Sign in or register
for additional privileges

Recovering Yiddish Culture in Los Angeles

Caroline Luce, Author

You appear to be using an older verion of Internet Explorer. For the best experience please upgrade your IE version or switch to a another web browser.

Itshe Nokhumzon: Los Angeles Jewish Community Council, Pt. 2

"Los Angeles Jewish Community Council" by Itshe Nokhumzon [Itche Nochomson] 
As appears in Khesbn (The Reckoning), vol. 1 (1946): 25-31.
Translated by Mark L. Smith.
[Translator's note: words underlined were written in English, but with Yiddish letters.]

... The Welfare Fund that was organized in 1934 took on a very different appearance after the incorporation of the “Los Angeles Jewish Community Council.” Previously, it had been an independent agency. In 1938, it came under the authority of the Community Council and became a fundraising agency that achieved national renown. Jewish suffering increased [during the Great Depression]; needs became so intensified that none but the poorest Jews felt it possible to remain uninvolved. In addition, during the war years [of World War II], many wealthy people emerged here, and fundraising for the Welfare Fund achieved very great results. One can see how large a dimension the Welfare Fund achieved from the number of “subscribers”: in 1939, there were 13,574 supporters; in 1943, there were already 23,823; in 1944, the number had already reached 31,697; and in 1945, there were already 32,000. With regard to our fundraising in the city, it was the second largest sum after New York.
The following table can give an idea of the growth of the fundraising:
In 1941, the sum of $707,662.53 was collected; in 1942, $613,677.70;2 and in 1943, the amount was already $1,201,541.24; in 1944, $2,055,697.00; in 1945, the amount was already as large as $2,700,000.00. How were the funds distributed? Before me lie the figures of the apportioning only for the year 1944, and they are as follows: the United Jewish Appeal was given the sum of $1,150,000; other overseas agencies, $55,300; the city of Los Angeles, $420,618; national agencies, $151,955. Thus, we see that Los Angeles received $420,000, which constituted nearly 24 percent of the total sum.
 The council consists now of approximately 224 institutional organizations. I said approximately because almost every day new organizations are added. The organizations select more than 600 delegates who serve as “representative members.” Meetings of the entire membership are held four times a year. In January, the annual elections are held for the board of directors, which consists of sixty-one people, who administer all the affairs of the council.
As necessary as fundraising is at all times, and especially at the present moment, a council would not have been required for this; it could have been done by another agency. But the council is more than this; the council’s functions are manifold. One of its largest functions is the promotion of Jewish education here in the city. The Bureau of Jewish Education is one of the most important bureaus or commissions that the council has. Until 1943, the budget of the education bureau was very modest. A heavy hand lay on the education bureau and held it in a frozen, hardened state. The people who were in control would not let it grow; it came to such a situation that it caused heated discord, and the council was forced to bring in an expert to make a "survey." This indicated that the bureau had not functioned in an appropriate way and certain revisions were recommended. Thus, for example, the budget was increased from $40,000 in 1943 to $76,000 in 1944, and in 1945, it was increased to a minimum of $120,000. Last year, the bureau subsidized 13 Jewish schools of various orientations. Recently, it was decided to affiliate all of the schools. Ten new schools have already joined and another thirteen have expressed a desire to join. Recently, a women's organization was founded under the name "Israela" for the purpose of Jewish education, and it is connected with the bureau.
Recently, a movement has arisen to unite the Jewish Federation with the council [which ultimately occurred in 1959]. Each year, the council distributes a large sum to the Federation so it can support its institutions, such as charities and the community centers. The Federation is a remnant from those years when it was the only charity agency in the city. Today it is supported by the Council. Thus, for example, in 1944 the Federation had a deficit of $190,000, and the Council covered it. And there is indeed no reason for there to be two presidents and two boards of directors. If a unification would take place, the city would save a lot of extra expenses.
 With the rapid growth of the city, an increase in the number of educated leaders is necessary; for this purpose, in 1945 the Community Council strengthened the local youth program by founding a Jewish Youth Council, a joint project of the Community Council and the Jewish “Centers Association.” Today, there are 38 young adult groups (people 18-30 years old) affiliated with the Youth Council. The Council takes part in all of the undertakings that have to do with fighting anti-Semitism. The Council organizes mass meetings that are able to mobilize Jews where none are usually found. Under the supervision of the Community Council, the democratic elections of the American Jewish Conference were conducted. The Council is always ready to mobilize all democratic forces against the preachers of racial hatred. Recently, the Council took part in the counter- demonstrations against Gerald K. Smith [leader of the pro-Nazi America First Party]. The Council conducts a struggle against labor discrimination and, together with other organizations, seeks to correct all injustices in this field.
 Space is too limited here to enumerate all of the necessary work done by the Council. As stated, its functions are manifold. The Community Council is a necessity; our city grows by leaps and bounds. The activity must be coordinated, and it dare not be neglected. Many things must be systematized. Every Jew here in the city must feel that the Community Council is also his brother’s. And it is the duty of everyone to be his brother’s keeper. No one dare leave the work of his city in the hands of a few. The Council serves the interests of the community, and the interests of the community are the interests of us all.

2 The reader surely noted that the amount from 1942 is significantly smaller than in 1941. It was because the Jewish movie magnates did not participate in the fundraising that year.
Comment on this page

Discussion of "Itshe Nokhumzon: Los Angeles Jewish Community Council, Pt. 2"

Add your voice to this discussion.

Checking your signed in status ...

Previous page on path Khesbn (Reckoning), page 7 of 31 Next page on path