The 92-year-old American Jewish Congress, which started hurting financially right about the time all the rest of Bernard Madoff’s clients started hurting financially, has suspended operations. It is still not clear whether, as some suspect, the Congress will be salvaged by the American Jewish Committee, which at the least would mean the Congress would not have to get its towels re-monogrammed.
Jerome A. Chanes has a fond eulogy:
The AJCongress pioneered the use of legislative and judicial action to improve conditions for American Jews. This direct-action method—using the law and litigation, often in coalition with like-minded groups such as the NAACP and the ACLU—concentrated on actively fighting discrimination, not simply on reforming prejudicial attitudes. …
The model of democratic governance in the Jewish community was a creation of the AJCongress, and was its hallmark from its earliest days. (The AJCongress did not make the transition until recently to the model of elite—that is, moneyed—governance that had long characterized many other national Jewish organizations.)