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January 24, 1986 - Image 30

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-01-24

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

30 Friday, January 24, 1986




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headquarters'.responsiveness to problems,
Kershner suggests, are either uninformed
Thursz cites the initiation of two publica-
or unhappy. The competitive, widely used
tions. "Tachlis" and "B'nai B'rith In-
award system (for signing the most new
sider," which go to professional and lay
members, for outstanding leadership, etc.),
leaders as far down as the lodge level.
he thinks, might produce unhappiness
Their mix of employee information, calen-
among the unrewarded.
dars, reporting on important meetings and
B'nai B'rith, on whole, is too complex an
decisions, inspirational messages, etc., is
organization to sum up in a few brief
one means of helping the "locals under-
words. There are two, or more, sides to
stand fully the challenge, (of giving) a
clear, simple image and showing the
magnificence of the whole realm of (B'nai
B'rith) activities," says Thursz. BBI also
publishes a monthly magazine that has a
Max Baer
circulation of 170,000 and reaches beyond
B'nai B'rith Consultant
the confines of the organization's
On Planning And Research
A sampling of the organization's diverse
programs includes a $10 million world
center in Jerusalem (now being designed);
United Nations participation; senior
citizen housing for 5000 people; 300 Israel
investment clubs; a tour office; active
retirees in Israel; book clubs and publica-
tions; a lecture bureau and cult education.
All the commissions' programs (except for
members' insurance), are available to the
Jewish public, as individuals or groups,
regardless of B'nai B'rith membership.
Warren Eisenberg, director of interna-
tional affairs, says Jews abroad get "a
sense of solidarity and strength by identi-
fying with an international organization."
He talks about the amazement Latin
American and European Jews feel at the
willingness of American Jews to identify
themselves and tackle political battles.
While working generally to increase grass
roots support, Eisenberg says, BBI is also
having specific successes, such as appeal-
ing the tariff on imported meat which
Sweden implemented after prohibiting
every issue. The choice of Las Vegas as the
kosher slaughtering. It also campaigned
1986 convention site is a sore point. Critics
for passage of The Genocide Convention
that the choice (by an organization
by Congress and against a constitutional
that held a convention in Israel as early
convention that might have blurred the
as 1956), shows a lack of identity. Leader-
line separating church and state.
ship maintains that it_is a cost-effective,
Philip Kershner, the national member-
carefully researched and democratically
ship chairman and past president of
selected locale that will overcome its poor
district 5, -‘ (which encompasses the
image. Likewise, the newly-formed softball
Southeastern states from Maryland
team which competed in this year's Mac-
through' Florida), is typical of the many
cabiah games and won a gold medal is
leaders who aware of problems but re-
viewed by some as an example of organiza-
main undaunted. He offers the figures
tional vigor and responsiveness. Others,
of 25,000 eligible BBI members in the
(like the one who scrawled "Who cares?"
Baltimore area and 2,000 actual members,
over a score sheet posted at BBI head-
then proceeds to call B'nai B'rith a "go-
quartes), don't. agree.
ing, vibrant organization." The Maryland
Cases can be made for those who see
state association, he claims, is very active
B'nai B'rith as sluggishly bureaucratic or
and responsive to individual impetus. In-
democratically deliberative, unappealing-
dividuab, he boasts, came up with the
ly general or invitingly diversified; I t inhap-
ideas for having marshalls in the walk for
pily demoralized 'or ambitiously
Israel and in holding a Baltimore Sedor for
frustrated. The coming year should be ex-
the mentally retarded. Individuals, he
citing, with deliberations between BBI
claims, started BBYO, Hillel, ADL, senior
and BIM coming to a head and a new, set
citizen housing; the grass roots action
of negotiators entering the BBI-Hillel tug-
committee and ,a BBI softball team to
of-war. Perhaps the struggle, alone, is the
compete in the Israeli . Maccabiah games.
measure of B'nai B'rith's continuing .
Those who "bad-mouth" the organization,

A post-war decline in
membership, says Baer,
•is a commonality shared
by all Jewish organiza•
tions. The older
membership, he ex ,
plains, is a result of the
population curve, not
an inability of programs
to attract individuals.





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