WORLD CONFERENCE OF JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS


WORLD CONFERENCE OF JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS (COJO), roof organization established in Rome in 1958 with the participation of the following organizations: *American Jewish Congress, *B'nai B'rith, *Board of Deputies of British Jews, *Canadian Jewish Congress, Conseil Représentatif des Juifs de France (CRIF), Delagación de Asociaciones Israelitas Argentinas (*DAIA), Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Jewish Labor Committee, South African Jewish Board of Deputies, and the *World Jewish Congress. Avraham *Harman of the Zionist Executive participated in convening the first meeting of COJO (together with Nahum *Goldmann of the World Jewish Congress and Philip *Klutznick of B'nai B'rith), but the World Zionist Organization decided not to affiliate with COJO formally. At the initial meeting, these organizations decided to establish COJO as a consultative group on a two-year trial basis, after which they would decide whether they wished to disband or create a fully functioning world Jewish organization dealing with all matters concerning Jewish life. They also decided to explore the desirability of establishing a world council on Jewish education.

Two years later, at a meeting in Amsterdam, the organizations decided neither to disband nor to transform COJO into a fully functioning international organization but to continue COJO on an ongoing basis as a consultative group, meeting from time to time to keep each other informed on problems of mutual concern. Nahum Goldmann was elected as chairman, Label *Katz (of B'nai B'rith) as co-chairman, and Yehuda Hellman as secretary-general. COJO subsequently met regularly at least once a year and deliberated such problems as Soviet Jewry, the Middle East situation, Jews in Arab countries, the Arab boycott, problems of Jews in South America, and other issues.

In 1962 COJO convened in Israel a world conference on Jewish education. Although elaborate plans were laid down, administrative difficulties, differences of opinion, and a lack of funds prevented these plans from fully materializing. At a meeting in Geneva in 1969, COJO adopted the recommendation of a special subcommittee and abandoned the plans for a world conference on Jewish education in favor of a more modest project under the aegis of a COJO Commission on Jewish Education to be established in Jerusalem. Elected to head this commission were Ḥayyim Finkelstein, chairman of the Jewish Agency's Department on Jewish Education, and Jay Kaufman (d. 1971), executive vice president of B'nai B'rith.

At the meeting in Jerusalem in the winter of 1965, COJO further regularized its work by adding to the list of its officers a vice chairman representing the Board of Deputies of British Jews. One year later a representative of DAIA was also elected as a vice chairman. In 1967 the World Zionist Organization became a full member of COJO, and Louis A. *Pincus and William A. *Wexler became co-chairmen. (In 1971 W.A. Wexler was elected president.) On the eve of the Vatican Council II meeting (Feb. 27, 1962), COJO submitted a memorandum to the Vatican on behalf of its member organizations. At their 1970 meeting, the officers of COJO recommended that a clearing-house be established for the dissemination of relevant documents and information to serve the needs of member organizations and enhance the airing of views and ideas. Although the growth of COJO was slow and undramatic, the members managed to keep together and met regularly to discuss problems of mutual interest.

[Yehuda Hellman]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.