Page 54 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 45

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Jacob Wiener, a slate of officers was elected “without much loss of
time.” The hour was late, past ten, before the weary delegates
finally adjourned. They had accomplished what they had come
to Philadelphia to do. The rest would be up to the Society’s new
board of officers.6
The twenty-one member executive committee elected by the
convention and charged with the task of organizing and running
the Jewish Publication Society resulted from a careful process of
selection carried out with an eye toward prestige, balance and
commitment. The committee included businessmen, profession­
als (most of them lawyers), community leaders, two lay scholars,
and four rabbis. It reflected theological pluralism — a full spec­
trum of Jewish beliefs and practices — and geographical diversity
(thirteen different Jewish communities). It even included one
woman, Mary M. Cohen, a local Philadelphia writer and commu­
nal worker, and according to the fashion of the day she was
appointed corresponding secretary. Most revealing of all, fully
eight committee members were in their mid-thirties or younger
(Cyrus Adler was only twenty-five), and nine were native born.7
They represented the audience that the Society would seek to
Morris Newburger, who had presided over the opening of the
convention that created the Jewish Publication Society, won
unanimous election as its first president. Under him served four
vice-presidents from around the country who were supposed to
organize membership solicitations in their areas. But for its other
officers, the Society recruited local talent, ensuring that its
“Philadelphia character” would continue to be preserved. The
Society’s twenty-six year old paid clerk, Ephraim Lederer, soon
elevated to “assistant secretary,” was also born and bred in
Philadelphia. His small office became the Society’s first head­
With its organization in place, the leadership of the Jewish Pub­
lication Society could move on to its next essential task: appoint­
ment of a Publication Committee. Names were suggested, ballot­
6 Based on the list in
American Hebrew
(June 8, 1888), p. 71.
15 (1913-14), pp. 65, 69. For the most accurate listing of J.P.S. officers,
board members, and committee members, 1888-1952, see Joshua Bloch,
Making Many Books
(Philadelphia, 1953), pp. 283-293.
15 (1913-14), pp. 65, 69.