40 Years Later: How Dayton Helped in ’67
By Renate Frydman
Special To The Dayton Jewish Observer
News of Israel’s preemptive air strike on Egyptian airfields on June 5, 1967 — in advance of a mass Arab invasion of Israel — spread quickly across the Jewish federations of North America. Louis Goldman was sitting in Dayton Federation Director Bob Fitterman’s office on Salem Ave. “Someone came in and told us (the war had begun),” Goldman recalls.
Jewish fund-raising to support what would become known as the Six Day War rose to new heights in the United States and across the world.
Leaders in Dayton sprang into action. A local and national leader in United Jewish Appeal (UJA), Goldman spearheaded the local campaign to raise funds for Israel, a campaign that would command national attention.
Goldman, now 79, was then the youngest national chair of UJA. In that role, he traveled nationwide with Israel’s treasurer, Pinchas Saphir, who led the U.S. fund-raising. The need was urgent and immediate. Every Jewish leader was called into action and Goldman, one of several national chairmen, went from city to city to help with the effort.
The leaders traveled in pairs. Among his vivid recollections of that time in 1967, was,”going everywhere and speaking” in places such as Scranton, Wilkes Barre, and Philadelphia.
Goldman led Dayton’s Israel Emergency Campaign, which put this city on the map and into the national news.
“Dayton became the highest city per capita in giving for that campaign in all the country,” Goldman said proudly. “We started setting up meetings and fund-raising affairs. There was a big fund-raiser at Meadowbrook (Country Club) and smaller groups at private homes. Even Christians gave. I called people and they were very willing, (but) I asked them to give even more. I wasn’t afraid to ask. Right after the war started, we filled Temple Israel (then on Salem Ave.) to overflowing.”
It was Sunday evening, June 11 when the Jewish Federation, then called the Jewish Community Council, presented this “City-wide Emergency Community Rally” for the Israel Emergency Fund. Federation President Robert A. Shapiro came to the podium and said, “We are gathered here — Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Zionist, non-Zionist, members of all Jewish organizations — to speak in a single voice of our determination to safeguard the right of a small nation to live in peace.”
The need was so great that Federation leadership gave money raised from a campaign to build a new Home for the Aged (later called Covenant House) to Israel, Goldman said.
His passion for Israel ignited everyone. He remembers some of the well-known Dayton names who worked on the campaign. “Arthur Beerman, Gene Thal, Elmer Moyer, Ed Levi, Joe Patterson, Solly Frank, Milton Marks, Harry Green,” he said. “We were going after the big dollars as fast as we could get them.”
He was in the thick of fund-raising when he received a phone call that his father was dying. “I went home to see him. I saw him for awhile and went back to Bob’s (Fitterman’s) office.”
Dayton raised more than $1.1 million for the emergency campaign; adjusted for inflation, this would amount to $6.77 million in 2007 dollars.
In her column of June 15, 1967, four days after the war’s cease-fire and Israel’s resounding victory, the Dayton Jewish Chronicle’s Anne M. Hammerman wrote, “Our community has become a beacon for Jewry throughout the country. So immediate and great was our response that we are the example for many communities…Do we need a crisis to remind us who we are? Perhaps! But the instantaneous response of total Jewry throughout the world shall be recorded in history as evidence of a vigorous and responsive people.”