, the movement to close the gates of the country to further immigration was already well under way. Largely animated by racist sentiments, it focused then upon the literacy test, which was intended to exclude such newcomers as the Jews.
The Committee fought the restrictionists successfully down to the First World War. Its spokesmen repeatedly argued for maintenance of the traditional open policy and refused to be tempted by compromises which might have excluded the Jews from the effects of restriction. It preferred to struggle for the principle rather than for a privileged position for its own group.
The First World War produced a change, not in the Committee’s attitude but in the national temper. The growth of nativism and isolationism supplied new force to the restrictionist movement. In 1917, over President Wilson’s veto and against the protest of the Committee, the literacy law was finally enacted; and in the postwar years the legislation of 1921 and 1924 put into effect the national-origins quota system, which sharply limited the number of new immigrants and did so upon the basis of a racist mode of selection.
For the next twenty years the Committee was involved in a succession of rear-guard actions. It seemed hopeless then to secure a reversal of the trend. The most it hoped for was to prevent further restrictive measures. Even under the pressure of the refugee problem of the 1930s, no substantial amelioration seemed likely.
The general change in mood after 1945 brought new hope of a reform in the American immigration laws. The Committee was in the vanguard of those who began to demand an end to the restrictive national-origins quota system. Its brief in 1948 was an important first step and introduced the idea of the pooling of quotas. Although the McCarran-Walter Act of 1952 was a defeat, it did not extinguish the hopes for an ultimate change. Meanwhile there were some concessions in the direction of refugee relief.
From the start the Committee had also understood the obligation to do what it could to protect the rights of Jews in other countries. Larger forces shaped the general pattern of world events in this half-century; often the Committee seemed vainly to struggle against the relentless growth of nationalistic hatred. But its demands for tolerance and order were nonetheless useful reaffirmations of values most Americans held.
The most dramatic affair in the early history of the Committee was its battle against Russian anti-Semitism. The Czar was a conscientious foe of the Jews, whom he was resolved to exterminate, convert, or expel from his dominions. His agents diligently spread his ideas through Western Europe. There was little Americans could do but protest against the Czar’s treatment of his own subjects. It was another matter, however, when it came to discrimination against American citizens who were Jews. The refusal of Russia to recognize the passports of Jews as it did those of other citizens of the United States evoked the indignation of the Committee; and its representations to the government culminated in the abrogation in 1911 of the Russian-American Commercial Agreement, a heartening reaffirmation of the principle of equality of American citizenship.
During the First World War, the Committee was active in the effort to insert into the peace treaties provisions guaranteeing the rights of minorities; and in the postwar years, it was actively concerned with developments in Poland and Rumania, where violent outbreaks of anti-Semitism and the restriction of civil rights made the position of Jews precarious.
The rise of fascism and the growing dominance of Hitler in Europe overshadowed all other issues in the 1930’s. There was tragically little the Committee could do to stay the trend. Yet it did try with some success to limit the influence of Nazi propaganda in the United States, and it remained alive thereafter to the continuing threat of totalitarianism. Just as it had earlier sponsored the provisions to assure minority rights in the treaties of 1919, so after the Second World War it urged a human rights program upon the United Nations. Its work was essential in enlisting the support that made possible the human rights provisions in the Charter.
Furthermore, earlier than most Americans the Committee perceived the threat of Communism to the security of minorities including the Jews. The significance of its warnings was ultimately confirmed by revelation of the new anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union and in the satellite states. In the confused atmosphere of the cold war period, the Committee’s stand in favor of international collaboration had little measurable effect upon events as they unfolded, but it did serve a meaningful educational function in keeping alive values in danger of being obscured by the pressure of continual crises.
Among those crises, none was more troubling for American Jews than that presented by the creation of the State of Israel. The Zionist movement was already active when the Committee was created, although it won the support of only a small minority in the United States down to the 1930’s. By the very nature of their ideals, the founders of the Committee had opposed any ideology that considered the United States as exile. As individuals, some were hostile to Zionism; others interpreted the movement in a non-nationalistic sense and participated in it. The majority followed the line of Louis Marshall, who was hostile to the conception of a Jewish state but willing to support the settlement of Jews in Palestine as in other parts of the world. Perhaps more important than abstract principle in antagonizing the leaders of the Committee in the early years were the ruthless tactics of the Zionist agitators struggling for a position in the American Jewish community.
The Balfour Declaration had therefore been greeted with mixed emotions. But the conception of a national home was sufficiently vague to offer some basis of collaboration. Louis Marshall and other members of the Committee were active in developing the Jewish Agency as an instrument through which non-Zionists could contribute to the development of settlement in Palestine without any ideological commitment.
The situation changed radically after 1930. Nazism, in the next decade, heightened nationalist emotions among Jews and raised serious doubts as to whether it was possible ever to attain security outside a national state. More important was the dilemma created by the refugees from fascism who found no country—not even America—willing to accept them. As the intransigent attitude of Great Britain, the mandatory power, limited the number of migrants who could enter Palestine, many Jews in the United States were driven to the view that some reaffirmation of the Zionist position was essential. The crisis came after 1945, when Britain stubbornly held to its policy despite the crying needs of displaced persons, and despite the very dubious attitude of the Arabs during the war. Out of that crisis came the creation of the State of Israel, the Arab war, and the long uneasy armistice that followed.
The Committee held to its own position with some degree of consistency through all these events. Adhering to the conviction that Jews were at home in the United States, it could not accept the arguments of the Zionist extremists who envisioned an ultimate return to the Holy Land. On the other hand, it could not accept the wholesale condemnation of Israel and of Zionism that began to emanate from the American Council for Judaism. It maintained, rather, that Jews could, without diminishing their loyalty to the land in which they lived, aid and support their co-religionists in other countries, including Israel. The Committee worked therefore to assist the new state in acquiring stability and to do what it could to restore peace in the Middle East.
The burden of maintaining this moderate position was somewhat eased by the emergence of Israel. The statesmen in control of the Israeli government often showed a preference for dealing with the Committee rather than with the official American Zionist leaders, whose relations to them were rather ambiguous. And once the state had been created, American Jews in general found it necessary as well as difficult to define the meaning of their own Zionism. Now that immigration was open to all, they had to confront the question of whether they really belonged in America or in Israel. And few had any doubts but that the United States was their home.
Meanwhile the American Jewish Committee remained aware of its obligations to Jews in other parts of the world. Its European office was active throughout the Continent and in French North Africa; in South America the Committee sponsored a regular program in the Jewish community; and it maintained ties with the Jews of South Africa.
As its half-century of service in defense of the rights of Jews everywhere drew to a close, the Committee found it frequently necessary to take stock of its changing situation. By 1956, active anti-Semitism had subsided. While many problems of social discrimination persisted, the position of the Jews was far better than even the most optimistic could have hoped two decades earlier. Within the United States, prosperity and a predominantly middle-class status gave the group a high degree of stability and security.
Yet those who now seemed to be living in the relative contentment and the material well-being of the suburbs still found it essential to consider the nature of their identification as Jews. Relieved of the imminent dangers of anti-Semitic attacks, they were frequently led to wonder what religious ties held them together, what education was appropriate to their children, what communal organizations best satisfied their needs, and what degree of self-segregation was tolerable now that external segregation had declined in significant measure.
Inevitably, the American Jewish Committee was increasingly compelled to take account of those questions. It had itself changed markedly through the half-century of its history. It had lost the comfortable certainties of the first decades, when a small group of German Jews, secure in their own orientation, had been able to concentrate upon the task of enlightening outsiders. Now its members and its leaders were more likely to be East European by birth or parentage; and they were certainly diverse in their reactions to many current problems.
Therefore the Committee could no longer limit its task to that of educating the outside world. Imperceptibly but steadily, it began to address itself to Jews and to its own members as well. It had long maintained a library and edited the American Jewish Year Book. Now through COMMENTARY and through the Committee on Jewish Communal Affairs it began to deal with the broader problem of establishing some positive orientation for the Jews of America. It has hardly made more than a start in doing so. But this may in the future be one of the most fertile areas of its work. That would go a long way toward fulfilling, though in a way they could not have expected, the hopes of its founders.
1 Professor Robert M. Maclver of Columbia conducted a study of Jewish community relations work for the NCRAC, and in 1951 submitted a lengthy report containing a series of recommendations designed to eliminate duplication and overlapping among Jewish organizations in the community relations field.—ED.
2 Leo M. Frank, Jewish manager of a pencil factory in Atlanta, Georgia, was accused, on what turned out to be questionable evidence, of the murder of a fourteen-year-old girl in 1913. Found guilty, he was sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment by the governor. In August 1915 a band of men broke into the prison where Frank was confined and lynched him.—ED.