Jews against Zionism: The American Council for Judaism, 1942-1948

By Thomas A. Kolsky | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
Between War and Peace

The Council's First Annual Conference

In 1945, the year World War II ended and the Palestine question resurfaced as a serious international problem, the Council experienced its maximum growth. Elmer Berger traveled across the country for almost six months, working incessantly to help organize local ACJ branches. As a result of his and Rosenwald's efforts, the Council grew from 9 to 23 chapters and its membership increased from 5,300 to 10, 300. Throughout 1945 the Council distributed close to 750,000 pieces of literature, of which about 500,000 were copies of the Information Bulletin. This distribution also included several pamphlets based on Wallach's and Berger's articles and speeches. One of the Council's most successful publications was Christian Opinion on Jewish Nationalism and a Jewish State, a compendium of comments by Christians sympathetic to the Council's viewpoint. Moreover, it was in 1945 that Berger published his important book, The Jewish Dilemma, the first comprehensive synthesis of his thoughts on the conflict between Zionism and anti-Zionism. 1

Until late 1945 all important decisions in the Council were made by a small group of members who lived in or near Philadelphia. The ACJ executive committee held no meetings at all between 7 December 1944 and 23 September 1945 because both Rosenwald and Berger spent much time away on Council business; when they were available for a meeting, it seemed impossible to bring together a quorum. The situation so infuriated Rabbi Irving Reichert that he decided to resign his Council vice presidency as early as December 1944. He did not want to be held responsible for the activities of an organization that failed to consult him. Only after urgent appeals from Berger and Rosenwald was Reichert persuaded to remain in office. 2

In 1945, despite an expanding membership, the ACJ found itself increasingly isolated and estranged from the larger Jewish community. It

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