Page 126 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 25

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J
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of the pulsating forces generated by community needs to in-
vigorate and fortify Jewish life in the United States.
One of the first undertakings of the enlarged postwar JWB
was the establishment in 1922 of the JWB Lecture and Concert
Bureau, a pioneer in the field. Designed initially to encourage
local Jewish forums, courses and lectures among the YM-YWHAs
and Jewish Community Centers, the Bureau soon broadened its
service to include the management of a select list of lecturers,
thus bringing JWB into closer contact with exponents of various
points of view on Jewish concerns and with the Jewish commu-
nities.
The Bureau’s emphasis on Jewish themes awakened the com-
munities to a realization of their Jewish functions. Over the
years it helped transform local forums from disjointed appear-
ances by headline names into sound educational and cultural
instruments. By seeking out and encouraging young and rela-
tively unknown people of ability and by affording them the
opportunity to grow, mature and achieve public recognition, the
JWB Lecture and Concert Bureau materially aided in the expan-
sion of the Jewish community’s intellectual resources between
the two world wars.
The organization of JWB’s Department of Jewish Extension
Education in 1925 led to the creation of urgently needed Jewish
holiday program materials and to a variety of publications de-
voted to Jewish history and contemporary Jewish problems.
More than half of all the JWB published materials between 1921
and 1946 dealt with various aspects of Jewish cultural activity.
At the very first postwar convention of JWB, national Jewish
literary contests among Center members were authorized. For
several years, beginning in 1924, JWB conducted an annual
Jewish one-act playwriting contest. More than 70 plays were
submitted. Among the judges in these contests were David Pinski,
Elias Lieberman and Gustav Blum. One of the prize winners was
the first published work of Herman Wouk who later said that
his literary career was encouraged by this JWB cultural stimula-
tion.
All through the 1920s, 1930s and the years preceding World
War II, JWB’s professional staff, led by Harry L. Glucksman
and Louis Kraft, laid down the philosophy that the Jewish Com-
munity Center was essentially a center of Jewish living and an
instrument for Jewish survival, concerned with every facet of
Jewish aspiration. Out of this precept grew the concept that
the rich cultural heritage of the Jewish group constituted the
basic material from which the Center program had to be fash-
ioned. This in turn shaped the direction JWB took in providing
Jewish cultural resources for the Center movement.