By Deborah Dash Moore
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Extra resources for B'Nai B'Rith and the Challenge of Ethnic Leadership (S U N Y Series in Modern Jewish History)
16 The issue's implications, however, remained unresolved. If B'nai B'rith considered itself a secular Jewish organization limited in its membership to Jews, how did it propose to define who was Jewish? Furthermore, what did the Order intend to do when American social realities diverged from expressed American ideals that is, when the state violated the Enlightenment notion of a compact of individuals by recognizing invidiously the existence of corporate groups in society? These questions would not disappear.
The changes adopted by the Order, moreover, suggest that its survival rests with the capacity of its leadership to identify and deal with the shifting conditions of American Jews. The emphasis on the American context should not obscure the European scene. At certain moments, as in the 1880's and 1890's when the Order was established abroad, the European B'nai B'rith provided the locus for innovation. At other times the European situation became an integral part of American activities, as, for example, during the tragic Holocaust years.
By 1850 the sixth lodge, organized by the English-speaking members of the fourth lodge, had become the first one to conduct its affairs in English. The five years separating the establishment of the third lodge in Baltimore from the fourth in Cincinnati reflected an intensification of previous trends in American-Jewish life. "9 The decision of Lodge 6 revealed a decline in the deep attachment to German language and culture characteristic of the early founders. "10 But as the years passed Bien saw the Order as blending the three dominant characteristics of German-Jewish immigrants: their Jewish fraternity, their American citizenship, and their German culture.
B'Nai B'Rith and the Challenge of Ethnic Leadership (S U N Y Series in Modern Jewish History) by Deborah Dash Moore