Page 127 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 25

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P o s t a l —
JWB ’s
R o l e i n C u l t u r a l L i f e
The JWB Survey, launched while JWB was at the peak of its
wartime activity, paved the way for the great postwar expansion
of JWB’s Jewish cultural work on behalf of the entire Jewish
community. During the war years JWB brought into its orbit
the Jewish Book Council of America and initiated and became
the sponsor of the newly founded National Jewish Music Coun-
cil. The recommendations of the JWB Survey, directed by Dr.
Oscar I. Janowsky under the aegis of a committee of Jewish
scholars, educators and communal leaders headed by Dr. Salo W.
Baron, not only charged JWB with long-range responsibilities
for giving deeper meaning to the Jewish purposes of Jewish
Community Centers but specifically called for broadening JWB’s
cultural endeavors.
In submitting the JWB Survey Report in 1947, Dr. Baron
emphasized that there had been a shift in world leadership from
European to American Jewry “even in those areas of Jewish
culture which had long been entrusted to the older centers of
Jewish life in Central Europe. American Jewry and its leader*
ship have become keenly aware of that new responsibility. There
are incontestable signs not only of a general cultural awakening,
but of a certain eagerness of the Jewish public to pioneer in
the unexplored realms of a modern culture, which would be
both Jewish and American.” Dr. Baron predicted that “JWB
is evidently destined to play a significant role in this newest
phase of American Jewish communal endeavor.”
Four of the 22 recommendations of the JWB Survey con-
cerned themselves with JWB’s role in the Jewish cultural field.
One paid high tribute to the Jewish Book Council and the Na-
tional Jewish Music Council as constructive undertakings “which
not only enrich the programs of Jewish Community Centers but
also promise to stimulate and unite local Jewish communities
in significant cultural endeavors.” To fulfill this promise the
Survey urged JWB to expand these activities.
Another recommendation pressed JWB to promote and sponsor
interest in Jewish history, literature, the fine arts, crafts, dra-
matics and theatre through the medium of councils patterned
after those devoted to Jewish literature and Jewish music. A
third recommendation proposed that JWB take steps to encour-
age local Jewish communities to coordinate their Jewish cultural
efforts and recommended that the staffs of Jewish Community
Centers take the initiative in organizing community-wide Jewish
cultural programs where they did not already exist. Finally, the
Survey applauded JWB’s decision to enter into close working
relationships with the American Jewish Historical Society.
The key recommendation of the JWB Survey proposed that
JWB formulate a clearcut definition of the basic Jewish pur-