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October 23, 1987 - Image 18

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-10-23

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Reproductive Rights
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A PANEL DISCUSSION

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 1987

3 P.M.

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6600 WEST MAPLE ROAD AT DRAKE
SHIFFMAN HALL

MODERATOR
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18

FRIDAY, OCT. 23, 1987

9 62 -1880

Jewish Agency

Continued from Page 1

is simply not a clear thinker,"
explains Rabbi Alexander
Schindler, president of Union
of American Hebrew Con-
gregations, a voting member
of the board of governors. "He
cannot articulate ideas. He
goes on and on, and when he
gets through talking, you
don't know what he's said!'
Others have less against
Levinksy personally but feel
that a change of leadership
style is important now, and
they view Levinsky as too
similar in age, temperament
and style to Dulzin, the cur-
rent chairman who is not
popular with Diaspora
leaders.
"There is now a definite
feeling that the Jewish Agen-
cy is on the cutting edge of an
important change in Dias-
pora-Israel relations," says
Alan Marcuvitz.
"People look at 70-year-old
Akiva Levinsky,identified
with the past, and do not see
him as the man to take the
Jewish Agency into the
future." He compared Levin-
sky's candidacy to that of
Hubert Humphrey following
the Vietnam War. "Hum-
phrey was simply identified
with something the country
wanted to change!'
Levinsky's image as "old
guard" seems to be his
greatest detraction. His skill
as an administrator is hailed
even by those who criticize his
candidacy. "I have worked
with Levinsky shirt sleeves
rolled up," attests Marcuvitz.
"There is no more competent
person when it comes to
handling financial affairs if
he is left alone. Unfortunate-
ly, when the [Labor] party
puts pressure on him, he
squirms!"
Esther Leah Ritz, who sits
on two Board of Governors'
committees (though not a
governor herself) echoes sup-
port for his management
skills. Ritz asserts that Levin-
sky has made the treasurers'
office the best department in
the Agency, "attracting the
youngest and most talented
people anywhere in the Agen-
cy? ,
The turning point came last
month when outgoing chair-
man of the Board of Gover-
nors Jerrold Hoffberger con-
vened an informal 90- minute
caucus of approximately
twenty American and Cana-
dian governors at the Vista
Hotel in Manhattan. "There
wasn't a single voice in sup-
port of Levinsky. When an in-
formal poll was taken, Levin-
sky was unanimously re-
jected, " reports one JA
Governor. Another in atten-
dance - explains, "It wasn't a
matter of raising hands, but
more of a consensus vote!'

Akiva Levinsky

Rabbi Schindler, who him-
self did not participate in the
vote, immediately approached
Max Fisher, of the Jewish
Agency's nominating commit-
tee and warned that if the
WZO waited as expected un-
til after the December World
Zionist Congress elections to
seek the consent of the Gover-
nors, "it, would be terrible
because 'they obviously will
not consent. Therefore, the
consent must be obtained
beforehand to avoid any em-
barrassment." Fisher con-
curred, according to sources
who heard the exchange.
Schindler also lobbied Israeli
Foreign Minister Shimon
Peres during his U.N. visit.
At the same time, Levinsky
was urged to write an open
letter seeking support, not on-
ly from the Governors, but
from the larger Jewish Agen-
cy Assembly. Several days
later, on September 17, Levin-
sky distributed a four-page
open letter, publicly commit-
ting himself to anew reform
era for the Jewish Agency.
"The Jewish world and Israel
are both changing," wrote
Levinsky, "the Jewish Agen-
cy and the WZO must change
as well and reflect the new
Jewish condition worldwide!'
Levinsky promised his elec-
tion would deliver cohesive
inter-departmental manage-
ment, depoliticized personnel
practices, checks and bal-
ances between Agency de-
partments and Diaspora
leaders, and the involvement
of more Diaspora people in
decisionmaking.
Levinsky's letter swayed
some. "Before I received the
letter, I was undecided," said
Esther Leah Ritz. "I now
believe him, and support
him!' But many others, in-
cluding traditional WZO
stalwarts like Bernice Tan-
nenbaum, are keeping their
options open.
Just after Rosh Hashana,
the Governors' nominating
committee selected South
African Mendel Kaplan as

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